Yep, the 2 questions organizers hear all the time. Would you be shocked if I told you the answer is easy? Simple? Doable? Even if you aren’t the OCD organizing type?
Haha…it’s definitely not doing that! Although, that would be a fun experiment.
Maybe some of you have taken to google or pinterest to find the answer to getting more organized. And in the process of doing that I’m sure you found a lot of answers, ideas, theories and all those pictures. But chances are within 15 minutes you felt overwhelmed, got sucked into the pretty “after” images and were left feeling more unmotivated, sad and defeated….which is where you started in the first place and why you’re asking these questions to begin with.
My answer to these 2 questions is easy, my friends….
It’s about being motivated, setting goals and
deconstructing those goals into small tasks so that you stay motivated.
There it is.
I’ll say it again. If you want to be more organized and stay organized, it’s about setting goals, breaking down the goals into small tasks and then being consistent by following a system you set in place. Yes, it’s that simple. There’s no need to shock your system into a new way of living come January 1. Habits take time to change. It’s behavior modification at its most basic level.
You set a goal.
You deconstruct it.
You knock little tasks off your list.
You achieve your goal.
Enough of my chatter, let’s get to the point here, right? But first, while I’m a professional organizer, I don’t profess to know it all. I’m always learning new things, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know what works and doesn’t…and I know where people get hung up or struggle. So, if someone asked me, I’d say keep the right attitude, have fun with it – it’s just stuff after all!….
(Keep in mind I’m also giving a view from 35k feet. I couldn’t possibly share all of the nitty gritty details in this one post. I’ll dig deeper soon with you guys. For now, I’m not going to overwhelm you.)
And then I’d say these are my top bullet-points:
1. What needs organizing? Start by understanding what in your space is disorganized. And what it is you want to change. What’s frustrating you? Are you losing your keys every morning? Do you have a room / closet in your house where the clutter gets tossed before guests arrive? Do you spend 20 minutes or more hunting down an item that “I know I saw somewhere!”? Do you have piles of paper on the kitchen counter, in the front entry, the office? Is your entire house a mess? Maybe it’s your car or office space outside your home?
To begin, take some time (a few days or more) to write it all down and figure out the main overarching categories. Here’s an example of a main category list…
Knowing and defining the areas you’re struggling in is your first step. Always.
2. Break it down. Once you have your main categories listed, break down each of them into doable, realistic, small tasks.
Maybe in the month of January you’ll choose to focus on your home office. This tends to be the hot spot in any home no matter what time of year, but especially in January as we come down from our holiday high and head into tax season. As you break down the main topic of “home office”, you’ll want to be specific and not write down something like “make the home office more functional”. Instead, remember we’re talking action items. Here’s an example:
* Week 1: Gather paper into one spot (out of entry, off kitchen counters). Remember, you won’t be able to define a successful paper flow system unless you know what you’re working with – so get it all in front of you.
* Week 2: Sort through papers and shred / recycle anything I’m not keeping.
* Week 3: Buy manilla folders and labels.
* Week 4: Label and file.
Here’s an example for a child’s bedroom…
You get the idea, but what’s important here is to remember that getting organized takes a little work up front. And to keep you motivated, breaking down the big main category into smaller tasks will not only move you in the direction of your goal, but also keep you motivated. You’ll see your space begin to transform and you’ll see that you’re knocking items off the list, actually moving toward the end of your goal!
3. Set a deadline. Now that you’ve got it down on paper (or digitally, if you work better that way), set little deadlines for yourself. If you tend to work slower, give yourself a full month to work on one room. So break your goals down into weekly assignments for yourself. If you tend to work faster and want to get it done, break it down over one week’s time by giving yourself one job each day.
Setting a deadline and meeting it because you dissected it into small tasks gives you a sense of accomplishment. If you’re feeling the lack of motivation (we all do sometimes!), consider recruiting a friend and tackle your clutter together. Set goals and knock them off the list each week, then share what you’re up to. Having someone hold you accountable could be a helpful strategy for some of us. Maybe at the end of the month, when you’ve tackled one main goal heading, treat yourself to a girl’s night out to celebrate your success!
4. Visual Inspiration. If you’re the type the needs a little visual motivation, find a few spaces that inspire you – either from a magazine or pinterest or a favorite blogger / author you follow – print it out, and clip it to your goal category list or the side of your fridge (unless you don’t like eye clutter – like me!). Inspiring images can be helpful…inspiring quotes help too.
5. Be kind to yourself. If you’re not the organizing type, it takes time to get into the swing of purging, sorting, giving away your things (*shudder!*) and creating / following new systems. I’ve heard varying answers to this question, but the theory I’ve heard most is on average it takes 66 days to form a new habit. Yes – days and days….and days….so don’t let a few missteps ruin all your hard work. Take it easy on yourself during this process.
As with anything you want to work for, it’s about setting goals, breaking them down into tasks and then getting it done. Getting more organized works exactly the same way! New Year’s is just a couple months away (yup, I said it!) so I hope you’ll keep this easy break-down in mind as you head into the holidays. Consider starting your list of main categories right now. Or maybe you’ll want to go ahead and jump feet first into a category. Either way, know that getting more organized is easy! Hope I’ve helped take some of the mystery and stress out of this topic for you!
And I hope these funny e-cards help you remember to keep the humor in all of this and keep that smile on your face…
Have a great day!!
(I linked up with iheartorganizing)