Staying organized is so important. Often, organization gets underrated and is pushed under the rug, or put last on the mental to-do list. This is the worst thing anyone could do for their mental, and physical, health!
Living in an organized space helps keep your mind clear and available for the task at hand. In an unorganized space, such as an office, it’s really hard to focus on one thing at a time, especially if you have an untidy stack of bills to be entered, checks to be deposited on the other side, magazines stacked so high they’re falling over, a bunch of scrap paper underneath your laptop and mouse, various tasks you’ve been handed that build up over time, the new notebook you’ve been wanting to use for task management, the photos of your cute new puppy that you need to put in the scrapbook sitting across the room… wait, what were we doing? Puppies? Oh, that’s right, organization. Phew! Almost got off task there 😉
Point being, clutter doesn’t make it easy to focus or be productive. Sometimes, tasks require a lot of materials to be out all at once, but the key is whether they get put away or not that will make all the difference.
“So… where do I start?! There’s so much I have to do!” What a great question. I’m so glad you asked. First things first,
1. Don’t buy things you don’t need
Our society has become so obsessed with “things, things, things!” You don’t need it. Let me repeat that… You don’t need it. You may want it, and it may be fun to buy it, but you definitely don’t need it. Stop buying things.
If you’re contemplating buying something, think on it for a few days, talk to a significant other about how much you, or they, would actually use it, and if you currently have anything that could get the same job done.
What is the item that you’re wanting to purchase going to do for you? What is it’s purpose? How often are you really going to use it? Why do you need it (not just want)?
Really think things through before you make a purchase on anything! It will save you money, time taking care of that object, and space in your home.
2. Get rid of what you don’t need
Chuck it. Really. Be a hard-nose about this. If you haven’t used it in the last three months, and won’t use it in the next three months, get rid of it. This works especially well for clothing as a six month span usually can cover all of the seasons.
None of the, “Oh but I’ll use it when…” shenanigans!! If you haven’t used it, and won’t in the near future, toss it. I know it’s hard when you’ve spent money on things. But, really, it’s just taking up space. Toss it, or give it away. Selling the items usually takes too long and they sit in your living room for weeks and weeks until you get so tired of them that you’re wishing you could get rid of them. Just do it!!
Go through every room in your home, your office, and car and declutter. Stop being so materialistic. It’s just a thing! It’s replaceable, and isn’t providing you value. It takes more energy to buy it, store it, clean it, care for it, think about it, and see it than is healthy or worth it. Toss it.
3. Don’t allow anything on the table
This is the hardest one for me. It’s so easy to come home after a long day, throw my purse on the chair, and place my lunch and water bottle on the counter (if you don’t take your own lunch and water bottle with you, start doing it!). My husband and I try really hard to not do this, however, it does happen. Being organized and clutter free takes continual work.
When this rule is followed, a beautifully clean countertop can be see and it feels SO good. Not only does it feel good, but it makes me feel like my mind can breathe!
Be strict with this one, it will pay off.
4. Out of sight, out of mind
Everything needs to have it’s own home. If it doesn’t have a home, you may have too many things, and it’s home is NOT on the countertop, your dresser, or stuffed in a drawer. It’s home must be intentional, clean, useful, and, well, organized.
By intentional, I mean that it’s home needs to be a place that is well thought out, not just thrown in the closet because there was an open shelf.
By clean, I mean that you should clean off the shelf, drawer, basket, or whatever it’s being put into or on before you put that thing in it’s place.
By useful, I mean that it’s location should be in a place where it will provide usefulness to you and provide ease of access. For example, you wouldn’t put your pencils in the pantry, or your food in the desk drawer.
By organized, I mean that things should be upright, tidy, and have the ability to be seen and accessed easily. No stacking things on top of and in front of other things. If you can’t easily access it, it’s home should probably be rethought. However, when living in small spaces, sometimes it is necessary for things to be placed in front of one another… just make sure it always stays tidy and you remember where things are.
5. Have a to-do list
No, I don’t mean on your device. Have a real, physical to-do list. It has been scientifically proven that when people write things down they remember them better than when they type or text them.
So, remember that handy dandy notebook you’ve left on the corner of your desk? Time to whip that baby out and put it to good use! Now that your kitchen, living room, and bedroom are decluttered and a bit more organized, when you think of something that you need to do, clean, organize, or contemplate buying, write it down.
My parents would always tell me, “A goal not written down is only a wish.” Wishes often come and go, but a goal stays with us. Writing it down makes it more permanent and makes us more likely to follow through. Keeping these great benefits in mind, writing down a tasks also allows us to get it off of our mind and worry about more important things.
I tend to have thoughts that keep coming back (right in the middle of doing a complicated transaction at work I might add) until I write it down. Once I write it down, my mind feels clearer, and the feeling of anxiety that thought was causing me is released.
Once you’ve completed what you’ve written down, cross it out or check it off. I promise, you’ll feel satisfaction when you do this. It’s also really neat to see all that you’ve accomplished!
6. Develop simple habits
This goes back to everything having a home. When you walk in the door, hang up your keys or put them in the bowl, hang your coat up on the rack, and place your bag in it’s cubby. Three simple tasks, done in less than 30 seconds, and you’ve already conquered not putting anything on the table, keeping things out of sight, and placing everything in it’s home.
See, that wasn’t so hard, right?
These habits can be developed one at a time. Don’t feel like you have to do them all at once.. that may be a little too much for some people. If you like, first start with putting the keys in the same place every time.
Will, my husband, and I used to have a bit of a problem with this. We’d be misplacing our keys all the time, and then right as we’re about to leave, we’d realize they’re missing. We’d frantically run around the house trying to remember where we last put them.
Eventually, I got a key rack for us to hang up our keys on. I placed it right by the door. Ever since I bought that rack, we haven’t misplaced our keys. It works like a charm!
Other habits you could develop include putting the clothes in the laundry bin instead of on the floor (make the laundry bin accessible but not unsightly… I’d recommend an opaque basket will a lid if it’s going to be out), taking off your shoes and immediately putting them on a shoe tray, unpacking your lunch immediately after you get home, putting your toothbrush and paste back in the drawer or on the shelf, making your bed every morning, and hanging up your towel after a shower once you’ve changed into clothes.
7. Be so lazy that you don’t have to do it later
Sounds counterintuitive right? Well, not so much. One of my Young Women’s Leaders (if you’re not a Latter Day Saint or aren’t familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, check out what Young Women’s is here), told my class to be so lazy that you don’t have to do it later. This means because you don’t want to have to do it later, do it now.
It’s a little bit of reverse psychology working at it’s finest, but it definitely does work. Whenever I think about, “Ugh, I’m going to have to do this tomorrow if I don’t do it now,” it gives me the drive to do it now. I despise being constantly reminded that I need to do this, that, or the other a gazillion times throughout the day. I’d so much rather just do it while I’m thinking about it, do it right the first time, and not have to worry about it later. It also feels so amazing to come home to an organized home and just be able to relax without the distractions of a messy house.
Having an environment free of clutter, physically and mentally, gives me peace of mind, body, and spirit.
Keep it clutter free, and keep it organized.