We write a great deal on this site about how knowing what you really need can help you unclutter and organize. Do you like to have paper and pens next to you while you work on the computer? Do you access your hole punch five times a day? Do you like to have music on while you fold the laundry? If so, you should have these tools in places you can easily reach while you work on these tasks. Get rid of the things you don’t need, and have available the things you do.
In addition to knowing what tools you need, though, it’s also a good idea to know your personal strengths and weaknesses when it comes to uncluttering and organizing. Are you good at putting items away after you use them? Are you spontaneous or procedural? Do you work better on your own or in groups? When you’re honest with yourself about the things you do well — and not so well — you can be more successful with your uncluttering and organizing efforts.
One of my strengths is I don’t ever get caught up in the “what if” line of thinking. When I look at small slivers of wrapping paper or fabric remnants or empty yogurt containers, I don’t hesitate to recycle these types of things. Conversely, one of my weaknesses is I don’t ever get caught up in the “what if” line of thinking. I have great difficulty imagining how to re-purpose objects. An empty paint can is always an empty paint can to me, it’s not a pen holder or a bin for small toys or a bucket to use to clean paint brushes. As a result, I’ve learned to let my husband look over items I plan to donate to charity or recycle before making final decisions about them. He’s a level-headed guy who usually agrees with my decisions but has rescued a few important objects from my purge piles over the years.
The following list is far from complete, but my hope is that it can get you to think about your strengths and weaknesses so that both can work in your favor when taking on uncluttering and organizing projects:
- Strength — Idea Generation. In your family or when working in groups at the office, lead the organizing solutions aspects of the project. Research and dream up ways to store the items you decide to keep in ways that best suit all of the people who will access the space and/or items.
- Weakness — Not Good with Follow Through. If putting things back where they belong is difficult for you, consider having storage space for an item you regularly use in many different rooms. For example, if you take off your shoes sometimes in the living room or by the front door or in your bedroom, have bins to hold your shoes in all three spaces. You’ll easily be able to find your shoes in one of the three bins, and your shoes won’t be cluttering up three rooms.
- Strength — Motivation. If you’re good at motivating others, use these same skills to motivate yourself and other people on an uncluttering and organizing project. Don’t announce that you’ll be the official cheerleader, simply do what you do best. Play music, get everyone and yourself laughing, and make the most of the situation.
- Weakness — Wandering Mind and Feet. Work with a buddy when uncluttering and organizing. This person doesn’t need to participate in the process directly, he or she only needs to be in the same room to talk with you and help keep you on task. I like to refer to this person as an accountability partner.
- Strength — Noticing Patterns. I often refer to this skill as a super power. People who are good at noticing patterns are great at sorting papers, filtering out duplicate items, and grouping like objects with like objects. If this is your strength, roll up your sleeves and let your organizing skills shine. If working in a group, help teach others how you quickly and efficiently make sense of the information you’re processing.
What do you do well? What don’t you do well? How can you get your strengths and weaknesses to help you succeed with your uncluttering and organizing projects?