How to Regain Organization and Order

I often find that a disorganized mind and disorganized home seen to go hand in hand. Many of my friends who are often late, cancel last minute, or don’t show up at all have homes that could be contenders for an Extreme Hoarders episode. Those same friends seem to have issues in many other areas including lack of self esteem, self control, and sometimes even holding a job. I am convinced that a great deal of those issues would at least decrease in intensity if they were to spend some time organizing.

I have helped quite a few get organized in my time. From simple office clutter ( piles and stacks of papers , and unruly filing cabinets) to entire homes. It is something i enjoy doing so i never mind helping. I firmly believe that the first step to un-cluttering the mind is un-cluttering your environment.And i have seen extraordinary results!

The biggest thing that holds most people back from organizing is the sheer magnitude of the job. There is an overwhelming sense of “Where do i even start?” and “This is impossible, i give up “. It becomes a vicious cycle of guilt and apathy.

So where does one start anyway?

What i always tell people is to start with just one area. It might be a desktop, a coffee table, a closet or just a corner of one room. Setting aside a few hours even once a week can lead to miracles months down the road. Of course the key to these miracles is NOT to re clutter the area once it has been dealt with, and ,unfortunately i’ve seen a lot of that also.

Upon starting any project with someone i often hear many reasons. Some are quite valid- a mental or mood disorders like bi-polarity, depression, etc. Sometimes there was a brain injury in the past or physical event which left the person disabled. But more often it just happened over time, starting with a single pile of paper or closet. The single pile became twenty, some stuffed into boxes , and shoved away . This went on for years until and entire room became filled. Or a closet became a catch all for just about everything…then the next closet..and the next ..until there were no more closets and corners were put into use. Naturally over time, it became a habit and then an overwhelming problem.

What works for each person is very different. Some can easily use an alphabetized filing system for everything, or by utilizing a simple storage system that can be purchased online or at a store.Once the system is in place, some can continue to stay organized. But not always. It is easy to lapse and return to old habits. Here is what works for me:

  1. i have talked about it before but having a small inexpensive notebook that i can carry in my purse is exponentially better than a million post it notes or even and appointment book. I write down whatever i need to in it throughout the lists, items i want to order, appointments, phone numbers, tasks i need to complete. I refer to it often ad cross off items as i address them, transfer information to more appropriate places ( calendars, etc) and then rip out the pages as they are completed.
  2. i keep one small area of a desk ( some use a basket or bin) to throw any invoices or things i need to file later. I do NOT let it get out of control. I set aside a time every 2-3 weeks to go through the pile and file in appropriate places, or whatever needs to be done.I also do not start another pile in a different spot.
  3. I get to a store every 6 months or so to buy whatever new storage containers i might need. This is especially true for basements, garages, attics, and studios. Then i set a time ( this can take a few hours or a few days but i put it on my calendar!) to organize and label accordingly.
  4. i create and use check lists for several things: household tasks, regularly purchased household items, budget/bill pay , and a calendar that works for me personally. I keep a master copy on paper in a file or on my laptop to print out as needed.
  5. There is a designated place for EVERYTHING in my home, work bag, etc. I am certainly no Martha Stewart and some items may seem out of place for others. For instance , i know i always keep my phone and other chargers in a small zipper bag in my work bag, i keep certain medications in a Sunday through Saturday box and others in a small container in my purse which i refill as needed.I buy duplicates of some things like my favorite hairbrush and comb and keep a set in my work bag and in my bathroom I know from experience if i do not return something to a designated spot immediately, i will lose it.
  6. Some stuff in my home is labeled for a certain room- certain tools like hammers and scissors MUST stay in that room. I often have duplicates for other areas and make sure i or anyone else using them returns them to the same spot after use.I can get very very cranky if i go to find something and it hasn’t been returned to said spot!
  7. I have a routine for my morning and when i wake. If this varies i can be off for the rest of the day, sometimes for a few days. In the mornings before bed i am sure to take 15-20 minutes putting my much containers in the sink, my laptop/phone on chargers, my dirty clothes i the hamper, etc. When i wake i have my coffee, a few smokes and go through messages, email, etc. writing down what i need to remember in my notebook. I then take my bath, gather anything i need for errands and work ,pack my lunch, and then get out the door .I take a nap before work or at least rest for an hour. If any of things things get disrupted i get irritable and definitely do not function as well.
  8. i almost NEVER use post it notes!These can easily get lost. And i limit my written organization to the small notebook, one dry erase wall calendar and a stapled “packet” of my monthly budget, a paper calendar, and an expense sheet for misc. purchases.I throw all junk mail in the recycle bin immediately. I have a spot to throw any items that need to go upstairs and take it with me when i go up right away.
  9. When i see any area getting a bit messy i know i need to address it promptly. Procrastination is the enemy here.
  10. Last and most importantly, i run a tight ship. I do not let others( in my case- roommates but always applied to my kids or partners in the past) in the household get by with sloppiness or not adhering to the above when using any common items/areas or with their own items. No piles of paper, no dirty clothes left lying, no sink full of dirty dishes left for more than a day.We all have weekly tasks that rotate, we all share the costs and take turns buying commonly used items, and we keep all common areas neat and clean.

I hope this helps someone, and am always open to new suggestions. I recently read a blog about having a bin to place commonly misplaced personal items and will be starting one for myself shortly…Thanks Judith (!

Happy organizing!