How many time have you told yourself, “I’m going to get organized NOW!“, only to find that it’s so much easier said than done? Even as I write this, a post meant to give motivating advice on how to combat life’s literal and figurative clutter, I can see from the corner of my eye an ominous pile of mail on my kitchen counter just waiting to be sorted. I’ve probably walked past it a dozen times today. Each time, I pretended not to see it as if that would somehow make it disappear.
The task of organization is so much more than simply putting toys away, or cleaning out the desk, or tackling that looming pile of junk mail. It’s understanding your strengths and weaknesses and then making the necessary preparations so that one curve ball doesn’t upend your whole day. It’s often learning to let go. There are always going to be things you just can’t tackle, and there are going to be some habits that you just can’t break. You’re human, it’s okay. Knowing your flaws will make it that much easier to make sure they don’t trip you up.
If you’re not a morning person, don’t tell yourself “Tomorrow, I will wake up early and accomplish x, y, and z.” That’s self-sabotage. Instead, complete the tasks when it makes most sense for you. And if you know you’re going to hit that snooze button six times, look out for your future-self by prepping breakfast the night before, setting the start timer on the coffee maker, or laying out the day’s outfit.
With that in mind, here are a few tips we can all consider to help us better collect and center ourselves in the new year. Our resolution doesn’t need to be to get organized now. Rather, to adapt our lifestyle so that order and structure are merely byproducts of our everyday behavior. And if that fails, we can always just resolve to drink more water, right?
Sounds so easy, yea? But we all know in today’s culture of ‘More is More’ it’s really hard to cut back. When everywhere you turn there’s marketing showcasing a product to “make life easier,” you slowly start to convince yourself that everyday life is actually really hard. (I’m looking at you, late-night infomercials.) No one ever seems to be selling resourcefulness, but it’s probably the easiest route to a more efficient, organized, and satisfying lifestyle.
Simplifying might mean downsizing the number of gadgets you consult throughout the day. Or alternatively, adding some form of technology that helps you minimize clutter, such as going paperless or digitally scheduling employees. When you buy something new, donate something old. Unsubscribe from all those nonsense emails that bombard you everyday with sales alerts and new product announcements. And don’t overcrowd those shelves and storage bins; there’s a surprising amount of visual serenity to be found in the empty spaces. You’ll see that you don’t need to make a radical commitment to minimalism to reap some of its benefits. Small changes can yield big results.
Organization should make sense. Whether in the home or at the office, it’s worth the time to create a system of sensical order. While utility closets or a basement cache of extra supplies work for some people or businesses, most of us do best when we can find the thing we’re looking for with minimal effort. It just makes sense to keep an oft-used item like extra computer paper in a cabinet by the printer. Not down the hall, past the ladies’ room, in a hidden closet that smells like stale air and commercial glass cleaner.
Same rule applies for an environment like the family room. Sure, having to see all of little Susie’s LEGOs or toy blocks through clear containers might be an eyesore. But they sure are easy to find, and anyone can figure out how to put them away properly. It can be tricky, but finding a balance between the aesthetic design of a space and the intuitive placement of useful items will be a major key to helping you get organized now.
Learn to Manage Your Time.
Truthfully, this topic deserves it’s own post. (And indeed, check back soon for just that!) After you’ve reduced the clutter and created an instinctual and orderly way of arranging your home/office/car/etc., now what? Find ways to organize your time so that you can better meet your obligations. After all, being organized and being efficient go hand-in-hand. Utilize schedules, calendars, cell phone reminders, helpful apps, or whatever it takes to keep you accountable and focused on the task at hand. It’s not a matter of finding the time to do things, but making it. It’s your day! You decide how it’s going to go.
Sometimes the simple act of making a checklist, even with mundane things like “Make bed” or “Call Mom,” can help drive productivity. There’s a very specific pleasure found in crossing an item off a to-do list. Additionally, getting those assignments committed to paper will help you to better see the whole picture. You can get a greater sense of what the day will look like, what items simply aren’t going to be tackled at this time, and at the end the day feel like you had control over your obligations, not vice versa.
By this point I’m probably preaching to the choir, so let’s keep it short and sweet. The convenient systems of organization you set up are only useful if you actually use them. Make a small change, and stick to it. If after a few weeks you can’t see a noticeable difference, try something else. It’s all about taking the time to actually get to know yourself, and then finding your own groove.
Good luck and happy organizing!