Disorganized people usually have a million thoughts racing at once, and it may seem damn near impossible at times to grab one thing and hold on to it for long enough to de-clutter. You may not know where to begin because there is just so much stuff!! Your bedroom, your car, your refrigerator...it all seems like so much. So, how do you get organized if you can't even straighten out your thoughts? I'm glad you asked! Keep reading, and you will find six easy steps to getting and staying organized.
1. A Place for Everything...
Step 1 to organization is having a talk with yourself. Recognize your problem areas (closet, desk, cabinets), and visualize how you would like to arrange your things. Organize your space by sorting through your things and identify what is trash and what must be kept, and designate a clearly defined space for what is left. Keep in mind that organization is more than just cleaning up. You can be a clean person and still be disorganized. The key element to organization is being able to access everything quickly and easily because you know where everything is, and it is in a logical and convenient location.
Try to keep like things in similar places, and then group those things accordingly. For example, get a filing cabinet for all of your important documents. Keep every important item there, from tax forms to birth records. Categorize them and group them together. Your receipts go here, your bills go there, etc. Once you have done this, alphabetize them, put them in chronological order, or put them in some other hierarchy of importance of whatever qualifications mean the most to you. Make sure there's enough room in your storage to add things if necessary.
- Do I need this?
- Will I need this within the next year?
- When was the last time I used this?
- Will I miss this if I don't have it?
- Could it easily be replaced if needed?
- Is there someone else who could use this more?
Make sure that you clean up before you begin this process. You will need an accurate measure of how much space you have to work with, and you may end up keeping a bunch of junk if you don't get rid it. Convenience is a must. Make your things easy to get to, and store them where you use them most. Don't just throw everything wherever, or in the closet, attic, or garage. Put your paper and pens in your desk, cleaning supplies in the kitchen or bathroom, etc.
2. Everything in Its Place.
Once you have designated where everything should go, put it there. When you are finished using an item, put it back where it belongs. Don't say to yourself, "I will put it back when..." Don't put it in a different spot, no matter how temporarily. Replace it in its designated spot AS SOON AS you finish using it. Always put your keys, wallet or cell phone in the same place so you won't lose them or have to tear the entire place apart to find them when you need them. Use ziplock baggies and storage bins for little knick-knacks. Invest in or make some drawer organizers. The ideal place to store things is:
- A place where you always know where it is
- You don't have to move a bunch of crap out of the way to get to it
- It doesn't look ugly or in the way
- You can put it away quickly and easily
At the end of the day, take 10 minutes and put everything away that didn't make it back where it belongs. Just like that, your space is clean, tidy, and HGTV ready.
Make use of a calendar, planner, or smartphone to prioritize and schedule things. Get a physical calendar, and post it somewhere that you see it often. Make sure that you refer to your calendar daily as a routine. Always keep track of what is on the agenda for the day and the week. Any time you make a commitment or appointment, log it in your calendar. You can even schedule bill payments. You'll find that adequate use of your calendar will eliminate the need for a lot of the papers you hold on to (invitations, announcements, etc.)
You can use a planner to add detailed information about all of your tasks. Make sure to record the times, dates, address, important names or other important details that you may need access to. A planner is helpful when you have a tight schedule that is varied and hard to keep track of. A planner is convenient because you can take it everywhere you go and refer to it while you're on the move. Of course your smartphone can double as both a calendar and a planner with easy reminder alarms and search and editing capabilities. Your phone can be used like a pocket computer. But like I always say, there's nothing like actually writing it down.
4. Make Lists.
If there is anything important you need to remember, you should write it down. Many people feel that they have the memory of an elephant, but how many times have you gone to the grocery store for a few things, and got distracted and forgot something you needed. Sometimes, you come out of the store with a whole bunch of stuff you don't need, and completely forgot what the mission was in the first place. Shoulda made that grocery list. WalMart will get you every time smh...
Make a to-do list for the day, the week, even the month. Take a few minutes at the end of each day and make an agenda for the next day. Keep this list to about five things, or else you will have too much on your plate and could be setting yourself up for failure. Put a star or an asterisk next to the one or two most important things on the list and tackle them all until they are done. Your to-do lists for the week and the month will be more general, and maybe not quite as pressing, but still things that need to be done. Things like laundry, oil change, replacing a lightbulb may be on the week or month list. Getting organized is all about prioritizing and time management.
Another way to keep yourself organized is to try to consolidate your tasks. It may not seem like a lot, but the transition time it takes to switch from one task to another adds up over the day. You can multitask to alleviate the effect this has on you. Can people multitask? In order to effectively do this is to make sure that one of your tasks doesn't require much thought or active processing. For example, you can read while you exercise, or listen to an audiobook while you drive. Studies have shown that multitasking can impair your ability to effectively complete some tasks that may require your undivided attention.
Consolidating tasks works when you have a few different things to do that may be similar. Like washing dishes as you cook dinner, or getting a money order at the convenience store where you shop. As your task lists grow, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Consolidation is the best strategy that you can use to divide your work load up into chunks that are easy to swallow. Make sure to:
- Prioritize every new task that comes along.
- Divide your time into business related and non-business tasks
- Make an "irritation list" of things that concern you or worry you.
- Focus on a different segment at a given time (Errands, chores).
6. Delegate Tasks.
If there is anything that you may not be able to handle in enough time or give the proper amount of attention to, find a responsible and able person to help you handle it. Some things are better off set aside until they can be given enough attention to be executed perfectly. It can be quite difficult to stay organized if you are trying to do everything all by yourself. Finding a well equipped person to help you is a good way to stay on top of things and make sure that you do not get stressed out in the process. It can also help to teach someone else some necessary skills and how to address problems.
How to delegate:
- Find an experienced, responsible, knowledgeable person who may not have as much on his or her plate.
- Clearly let this person know the goal that needs to be accomplished.
- Clearly identify any boundaries or constraints there may be and the amount of accountability this person will have.
- Provide support and be available to help or train when needed.
- Establish and maintain control.
Getting and staying organized may take some time, but it is well worth it. There are an innumerable amount of benefits from having an organized home or office. You will notice that it will take much less time to clean up. You will actually feel at ease and have a clear head. You will not be embarrassed to have people in your space (work, home, car). You will find more time to do other things. There will be less obstacles standing between you and more important life issues. You will see a noticeable increase in self esteem. Therefore you will be a much happier and successful person.
Organizing ahead of time makes the work more enjoyable. Chefs cut up the onions and have the ingredients lined up ahead of time and have them ready to go. When everything is organized you can clean as you go and it makes everything so much easier and fun.