Admit it. There are places in your homes or offices that you’re ashamed of. Piles of paper that never get filed; mounds of laundry that never find their way back to your drawers; closets that are so full, the doors can no longer be opened without risk of injury; desk drawers that include anything from 3 sets of house keys to last week’s lunch wrappers. You know what I’m talking about.
Rather than tackling these hurdles, you spend your precious time shoving things into drawers, hiding things under beds, and stuffing papers into file folders with no rhyme or reason. Imagine how much time you could save by actually using those hours to organize and sift through the piles.
Sound overwhelming? It’s not. Anyone can get organized. But there are some myths that need to be dispelled and some realities you need to face before you start.
Here are ten things to know to help you on your road to getting organizing.
- Organizing is not cleaning. Your house can be spotless but you still find yourself spending hours searching for things every day. Organizing is making the decision to spend some time sorting your stuff, assigning a place for everything, and committing to maintaining the systems that best suit your household or office.
- Organized does not mean perfect. Nothing in life really is. Unless you want to live in a show home where nothing is ever used, your house will generally go through periods of disorganization on a regular basis. The key is changing your habits – going through the process of putting things back where they belong, in a location that is most convenient for easy access, and not being too hard on yourself on days when you just want to put your feet up and pretend that there aren’t 25 (or 250) things on the floor.
- Organizing takes time. You know that old adage: Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” Getting organized is no different. The first stages of getting organized are liable to make you feel even less organized – that’s why it’s important to do it a little at a time. Emptying the space, assessing where things should go and what supplies you may need, sorting, discarding and/or donating your unwanted items, and upkeep – it all takes time. It won’t happen overnight. Or even by next week. The best way to avoid getting burned out is to do one space at a time – one room, one closet, one drawer. Then take a break. Look at your space. Take pride in your work. The feeling of accomplishment will spur you on, and give you the motivation to keep going.
- Organizing means purging things, not memories. And it doesn’t mean you have to throw out everything that you no longer use. But sometimes the reason we have trouble letting go of our stuff is that we imbue it with so much meaning and we forget that the memories last, long after the item is gone. With today’s digital cameras, collage-making websites, and creative scrapbooking options, it’s never been easier to photograph our favourite items and keep the memories alive without all the extra clutter.
- Organizing systems are not rules. But they are guidelines to assist you in being in control of where your stuff goes instead of your stuff controlling how you live. Setting up systems and making them a part of your routine means that you can start to develop habits that will lead to better organization and help you stay that way without too much effort.
- Organizing is a team effort. Whether you share a room, an office, or a home with other people, it will take a team effort to keep things the way you want. Getting organized is only the beginning and everyone who uses the space needs to be on board with the systems that are put in place. And if there’s someone who’s not? You may need to designate certain areas of the home or office as their space – and wear a blindfold when you make your way through that area.
- Organizing is personal. It’s definitely more fun to get organized with someone to keep you company but the final decisions about your space are yours. If you feel pressured to get rid of something when you’re not sure you’re ready or if you are made to feel silly for keeping that teddy bear from when you were a baby, you may have the wrong people keeping you company. Make sure you surround yourself with cheerleaders who understand what you’re trying to accomplish but give you the room you need to do it at your pace.
- Organizing is an ongoing process. I know, I know. Why can’t an organized room just stay that way? Well, if you have anyone living in that space or using it more than once in a while, someone’s bound to return something to the wrong place, or leave stuff on the floor, or pile things onto the coffee table. It can be frustrating but there are ways to ease some of that frustration or prevent it completely. Get in to the habit of scanning a room whenever you leave it and take 60 seconds to clear floors and surfaces before shutting it down for the night. Even if you live in a home that has 10 rooms, this entire procedure would take about 10-15 minutes. It may sound like a lot to do when you’re exhausted after a long day, but when you consider that it took a few hours to organize the room in the first place, 10-15 minutes a night doesn’t seem so bad, does it?
- Organizing can be learned. We all have things that we’re good at. And then there are those tasks that we let others do for us – organizing doesn’t have to be one of those. Although some people have a natural talent for seeing order in chaos, there are some basic strategies and techniques that can help anyone get started. Check out your local library or book store for some great books that can take you step by step through the process. Or join one of the many Facebook organizing groups that can offer on the spot advice about any organizing dilemma. You may not become a professional but you’ll certainly give yourself some tools to get that organized feeling you’ve been imagining.
- There’s nothing wrong with being disorganized. That is if you don’t mind it and the people around you don’t either. And what if you do mind but don’t really have the time to do it, or don’t even want to do it yourself? Like with anything in life that we deem too difficult to fit in to our busy schedules, organizing can also be subcontracted to a professional, like me, for example.
Just think of all the wonderful experiences you can enjoy once you stop searching for those keys, kids’ notes, overdue bills, gloves, shoes…well, you get the picture.