Is your clutter driving you crazy? Do you run in circles all day but nothing gets done? Is your life unorganized chaos? Is your life or your house a mess? Are you constantly losing things or forgetting appointments? Join the club – most people can answer yes to at least one of these questions. So, what do you do about it and why should you do something about? Read on for tips how to organize your life and how to stay that way!
Life is stressful enough. Adding extra negative stress to your life is not healthy for anyone. You may tell yourself that you don’t have time, energy or space to stay organized. You may tell yourself that you were born that way and can’t change. FACT: You will spend more time looking for things, running around or trouble-shooting missed deadlines or appointments than if you spent that time organizing yourself in the first place. Think about it – how much time or money does procrastinating, searching or running around needlessly cost you every day?
So what can you do about it? Here are some useful tools, tips and programs to help you stay organized.
1. Keep Track of Your Stuff. Maintain a calendar, make lists, update your address book, keep files. Thinking about all of these things can be a little overwhelming. That’s why I would recommend Effective Business Systems Get Organized Now! program. It has tons of easy to use forms, checklists, logs and information sheets for important family information, goals, planning, personal growth, home maintenance, cleaning, inventory, gardening, home office, computer and vacation all in one place. They have systems for home, personal and business. Staying organized has never been easier. Simple tip: find what works for you and use it!
2. Schedule yourself. Make a schedule and stick to it. If there is one thing that takes up most of my time, it is errands and, even worse, getting sidetracked so I don’t get them all done. So, I try to minimizing my stress by allowing myself a certain amount of time to run errands. I plan my route ahead of time to minimize drive time between stops. Estimate the amount of time your errands will take and stick to it! This eliminates unnecessary stops, browsing or other things that keep you from your appointed rounds. Make a shopping list to keep your task focused. If you run into someone you know, limit your chat time – tell them you are on a schedule (and you are) and need to stick to it.
3. Be smart when scheduling appointments. Schedule doctor’s appointments at optimal times of the day, if you can. Appointments first thing in the morning or right after lunch tend to go faster since the doctor or dentist hasn’t had time to get behind yet. The worst time to schedule appointments are mid to late morning or late afternoons. Also, make reasonable goals when setting your schedules and give yourself plenty of time. If you know that you have to be at your kid’s school at 7:00 p.m. for conferences, do not schedule a 4:00 p.m. doctor’s appointment.
4. Write everything down on your calendar as soon as you schedule it or as soon as you know about it. I write down everything from having to bring cupcakes to school to picking up my dry cleaning. It is an easy habit to form. Also, get in the habit of checking your calendar every evening and every morning. And, don’t just look at the next day – keep looking forward all week. It is amazing how much time and stress this simple step will save you!
5. Eliminate clutter. I know this is easy to say but can be hard to do. The best way to tackle any big job is to break it down into small pieces or segments. There are many types of clutter – things, junk or mail – so there are many different solutions. However, one good example, is mail. Rather than letting mail pile up which eventually leads to an unmanageable and time-consuming task, I pull out all of the junk mail every day and immediately throw it away. This just leaves bills and other information mail. Bills go in one pile and the “other” goes into another pile. I set aside one day per week to pay bills and to go through the “other” pile. I make sure that I pay, address, respond or file EVERYTHING on that date so nothing remains.
There are many other solutions to clutter. Not everything works for everyone. I have found that the best places to look for practical, real world solutions is Mimi Tanner’s eBook DeClutter FAST!, How To Get Your Home In Order Almost Immediately, and Discoverorganization.com’s Definitive Guide for Home Organization for Busy People. Mimi Tanner offers real world and manageable solutions to your clutter problem. Most people who have purchased this book are able to substantially declutter their life. The Definitive Guide is a detailed room-by-room guide how to declutter and organize. Both are worthwhile purchases which provide a variety of techniques that you can sort through to decide what will best work for you.
Another good place to start is containers, storage and shelves! You can’t declutter and get organized without the proper tools or equipment. Everything from boxes, baskets, files, and cabinets can help. My personal favorite is Rubbermaid containers – you can never have too many of those! The web is a great place to find a wide variety of organizational products.
6. Establish routines. Just as with the mail above, set a specific time for accomplishing tasks – especially if they are tasks that you don’t enjoy. Pay bills on Saturday, go grocery shopping on Friday, etc. It is harder to forget tasks or let them go if they are “scheduled”. You should also establish routines that breaks down bigger jobs into more manageable sections – just as with decluttering above. My personal favorite is laundry. I used to have laundry day which took forever and wasted an entire day – usually a weekend that I could have been using to relax. So, instead, I set a goal of one load of laundry per day. After I get home from work, I throw a load in while dinner is cooking and in the morning, I quick fold a load and throw another one in. I still have extra wash on weekends but it is much more manageable and not such a monumental task! It sounds difficult, but once you establish the routine, it is much easier to follow.
7. Take some time for yourself! As with many busy moms, I feel guilty if I am not doing something productive every minute of every day. But, I have learned that if I don’t take time for myself, I just start to shut down and my time becomes much less productive. Everything takes longer because I am so tired! Read, watch TV, take a walk, play with your kids – whatever you need to do to decompress will help you become more efficient during the times when you need to be.
We all have stress in our life – we will never be able to eliminate all together. But, we can do some things which minimize that stress. The most important is to get organized! It will save you time and money – you can’t afford to waste either. Beginning will be hard but it is the first step to a more organized life. Once you start, you will be amazed at how easy it is to make organization a part of your everyday life.