12 Tips for Getting Organized

Getting organized is as much a mental act as it is physical action. Here are 12 tips to help you get organized. These come from a conversation I had with Susan Stone, Professional Organizer, Living Peace, LLC. We talked about our favorite ways to get organized and help others do the same.

  1.  Eat an elephant. How do you eat an elephant?- one bite at a time.  One change at a time is all that is needed to organize a space and your life. Small steps make the changes in your life as well as in your space. Pick small one thing that needs to get organized  – papers, computer files, clothes, linen closet, kitchen, mail, children’s room, and work on that one thing until it is sufficiently organized and you are content.
  2.  Mail Call. Open your mail every day, or make a weekly appointment with yourself—and don’t break it!—to open all your mail and pay all your bills.  Get rid of all your junk mail immediately. Shred all items with your name and other identifying information away.
  3.  Dinner Date. Set up a weekly appointment with yourself to do the food shopping. You can create a meal plan for the week and use it to write your grocery list. You won’t need to go to the grocery store all the time.
  4.  Play a rousing game of “HA! I already…!”.  Reframe the act of sorting through the saved bills from 10 years ago as a celebration of  “HA! I already paid you!”. Stacks of college notebooks = “HA! I already graduated!” You get the idea.
  5.  Play Ball. Put the ball in other people’s court when you can with the goal to have no papers on your desk at all. To that, act on all your open files; do your part and you won’t have to think about the project, task or question—until the others get back to you. Put the papers you have acted on in a Pending File with a note as to the action taken, when and with whom. Then create a follow-up date and automatic reminder in your calendar- if necessary.
  6.  Virtual Reality. Anything that you can keep as a document on your computer, do. Do not print out anything—unless you will need it outside your home or office. Always back up important information from your computer onto discs or a backup drive!
  7.  Get back that lovin’ feeling.  Susan Stone, professional organizer suggests falling in love with your space again. “Like any good relationship, the one you have with your personal space requires time, attention and the commitment to discovering the very best it can be.”   She suggests starting with one room, name it “something juicy and delicious,” then go about courting it, by seeing the good in it and letting go of what you don’t need.
  8.  Swap and Shop. Hold a clothing/tool/furniture/book swap with some other women. Bring the items you no longer use, but are still usable and trade with others.  In my experience women seem to do this more than men, but fella’s have at it too.
  9.  Start a pass along group. You could do this with books you are done reading and not likely to ready again. This is something I started doing with my Mom and other folks I know who share similar tastes in reading.
  10.  Create a Starter Kit. Too much kitchen stuff, well how about putting together a “starter kit” that could be given to a person starting out on their own, or even folks transitioning from temporary to permanent housing? The same could be done for linens in good shape, furniture etc.
  11.  Snap! Go through your items quickly and make snap judgments—your gut instinct is generally a good one. Then repeat the process. You are likely to find more items you can live without. If you are holding onto something in case you “might” need it in the far off future, get rid of it!
  12.  Bring in the Professionals. If you need a more of a push to get organized, an experienced personal organizer can be a wonderful resource. The National Association of Professional Organizers can help you locate providers in your area. Professional organizers can help separate you emotionally from the possessions you no longer need and that clutter our minds as well as our space.
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