Macro and Micro Organizing - What You Need To Know - Me In Order

So you are ready to tackle the clutter in that bedroom, garage or kitchen, but where do you start? This article will help you determine which organizing project to tackle within the time-frame that you have specified.

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Organizing projects can take on all forms. They can be large projects and small projects. They can be tedious and eventful. They can be laborious and emotional. Yet, in most cases organizing projects are liberating and result in a peace that can only come from a lighter load.

While it’s true that organizing projects can take on a life of their own, there are really only two mindsets that we can use when approaching an organizing project. One is called Macro organizing and the other is called Micro organizing. Today we will take a look at both approaches and help you decide which is better for your current organizing project.

The first is Macro organizing. This approach focuses on the big picture. If you have not organized a space in a long period of time, or ever for that matter, then you will want to begin with Macro organizing. With this approach you look at the space as a whole and not the individual parts. This is not a deep dive but a snorkel excursion. When we Macro organize we are not concerned with the details of the project but the space as a whole. Take your garage for example. If you have never organized your garage you will want to begin with a Macro approach — begin at the door and work your way around clockwise — making decisions on the items — what to keep, toss, donate and sell and then grouping like items together within the space. The trick here is not to worry about the contents of the item at this point just the item as a whole. In other words, with Macro organizing you are not worried about the contents of the box — just the box itself.

The other approach is Micro organizing. This approach has to do with all the dirty details! With Macro organizing you focused on the box as a whole. With Micro organizing you focus on what’s in the box. Let’s take a box of ribbon as an example. This is when you would empty the box of ribbon while making decisions on what to keep and toss. Then once you have decided what to keep you group like items together. When grouping ribbons together you would group them by color, texture, size or however helps you identify and work with the ribbon best.

Most people attempt to Macro and Micro organize at the same time. Typically this is what we do as Professional Organizers, however, I would not recommend this for your typical Do-it-yourself organizing project. More often than not we have found that this is when organizing projects become overwhelming for the homeowner. We recommend tackling any large space in two stages. The first stage being the Macro stage and then going back over the space with a Micro approach. This way you don’t lose focus when you open the box and discover the high school photo album; we’ve seen it all too often. You open the album and next thing you know an hour has gone by and no organizing has been accomplished!

Typically Micro organizing takes longer than Macro organizing. So you will want to leave the micro organizing projects for when time allows.

We have also found that Macro organizing makes the biggest impact while Micro organizing provides the best results. This means that you will want to Macro organize your guestroom when your Aunt Jody calls unexpectedly and says that she’ll be there in 2 hours and needs to stay in your guestroom for the next couple of days. Then, once your favorite Aunt has left, you can set aside some time to go back through the space and Micro organize.

The last thing you will want to consider when considering Macro and Micro organizing projects is the amount of time you realistically have to devote to the project. Don’t set unrealistic expectations and don’t beat yourself up because you have not gotten as far as you would have liked to. Organizing is a journey not a destination. So don’t worry about “getting there.” Instead focus solely on what you are working on right there and then. Don’t look at all the work around you — just focus on what you have in your hands. For most of us looking at the project as a whole makes us feel overwhelmed. So don’t do that! How do you eat an elephant? That’s right, one bite at a time. Same thing with an organizing project — just one item at a time. Do that over and over again and before you know it the project will be complete. Now go have a glass of wine. You deserve it! Cheers!

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