June 16th 2020
Benjamin Franklin once said, “for every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” If one of America’s founding fathers believes so much in the benefits of being organized then don’t you think you should too? Okay, so you’re not born with the knack for organizing, but like any other skill, it can be learned. Organizing is a habit that you can develop and cultivate until it becomes second nature.
If you’ve tried to get organized before but failed to make some real and lasting results, the following tips may just get you over the hump.
Before you even start organizing your stuff, it is a good idea to declutter first. If you don’t, you’ll just spend a lot of time organizing things you don’t really need or use. You can do the Marie Kondo route and give away everything that does not spark joy. If that is quite Draconian for you then maybe the four-box method will suit you better.
All you need are four boxes and some time to go over your belongings. One box is for items you would like to keep, one for things to throw away, one for things to give away, and the last one is for things that need to be relocated.
“Don’t skip a single item, no matter how insignificant you may think it is,” said Joshua Becker, creator of the Becoming Minimalist blog.
It’s okay if you can’t finish in one day. You can start by dealing with one category first, such as clothes. “This may take days, weeks, or months, Becker said. “But it will help you see how many items you really own and you’ll know exactly what to do with each item.”
If this method is still too difficult for you to follow then at least try to get rid of one item per day as suggested also by Becker. After one year, you would’ve given away 365 items.
Always finish what you’ve started
If you do decide to declutter your home or office, make a commitment to finish what you’ve started.
“Organized people start and finish tasks as they go whenever possible,” according to Katrina Teeple, founder, and CEO of Operation Organization, a professional organizing company based in Los Angeles.
It’s easy to get distracted while you are decluttering. You see a photo of an old friend, for example, decided to call him or her up and the next thing you know you’ve already spent an hour chatting – and your home is still a mess.
If you can’t devote a whole day to decluttering then divide the activity into smaller chunks and then just finish one chunk per day until you’ve completed the task. Try doing smaller and easier tasks first – clearing your desk, organizing a drawer, etc. – to build momentum before you move on to bigger and more difficult tasks.
Ditch the paper clutter
After removing clutter from your home or office you should take measures to avoid introducing new clutter to your space. One of the biggest sources of clutter is all the paper we have to deal with – mail, bills, receipts, etc. All of these can easily take up precious space in your home or office. If you find yourself getting burdened with paper then maybe it is time for you to go paperless.
“If you’re going to try this, you need a way to quickly scan documents on the fly so you don’t struggle to keep up with the workload,” suggested entrepreneur, bestselling author, and influencer Neil Patel.
He recommends CamScanner, an app that you can use to scan your bills and other papers quickly and easily. If you need to share your scanned files with other people then you can archive them using a program such as Dropbox.
Create a workable to-do list
How can you expect to finish all of your required tasks if you don’t even have a workable to-do list, to begin with? There are many apps and gadgets available but it is always best to keep your to-do list simple. Sometimes a simple pen and paper will do.
Leo Babauta, author, and creator of the minimalism blog Zen Habits, uses a Moleskin notebook at work.
“With all of these different ways of doing things, I end up spending much more time trying to organize my to-do list, or consolidate it, that I don’t get much actually done,” says Babauta.
If you spend more time organizing your to-do list than organizing your life then, clearly, there is something wrong.
No matter how messy your home, your office, or your schedule is, you can do something right now that can set you on the road to becoming more organized. Following just one tip above, for example, can already help you make some permanent changes.