Organizing Tips for the Disorganized Person

Have you ever walked into a friendís home which is always neat, clean, tidy and sparkling clean? What goes through your mind, other than you want to borrow her maid? Were you further surprised to learn that she didnít have a maid? That she worked the same hours you did, had the same number of children, and a few pets to spare? And she even volunteered several hours a week at the local food pantry and was active in her church?

 Was it then you wondered if she had more hours in her day than you do?After all, how can her house be spotless, while yours is full of clutter? How can she always be on time to pick up the children, and never has to make those extra runs in the middle of the day because someone forgot their homework or lunch?

The answer is easyósheís organized. Her home is organized, her time is managed well, and her life, as a result, flows smoothly. Some people are lucky and are born this way. They have an inherent skill to have things in order, and keep them in order. However, most of us have to learn the skill. Thatís the good news. You CAN learn skills that will make your household run more smoothly and look less like a war zone and more like a home.

We all have the same hours in a day. You just have to learn how to use yours. Here are some tips that will help you on your way.


 When you look at the space that needs to be cleared, donít get overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. Rather, keep a positive attitude, telling yourself that the room will look much better when youíre done. Donít think about how you wonít have the time or energy to do it, because you will.


When you look at the space that needs to be cleared, whether itís a small closet or the basement, compartmentalize it. Look at one shelf of a closet and start there. Work until the shelf is done. Donít move onto another space, or start putting things away that donít belong there. You will get side-tracked. Rather, finish the shelf, finish the corner in the basement, or finish under the bed before moving on to the next area. At the end of an hour or two, you will have cleared an entire area, feel good about it, and be motivated to continue.


As you go through your days, keep track of how you spend your time. After a week or two, look at the record for patterns. Do you find yourself paying bills three times a week? Or washing dishes several times a day, or going to the grocery store several times a week? Once you identify your time-wasters, you can work on changing them. For instance, plan errands in the same area on the same day. Or write out a list for the grocery store so you donít forget anything and have to run out as you are making dinner.


As you study your time, take a look at your finances also. Do you send a check to a storage company every month to store all your clutter? Do you buy things you know you already own but just canít find? Do you pay finance charges on your bills because they get lost in stacks of mail and you donít find them until itís too late? When you see how much it is costing you to be disorganized, you will be motivated to clear your space. You will not only feel better in your home, you will have more time and more money.


It is much easier to put off difficult tasks rather than do them. We have all been guilty of setting tasks aside that we donít want to tackle at the momentósometimes never. But we know they need to be done. Thatís why they should be done first, not only when you find the time, or at the last minute because of deadlines. By getting them out of they way, you will relieve yourself of the stress and be ready to move on. Another tip--if you have even five or ten minutes to spare, use that time to do something. Whether it's addressing a birthday card, cleaning out one file folder or going through your coupons and tossing the expired ones, use what time you have to keep on top of things. Waiting until something has to be done will inevitably be at the same time ten other things have to be done, piling on the stress and making you less productive.


Getting organized can be a daunting task. You feel overwhelmed by the amount of clutter to go through. You feel emotionally drained by making decisions about personal mementos and family heirlooms. This is natural. So find a friend or family member to help you, even if itís just to keep you company for a few hours. Having someone to talk to will make the job easier. And if you really feel overwhelmed, call in a professional organizer. He or she can help you make those decisions, give you advice and be a good resource for you.


The most difficult part for most people is learning to let go. The best way to approach this is to remember that the memories will always be with you. Nobody can take that from you. So even if you get rid of all the art projects your child has ever done, you will still have the memory. Or if you give away that vase you bought in Nassau, you will always have the memory of the vacation.


This is a very important part of the process. Just sorting through your belongings doesnít solve the problem. You have to get rid of them. Whether itís charity, the trash, or a garage sale, follow through and take the items to the curb, call your favorite charity for a pick-up, and schedule that garage sale. Be careful with the last. If you plan to have a garage sale, set the date, run the ads, and have the sale. Donít keep the items in your basement for two years hoping to have one. If a summer passes and you havenít had time for a sale, then donate the items.


Cleaning out isnít the end. How do you keep your home from going back to a cluttered mess? Simpleóchange your behavior. Watch what you buy. Do you need it? Do you want it? Do you have space for it at home? If there isnít any room in your closet for another pair of jeans, donít buy them unless you are willing to get rid of an old pair. If you donít need that ice cream maker, but just want it, do you have room in your kitchen cabinet for it, or will it be piled on top of other appliances you never use? And will you use it? Be truthful with yourself.


Say no to that unnecessary item in the store. Say no to people asking for your time if you are already maxed out. And yes, itís okay to say no to your children. They need to learn to set limits also, otherwise the will grow up with the same poor habits you are trying to change. And finally, know this: Even the most organized people arenít perfect 100% of the time. We all slip at some point, when life gets a bit overwhelming. But itís easier to pull yourself out of the slump if the mountain isnít so high.


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