Getting organized doesn’t happen overnight

I’m currently dealing with an annoying problem in my left leg — some muscles are way too tight and make certain motions painful. I ignored the problem for too long, and it only got worse. But now I’m in physical therapy and doing exercises at home every day, and I can feel things gradually getting better. This is very encouraging, and I have faith that if I continue to do those home exercises, I’ll get back to being just fine in a while.

And this is very similar to how things go with many organizing efforts: They require continual work over a period of weeks or months.

Some of the common situations that lead to disorganization include:

  • A change in the household: a move to a new home, a new roommate, a newly combined family, a new baby, etc.
  • Medical issues (your own or those of a family member or close friend)
  • A new job or a crunch time at an existing job

In such situations, when you begin to get organized again, please realize that the problem areas built up over time and it will take some time to fix them. Try not to get discouraged by what’s still undone, but rather take pleasure in your progress — in each small step.

Doing my home exercises only takes about 20 minutes per day, but those 20 minutes are making a huge difference. If you can spend even 5-10 minutes each day on uncluttering and organizing, it will add up, too.

The following are three basic approaches you might take to starting a slow-but-steady uncluttering or organizing effort:

1. Focus on one space at a time

You might pick a room, and then tackle smaller projects within that room, as Dave has written about before. Maybe you can go through one box, or half of a box, or the first inch of a box on one day. Or maybe you can organize one drawer in a desk or in the kitchen.

2. Focus on one type of item at a time

For example, you could decide to deal with all the magazines or all the socks as one mini-project. You may want to start with categories that are easy for you and gradually move on to harder ones. Paperwork takes a long time for the volume of space cleared, so if you want a quick visual win you may not want to begin there — unless you have some buried papers that need attention right away.

3. Focus on one process at a time

Maybe you want to work on how you handle incoming mail, or how you get everyone out of the house in the morning, or how you keep track of your to-do items. This will often involve trying something new and then tweaking that new approach as you see what works well and what doesn’t.

Whatever approach you choose, the thrill of seeing ongoing progress can help keep you motivated to do more. As Harold Taylor of Harold Taylor Time Consultants wrote, “You cannot get organized in a day; but you can get more organized daily.”

3 Comments for “Getting organized doesn’t happen overnight”

  1. posted by Shaneman on

    There can be different types of events that take place that can distract us.

    What is important is that we get back on track as soon as we can.

    I agree that doing things one at a time is important and also exercise is great – it helps provide the energy we need to get through the day and help us feel good.

  2. posted by Karina on

    I want to leave you with some tips to help you stay organized:
    1.- One in, one out. Come home with a new package of socks? Get rid of all the old ones with holes. Come home with new toys for the kids? Donate the old ones they don’t play with. Assuming you already own enough (or too many) things, you can stay on top of clutter by disposing of the old when you bring home the new.
    2.- Have less stuff than you have room for. A great sale at the grocery store shouldn’t throw your pantry into disarray.
    3.- Don’t lose sight of what organizing is really about. It’s about allowing our homes to be what we need them to be: refuges, sanctuaries, venues for epic Minecraft sessions, and so much more!

    Good luck !!

  3. posted by Karina on

    I want to leave you with some tips to help you stay organized:
    Come home with new toys for the kids? Donate the old ones they don’t play with. Assuming you already own enough (or too many) things, you can stay on top of clutter by disposing of the old when you bring home the new.
    2.- Have less stuff than you have room for.
    3.- what organizing is really about?. It’s about allowing our homes to be what we need them to be: refuges, sanctuaries, venues for epic Minecraft sessions, and so much more!

    Good luck !!

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