Get Organized

Get Organized: How to Get Started and Make It A Habit

You have promised yourself that you would get around to getting organized for what seems like years. However, you find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Almost literally, you end up sandwiched between your dresser and the wall trying to rearrange and clear out the overwhelming mail, letters, junk, debating on clearing out your old clothing, office space, and more.

Every where you turn, you discover an aspect of your life that needs organization, you find yourself rushing out to buy something new to help yourself with the project. Then, after a few hours or days, the inspiration fades away, and you end up back where you started or perhaps, even worse than when you started.

The good news is that being organized is not a personality trait; it’s a skill set. Sometimes it has to do with unintentionally developing a collection of paperwork and items you don’t need. As with digital devices, we regularly discard old photos, apps, and downloads. We have found that it helps to apply this thinking to our analog lives with our materials things and paperwork. You just need to have the will to accomplish your goals and a few tips from someone who has been there. If you’re ready to be finally get organized for more than a few weeks, here is what we think you should know:

Know yourself. Be honest when identifying your main problem areas, and set some goals before starting. Most importantly, prioritize your goals based on which ones will have the most positive impact on your home, office, or life.

Being organized is not the goal. Don’t try to become organized for the sake of being organized or because your partner or colleague tells you that you should. Create a checklist of personal problems you encounter day to day as a result of being disorganized. Brainstorm (or write down) why each project is important to you and the benefits you’ll enjoy once the project is complete.

Free your mind. Organized people don’t try to remember every item on their tasks list. Instead, they get their to-dos out of their heads and onto a list or calendar, so they never have to worry about dropping the ball. When you have a system and schedule in place, your mind is free to think about important problems, brainstorm a great idea, or even daydream.

Identify your preference for organization. Consider routine habits such as cleaning, discarding unnecessary things as soon as possible, avoiding procrastination with paperwork, etc. Develop a routine, and stick to it. Depending on your individual situation, it might take weeks, months, or even years—there is an abundance of research on how long it actually takes to develop a habit. Start by identifying the least attractive tasks and placing them on a to-do list to tackle one at a time.

Help from friends or a professional is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes, it takes another person to lend you the perspective you need to get organized. Don’t be shy about enlisting the help of a professional or friend willing to help you take on the challenge.

Minimize. Are you having trouble letting things go? First, identify which of these common reasons is making you hang on to stuff–it’s sentimental, it was a gift, you think might need it some day, or it’s still in perfect condition. Ask yourself one simple question: would I choose to go out and buy this thing again right now today if I didn’t have it? If the answer is no, then you should let it go. Remember that having less means less to clean, less to organize, and less mess.

Have a place for everything, and everything in its place. When deciding where to keep things, always consider where and how often you use each item. Store things where you use them, and don’t allow once-a-year items to eat up real estate that’s within arms reach.

Success is in taking action and following through. Once you have a plan for an organization project, or even a small clean-up task, schedule it. If something is scheduled, lift the load off of your conscience by making it a point to clearing it up as planned.

Organization is a learned skill and habit you practice. Practice makes improvement. Start with little steps and continue to build on that as you get used to your new preferences for organization.

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