If your house or office is a mess it’s a challenge to even think about getting it organized. So the first thing you should do is mentally break it down into smaller jobs. It won’t seem so overwhelming and will be easier to get started if it’s a limited project. Don’t pressure yourself to finish it all at one time, the pressure you put on yourself is another reason you are putting it off. So make it your goal to just organize one small section. If you complete that section and you are still energized, go ahead and start work on another area, but don’t force it.
Organizing your papers
This is a big problem in my house, I seem to always be putting things aside to look over them later and the pile just keeps building up. Often when I do get around to going through those piles I end up throwing most of it out. Here’s a good way to start:
1. Get three boxes and label one “Action Needed”, another one “File” and the last one “Toss”
2. Pick up each piece of paper and examine it. If you need to do something with it (ex: pay the bill, call someone, fill it out and send it back, etc.) put it in the “Action” box. If it is something you need to keep for your financial records or to refer to later put it in the “File”box. If it doesn’t fit into either of those categories Toss it.
3. Once you have all those pesky papers in the boxes CONGRATULATE YOURSELF; you’ve just organized that pile. Enjoy the feeling of seeing that section of your desk clean and neat. Don’t forget this step, if you reward yourself you will be more likely to keep up with your organizing.
4. I know, you’re not completely done; you still have to do something with the papers in the Action and File boxes. A good idea at this point is to go online or to an office supply store and find a good filing system, something well organized in colors you like. This will encourage you to finish your organizing project. Now you can put away the items to be filed and get to work on the action items.
Organizing other items
For other items like clothing, toys, household articles, books, etc., the same principles apply.
1. Get either 3 or 4 boxes (depending on what you want to do with the items). Mark them “Keep”; “Sell” (If you want to have a garage sale or sell them on eBay); “Donate”; and “Toss”.
2. Look at each item and sort it into one of those categories. My rule of thumb is: if it’s been in a box or closet for more than a year and you haven’t missed it, you don’t need it any more. The exception to this is if it has some sentimental, historical or collectible value.
3. If you think someone else could get some enjoyment or use from the items you don’t want, either donate them to a charity or sell them yourself.
4. If the item is worthless, toss it.
5. Once you have finished sorting remember to savor the feeling of accomplishment at having completed that task and enjoy the clean and organized look of the portion of the house you have just organized. Never skip this step; it’s important to motivate you to keep organizing in the future.
6. Look around for functional boxes, shelving units or other organizing tools that will help you store the items you want to keep in an attractive and efficient way. Then re-store the items you are keeping in a more organized way.
Enjoy your uncluttered space. Remember how nice it looks; even take a picture to remind you. Use that memory to motivate you when the house gets cluttered again.