If you feel overwhelmed when the topic of organizing comes up, I totally get it. Over the last 10 years we have been inundated with TV shows, books and magazine articles telling us how to have a perfectly organized house, garage or office. Have you found yourself in the grocery lineup after a hectic day scanning the magazine rack, but instead of eyeing George Clooney your eye is drawn to ‘Create the Perfect Linen Closet’, ‘Conquer Chaotic Mornings’, or maybe ‘132 Smart Storage Ideas’? That’s when some real frustration sets in and you ponder, ‘what’s a disorganized girl to do?’
My first thought is that you may not be as disorganized as you may think yourself to be. The issue may simply be that solutions you have read about and tried just don’t work for you. There is no one size fits all approach. Each individual is unique and the solution will be unique. Maybe it’s time to ‘think outside the magazine’. I am offering a few suggestions that I use in my own life to try and create a greater sense of balance so the task of organizing is not so overwhelming, and dare I say may even be enjoyable.
- Creative visualization is a great way to start any organizing project. This technique can be used by anyone who wants to accomplish personal or professional goals. Whether it’s weight loss, a travel excursion or organizing the bedroom closet, creative visualization helps you to keep your eye on the prize. So before you start your next organizing project, close your eyes and visualize your space. Take a few minutes and think about how it will make you feel. These positive emotions will drive the success of your project.
- Sorting. Just like in kindergarten when so much time was spent sorting by color, shape and size, believe it or not sorting is the basis of organizing. Whether organizing your closet, shed, cutlery drawer or home office, sorting ‘like items with like items’ is truly the key to an organized space.
- Assign a home. Find a consistent home for all the items you love, need and want to retain. This can be a decorative box on an entry table for cell phone and keys, some vintage eggcups as a repository for jewelry or recycled mason jars for home and office supplies. It’s consistency that makes it work. Keep in mind that the home you assign will work best if it’s close to the point of use of an item.
- Consider using one central calendar at home to record family activities. This may be challenging with all of the new technology available, but it will ensure fewer conflicts in scheduling.
- Create a family binder. This is a great project for the entire family on a rainy Saturday afternoon. You may want to include emergency contacts, telephone lists, takeout menus, favorite recipes, fitness, school or other relevant family information. Make family members responsible for adding to this on a regular basis.
- As paper poses one of the biggest organizing challenges, consider signing up for e-bills. Apply the four D’s to mail: discard it, delegate it, defer it or do it! Unsubscribe to any electronic mail that clutters up your inbox and if you don’t have to have it in hard copy, don’t print it.
- Learn to delegate. Do we really have to do everything? Let go of some of the demands on your time by prioritizing what you really need to do and delegating the rest.
- Organize your lunch break as a time for personal rejuvenation. Take the time to meditate, walk, phone a friend or read a book. Make self-care part of your routine and reward yourself often.
- Find yourself a group to share ideas with on a regular basis. This can be a book club or fitness group. I am a member of an NLOWE Mastermind group and have the privilege of being part of a dynamic and diverse group of women with varying expertise from communications to HR, social media and the arts. Not only are they a phenomenal base of expertise they are a regular dose of laughter, support and creativity.
- Make organizing fun. If you get frustrated crank up the tunes and if nothing else works dance like no one is watching.
These are some of the techniques I use with my family and my clients. I hope there is a tidbit here that encourages you in your next organizing project. And hey, the next time you find yourself in the lineup in the grocery store feeling overwhelmed at ’60 Ways to get organized in 60 Minutes’… head home, take a relaxing bath, read a good book, or simply enjoy some quite time. Organizing is a task that works best when you are physically and mentally rested.
Josephine McGrath is a Professional Organizer and Owner and Operator of The Organized You. She draws on over 15 years experience in the field of information management along with training from Professional Organizers in Canada to provide organizing services to clients in their homes and offices. Connect with her at www.theorganizedyou.ca, or on Facebook or Twitter.