When you read the word organize, does your chaos-loving heart tighten? Do you hear your mother yelling at you to clean up your room?
Learn some new ways to reclaim your space and take more control of your time, money and relationships while still feeling like an adult.
For creative types, friends of frenzy, creatures of comfort and chaos-lovers, just the very word ‘organize’ is enough to clip the wings off their free spirit.
But a free form life can come with a hefty price tag in terms of lost time, wasted energy, higher stress and strained relationships.
Organizing expert Donna Smallin
believes that clutter is representative of obstacles we put in our own path toward success.
“Disorganization is only a problem if it’s creating problems in your life and/or relationships,” says Smallin. “If you’re okay with a disorganized environment, that’s fine. But chances are, if you live with someone else, they are not okay with it.”
These four organizational tips will help you put your life in order without cramping your style.
Some are tried and true, while others are out-of-the-box and innovative. See which ones you might fit into your life. A few small adjustments could add up to big life changes!
1. Basket Toss
Free your inner brat. But be an adult about it.
Give yourself permission to just throw things around, while still keeping it clean by placing catch-alls—bins, baskets, boxes—in every corner, nook or cranny in your home where clutter tends gather.
Arrange your bins, boxes or baskets according to the way you use the room (where you like to drop or toss things). It’s the next best thing to having someone “clean up after you.” (Thanks, Mom.)
If you are the type to launch your shoes, lob your socks and shoot laundry baskets with balled up shirts, you’re going to love this organizational tip.
From papers to clothes to oversized kitchen utensils, invest in some big, sturdy baskets.
Throw those things you use every day—like car keys, lunch bags and books—in a basket by the door, coming and going. When you walk in the door, drop everything, right into the basket.
Always losing your socks, favorite shirt or jammies? Post a basket in the corner where you like to throw things. Better yet, put two side by side. One for clean things and another for dirty laundry.
If you adopt this system, you won’t absent mindedly place your things on a counter, on the floor, or in some other place where things will get piled on top of them. And you won’t have to ask yourself, “Now, where did I put my keys?” again.
2. Keepsake or Keeping Stuck?
Are you keeping anything that holds bad memories? Knowing when and why to let go can help you keep your clutter to a minimum.
Are you holding on to it because it’s the only rooster head toilet brush or neon tea cozy you have? Or, are you secretly hoping the person who gave it to you, or the life you had when you acquired it, will return to you?
If you still own objects that no longer serve you or reflect the person you are today, release it! Throw it out, give it away, sell it or recycle it, but don’t let keepsakes keep you stuck.
The more space, literally, you can open up for new experiences, the happier you’ll be.
3. Give Up the Ghost
Is your home haunted with ghosts of to-do lists past or future? Anything that’s pulling you away from the present should be relegated to the past.
Too small jeans waiting for the day you lose weight, broken zippers you’re going to repair but never seem to get around to it, styles and colors that look horrid on you but you got such a great deal on them… Anything that pulls you back to the past or pushes you into the future drains creative energy from the here and now.
Every article of clothing you own only deserves to be taking up space in your closet if it fits great, looks great and makes you feel great.
If you own something that doesn’t meet these criteria, give it away! You’ll feel lighter tossing what you don’t need, and have the satisfaction of giving others something that they do need.
4. Touching Paper Only Once
Thanks to digital technology, this method is getting easier to adopt. You probably have most of your contacts, bank accounts, correspondence, etc. stored online, but there are still a lot of papers that shuffle around you in real time and hard copy.
Touching paper only once means, the moment you have a file, piece of mail, bill or any other documentation in hand, make it the last time you touch it before putting it in its rightful place.
The point is, it’s stressful to keep shuffling paper instead of processing it. If you lay bills aside for dealing with at another time, it’s too easy for them to get buried or to lose them.
Learn to dispose or dispatch them as soon as they appear. Open your mail right at your desk, and next to your filing cabinet, inbox and recycling bin, for example.
You don’t have to stop being who you are to benefit from, and maybe even enjoy, these organizing tips. Be creatively chaotic, but know where your stuff is. The goal is to enrich your life by helping you get out of your own way.
Try one or all of these methods for just a week, and see how well it might tame that stress monster under your bed or terrible time waster in your closet.