If you’re like me, you keep everything of (what you perceive as) value. You know: perfectly good, but rarely, if ever, used items. Let’s start with your wardrobe. This includes the expensive, but outdated designer outfit hanging in your closet. I once had a suit hanging up that no longer fit, but cost me a fortune 8 years ago when I bought it.

There are also those items of sentimental value to us. Books that we have collected over the years. Candles (never lit) that your mother brought back to you from her trip to India. What about that set of china you received as a gift when married years ago? Does it sit in a china cabinet taking up space? Or better yet, maybe it’s stored away in boxes collecting dust. You’re just waiting until the kids grow up for an opportunity to use them. I know. I mean, who wants to hand wash 16 place settings of fine china anyway?

Well, here are my rules to obtaining organization in every aspect of your life:

Golden Rule: Keep only what brings you joy.

Mari Kondo is my tidying hero. She developed the KonMari Method, the best for eliminating and bringing order to your life. She approaches tidying by deciding what you want to keep rather than what you want to get rid of. This is determined based on items that bring you true joy or serve a genuine purpose to make your life easier. Items that do not provide either to your life are sold, donated, recycled or thrown out. Read her little books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and Spark JoyAn Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. Her methodology will change you.

Rule #1: Purge that which doesn’t bring you joy. Use or display that which does.

We tend to keep many things that are perceived as valuable or useful. If you haven’t worn that sweater in a couple of years, don’t like the feel of that mug to drink from, or haven’t read that book since the first time you bought it, chances are that you don’t value the item as much as you thought. You may have once, but you no longer value it. Set it free. Clear your space and mind. Wear clothing that makes you feel fabulous. Use the dishes that are for special occasions. Light the candles.

As I discusses in my previous article on personalizing your space, only display and keep items in your home that reflect your best self. You want to make sure the things around you make you feel good. For anything that doesn’t meet this criteria, donate it to your favorite charity, have a garage sale or sell it online. AmazonEbay and Craig’s List are popular sites for selling new and used items on the web. This includes all of those toys in which your children no longer have interest. Get you kids involve. Let them know you’d like to gather toys and clothes for less fortunate children. It will teach them generosity along with how to pare down.

Rule #2: Stop over-consumption!!

Things do not define you as a person. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need or even want it. Think through your purchases carefully. Don’t even bring them into your home if they are only serving short term fulfillment. Besides being an awful waste resources, it just wastes your preciously earned money. It is so irritating to see clothes that have sat in my closet for months with their tags still hanging from them. Before I know it, they’re donated off with the tags still attached, realizing that I never really wanted them in the first place. Remember, we only want to own things that reflect the best in us.

Rule #3: Sort, Categorize, Alphabetize, and Label!

Honestly, not only does it make your space and storage look nice, but these are really key to an organized, efficient space. It only takes a conscious effort to put things back in their place. I eliminate wasted time searching by returning things to their proper location each time I put them away. By installing a closet system, I categorize and sort by color clothes in my closet, socks in my drawer and shoes on my shelf. It really saves me precious time getting ready in the morning. There are professional closet installers or you can do it yourself with a basic system from Lowe’s or Home Depot

Get Organized

Alphabetize your spice rack and store pantry items so that they are all visible. My pantry is divided into sections so that I know exactly where to find what I’m looking for. It will help you determine what you need from the grocery store and what to make for dinner. It is especially handy to divide your kitchen into zones according to tasks and store frequently used items within easy reach.

In addition to storage cabinets and shelving, there are also some really great storage boxes for everything from your children’s art and toys to magazines and media. West Elm has some nice options. I kept CDs alphabetized in a CD cabinet and DVDs stacked on shelves in labeled boxes. This allows me to quickly and efficiently find what I want to listen to or watch. However, this is also an area that can get out of hand. Take a look at what you own and whether you still have any interest in that music or movie. Or better yet, upload your music and movies to iTunes (or your equal), then donate or sell the discs. Check out SecondSpin.comto sell your unwanted CDs and DVDs. Recycle your outdated magazines. Evernote is a great app to file articles (by category, of course) that you want to maintain for reference.

Incorporating these rules into your life will not only create organization, but they will lighten your psychological load. You may not realize it, but clutter and disorganization have profound affects on your mind too. Alleviate stress and frustration: use these tips and get ORGANIZED!!

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