Organizing is about so much more than developing the right systems to meet your needs or buying the latest organizing gizmo. While those things are undoubtedly important, the most critical factor of whether your organizing projects will be successful is how well you integrate organizing into your life. Here are a few tips to build new routines around organizing:
Start small. The biggest organizing mistake that people make is to set unrealistic expectations for how much time and effort organizing takes. The tendency for many people is to say, “this weekend, I’m going to organize the whole house” or “I’m going to purge my 20-year paper backlog today.” Projects like these are big, and need to be broken down into smaller mini-projects that are more easily completed. Take these larger projects apart, and you’ll see there are smaller tasks within them – for instance, organizing just one kitchen cabinet, or purging just one part of one file drawer. It’s far better to start with a small project that you can make immediate, visible progress on, instead of a large, nebulous, undefined project. Start doing smaller projects regularly and you’re guaranteed to see continual progress.
Do a little each day. Organizing doesn’t have to be a quarterly or annual event – in fact, it is a lot better to build organizing into your life on a daily or weekly basis. If you can devote fifteen minutes a day toward clearing clutter, you’ll help ensure that those areas you so carefully organized will stay clutter-free. For most people, it’s easier (and more enjoyable) to spend a few minutes a day on organizing, rather than blocking out an hour or two once a week. Organizing won’t become such a chore, and you’ll be reinforcing the habit that living without clutter is a priority for you.
Remember, organizing is a process. Organizing is not a do-it-once task; rather, it can be helpful to think of it more as a lifestyle change. There may be a big push to complete a particular project, but it’s the maintenance that happens afterward that helps ensure success – and that maintenance is all about your habits. I’ve worked with lots of clients, and the ones who are most successful realize that while certain projects might have defined completion parameters, there is no “end point” for being organized. It’s a skill you can develop and grow throughout your life.
Getting your office or home organized is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your space. You’ve spent time and resources to get organized, and by using some of these tips, you’ll be able to stay organized for the long term.