The Art of Sorting

Sorting is one of the first steps in organizing. Making sure one would understand what they are organizing in the first place. Every simple or complicated task starts with understanding the task at hand and making sure there is a game plan for reaching your objectives. So even though sorting is already a big part of the organizing process, it is in fact, part of your planning too. This step gives you a validation and another perspective on how you should be able to fix a lot of the stuff you have.

So let’s step back and try to understand what our objectives are in organizing.

  1. First and foremost, you want to feel relieved of the clutter. You ultimately want to feel happy about this. If you are not happy with the outcome, then there’s something wrong with the process.
  2. Second most important is Ergonomics. You have to make sure that the result adds to the efficiency of the environment and not worsen it. You don’t want to have a difficult time in spending more effort in reaching, or even just looking, for things that would help you in completing a work you initially intended to accomplosh in that space.
  3. Have a provision to declutter and give/throw unnecessary things or those that you don’t even want to be there in the first place.
  4. It has to be nice to look at! I don’t think this needs further explaining but if you don’t like it to be, then… why?
  5. Lastly, but certainly not the least, you want to be able to make it last. You don’t want to see yourself doing this activity every single week.

Ok, so now that we have established our objectives, let’s move on to our 3-Step process:

  1. Categorising – make sure you are able to have a good list of groups or categories that would work for the area. Things have to be like-for-like in order to properly label it and make sure you are able to maximize the storages you have. Bear in mind though, that the meaning of like for like, is not to be too minute that you find yourself sorting all 1×3 grey Lego pieces issued out in 2007 for the Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Millennium Falcon of Star Wars!!! That’s just beyond crazy! Why? because you will probably never finish, at all! So make sure your categories would be something similar to 1) small toys often used 2) small toys not used that much 3) big toys 4) soft toys… etc. Once you have these listed out, make sure you understand if this suits your available storage items.
  2. Prioritising – Simple rules in prioritizing that I follow are the following:
    • Need to Have – all the necessities. All the things that you think are really important and vital to your work or well-being! You cannot operate without these.
    • Nice to Have – all the things that you have an attachment to but not necessarily you need on a daily basis. This can either be items that will improve your work or well-being but not necessarily something you cannot live without. Or this might be the most expensive item that you have and you still think this will be worth more as time goes by – so it has to appreciate in value
    • Might be ok to Have – this category is those items that don’t fall in the two above. Generally speaking, these items are those that you would like to dispose of. But of course, I do not advocate throwing it immediately unless you have gone through the process already (Read 3 steps in Letting Go). With this, I always make it a point to have a separate bin for you to put all the items that you think you can let go of. If in one week you already felt good about not seeing it anymore, then you can either sell it, give it away, or throw it.
  3. Rationalising – so now that you are able to understand all the things you have. It is time to finalize the game plan. Make sure that categories that are needed in one area are actually there. You don’t want printer ink cartridges to be on the other end of the room right? It has to be near the printer! Makes sense right? Also, what do these items look? Does it have a lot of cables and look really messy? Or are these items that are just really not that exciting to look at? Either you have a nice bin to cover these, else if it is aesthetically pleasing you can then sort it by color – ROYGBIV to the rescue!!!

So, there you go. You now have an idea on how to go about sorting the hundreds of stuff in all your rooms. In no means Sorting is a science though, rather, for me Sorting is an Art. This means what works for me may not necessarily work for you. I have been doing this for years, and it takes a lot of practice. In time you will get to do this in autopilot mode, where you really don’t need to list down the categories and do it on-the-fly. The concepts above are just really guidance so that you would know what is applicable to you and what is not. But I hope we all have the same goal, that is to make sure everything is organized for the betterment of our lives!

Please let me know your comments or suggestions. Until the next NeaTip! For now, I leave you with some sample projects I had in the past… Enjoy!

Stay Neat everyone!

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