How many times have you promised yourself you’d get organized? Have you lost something, missed an appointment, or forgotten a birthday just because your life has gotten unmanageable? How many of these “get organized” articles have you read only to think, “Impossible!”?
Believe me, when I say, you CAN get organized and it doesn’t take a life-changing makeover or mean you have to become Martha Stewart. Incorporate these five simple techniques into your life and you’ll be well on your way to getting the upper hand on all that clutters, overwhelms, hinders, and hampers you.
First, take a look at the calendar you’re using. (I know there are some of you who read that and said to yourself, “Calendar? What calendar?” Step number one for you— get one!)
To use your time, you have to be able to see it. A calendar with a full-month view is the best way to do this. Why? In one glance you’ll be able to see if one day is full and another empty…that you’ve got something planned after work three nights in a row. You’ll see if one week looks busier than another.. and you’ll see that you’ve scheduled two busy weekends in a row. With that one glance, you’ll be able to plan your time better to truly fit your schedule.
If you’re more comfortable using a weekly or daily calendar for specific times and notes, keep it. But, add a monthly view calendar and turn to it first when setting appointments. You’ll really see when you have some time to spare, or not.
Organize two things every day
How do I define “things”? I don’t. YOU do. That’s what’s so great about this organization technique. The biggest hurdle to getting organized is the beginning.
That hall closet is overflowing with stuff. The thought of spending a Saturday afternoon cleaning it out is enough to make you quit before you even begin. So how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Go to that closet. Pick two things to organize, and do it today.
Whether that’s two shelves, two boxes, two piles of paper, or simply just two items… that’s up to you. That’s doable! Now you’re not overwhelmed by the job. But think– if you organized two things every day, and there were 20 pieces of junk in that messy closet, you’d have the job done in about two weeks! It all starts by aiming for that simple, reachable goal of just two things every day.
Keep an “action file.”
Get an accordion file, a notebook, a folder, or whatever works for you. Make it something portable so that you won’t mind carrying it with you or in your bag or briefcase, to and from your car, home, and the office. If you want, label sections of the file to fit your life. You might have one pocket for coupons, one set aside for your volunteer group, one for the kids’ school.. you get the idea.
This “action file” is to be used for papers or small items you need for TODAY ONLY. Here’s an example. You’ve got a coupon for the dry cleaner, some bills that need to be mailed, that church survey that needs to be filled out, a birthday card for your office mate, and a magazine you’d like to look through. Put all of them in your action file. As you go through your day, you have everything you need— clean, protected, and ready at hand. If you get a ticket back from the dry cleaner put it into your file. Every night, empty your action file, sort it out, and get it ready for the next day.
Become a giver!
The easiest way to get organized is to throw away what you don’t want and don’t need. We’ve all heard this before. However, many people hate to throw things in the garbage. If you can’t learn to make friends with the trash can, become a giver! Give what’s cluttering your closet to one or more of your friends! Of course, donating usable items to an organization is also great, but some of us never seem to get around to dropping off donations. You probably see your friends on a weekly or even daily basis. If your comfortable doing it and it’s appropriate, give them your unnecessary stuff. (A side-effect of this technique is a reputation for being generous. Not bad!)
Turn off the TV!
As the first technique points out, you have to use your time wisely to get yourself organized. Many of us waste a lot of our time in front of the television, and we don’t even realize it. If you’re one of these people, try for one night not to turn on the TV when you get home from work. If you can’t go an entire night, try an hour, or even a half-hour. Instead of watching that prime-time sitcom, spend that time (time you say you don’t have enough of) organizing just two things!