I get asked all the time how someone could better organize something. The hard truth is that there is no one way that someone can be organized – or as my grandma used to say, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” There are a few habits that make it easier to focus on organizing and less on the overwhelming nature of getting everything organized.
Use a Calendar
Whether you use a physical wall or paper day planner or a calendar app on your phone, find a system that works for you and stick to it. When you schedule an appointment, put it into your calendar right away. Don’t take that reminder card, you’ll just lose it, or worse, clutter up your purse or wallet.
Take it a step further: If your purse or wallet is already stuffed with reminder cards, take them out and put them in your (new) calendar.
Create a Drop Zone
You know how when you come home and you immediately drop everything you carried in with you on the closest available surface? Having a designated space, or drop zone, for all of those things keeps your table, couch, or entire house from becoming routinely buried under all that stuff. While a mud room is ideal, even just a small row of coat hooks and a shelf by your most used entry point would do.
Once you create a home for your things, you won’t have to look for your keys, coat, or your umbrella the next time you’re on your way out the door.
Take it a step further: a small table or shelf for other small items you might want to keep by the door (lint roller, dog leash, a basket for returns… the possibilities are endless!).
Use TV Commercials
You have mountains of items on your to-do list and you’ll never get out from under it, right? WRONG! Baby steps! Put on a tv show, every time a commercial comes on, pause the TV and do one or two quick things on your to-do list. By the time the program is done you could have significantly decreased your to-do list AND you got to watch your show.
Things that take 30 seconds – 5 minutes include:
- Throwing a load of laundry in the washer or dryer
- Emptying or loading the dishwasher
- Folding a load of laundry (bonus, you can watch while you’re doing this!)
- Sorting mail
- Shredding the junk mail
- Taking out the recycling or trash
- Lifting weights or doing some crunches
- Making a grocery list
- Writing a thank-you note or addressing a birthday card
Take it a step further: set a timer for 15 minutes once a day and see how much you can cross off your list. Tidy the kitchen, take out the trash, put away the laundry – all while getting in some extra steps for the day!
Hooks keep the exact item you need in the exact place you want it – and 3M has several options that you can use and reuse without putting a hole in the wall. The options are endless and they keep what you need, where you need it, for when you need it.
- Put small hooks by the door to hang up your keys
- Put a hook in your linen closet for a spare set of scissors
- Put a hook in the kitchen to keep the broom and dustpan from falling over
- Put a hook on the side of your charging station, nightstand, or desk, so your charger cord stays put
Use Baskets (or Boxes)
Storing like items in baskets cuts down on visual clutter and make things easier to find. IKEA, The Container Store, Home Goods, and Bed Bath & Beyond are all great resources for cost effective (and pretty!) baskets in all different shapes and sizes.
Small baskets are great for organizing like items in your linen closet or pantry, say keeping all of your extra shampoos together or all the crackers in one place.
Put a large basket in each family members’ closet so they can toss in clothes and items as they no longer fit/need/want them. Once the basket is full, you can take it to your favorite donation center.
Keep a medium sized basket near your home’s drop zone, you can store items you need to return to the store, dry cleaning, etc., so that the next time you leave the stuff that needs to go with you is ready and in an easy to carry container.
Make Your Bed
An unmade bed makes the room look messy and chaotic; a made bed makes the room look clean and serene. It’s a small task that takes 2 minutes or less – and according to Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit”, is a habit correlated with better productivity, stronger will power, and a boost in happiness. Yes, I’m telling you that spending two minutes each morning making your bed will give you all of that.
What are you waiting for? Make that bed!
Originally featured on The Cultural Hall 5/05/14