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Visualizing the Outcome

The first question I like to ask a client after we tour their home or office is, “If you had a magic wand, how would you want it to look?”

Starting with the result in mind is a major factor in the success of any project, organizing or otherwise, but sometimes we are so buried under clutter and paperwork it is hard to visualize a solution.

Your vision might simply be to put away all of your clothes so that you can see your bedroom floor again or to complete photo albums to enjoy with your family and pass on to your children. It’s not always a complete remodel; sometimes just putting what you’ve already got in order is enough to take you to a completely different level of productivity and peace of mind. Here are a few keys to unlock a new perspective on your home or office organization project.

• Magazines and other people’s homes are often the best places to find inspiration. Start saving clippings or ask to photograph someone else’s successful project and keep a file or tack things up on a bulletin board to inspire you. Keep a running list of all the things you’d like to change about the space and also a list of the things that do work.

• Brainstorming on a piece of plain white paper is another way to visualize your future organized space. I like the mind mapping method. It’s a great way to gather, organize and elaborate on your thoughts.

• Put the name of your project in a circle in the center of the page and then branch out from there, listing anything you can think of related to the project, whether it be a list to “to-do’s,” things you’d like to purchase or new and interesting ways of using the space. Write down all of your ideas, even the wacky ones. You can use colored pens, draw little images or anything that will get you thinking “outside the box.”

For example, you may just want to get your garage organized to the point that the cars, tools, chest freezer and lawn mower all fit, but what if you wall off a section and create a wine cellar, half bath, art studio, home gym or guest room? Suddenly, the garage is full of potential, possibly creating solutions to home dilemmas (such as wine storage) that you hadn’t considered before. To look at some examples of mind mapping go to www.mindjet.com, www.mindgenius,com  or www.imindmap.com.

By letting go of attachment to what the space is like and what it is used for now, you can really open up the possibilities for your home and create more ease in your life.

 Suppose a major organizing dilemma is the home office. You’ve been using the dining room, which means that you’re constantly clearing off the table for meals and having to set back up at least twice a day. What if you turned the guest room into a home office? You might work five days a week but have guests only a few times a year. By shifting your perspective on the use for that spare bedroom, you might increase your sanity, productivity, financial health and general happiness.

A professional organizer can help you visualize and achieve the transformation of a cluttered space. But a friend with a fresh perspective can also help you see how you might arrange a room differently to help you achieve your goals. Often we are so close to the problem that we can’t see it clearly and are overwhelmed, when most of the time, a few simple changes — such as creating a place for things and always putting them back where they belong — make a huge difference. Then we wonder why we didn’t see such an obvious solution years ago.

Recently, we had a leaky hot water heater and I realized that if we installed a small “on-demand” unit where the huge water heater had been we could use the extra space for a much-needed linen closet. Sometimes an annoying problem like this one can be a real opportunity to rethink your space.

The more time you put into planning your project and visualizing the results you are working toward, the more likely you will achieve your simplest goals and possibly your wildest dreams.