Feeling overwhelmed? Who isn’t these days.
The good news is that with a few hacks, I can make your life easier by showing you how to organize anything.
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Step 1: Plan a time to organize
The first step to organizing anything is to put on your calendar an hour or two of time for you to organize. Every step of the way, add an additional hour or two the following week. You don’t have to organize your entire home in a day, but you do need to intentionally set aside time for you to start the process of organizing. Don’t wait; just do it.
Step 2: Donate or throw everything away
When you begin organizing, the first thing you need to do, is purge whatever you can. Whether you’re organizing your clothes, your documents in a filing cabinet, or your cleaning supplies, it’s time to part with anything you no longer use or want. Either donate it or throw it away. Err on the side of getting rid of something. And if you’re not sure, I use the 1 year standard. I ask “have I used (or worn) this in the past year?”. If the answer is no, I automatically get rid of it barring some extraordinary reason to keep it. And I promise that after purging a little bit, this will get easier.
Step 3: Visualize what you want your space to look like when you’re done
After you’ve purged, you’ll have only things that you want to keep. Before putting things in specific places, you need to look at the space you have. If you’re organizing your closet, look closely at all of the space. Imagine blocks of space being allocated for different items (clothes, shoes, belts, etc.). Think about which items would fit best in the space. If you’re organizing a filing cabinet, look at how you want to divide it up (sections, folders, tabs, etc.). If you’re organizing cleaning supplies, look at where you want to keep them (all together; different shelves, etc.). By visualizing the items in the space, you’ll realize kinks and discover which way would be best and why.
If you’re stuck, do a few online searches to get ideas on what an organized closet, filing cabinet, or cleaning supplies look like. This step is critically important; so don’t skip it!
Step 4: Give everything a space
Put your vision into action. Decide what items will go where. Whatever you decide is where you should always put that item. Of course, you can change the designated space. But, you should use the space you decide on until you intentionally change it. There’s no putting mail on the kitchen table when you walk in the door if you have a mail folder / bin where the mail goes. Be intentional with where you put things and you’ll get in the habit of staying organized.
Step 5: Put things in their place, one item at a time
After you know where you want things to go, begin to put them in their specific space. Put all like things together in a given space, neatly. In the closet example, don’t start by putting whatever is in front of you in your closet – sweaters, shoes, hats, etc. Be logical about it. Begin with one group (e.g. jeans) and put all your jeans in a designated space. Then, add the next group of things (e.g. sweaters). After you add a few categories of items, stop and take a step back. Then, look at what you have so far. If you like it, keep going. But every so often, take a step back and look at the space as a whole. Ask questions, like “does it look neat?” and “does it feel neat?” and “is this practical for me?”. All of these questions will move you in the right direction.
If you get overwhelmed or tired, stop. There’s no sense in shoving miscellaneous items under your bed when the whole point is to organize. Instead, stop for the day and put in on your calendar when you’ll come back to it. A break for a few days will give you time to re-energize so your efforts aren’t wasted. Then, come back and finish organizing everything.
Step 6: Implement supportive systems to stay organized
After you organize your things, you should feel pretty awesome. An organized space allows you to be a professional at whatever it is you’re doing. But, you’re not entirely done yet. While it feels really good to have neat, tidy space, it’s equally as important to maintain that organization.
While there’s definitely a reason to “re-organize,” once you’re organized once, you shouldn’t have to “organize” again. What do I mean by this? Well, if you spent all this time getting organized, do yourself a favor and implement systems to stay organized. If you want to “reorganize” your space differently in the future to be more appealing, that’s reasonable. But you shouldn’t ever go from organized to unorganized.
You can stay organized very easily. The key is to implement teeny, tiny daily habits that promote organization. Force yourself to put things exactly in the space you’ve created for them, immediately. For example, if you organized your closet, be sure to put your shoes where you want them to go at the end of every day after work. Don’t say “well, I’ll leave them by the door because I’m going to wear them tomorrow.” Before you know it, you have a pile of shoes at the door. And it’s not about the one pair of shoes. It’s that if you do something once today; you’re twice as likely to do the same thing tomorrow.
Force yourself to get into good habits. Practicing good daily habits will be the difference between failure and success for you.
- Related: How To Create Amazing Habits
A Final Note!
If you are ready to get more serious about organizing your space, I highly recommend reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It will supercharge you and help you transform your life into the organized life you’ve always imagined!