You want to have a more organized life- I know that, because you have found your way here… You want your life to run smoother, without as many planned hiccups as possible.
I can tell you one thing, you have to take action NOW. Start small and work your way towards a totally organized, simpler life.
I want to help you take action now and move ahead on your path to a more organized life. All I ask is that you take a small amount of time each day and accomplish one positive item on the list to get that much closer. If you have time for more then great! If not, one step is still progress.
By the end of these steps you will have built habits, that in return will make your life so much more organized.
- I call this the 10 minute sweep. Set a timer for 10 minutes and fly around picking up and properly putting away each item. This is also something fun you can do with the kids. Offer a prize or a treat at the end. If everybody pitches in, just think of the amount of stuff that can be put away. 10 minutes of your day, do it right before supper, or right before baths, or even when you first get up in the morning. It would be a good way to wake yourself up and get the blood pumping.
- Reduce before Organizing. The mistake most people make when trying to organize their stuff or their tasks or their projects is that they have a whole mess of things to organize, and it’s too complicated. If you have a closet crammed full of stuff, sure, you can buy a bunch of closet organizers, but in the end, you’ll still have a closet crammed full of stuff. Same thing with time management: you can organize a packed schedule, but it’ll still be crammed full of tasks. The solution: reduce, eliminate, simplify. If you take your closet full of 100 things and throw out all but the 10 things you love and use, now you don’t need a fancy closet organizer. Same thing with time management: if you have 20 things to do today, and reduce it to just the three most important tasks, you don’t need a schedule anymore. How to reduce: take everything out of a closet or drawer or other container (including your schedule), clean it out, and only put back those items you truly love and really use on a regular basis. This will leave you with a pile of other stuff — get rid of it by tossing it, donating it, selling it or giving it to somebody who will love it. If you can’t bear to part with some of the stuff, put it in a “maybe” box and store it in your attic or basement or other storage space. Label it with a description and date, and six months later, when you haven’t needed any of it, toss it.
- Punch List. During this step, I want you to sit down and make an unofficial To Do List. Maybe put each item you would like to get organized in one column, and then in the other column write how you plan to do that. In the beginning you may not know exactly how you plan to accomplish that, but as you work down your list, you will come up with ideas. I have a section for Organizing by the Room, so feel free to visit those areas for inspiration. Just because something works for one, does not mean it will automatically work for you. Make your own changes and tailor it to fit you and your family’s needs.
- Reduce before organizing. The mistake most people make when trying to organize their stuff or their tasks or their projects is that they have a whole mess of things to organize, and it’s too complicated. If you have a closet crammed full of stuff, sure, you can buy a bunch of closet organizers, but in the end, you’ll still have a closet crammed full of stuff. Same thing with time management: you can organize a packed schedule, but it’ll still be crammed full of tasks. The solution: reduce, eliminate, simplify.If you take your closet full of 100 things and throw out all but the 10 things you love and use, now you don’t need a fancy closet organizer. Same thing with time management: if you have 20 things to do today, and reduce it to just the three most important tasks, you don’t need a schedule anymore.How to reduce: take everything out of a closet or drawer or other container (including your schedule), clean it out, and only put back those items you truly love and really use on a regular basis. This will leave you with a pile of other stuff — get rid of it by tossing it, donating it, selling it or giving it to somebody who will love it. If you can’t bear to part with some of the stuff, put it in a “maybe” box and store it in your attic or basement or other storage space. Label it with a description and date, and six months later, when you haven’t needed any of it, toss it.
- Calendar. If you use a planner, you may have already completed this step. If not, you may need to purchase a planner or calendar, whatever works best for you. Go through and put all birthday’s, anniversaries, school events, family events that you may already know about. Put this where everyone in the house can see it. This way nothing BIG sneaks up on you. When a new event comes up, add it immediately. A dry erase board that hangs in a well seen area of the house is great to keep track of the week at a glance. Here is a cute way someone has used picture frames to do the week at a glance. Such a great idea! And you can write upcoming BIG events on there to be preparing for.
- Designate Chores. There is ALWAYS something that needs to be done. Make a list of daily chores that have to be completed, and pass out the list. You can assign chores to each member of the family, this would be a great time to discuss consequences if the chore is not completed. Here is a list of age appropriate chores.
- Don’t Procrastinate. Why put off for tomorrow what can be done today? Just get it done. You will feel so much better by getting your task done and no longer need to worry about it!
- Give EVERYTHING a home. When going through your house, make sure everything has a home. How can you put something away, if you do not know where it goes? You can’t. You just put it somewhere, and then when you need it, you have no clue where you put it. So, after you have reduced your items, make sure everything left has a home. You will always know where it is, or where it goes.
- Purge. This one kind of goes along with #2. Start with one room at a time and put into boxes, or trash bags. Make a pile for sell, donate, recycle, etc… This way you are concentrating on one room only. When you are finished take your boxes or bags to the appropriate drop off locations to get rid of your items.
- Learn how to say No. If you want to get organized you have to set boundaries for yourself. We can greatly reduce stress by simply knowing our limits (and sticking to them). It’s not required that you participate in every activity, serve on every committee, or personally handle each problem that comes your way. Lose that knee-jerk reaction of saying “yes” every time someone asks you to do something. You must know your limits! It’s better to tell someone “no” than to accept the additional responsibility, become overwhelmed, and do a shoddy job.
- Make time for yourself EVERYDAY. This is the number one way to reduce stress and get organized. Without time for yourself, getting organized will be a task that is far too overwhelming. This is a hard one for most people. When I say make time, I don’t mean time for chores and errands. I’m talking about time for relaxing and doing something you truly enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a long break – 30 minutes and a cup of tea on the back porch might be plenty. Just don’t blow yourself off just because you get busy. You have to respect your time as much as you do everyone else’s. When you treat yourself as a priority you’ll be much more able to get organized and of course reduce stress levels.
- Plan your day the night before. Do you feel as though you are always at loose ends? Do you forget appointments, run late, or walk out of the house without everything that you need? When your time is organized, you’ll feel the reduction in stress. Take a minute at the end of the day to plan for the next day – set out anything you need to take with you in the morning, pick out your clothes, locate your car keys, and remind yourself of your first appointment. You will start your morning in a much more centered and relaxed mood without all of the rushing around.
- Have one inbox. Well, actually you need two inboxes – one for home and one for work. But many people have many more than that — paper comes to their desk and lands in a number of places. Phone messages get placed everywhere. Notes to self are posted all over the place. Instead, have one inbox, and put all incoming stuff in there. Then, once a day (or once a week at home if that works better for you), process the inbox to empty. Take an item out of the inbox and decide what to do with it, right away: toss it, delegate it, file it, put it on your to-do list, or do it now. Do the same thing to the next item, until your inbox is empty. Don’t defer these decisions for later.
- Declutter Regularly. Find time each week to organize. Highly organized people make sure they find time every week, or more, to organize there things. Stuff does not stay organized on its own; it needs to be reorganized continuously and consistently.
- Stay away from Bargains. Unless of course it is something you actually need. You have removed the things you don’t need. Will you replace them when you see something on sale? Instead of bargain shopping without planning ahead, write down items you actually need and buy only those items. Organized people do not give in to false advertising. Items on sale will only produce more clutter.
- Work Hard. Put in a little effort. Actually, put in a lot of effort when necessary. Once you have delegated responsibilities and made a schedule, then you can organize what you have to do and when you can do it. Staying organized is not all a breeze. It requires that you work hard with recognition that when you work harder, you can enjoy your clutter-free home life later.
- Scan and backup your photos. Worried about losing the last copy of your childhood photos? Tired of all the bulky picture books in your coffee table? Have the pictures scanned to save space and make sure you don’t lose these precious memories. You can even have them scanned at a local printing shop.
- Keep the Hotspots Clean. Every house and office has a hotspot for clutter. Usual suspects are the sink, dining table, cubicle, night stand, and bedroom drawers. Take note of these places and tidy them up daily.
- Get a Money Management App. One downside of being unorganized is overspending your money and relying on credit cards until payday. You can easily avoid this by getting a money management app like Quicken or Mint. Use these apps to record your monthly bills and document your spending. This way, you can get reminders sent to your before your bill is due so you can deposit money into your account. You can also see how much money you have already spend so you’ll know exactly where your money goes and where you can cut back.
- Create an Inventory and don’t Overstock supplies. Make an inventory of home cleaning and toiletry supplies, so you don’t run out and don’t overstock either. You might think overstocking is good, but if you don’t have enough storage then all those extra supplies are just wasting your precious space. The same tip is applicable for office supplies, canned goods and toiletries.Whichever of these tasks you decide to do, remember that you can’t completely organize your life in one go. It’s a long, never-ending process so be patient. Just decide to get organized now then take baby steps until you see some semblance of order in your life. Soon enough, you will be making a habit out of it all.
- Check your expiration dates. Expired canned goods and medicines won’t just taste bad, it’s also bad for your health. Dispose of it immediately to minimize the clutter in your cabinets, and make room for new supplies.
- Unsubscribe to unread Email Newsletters, Magazines, and Other Subscriptions. If you subscribe to a number of newsletters, blogs and other online publications, but haven’t read a single email from them in 3 months, just unsubscribe. You probably won’t read any of their content, anyway. While you’re at it, unsubscribe from unread magazines, catalogues and junk mail. It’s just a waste of money and space, especially if you don’t read them.
Whichever of these tasks you decide to do, remember that you can’t completely organize your life in one go. It’s a long, never-ending process so be patient. Just decide to get organized now then take baby steps until you see some semblance of order in your life. Soon enough, you will be making a habit out of it all.