Hopefully you read and digested Part 1 of how to Live Organized in a Busy World and are eager to learn the next steps to getting and staying organized while living a busy life. I hope you had a chance to start a small project that has motivated you to get organized and stay organized.
Let’s get started with the next phase of living organized in a busy world.
1. Involve everyone. Be sure to involve all those who share the space. Consider how the space is used. What needs to be in the space? How does everyone function in the space? What is working? What is not?
For an “out of sight, out of mind” thinker, create a space that allows them to keep things out. Use a bulletin board, tiered file sorters, or open baskets as a home for the items. Setup reminders to do a task. Use Post-it notes or app alerts on your phone to remind you about when something is due. Avoid piling. Things in a pile get lost and forgotten.
If your children drop everything inside the door when they get home, work with that. Place baskets near the door where they can drop their shoes, and hang hooks at their level for coats and backpacks.
2. Declutter. Have everyone go through their belongings. Donate items no longer used that are still in style and good shape. Recycle items that are obsolete like telephones, VCRs, and TVs. Turn old towels and clothes into rags, and use plastic grocery bags in waste baskets. Trash anything that is broken that you can’t repair or haven’t repaired.
3. Give everything you keep a “home”. It doesn’t have to look perfect, it just has to make sense to you and anyone else that uses the space.
4. Be clever. If you have room, use canisters on the counter for items you use more often. Use furniture with dual purposes, like an ottoman with storage. Use the correct system and product for everything that you put away, and work with your tendencies instead of against them. For example, maybe you prefer to hang all your clothes on hangers rather than using drawers. If this is the case, you would want to allow for more hanging space in your closet. Maybe you don’t like to file so you use a “To File” folder that becomes overstuffed. Use a magazine holder with upright file folders and when you are done with the paper, just slip it into the correct folder. No drawer to open and you are only dealing with the paper once.
5. Accept differences. If you are lucky enough to live with others that share your organizing style then you can count your blessings! If not, you need to negotiate the way your systems will be set up and how everyone will work to maintain them. Maybe you are a “no clutter on the counter” kind of person and your loved one is an “out of sight, out of mind” kind. Set limitations and rules. There may be some habits that need to change to make the system work for both of you.
6. Be realistic about time. We tend to underestimate how long a task will take. You know the classic one —“I’ll just check my email or Facebook quickly…” Only to realize you just spent thirty minutes and are now running late to your appointment. Or, you overestimate how long a task will take. You imagine that cleaning up the dishes after dinner will take thirty minutes, when really it will only take fifteen. You walk into a cluttered room and think that it will take you all day to do, when in reality it only will take half a day. If you have already decluttered and assigned homes for everything, it will only take twenty minutes to return everything to it’s proper place!
7. Keep it simple. Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” You don’t need to create extravagant systems or use the newest and prettiest organizing product. Use things you have already in a new way. Once the system is working for all those who use it, you can invest in some pretty boxes and better totes. Here are some examples of items you may already have around the house that can be used to organize. A laundry basket can be used to corral the shoes by the door. Plastic Ziplock containers can hold markers, crayons and colored pencils. The great packaging that Apple uses for iPhones make great drawer organizers. Be creative.
8. Create systems that don’t require many steps. The less time it takes to do something, the more likely it will be done. If you or anyone in the family struggles with AdHd, traumatic brain injury or physical disabilities, using too many steps can be overwhelming, which means they will not use the system. Here are some simplifying tips: Instead of containers with lids, consider open baskets. Be careful not to be too specific when categorizing. Say you are separating beads, for example. Instead of separating the different shades of color, create a bin for each general color; red, blue, green or pink.
9. Maintenance. This step is often forgotten or neglected. It is the most important. Once you get organized, you need to stay organized. Unless, of course, you have the luxury of hiring someone to go behind you and clean up after you. For most people, this is not an option. To maintain an organized space, you may need to change your habits and set up new routines. According to Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher, it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. For some, depending on how hard the habit is, it may take even longer. Here’s a tip: Stick with your new system for at least two months. If it isn’t working, you may have to make some changes and then re-try. The same system doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes you need to think outside of the box to make it work for you and your family.
10. Start the day off in a better state of mind. Allow ten to fifteen minutes each night for everyone to return items to their homes and tidy up. Set out the next day’s clothes and items that need to leave the house with you.
Now it’s time to Live Organized in a Busy World! Remember… Just Start!
What keeps you from getting organized and staying organized?