You know how to get organized. You’ve read many, maybe even hundreds of articles about getting organized. You’ve read a couple of books and watched the TV segments about getting your life in order. You may have even peeked in on an episode or two of Hoarders while assuring yourself, “At least I’m not that bad.”
You know the steps: sort, purge, put like with like, containerize, and then put everything back together. You have seen it done plenty of times.
So what is the holdup? What is stoping you from turning your knowledge into action? Don’t buy any more pretty containers before you take a moment to think about that question. The answer you find may be simple or may be a combination of reasons. Check out a few roadblocks and how to knock them out of the way.
You quickly get overwhelmed?
You start to organize with the best of intentions, but 30 minutes later you look up and you’re surrounded by random piles scattered all around you. A much bigger mess then you started with! You have no idea where to go from that moment and become frustrated when you can’t see the progress right away. Does this sound familiar?
Instead of trying to conquer a whole closet or desk, break projects into smaller bite-sized pieces. Set goals like going through one small pile each day and focusing on what needs action or what you know is to keep and toss.
Avoid procrastinating on decisions. Try to only have one thing in your hand at a time and make the decision on that item quickly. Try not to set it to the side and move on to another item or paper. Make it a habit to decide now instead pushing it off to later. Even if it takes you an extra moment or two to figure out where that item should live, it’s worth it.
It might be time to call in some back up. Do you have a friend who could help you for an hour or two? You can always return the favor in the next week or month by helping her with a project at her house. You can also hire a professional organizer, even if it is to help you create a plan. That might just be the support you need to get unstuck.
Once you do get an area organized, focus on daily maintenance. For paper clutter, continue to process the mail daily or clear off your desk before moving on to the next task. In the closet, have a permanent donation box to keep giveaways headed for the door.
Your expectations are too high?
You see the pictures of those perfectly organized spaces (you know the ones where it doesn’t even look like someone lives there) and feel discouraged because your home looks nothing like those glossy images. Maybe you are waiting until you have the time or money to make it look like that picture perfect image. Or you feel your home could never look like that so why bother.
There is no one perfect way to organize. There are so many different ideas on how to get your daily papers in order. Just try one and tweak it as you go. It is easy to get caught up in searching for the best way; but it is more important that you do it rather then waiting to find the perfect system or buy the perfect desk.
It is okay to be organized just enough. As Julie Morgenstern puts it, keep in mind your “external realities.” If you have young kids or a large family or are in the middle of a big life change, you must remember to give yourself permission to have things organized just enough. We don’t have to live up to Martha Stewart standards especially if our circumstances don’t allow it. As long as you can find what you need and you are not fed up with clutter, you may be perfectly organized for you.
You really don’t have the time?
We are all moving at such a fast pace. If you truly are overworked and can’t find the time to get organized, take a look at your expectations and your specific circumstances. You will make time for what is important to you. There will be a point where you will get frustrated enough to make the time for getting organized. But also be honest with yourself; are you using your busy schedule as an excuse?
Get others involved. Invite the family to help sort and purge by choosing what they still use and what can be donated. Declare a family work day (even if it is only 2-3 hours). Plan something fun to celebrate a job well done.
It is harder to organize with small kiddos around. Remember that you are teaching them important organizing skills and you’ll be surprised at what your children pickup. However, if you have little ones, it might be worth it to hire a sitter while you conquer a big project.
Cut something out from your schedule, even if it is just for a short time. Could you limit the TV, browsing the internet or even that third extracurricular activity for your son or daughter. You might be surprised about how much time you can find in your schedule. If you are having trouble, try making a time map by listing out your tasks and time spent on each activity. Tracking your time for a week can help you to find what can be cut or grouped together for better efficiency.
Do a little at a time. Disorganization doesn’t happen overnight so be realistic about how long it takes time to put things in order. Since it usually takes longer than a day to complete major projects, focus on small 10 minute projects each day or small 2 hour projects on the weekend.
You’ve tried to get organized before but it didn’t work?
Just like being healthy is a way of life, and one that you work at daily (you don’t exercise once and become healthy); getting organized takes more then one purge session. It takes daily and weekly tasks and maintenance to train and flex your organizing muscle.
There will be days when you don’t feel like getting up a little earlier to workout. There will be days when you miss that workout. There will be days when there is a pile of mail you don’t feel like going through. It is a process. But don’t worry, it can quickly become a habit that doesn’t feel like work at all. With practice and consistency, you can develop discipline to work on your organizing a little bit each day.
Keep small daily tasks in order like incoming papers, meals, and chores. Keeping those constant upkeep items under control will do a lot for your peace of mind and keep up your motivation to organize other areas of your life.
Routines are friends especially when keeping those small daily tasks in order. Getting into the habit of automatically moving through your daily tasks can be life changing to your day. You know what needs to be done and you do it, which means less laboring over decisions or getting sidetracked. Your day will feel more organized and you will find more time.
Examine what is working. Look around, what is something that works and flows really smoothly in your home? The mornings? Laundry? Getting dinner on the table? Paying bills? Going through mail? Find just one thing that works really well. What is it about that process that makes it go so smoothly? Do you plan enough time? Have plenty of preparation? Get help from others? Focus on that positive and replicate it into other areas in your life.
No matter what is stopping you, we are here to cheer you on to take action! Let us help. Do you have a particular trouble spot you have a question about? Let us know on Facebook or shoot me an email. Find out more about our organizing services. Sign up for our monthly newsletter of organizing tips or check out the tools and tips section in the menu above. We’re here to support you on your organizing journey!