As a professional organizer, I don’t just organize homes – I also teach my clients how to make wise decisions and maintain order. We call this process the “transference of skills.” During the organizing process, regardless of whether we’re working in an office or a closet, I often share these six powerful phrases to motivate and inspire the changes my clients are seeking:

1. I come to guide, not to judge.
From the start, it’s important that my clients know that I am not there to shame them into throwing anything away. Together we discuss their vision for their home, and then I develop a blueprint for how we can get there. With a neutral eye for the spaces that bother them and lots of experience, I navigate them towards their goal.

2. It gets worse before it gets better.
The sorting process brings most everything to the surface. I always stress the importance of seeing the BIG PICTURE when gathering together like items. Take clothing for example. You shouldn’t just look at the jeans in your dresser but also the ones in the laundry, hanging in the closet, and on the closet shelves. This means you might temporarily have a huge pile of jeans on your bed, but it will give you a clearer picture of what you have and make any downsizing decisions easier.

3. Store small, similar items together in baskets.
Oh, how we professional organizers love our baskets! And for so many reasons! You can label them, which tells anyone, not just you who decided where to store something, what belongs in them. They provide boundaries, which keeps volumes in check. Plus, when you move a basket full of stuff you’ve moved 20 small things at once, instead of having to move them separately or risk knocking them over. This is especially true in pantries, medicine cabinets, and cleaning supply areas.

4. Make a decision the first time you touch a piece of paper.
I channel David Allen here with his ‘if you can do it in under two minutes do it now’ rule. Otherwise, all the time you spend deciding that you’re not ready to decide what to do with the paper adds up to so much more the time it takes to do what you actually need to do. If the paper is an idea to consider, like an ad for a concert in a few months, then put it in a folder labeled “ideas” and note in your calendar when you are going to find someone to go with or order tickets.

5. Things can change purpose.
You know that old teapot, the one way in the back of your kitchen cabinet that belonged to your grandma? The one that is so pretty and fragile that you would never actually put tea in it? It’s no longer kitchenware, it’s a memento now. Its purpose has changed from serving tea to reminding you of someone special. Put it in the nostalgic treasure category as opposed to the kitchen tools category, and make room for something else that you can use in your kitchen. Then when you look at your collection of keepsakes as a whole, choose the ones that make your heart the happiest and release the ones that you’re only keeping because you feel you ought to.

6. In the end, math is going to win.
It’s simple. You cannot fit more into a drawer/closet/cupboard/on a shelf/etc than will actually fit there. And when you try, you risk items breaking or being buried so deep you’ll never see them again. Respect the math and you’ll be able to see what you have when you open a drawer or closet. When in doubt remember… Leave room to grow!

Content provided by Women Belong member Kelly Brask