Being organized can help in many areas of your home and work life. Most people tend to find things more easily and quickly when organized, worry less about maintaining their stuff when they’re uncluttered, and may find their days more stress-free than when they were disorganized and cluttered. Some popular rules of thumb (have a place for everything, label your containers) can and do work well for most of us. There are times, however, when organizing advice may not make sense for you.
That doesn’t mean you should give up on your goal of uncluttering and streamlining your most used spaces. But, it does mean looking at things a little differently and considering whether or not that organizing advice is …
There are several organizing rules of thumb that can become mantras to help you stay motivated to maintain order in your space. The key to using these rules with success is making sure they aren’t so rigid that they become a source of stress for you. If the principle you’re attempting to use is too rigid, you will not only become frustrated, but you’ll also refrain from using it and still not be able to control the build-up of clutter.
Try this instead: Adjust the rule so the core tenet remains the same, but tweak it so it suits your personality and lifestyle. For instance, some people drop everything (shoes, bags, mail) at the main entryway and create clutter (or block the pathway). You can still “drop” your stuff at the door without creating clutter.
- Instead of taking your things to an entirely different room (or a spot much farther away from the door), install hooks on the wall nearest the doorway or inside the closest closet for your bags and jackets.
- Keep a basket at the entryway to collect mail and paperwork.
By flexing the organizing principle, you’ll still reap the benefits without making drastic changes that are too difficult to consistently maintain.
Any process that is complex, even ones that help you to streamline and become more efficient, will be difficult to maintain. Having multiple steps, particularly ones that need to be done in a specific order, can take longer (and, at times, require more brain power). This is perhaps the reason why some of us dislike doing laundry (raising my hand). There are several things that you need to do before you’re actually finished, and then in a few days you have to do it all over again.
Try this instead: Keep it simple. Processes with fewer than three steps are usually easier to manage and don’t take as much time to complete. As you consider which organizing principles to use, also think about how you can re-design them to suit your needs.
For example, to maintain your closet, you can:
- Group your clothing by type or in sets
- Group your clothing by color
- Hang your clothing by sleeve (or hem) length
- Take a picture of pieces you like to wear together (inlcuding accessories)
- Use garment dividers
- Label shelves
- Turn hangers backward each time you remove clothing to wear
- Store your shoes in clear shoe boxes
- Add a photo of each pair of shoes to the outside of each shoe box
- Keep a donation bin on the closet floor
Each of these steps is very helpful, but you may not be able to keep up with all of them consistently. Instead, select the things you know you can do easily and routinely, and gradually add (or swap out) other techniques as necessary.
As you test out your next organizing strategy, remember that it needs to fit you and the way you think. If it has too many moving parts and isn’t flexible enough to suit your lifestyle, don’t be afraid to make a few changes.