Being organized is as much a feeling as it is a way of behaving. The best way to diminish piles of paper and stuff is to act on it. Try my “1-at-a-time rule”. Select 1 pile. Start at the top and act on that 1 item only. Make a quick decision…keep or not. If you are going to keep it, set it aside. If you are going to get rid of it, put it in one of the following immediately: trash recycle shred donate sell Go to the next item in that same pile until the pile shrinks, or is gone. Don’t let yourself get distracted by putting things where they belong, just set it aside and keep going on this pile, only. The first step is this, the sorting and purging process. Make it a “Move It Monday”!
Here are 3 guiding principles that you can post in a visible place and use to help you get out of feeling overwhelmed from the clutter in your life: A little bit of organizing is better than none. Set yourself up for success. Expect that you will go off course. A little bit of organizing helps you to see success more quickly and feel less overwhelmed. Doesn’t it feel great to start and finish a project? Don’t try to tackle an entire room. That can create a feeling of being overwhelmed and keep you from starting. Instead, clear out a specific space like an all purpose (aka junk) drawer. Set yourself up for success means that you want to learn to accurately estimate how much time something will take you. If you cannot complete a project or task in one sitting, it’s better to break it up into smaller increments. Rather than think you can reorganize an entire room in 3 hours, schedule an hour to work in one part of the room and see how much you accomplish in that time. Off course? Of course! Life is always changing. The key to effective organizing is to first have a system in place. When something unexpected happens to derail you from optimal organizing habits it’s easier to get back on track if you know where it all belongs. If you share the space, it allows everyone to put things back as well.
At Outside In Organizer and Makeovers one of my organizing mantras is, “love it and use it”. There is nothing “wrong” with keeping the things that you love, use or wear. When organizing and decluttering you want to set some reasonable ground rules and avoid the pitfall of making excuses for why you “can’t” let go of items. Use means current use, not “I might need it someday”. Unless of course “someday” happens within the year! If you are keeping an item that is stained, broken, or missing a part, try to set a date to take it to be “fixed” so that you can use it. If you don’t do this within that time frame, let it go. Consider how long you’ve been “planning to fix it!” These are more effective ways for you to get rid of and prevent clutter: First,take stock of everything that you have and keep it visible. Does seeing it all feel overwhelming? When you gather everything from a category into one place and see how much you have it makes deciding what to keep and what to let go of easier. Second, you can create a display of items so that you remember to use or wear all of them over time. If after a couple of months you see that you are not using them, you can let go. Third, rotate items from the back of a deep shelf or cupboard to the front so that you can remember that you have them to use, consume, or wear. When in doubt, remember your goal is to be organized and clutter-free.
It’s not compact, digital, or pocket-size but it is smart. Whatever your preference is is always up to you and determined by your needs. The real question is, “what information do I need to have with me when I am on the go?” See if these ideas help you answer what to organize next: Health, medical information and contacts – to take to physicians, labs, therapies, hospital, urgent care Child or adult care information, emergency contacts – for when you are at work or traveling Banking and insurance information – in preparation for an emergency Confidential information such as passwords and pins – same Job, salary history – when applying for loans Education history – same Housing history – when applying for new housing, a mortgage Warranty and repair information including expiration dates – when scheduling repairs Automobile maintenance records – when you go for your service appointments
Organizing for your health and safety will provide you with greater peace of mind. First, consider having all of your information in one easily accessible place whether it is digital and/or paper. Second, be sure that your emergency contact and/or health care proxy has access to, and a copy of this information. Remember to always send them an updated version. Third, and very important in the process of organizing your records, update the information on a regular basis. When you change supplements, prescriptions, dosages, doctors, insurance plans, or receive a different diagnosis it’s time to update the information. TIP: bring your copy of your wellness records with you to every appointment and exam including your general physician, dentist, and specialist. This will help you answer the questions that they ask you, remind you to note any changes they recommend, and to track the dates of your last appointments or exams. Here are additional ideas for what to include in your organized records: Current diet, food restrictions Current exercise regimen including type, frequency, duration Allergies or sensitivities Sleep routine including the times that you go to sleep and awaken List of questions for your wellness provider The format is less important than the gathering and updating of the information. A 3-ring binder works as well as the right app as long as you establish and use your system! P.S.-this system will serve you will in the event of a disaster, when you move, and if you are traveling.
Rotate your hangers: Turn all of the hangers in your closet to face the other way…every time you wear an item and return it to the hanger, put the hanger back the correct way. At the end of a month look at what you haven’t work, and wear it! At the end of the season, look at what you haven’t worn, and let it go. Contain it: Gather all of the magazines, newspapers, circulars, articles and catalogs you want to read and put them into a single container. Make yourself a promise that the container will never be more than 3/4 full. Each time you add an item, act on the bottom item (read it, discard it if you can find the information somewhere else in the future, scan it if you need the information within the next 3 months). Put it where you need & use it: Gather all of your unexpired store coupons, sort them into a plastic slotted envelope, put them in your car. Create a mail station in 1 convenient, centralized location. Gather all related supplies for your station – letter opener, paper clips, stapler, stamps, return address envelopes, highlighter, shredder, recycling container. No piles!
As an Organizer and Time Management Specialist in San Diego (and virtually elsewhere) I welcome questions about: Creating more time How to de-clutter space Email organizing Which papers to keep, for how long, and where to file Where to donate or consign How to get rid of electronics, toxic products, medications Organizing TIP: Have a place for “notes” in your weekly planner; jot down your organizing and time management questions. At the end of the week set aside time to find the answers…post as a comment on the Outside In Organizer website, email me, or call. You can also look online, find popular magazines, and checkout books at your local library!
As your San Diego Organizer I love to look at all of the places that we can utilize for storage after we declutter. For instance, think vertical and add movable shelves on legs. These are great for under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Think about stick-on hooks for the back of a closet or bedroom door. Of course, there may be space under your bed for off season items in storage bins. Recently I worked with a client and we created more drawer space by hanging the belts that she stored in the drawer on a belt hanger, instead. Here are some more ways to maximize your storage space: 1. Utilize vacuum seal bags for off season clothing as well as excess linens. 2. Stop stockpiling plastic grocery bags and recycle them in drop offs bins at the grocer store. Commit to using the reusable grocery bags instead and store them in your car where they are handy. 3. Clear out your junk drawer; discard expired coupons and gift cards, limit the number and type of items you store there, use drawer organizers to keep things sorted and accessible. 4. Make space in your file cabinet. Shred or recycle items that are no longer useful or current in content. 5. Store less used items such as camping gear and off season clothing in empty suitcases.
Ask your San Diego Organizer, “how do I get my office organized?” Here is what I would tell you: don’t just declutter! That won’t work because without putting your system in place the clutter will return. After you gather and sort (what to purge, what to keep) you want to make decisions about use and work flow (action versus reference, frequency and accessibility). Remember: there needs to be a place for everything, with everything in it’s place! Important TIPS: (1) Label items the way that you will remember them for easy, fast retrieval. (2) Ask yourself why you are keeping it, and for how long? (3) Take 10-15 minutes at the end of every work day to declutter, file, plan!
Do you find yourself looking at the pages of a magazine and imagine living in a space like the one on the page? Do you love looking at a model home and imagine living in one just like that? When you walk into someone’s office and see a clear desk top do you fantasize about yours looking that way, too? Until you know what you want to achieve, how can you take action? Write it down, get it out of your head, share your dream with someone you trust. Get ready to realize the dream you deserve to fulfill!