January is GO Month. For those of you not familiar with the professional organizing lingo, that means it's time to Get Organized. The beginning of a new year is a great time for a fresh start. The holidays are over so you likely had a huge influx of new toys, books, clothes and gadgets. What better time could there be to take stock of what you have and do a little decluttering?
Getting organized tends to make the top 10 list for New Year resolutions again and again. Being organized can help simplify your life, de-stress you and free up your time to do the things you really love.
I'm a busy mom of two young children (with another on the way) and I consider my time valuable. Why would I waste my time looking for things? It comes down to the fact that I love spending time with my family, seeing clients, organizing, writing and being creative. Being organized allows me to do all of these things.
It means that I don't waste 15 minutes every morning looking for my keys. It means that I don't buy the same product over and over again because I can't find the first one. It means that I can open a cupboard or closet without feeling overwhelmed by stuff. It means freedom to live my life.
This doesn't mean that my home and my life is perfectly neat at all times. After all, I am a busy, working mom whose mental to-do list is as long as anyone else's. It does mean that there are things that I do (more or less without fail) that help me and my family to stay organized.
I know this is easier said than done, but putting off all of the little things adds up to a big mess very fast. Of course it's quicker to throw your clothes on the floor instead of putting them in the laundry bin. Of course it will cause less conflict to let your kids leave a mess after they play instead of having them put their toys away. But putting off for later what really needs to be done now always comes back to bite you.
Try using Gretchen Rubin's one-minute rule: If you have a task that can be done in less than one minute, do it without delay. Go ahead and file that paper, pick up that toy, reply to that email and put that bowl in the dishwasher. It's not like you're going to come back at the end of the day and regret that your counters are clear of dishes. Don't procrastinate. Just do it.
Give Everything a Home
There is a reason I called my company Everything in Place. When an item has a designated "home," you know where to look for it and where to put it away. You don't want to be searching through five drawers in three different rooms to find the tape you need to wrap a present when you're running late for a party.
Try to make this home make sense for how you use the item. The more frequently you use something, the more accessible it should be. Your favorite cozy flannel sheets should be right at the front (preferable in cute bins divided and labelled by bed size!) but it's okay to have all the guest bedding in a vacuum bag on the top shelf of the linen closet if you only use it a few times a year.
Forget the yearly spring cleaning -- declutter often. Toys get broken, shirts get ratty, dishes get chipped. There's no need to wait until the "designated" time to take stock of what you have.
You don't have to tackle everything at once. If you see something that needs to be dealt with, look at it as a 10-minute opportunity for a project. Did you find a holey sock while putting away laundry? Use it as a catalyst to empty your sock drawer and keep the ones you actually need and wear. This doesn't mean you have to dive into your entire wardrobe, but having a neat, pared-down drawer of socks is an easily accomplished task that will put a smile on your face.
Live with Less
Minimalism isn't for everyone. It isn't even for me. But I do like to dip my toe into the minimalist pool.
Try not to buy and accumulate the items that aren't necessary. That new gadget for the kitchen that takes up counter space, the extra set of bath towels you just bought because they were on sale, that hot new book you want to read even though you already have a stack of unread ones next to your bed. All unnecessary. Less stuff = less mess = more freedom.
A real trend I see with my clients is having a back-up of a back-up of a back-up. While no one wants to run out of shampoo in the middle of a shower, you also don't need five bottles in the bathroom. Try using my 50 per cent rule" when something is half full, it goes on your list. This gives you enough time to find it on sale and you don't need to stockpile it in your already full storage space.
Consult a Professional Organizer
I realize this is a bit self-serving, but hear me out. If you wanted to know the best toothpaste to use for your cavity prone teeth you would speak to your dentist. Questioning the most effective cream for your laugh lines will send you to your dermatologist. Why not consult an organizer for the best way to get organized?
We have the resources, training and connections to set up a system that works for your lifestyle. I realize that it may not be in everyone's budget to have a professional organizer come in for hours, but many of us will do either in-home or remote consultations and coaching at lower cost than in-home organizing sessions.
You can set a Skype call, give the organizer a tour of your space, discuss your needs and goals and we can come up with solutions that you can implement and work for you -- as long as you are prepared and motivated to do the work, we will come up with the plan.
Happy New Year and happy organizing!
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While many of us work on our computers, it's important to have one space free of clutter on the desk for other kinds of work, notes Technorati. Make it a priority to keep this area clean.
Are you really using that stapler every hour? How about that pencil sharpener? If it's not a supply you're using constantly, put it in a convenient desk drawer. Lifehacker suggests using the "breadbox" rule, i.e. if it's smaller than a breadbox, put it away.
It is so easy to allow for piles like this to build up on your desk. Monica Friel, president of the organizing service Chaos To Order, suggests opening mail near a garbage can, recycling bin or shredder and tossing it as soon as possible.
You know how after you clean your house, you're always a little more careful with the sink splashes and sweeping for a few days after? Just think, if you kept a dust cleaning spray and screen wipe nearby, you'd feel the same way about your desk.
Whether it's for your lamps, computer or cellphone charger, it's easier to let cords overrun your workspace and make you feel disorganized in the process. There are a ton of gadgets out there to keep you organized, but even a simple twist tie can make a difference.
You know what creates mess? Wrappers from sandwiches, crumbs from cookies and various other food-associated items. Stop eating at your desk, and you'll find the mess lessens — and hey, it's a good idea to take a break anyway.
It's incredibly easy to let mugs pile up on your desk, but that's exactly how water gets spilled all over your notes for an upcoming meeting, notes Technorati. And of course, it's also how you end up with 14 cups on your desk at the end of the week.
Seriously, why do you still have a pencil holder full of highlighters, Sharpies and pencils (when was the last time you used a pencil?!?)? You probably only need two pens on your desk, so get ruthless and toss the rest.
This is a larger chore to be sure, but if you can prioritize your workspace according to what you use most and least, that goes a long way toward staying neat. Think about your daily tasks and how your desk reflects those. Do you really need all those books lined up?
Post-Its can be a useful tool for reminding you of tasks, but they also create a ridiculous-looking mess that can impact you more than you realize. Get in the habit of making to-do lists on your phone for more streamlined, neater organization.
It's nice to be able to look at your family while at work, but it's easy to let the personal items and knickknacks build up quickly. Stick to just one picture frame — and that's it.
Carve out time in your schedule at the end of the day (or the end of the week, if daily feels like too much) to clean up your desk with these tips. Remember it can help you start the next day feeling more organized and less stressed, so you're really just doing yourself a favour.
Follow Allison Weigensberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/organizer_alli