10 things you can do right now to be more organized

Here at Unclutterer we often focus on long-term solutions for clutter problems. But this week, I want to focus on the short term. The following are 10 things you can do within the next 10 minutes to help yourself be more organized.

  1. Lay out tomorrow’s outfit tonight. Last week, we wrote about what I think of as doing a favor for your future self. Unless you’re going the Steve Jobs route and wearing the same outfit every day, you probably spend a few minutes each morning staring at the dresser or closet in an early morning fog and the longer you stand there the more you run the risk of being late for work or school or wherever you need to go. Reclaim that time from your morning by doing it the night before. It’s a great feeling to pop out of bed and find your outfit ready to go.
  2. Update the calendar. Once a week I ensure that our family calendar is up-to-date. This is especially crucial now that the new school year is starting. It only takes a few minutes to ensure that every appointment that’s scheduled for the next seven days has been properly recorded. If you live with other people–kids, roommate, spouse, whomever–have everyone participate in this activity to be sure everything is included on the calendar.
  3. Plan the week’s menu. Years ago, I supervised a group home of students with autism and other developmental delays. Something that my staff and I had to do was prepare nightly meals for everyone. Every night we cooked for seven students and five teachers. That was when I learned to keep a weekly menu up on the refrigerator; a habit I continue today. It’s much nicer to see what I’ve planned to prepare, as opposed to wondering, “What can I make tonight?”
  4. Find a pen and some scrap paper. Prep a stack of index cards and a small collection of pens and you’ll be ready the next time you need to jot something down while on the phone, at your computer, or wherever ideas come to you. If note cards won’t work for you, get a small notebook and carry it with you in your pocket so you can capture ideas before putting them down in a more permanent way (like on a to-do list or calendar).
  5. Round up extra batteries. Instead of searching your home for wayward batteries whenever you need them, put together a package of each type — AA, AAA, and so on — in an obvious place. If you don’t have any extra batteries of a type you typically need, consider getting reusable ones and storing those.
  6. End the missing sock nightmare. There are four people in my house. For years, sorting socks was a nightmare. They all ended up in the same laundry basket, and we played Rock Paper Scissors to identify the poor soul who had to sort them. Today, everyone has a mesh laundry bag for socks. Put the socks in the bag, tie it up, and put the bag in the washer. Socks come out clean and more importantly, sorted.
  7. Employ a tray. Not long ago, we abandoned the key hooks we used for hang car keys. Keys then cluttered up the kitchen table until I put a small, unassuming tray right beside the door. Now that there is a key tray it’s where the keys land, without making a cluttered mess. Even a tray full of haphazard contents appears sorted and tidy simply by being a container.
  8. Tidy your work area. The dissonance of visual clutter is real and can adversely affect your work day. Take just 10 minutes to tidy a desk and you’ll feel better and maybe even be more productive.
  9. Label your cables. Raise your hand if you’ve played the “unplug this to find out what it’s connected to” game. It’s no fun. A simple set of cable labels can eliminate that nonsense.
  10. Take 10 minutes to just be. There’s so much going on each day: Work and maybe kids, home life and friends, the constant firehose of social media. Find 10 minutes in each day that you can use to walk in the yard, listen to quiet music, or simply sit and experience the moment. This might sound a little hippy dippy, but it’s a great practice to get into for keeping the rest of your day organized. An organized mind helps a great deal in having an organized life.

Certainly continue to work toward those far-reaching goals, but don’t overlook the power of 10 minutes in the meantime.

11 Comments for “10 things you can do right now to be more organized”

  1. posted by Brian on

    At various points in my life I have taken one of two different approaches to the “lost sock” issue. Both have been reasonably effective:
    1. When I was younger I bought a big set of identical socks. Since they all matched each other, I never had more than 1 sock missing a partner
    2. When I got older and had many different types of socks, and would end up with some loners after folding laundry, I tossed the loners back in the hamper even though they were clean. They either found their way back to their mate, or diapered themselves. Either way, problem solved!

  2. posted by Robert on

    Using trays … be they ice cream tubs or cookery tins … to collect together tools and screws/nails/curtainhooks for diy beforehand, or to put odd nails, screws, picturehooks removed from walls as U go along when decorating saves time at the end and punctured feet, knees & whatever.

    Goes by the name of a tat box with me.

    Surprising how the screws and stuff gets reused in later odd jobs.

  3. posted by Pat on

    I have a husband and four sons. The sons are all out of the home now, but when they were younger having five males in the house meant a lot of socks! I bought sock rings – a different color for each guy. Pull a pair of socks into the ring and they can go through the washer and the dryer. For the boys I just gave them their socks back with the rings on and they through them in the drawer that way. They would take the ring off when they went to put the socks on. (For my husband I rolled the pairs up.)

    If you can’t picture it:

  4. posted by Pat on

    Duh, I should have said they THREW them in the drawer 😉

  5. posted by Kristen from The Road to Domestication on

    I totally need to start taking 10 minutes to just BE. That’s a good one. One I don’t do enough, that’s for sure.

  6. posted by MixinItaly on

    I really like points 1 and 10. I never find the time to lay out clothing the night before, as there is already enough stuff to do. But you made a great point, as it probably takes less time at night than when you are groggy in the morning.
    But your point 10 supercedes all the others. In fact, we often times don’t get time to enjoy the stuff we’ve worked hard to organize and consolidate and set up. This is the point I will REALLY concentrate on doing on a daily basis.
    Thank you all for the wisdom and know-how you have brought to my life!

  7. posted by Steven on

    All these little things really tend to add up. I’ve implemented some but could do with a little refresher. Thanks!

  8. posted by Michelle on

    Instead of buying cable labels, just use the plastic disk things from loaves of bread. You can write on them and clip them to the cable – one at each end.

  9. posted by Joni Buck on

    Love the sock idea!

  10. posted by Breshana on

    Numbers 1,2,3,4,and 7 are really big for me. I gave up on the missing sock a long time ago. I put it to the side and as I do laundry, if I don’t see it in a month, I toss it. That’s clutter reduction to me as well. OH YES, the batteries are all in one place too. It’s really helpful when all of a sudden my kids just absolutely can’t go to sleep without their stars reflecting on the wall and the nightlight is almost out that you can barely see it.
    Great tips!

  11. posted by Beata on

    Great article!! But lets be honest, in this age, we also have so much clutter in our inboxes and digital storages. I agree that tiding the work area and laying out clothes the night before is super important, but so is Docady, where all my vital documents are in one secure place – always accessible and shareable. I’m calm and collected, physically and digitally 🙂 http://apple.co/1Up4uz1

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