Three organizing essentials

If you want to be organized, these three essential tips can get you headed in that direction:

  1. Have energy. If you’re tired or deprived of nutrients, simple tasks like returning objects to their storage locations, taking the time to do a task properly, staying focused, and even making decisions are all difficult to do. When you get the proper amount of sleep your body requires and eat healthful meals and snacks you improve your chances of being on task and having consistent follow through over the course of your day. Taking care of yourself makes it easier to take care of the mess.
  2. Own less stuff than you have space to store. When objects aren’t crammed into a space, it’s easier to find objects and return them after you’re finished using them. If your filing cabinet is overflowing, you can’t put new documents into it. When your entryway closet is jammed packed, you throw your coats over chair backs instead of hanging them up on hangers.
  3. Write it down. The more projects, commitments, and worries you have floating around in your head, the harder it is to focus on your work, as well as remember all the stuff you have to do. Get all of your actions out of your brain and onto a to-do list or calendar.

14 Comments for “Three organizing essentials”

  1. posted by Amy on

    Wow! Simple but so true. Thanks for the reminders

  2. posted by Dee in BC on

    Great article. I beleive it writing it down. At work I process a ton of paperwork in a day I also deal with clients/ phone calls- read I am interupted many, many times. I have this quick system where I check off the required items as I do them on a scrap of paper. If I’m interupted I know I have finished the 1st 3 required forms but need items x & Y. So much faster than going back thru many pages of a file. I also started noting if we have the required support documents & where they are stored on the file cover. Much better than searching every year thru a 200 page file to see if we have form x completed. ( or getting caught in an audit without the required forms) I work in a hybrid office – about half the stuff is on the computer & half in a hard file. Locating info quickly can be a challange. I’m determined to make it easier.

  3. posted by PJ on

    Frist time posting here :O) Yesterday finally cleared a lot of things that were cluttering my bedroom, I have a nightstand but it’s not cleared/cleaned every day so it piled up stuff… Wonderful website and will make it my goal to check it every morning to inspire myself to declutter… Next mission:
    When your entryway closet is jammed packed, you throw your coats over chair backs instead of hanging them up on hangers.

    Give away those coats I don’t ever use! Save the ones I use… Nobody likes to use the closet b/c it’s extremely jam packed: difficult to get a coat out and even harder to put it back in! I’m thankful for the abundance, but maybe it’s time to re-gift them! thank you!!

  4. posted by Gal @ Equally Happy on

    I encourage all of my employees to take a good 20 to 30 minute walk during the work day. I believe it makes us all more productive and the time spent walking is actually time that people spend thinking through problems.

    I know it sounds counterintuitive to take a break in order to be more productive but it really works. It’s similar to your #1 item on energy. A break is just as important as a good night’s sleep when it comes to keeping your energy up.

  5. posted by Gemmond on

    The bit about having the energy (mental as well as physical) is key. It doesn’t matter if something is on my To-Do list for a day if I’m not feeling up to it.

    As important, I believe, is not starting anything that you personally aren’t committed to in terms of organizing. Very few of us, if we’re honest, do well at stuff we feel forced into or that we’ve said “yes” to doing when we really meant “no” or “not now.”

    Sometimes the real motivation comes from the result. No, we don’t want to spend endless precious free time cleaning out attics, basements and garages. But we do enjoy the outcome and it is often that that propels us through the work. (and not a spouse or family members badgering us. If you’re the one doing the badgering, focus on a relevant reward for the worker bee you’re trying to motivate!)

    The sight of the loads of seasonal laundry (we have a textile-filled home and despite the work, I love it)does not thrill me. Nor does putting the curtains, etc. back into place thrill me. But having a look that we love and enjoy throughout the year is the incentive that propels me.

    If I didn’t like that look, I’d certainly be resistant to the work/upkeep involved in maintaining it.

    You have to “get” something at the end of your work. If you don’t, it won’t work. So for folks who really don’t like the idea of change or chucking things or even the process of going thru stuff (confronting the past, issues, etc. as some objects can generate), there’s next to no incentive to keep clutter-free.

  6. posted by PamR on

    So true! I would add another — put your things away after finishing with them. This is my big downfall. The piles accumulate so quickly :-(

  7. posted by Linda on

    A #4 that I’m working on is putting “like with like” – who knew we had 10 magnifying glasses scattered around the house???

  8. posted by PracticeMakesProgress on

    Amen! Number 1 is of particular importance to me, as I have a couple chronic health issues that leave me with little or no energy on some days. Just 20 minutes ago I put a load of clothes in the dryer that I’d washed last night. I knew I didn’t have the energy to take care of them (hang the shirts, etc.) yesterday, and I didn’t want everything to sit and wrinkle, so I waited ’til today to finish up.

    As for #2, we’ve recently moved home after having our house renovated, and most of our belongings are still in boxes in the garage. I purged remorselessly while emptying the house out for the reno, and I’m taking my time bringing things back in and purging still more items as I go. It feels better than I can possibly express!

  9. Avatar of

    posted by Another Deb on

    Three simple rules. I love it!

    Last weekend I was sorting pictures to put things in photo boxes. They are in a big jumble and after awhile I noticed I was starting to fade out mentally. It was time to stop before the files just became piles again!

    Writing it down is critical. Last spring I put my external hard drive in some “safe” place during a vacation and now, since I didn’t put it on my list of stuff to remember, I forget to go find it, therefore forget to back things up, therefore lots of projects are awaiting final purge and backup. Clutter!

  10. posted by jc on

    As we age we may experience people close to us dying and leaving us with their stuff to deal with. In my short marriage late in life, two people have already died and left first my husband with a bunch of stuff, and now me. Ironically, I lived on a shoestring all my life and always wanted stuff… now I have so much stuff it’s ridiculous. I like this site.

  11. posted by organizingwithe on

    Love this! You take the important elements and boil them right down to useable size.
    Now….we just need to embroider them onto a sampler!
    Loved it so much I retweeted……

  12. posted by pashtsmom on

    Gemmond, your comments made me think of one of my favorite quotes:

    “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  13. posted by Barbara Saunders on

    Gal @ Equally Happy – I like your comment. I wonder how we ever got to the state of affairs where it became “counterintuitive” that taking breaks makes people more productive. That isn’t actually counterintuitive. Common sense, reason, experience, and intuition would all lead a sensible thinker to conclude that breaks lead to better performance. Convention, indoctrination, and self-delusion lead people to believe that driving themselves or others is wise and to overlook the overwhelming evidence to the contrary!

  14. posted by Jen Zagorsky on

    love these! I would also add to #1 – mix not-so-fun tasks with fun tasks so organizing doesn’t seem so daunting… throw on some fun music while you’re organizing your office, catch up with a friend on the phone while you’re sorting through your closet, maybe organize and sort your photos while you’re watching an old movie….

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