So typically when we think of organizing, we think about organizing OUR stuff, right? However, now that we are all on lockdown and spending so much more time at home, what happens when other people’s stuff becomes a big pain point for us?
Today, I’m going show you how to approach organizing somebody else’s things. In this example, we’re talking about my husband‘s closet which has been a giant bone of contention for our entire marriage! Ha!
1.) Be intentional
Always to approach other people in your house very intentionally from a place of respect and understanding – if they are having a hard time keeping their closet clean there’s probably a good reason for it. Perhaps it’s not a priority for them because they have a lot of other things going on (maybe a pandemic? Just saying).
Perhaps and most likely the system that they have is not working for them. They’ve always been in this habit and this is just the way that they do things – they are kind of accustomed to living in an organized mess and blind to how crazy it may seem to other people.
Something that my husband always says to me when I try and move things around is “don’t touch anything!” or “don’t touch my stuff – I know where everything is!”. Even though when I look at it it looks like a bomb has gone off! It’s all in the eyes of the beholder!
Bonus tip: don’t throw out some thing without his permission. Trust me I’ve tried that thinking that he wouldn’t even notice and most of the time it’s fine but sometimes I throw out something that’s pretty valuable to him and that gets me into big trouble. It’s just not nice. Don’t do it. The end.
2.) Consult the source of “the mess”
The next step, like anything when you’re trying to make changes, is that you need this to come from the source i.e. if you are trying to change someone else’s workflow organization system they need to be involved and invest it. With adults you try and appeal to the idea with “Hey let’s try this because it doesn’t seem to be working. It’s something that we are arguing about that I would really like to solve so that we can put it behind us.”
Brainstorm together what would be helpful and what your partner thinks would work for him/her long-term. It’s important also to acknowledge your own influence in this situation because there are likely things that I am doing as someone who lives with my husband that may be compromising his system. For us, we were storing too much stuff in his cupboard that directly for him purely because we live in a small apartment and that’s where we placed everything to either get it away from the kids or having it somewhere familiar. But for someone who is struggling to keep their closet clean, less stuff is probably going to be easier for them so we had to make some choices about what is essential for him to have in his closet and what just gets in the way.
3.) Get creative: try before you buy
One has to get creative about any space. Perhaps there are things in there that are not directly his clothes or his shoes and they need to be moved somewhere else. Maybe there is storage system that we have that is not functional. Perhaps he needs clear bins versus pretty baskets so that he can see what’s inside to prevent him from wasting time searching for things and making a huge mess like a Tasmanian devil.
4.) Audit your space
You’ve established that there’s a problem. You are both in agreement that you want to do something about it. Where do you even begin? Before you start taking everything out, you know how kids take their toys and just turn their basket upside down and everything crashes to the floor? Before you do that take a look at your space. Take a photograph. Even though it’s so tempting to just dive in (and I am definitely this person!), it might be better to take a photograph of the space, sleep on it for a day then let yourself ruminate like a marinade for ideas to pop up for you.
Think about it just so you allow yourself to audit the space. Then you could have a much better idea of how you want to plan the space.
- Do you want to introduce new types of containers?
- Do you want to take things out so that there’s more space for him?
5.) Take action!
Time to be that child with their toys. Take everything out – perhaps don’t have it all come crashing down. If your partner doesn’t have the time to organize and you are driving this venture, making sure to check on any items that you plan to donate or throw out and be in agreement with each other. Allow him to go through things and prioritize what HAS to stay. I find this is easier than trying to take things away.
This is a really good opportunity while everything has been removed to clean the shelves, vacuum, put clothes that need to be donated in a donation pile and start organizing things. Remember if you put everything back the way it was you’re probably going to end up with the same problem. Like the quote that says if you ask the same question, you will receive the same answer. So try and do this better from learning from what hasn’t worked in the past. For us we needed to decide what was really essential in his closet and what could find a new home somewhere else either in our apartment or be given away. We have a lot of boxes here that are not essential for him when it comes to clothes but they were taking up a lot of space. We also wanted to try and create space where he could see everything. Part of his problem was that he didn’t know where things were supposed to go and when he to find something in a hurry he was just rummaging through everything and things ended up on the floor and all over the place. This was a GIANT pain point for us was especially when I would put laundry away in his closet. There was no space to put it! We needed to figured out a way for all his clothes to have a place where either myself or him could put away his laundry easily without falling over our feet and losing teeth!
We brainstormed together what he needed to see in front of him as well as keeping his own personal things in a spot he could reach easily but also away from the kids.
6.) Under physical limitation of a space
Identify what you cannot change. Within his closet we cannot change the size of it but we can change the configuration. We can change what we decide to put in there and we can possibly change the height of the shelves or how we want to put it all together. Working with what you’ve got, bringing in something new that makes sense, a container that you have already really helps to give the space a fresh look. We really went through everything so that we don’t have to do this in great detail anytime soon!
So there are 6 tips to help your organize someone else’s without tears and shouting, in the hope that can cultivate long-term habits and solutions so keeping organizing becomes second nature. Make sure to watch the video I did to really see everything in action including before and after shots.
What have you found helpful when trying to manage other people’s things in your home? Please share in the comments!
Until next time, take care.
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