No matter whether you’re organizing your closet or your office, time management issues underlie most disorganization challenges. While there certainly needs to be a place in the closet for each item of clothing, and a place to file the papers that inundate most offices, establishing those places is only part of the solution. Once you find a place where everything belongs, you still need to create time in your day to maintain the organizing system. Here are 5 easy tips to help you keep things under control:
- 1. Block out time on your calendar for daily clean-up. Don’t skip a day; once you allow a little bit of mess to accumulate, it’s easy for things to drift out of control. I call this phenomenon clutter creep; one day you have a small pile, and before you know it, you’re back to the same chaos you had before. The only exception I might make to the daily clean-up rule is for filing – if you are diligent about honoring a once-a-week filing schedule, you can accumulate things to be filed in a single container, confident that within the next 7 days they’ll be where they belong. If you’re likely to shun the weekly ritual, file things daily and save yourself the anguish of not being able to find a document when you need it.
2. Take a photo of your organized spaces to remind yourself of what they should look like. Refer to these photos when you do your daily cleanup to make sure you’re getting everything put away. I know this may sound a bit excessive, but you’re less likely to overlook out-of-place items when you have a picture of what your space should look like. Don’t believe me? Just give it a try.
3. Get help maintaining your systems. Enlist a partner to encourage and remind you to maintain your daily clean-up routine until it becomes a habit. Your partner can be your spouse, a friend, a coach, a co-worker – anyone who will gently, non-judgmentally support you as you develop the habit of daily clean-up. I participate in a free service called Buddy Hive that helps people get things done – maybe you can request a buddy to keep you on track.
4. Make it fun. Cleaning and organizing doesn’t have to be drudgery – play some upbeat music, set a timer to play beat the clock, or do whatever makes the clean-up process energizing for you.
5. Reward yourself. Although enjoying the freedom of being organized can be its own incentive, reward yourself for sticking to your maintenance routine. After you’ve maintained your organized space for a few weeks, take a moment to pat yourself on the back, at least figuratively. I find ice cream is always a welcome reward. And if you have trouble maintaining your organized spaces, don’t give up. Revisit the steps I’ve laid out here and take it one day at a time.
I’d love to hear what helps you maintain your organized spaces.
Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,