There are many different methods, tools, and rules for organizing, and many of them are specific to a person’s preferences, personality, and lifestyle. One person might choose to use a PDA to keep daily reminders and to-do lists, while another would prefer a small pocket notebook. It’s about what works for you, not someone else! However, there are some golden rules that apply to getting organized that can help you on your way to organizing. Remember to use what works for you!
1. ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’-
You may be convinced that there is no way in the world that you can find a place for everything. However, this is a key step in helping you stay organized. If something is important enough to keep, it deserves to have its own “place.” Once items have been assigned a home, it is easier for everyone to retrieve and replace them. You (and your family) know where the items are because they are in place. On the contrary, when you check the mail, you can take care of everything immediately because you know exactly where everything belongs. When assigning a home to an item, remember to assign a location depending on who uses the item, how often it is used, and make the location as practical and convenient as possible, and use labels (or pictures to help those who don’t! can read!).
2. Save it and do it now– Often times, we spend more energy avoiding a task than completing it. Once you have a place for everything, you will know where items are going as soon as they arrive in your hands. It only takes a minute or two to put things away (the same amount of time it takes to put them aside, only to move them over and over again …). Enforce this with family members – whoever takes it out is responsible for putting it away … now, not later. Schedule 15 minutes to clear clutter by walking around your house with an empty basket and picking up the thrown items and putting them away.
3. Change your shopping habits– Buy less! – “That’s impossible,” you say. Actually, it is much easier than it sounds. It is time to take control of your purchasing decisions. We spend an inordinate amount of time shopping for things, cleaning and storing things. Don’t buy something that’s on sale just because it’s a great price. Think twice about buying items that require a lot of extra maintenance or that serve only one purpose, such as kitchen utensils or knick-knacks (i.e. quesadillas) or souvenirs that just take up space … and require dusting. Instead, take pictures.
4. Minimize paper clutter– Limit paper entry by handling junk mail before it enters the house. Cancel post subscriptions if they are rarely or never read. Ask yourself: “Can I access the information elsewhere?” that is to say, the Internet. Think twice before duplicating documents i.e. printing emails, photocopying. Also, don’t bring home free brochures and pamphlets, read them on the spot and jot down notes in your planner or notepad with just the information you need to reference, i.e. website, name and phone number, etc.
5. Adopt a “one in, one out” rule. Before buying something new, try to purge, donate, or sell a similar item. This can be applied to anything including books, magazines, clothing, and even children’s toys. Try to get children into the spirit of donating little used toys or things they don’t play with. This will also help prioritize the importance of the items, is it more important to buy that new cookbook or should you keep the old one?
6. Use your resources Do you really have to buy the latest novel or DVD? Borrow books, videos, and DVDs from the library, rent them at the video store, or borrow from a friend. You can also trade, borrow, or rent infrequently used home and garden tools.
7. Use it or lose it! – Do you keep tons of clothes that you know you’ll never wear again or ‘just in case’? Do you have 40 towels and bedding for 20 in a house of 3? Curtains from your last apartment that don’t even fit your current windows? Tablecloths the wrong size? Tablecloths that no longer match your decor? If clutter and your inability to locate items when you need them increase, it is costing you time and money! Donate or sell these items. If you are committed to using them, please do so. If not, donate or sell these items.
These Rules are guidelines to help you on your way to organizing. Try to remember the rules as you go about your daily routines. Instead of trying to ditch all your old ways of doing things and start from scratch, try applying the rules as you go. This will help you create a system that you can maintain.