Where do I start? is one of the most frequent questions people ask when they start thinking about getting their home totally organized.
Create a “Home Projects Plan”
My answer is usually, “start with a plan.” Sounds simple enough, but here are the specifics on how to create a Home Projects Plan for your situation. whether your plan will take a week or years to execute this plan will be there to guide you so you always know what the next step is. The most important thing is to write it down. Don’ assume you’ve got it all up in your head and you’re ready to jump in. Use a simple copy book or a binder to keep everything in one place.
The Walk Through
First, go with you’re spouse (and maybe even the children) through every room in the house. Discuss how your family will use each room. In other words, identify the function of each room and try to limit the functions to three. Any more than three functions, and the room often becomes chaotic and crowded. Write down everything you want to change in that room. I would include in this plan, not only organizational projects but also home improvements. If you are browsing in catalogs or home improvement magazines, you can cut out pictures of what you like and put these along side your “to do” items.
Estimate your costs
After you’ve written it all down, estimate the costs. This may be as easy as pricing something in a catalog or sales paper. But for contracted services like plumbing and electricity, you’ll want to get a minimum of three quotes. My husband and I tend to go with the middle range of costs unless one of the contractors is significantly better than the others in terms of quality or customer service. Many times you just have to choose whomever you feel more comfortable with. Consider purchasing items like lighting and plumbing fixtures yourself and just hire someone to install them. This can often save you money. Once you have all your quotes, you can ballpark the cost of doing each room.
Know your budget
Budgeting is another step that I think many couples skip. If you’re lucky enough that cost doesn’t matter, then you can just keep going until your whole house is done! But most families have to work within a budget. You definitely don’t want to be in the middle of a big project and suddenly find that you’re out of money. When we moved into our new house, we knew there were some immediate fixes to be done. We looked at our annual income and expenses and figured out how much we could put aside for home improvements. When the money was gone, we had to stop. So we were realistic about how much we could do in that first year.
Another option might be to take out a loan. Whatever your situation, it’s important that you and your spouse are in agreement with how much money can be spent in getting your home organized and updated. Decide on the total amount you can spend and then prioritize your projects.
The other purpose of the Home Projects Plan is to help you prioritize. There are different ways to prioritize and no way is right or wrong. Some common ways to choose which room should be first are by using superlatives like:
* the worst room in the house,
* the most used room,
* the most visible room,
* the easiest room,
* the least or most expensive room to do.
Much depends on your personality. Doing the worst room first has its benefits because all else will seem easy. Doing the easiest room first might build your confidence to continue on. Doing the most-used or most-visible room first may help you feel that “at least we’ll look organized when people come to visit.” Whatever your motivation, choose the first room and stick to it until you’ve done everything you planned and can afford right now. Roughly plan out the order in which you would like your rooms to be finished. Of course this may change along the way, but better to have a plan of where you are going next and change it, than to have no plan at all!
Absolute of organizing: Finish one thing before you start another.