Identify what really drives you up the wall and needed to be addressed yesterday. (It's OK; we all have those spots.) Try standing in a room and taking in a 360-degree view. Narrate what you see: "There's the sofa, and the TV, and the end table ... and that annoying pile of gaming gear that no one ever puts away." It's easy to make a sweeping "I need to get organized" statement, but identifying what really needs to be done is a more proactive. PS: Stop the judgment and the guilt. Right now.
Turn your task list into a set of written goals. "The act of writing gets the goal into your subconscious," professional organizer Laura Leist says. "Plus it's nice to be able to go back during and after the project to see how you're progressing."
Leist also recommends assigning a specific due date to each step and an end date for the project to reinforce the goal and shape the entire endeavor.
Want to really get in gear? Schedule an important event or party at your house as a deadline for completing an organization project. If you don't have a big event to schedule, Leist recommends you still put a date on your calendar and set up a few key milestones along the way. "You must have something specific out there to work toward," she says.
There are definitely quick fixes for disorganization, and they can work wonders. But if you're looking to implement a bigger organization strategy, know that it will take time. So break down a big project into mini projects you can do in 15-60 minutes. Keep the list specific. "Having to move around or make lots of different types of decisions will wear you out quickly," professional organizer Kathy Jenkins says. Instead, Jenkins recommends defining your small projects and, as you work, consciously reminding yourself with something like, "All I need to do right now is finish this one space" or "All I need to do for the next 15 minutes is sort clothing by type."
Before you go to the trouble of figuring out where to store stuff, decide if you really need it. Again, this is where breaking down a project can really help (e.g. focusing on one desk drawer, instead of the entire office). Schedule a decluttering session with yourself. "Write it down like an appointment," professional organizer Donna Smallin Kuper says.
Once you've decluttered, you'll still have stuff to store. And that's where professional organizer Kathy Jenkins' SIMPLE method can come in. The acronym goes like this:
S: Sort like with like.
I: Identify what to keep.
M: Make a home for it.
P: Put it into containers.
L: Label it.
E: Establish a routine.
"The SIMPLE method is all about acting rather than overthinking," Jenkins says. Making dozens of decisions haphazardly about what to keep, where to keep it, and how to label it will wear you out quickly. The SIMPLE method structures the process. You're just following steps, not reinventing the wheel.
Containers are essential for organziation and storage. Watch and see what container is right for what job.
Tackling major reorganization and decluttering is a big accomplishment, and you should feel good about it. Maintain the momentum by making it a habit. "Your routine should be whatever you need to remind you of what you're suppose to do," Jenkins says. Successful routines are simple ones, such as putting a sticky note on top of your planner to remind you of the day's activities, having a house rule to put things away after use, or tackling the mail every evening when you come home.
After you reach your goal, take a picture. Share it on social media if you want, and watch the likes flood in. Keep your picture where you can see it to remind yourself of how great organization looks and feels.
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