Many of the problems we encounter every day stem from a lack of organization. Such problems as desks piled high with papers, precious time wasted in looking for lost items and projects that take longer than expected can all be brought under our control when we get organized.
Are you frequently aggravated by cluttered closets or a fear that unexpected visitors might stop by your untidy home? Do your relationships suffer because of your chronic tardiness or forgetfulness? If so, you’ll find relief in some simple organizing practices. Even if you’ve pretty much got things under control and aren’t plagued by some of the more extreme problems associated with disorganization, you’ll probably appreciate being able to accomplish tasks more quickly and efficiently so you can get on to other things.
Cluttered surroundings - jumbled kitchen cabinets, mountains of books, papers, laundry, partially completed projects - add up to stress. Whether it’s the annoyance of constantly losing important items or the feeling of not being comfortable in your own home or office, the message is that you don’t have control over your surroundings. You may feel you have to continually put off fun activities because you’ve always “got so much to do” yet you never seem to be able to get those things done. And this becomes stress. Putting an end to clutter does wonderful things for your frame of mind.
Once you begin organizing your life, you’ll find new self-confidence. When people are habitually late arriving for appointments, paying bills or completing projects, they spend a lot of time either apologizing or defending themselves, both of which lower their self-esteem. They often feel they are disappointing to people and their relationships are endangered. Getting organized can be a big help with chronic tardiness thereby reducing the stress it produces.
Occasionally I encounter someone who, when they learn of my specialty, expect me to be a paragon of organization with never a wasted movement. They expect my home, office and car to be impeccable and assume I accomplish every single task every single day. But that’s not the goal of personal organization.
Being organized isn’t about living a sterile, no-frills life. It’s about being comfortable in your surroundings and accomplishing the basic routines of life as quickly and efficiently as possible to make time for fun and special interests.
Organizational techniques are not inborn, they must be learned. Some people are fortunate enough to learn them in childhood from parents who have these skills, but most of us either don’t learn them at home or forget them somewhere along the way.
Fortunately, organizing principles are easy to learn and a few basic techniques can be applied in various ways.
Find the fastest and best way to accomplish any task by thinking it through first. From the simplest chore of clearing the dishes from the table to putting together a major business report, take a few minutes to plan how you will approach the job and what steps you will take to accomplish it. At this stage it’s easier to see ways to simplify and speed your work. You may be inclined to skip the planning phase of a chore thinking it will take time away from the task itself. In reality, 15 minutes of planning can save hours on the job.
Make your actions do double duty. A simple illustration of this principle is putting away clean dishes. You probably take them from dishwasher or drainer to a cupboard for storage. In a short while, you’ll take those same dishes out of the cupboard and put them on the table. Combine those tasks and set the table for your next meal as you put the clean dishes away. Instantly, you have eliminated a chore. You’ve made the same amount of energy do double duty.
Do a little extra now to save a lot later. Preparing double or triple batches of a food and freezing some for another day falls under this category. Make extra mortgage payments may squeeze your finances today, but it saves lots of money in the long run. From small tasks like removing your clothes from the dryer before they wrinkle to taking your car in for preventive maintenance to save big bucks on repairs, find the extra things you can do now to head off future crises.
Get organized and reap the benefits of a more comfortable home, a smoother running office, and a lifestyle that allows you to focus on the more important things in your life, whatever they may be.
Dale Jarrett is editor of The Get Organized! News and author of The Perpetual Calendar of Organizing Tips. To order the calendar ($12.45 including s&h;) or subscribe to the monthly newsletter ($14 for one year), send check or money order to TGON, P.O. Box 144, Gotha, FL 34734.