Is your environment in a mess? Clutter strewn all over your home, documents getting lost in heaps of files at the office, or even clashes at your business because of overlapping systems? Are you spending too much time sifting through tons of music e-files to get to those tracks you love, or feeling overwhelmed by the social network content that you need to handle on a daily basis? When you organize things, do you lose track and get relapse into the messy beginning? You want to be able to get- and maintain- things in order. Your efforts at organizing don’t have to go down the drain. These top tips will help you declutter, and keep things organized all through:
- One in, one out rule
Basically, for every new item that comes in, a similar item must leave. That way, you won’t be accumulating loads of stuff that you barely use. Take for instance when dealing with clothing, shoes and accessories. When you come home from shopping and add that new shirt or skirt into your closet, an old one must be removed. When you get a new handbag, toss out the old one. Got a new pair of shoes? Give away the old one. That way, there’ll be balance. It doesn’t have to be direct. You can mix things up. For instance, in case you have too many shirts and not enough pants, you can decrease the shirts while increasing the pants. Just don’t go tossing out a pair of socks for that new Armani suit- the trade-off wouldn’t be fair now, would it?
It can be tempting to handle things later. “I’ll put that document back in the file before I leave the office”. “Let me head out for a stroll, I’ll place these clean and folded clothes back into the closet after I get back”. It’s essential to commit to putting away things immediately, or it may likely never happen- like those times you’ve kept new items packed in the trunk of your car for days as you waited to “find a space for it”. Whichever tool, bag, clothing, or even hairbrush, put it away immediately after you use it. That way you will always know where it is and won’t waste time future looking for it.
- File, don’t pile
A filing system will keep clutter from piling up. There are no strict rules here. You just need a system that matches how you work and one that you can easily maintain. For instance, you can file alphabetically, by client, by project, by rate of completion, which items have the nearest deadline, etc. This applies for both hard copy documents and electronic files. Keeping an index or master list of the file names will also enable you to avoid creating duplicates.
- If it’s needed, it stays- if it’s not it’s stored away or it’s let go
You don’t want your workstation being covered in items you aren’t using. You don’t really need bottles of white-out or dozens of pens and pencils on your desk. However, a notepad, stapler, two or three pens, plus the computer should be within arm’s reach. Think of it like your circle of friends. Those who you hang out with regularly are near you- these are the vital items needed for daily use; there are those acquaintances who you’ll have to travel to meet them- these are the items kept within the vicinity, but not directly on the desk; and then there are those who are still in your life, but communicate with just on Christmas and other holidays- these items should be out of your office altogether- like archiving old records in bank boxes. Anything that is never used or is not needed at any time should be let go of.
- Digitally organize clutter using apps
It’s organization in the palm of your hand. There are apps designed for different tasks. Take for instance dealing with documents, those recipes at the grocery store, all through to warranties for appliances purchased. You can scan the papers into digital form and access them anywhere there is an internet connection. Use apps to set reminders, calendar events, and make list for items you need. You can even have visual inventories- where you take photos/videos of your items or scan their QR codes, then sort them into folders of their categories- from the garage closet to the jewelry box. That way, when you’re looking for an item in the near future, you can easily use the app to determine precisely where it is, declutter, and track the inventory when you’re moving.
Remember not to bite more than you can chew. Taking it all on at one go will just add to your frustrations, especially since things will end up getting out of hand. Start small, taking baby steps as you build a routine. It’s also vital that you don’t barrage yourself. Being too hard on yourself is counteracting your stress-relief efforts. You can even include some fun activities as you declutter, such as playing some music in the background while you organize your closet, living room and bedrooms at home, or chatting away with your colleagues at the workplace as you get those mounds of files in order. The mess may look daunting at first, but with the tips above, you’ll be able to get through it all.