- Begin with a gigantic organizing project.
“Yeah! The bigger chunk I bite off, the sooner I will be done!”
This is a perfect way to ensure failure and disillusionment. Instead, start small to ensure immediate success. Choose one area – a drawer, counter top – that you see daily.
- Dive in without any thought of HOW to proceed.
“I’m going to organize this space if it takes me all day!”
With no plan, at the end of the day you will have simply rearranged a mess and made a bigger one. Use an organizing strategy that will walk you through the process one step at a time. You can use the steps on my blog post Clearing the Clutter or find an organizing book you like for a guide.1
- Jump around from one area to another.
“It’s too boring to stand still in one place for too long.”
This is what gets us into a mess in the first place – lots of unfinished projects and the latest organizing products waiting to be used. Determine that you will finish organizing one area completely according to your plan. Actually finishing what you start is a great boost to confidence and momentum!
- Put off distribution of giveaways.
“At least the stuff is in a box or bag. It can sit there for a while.”
Your goal is to have an orderly, usable space. Once you have identified things to let go, get them out of there within 2 weeks at the latest.
- Pile, stack, stuff items into their assigned home.
“If it fits, it’s all good.”
Container, container, container. When you have a place to put belongings/supplies that is customized to hold certain items, you will be much more likely to keep up your newly organized system. Find containers that are appropriate, label if necessary, so you automatically know what goes where.
- Organize large spaces back to back.
“I’m on a roll, gotta keep going.”
Psychologists say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. When you make changes in your environment, it may take you a while to get used to your new configuration. Choosing a room or area every other month will give you a fighting chance at maintaining your new organization.
- Go it alone.
“I want to be totally independent and rely solely upon my own efforts.”
Accountability helps. First, announce to a friend or family member that you plan to organize (choose an area) this month. Ask that person to quiz you by a certain date to see if you have started. It’s amazing how much more motivated you are if someone knows your intention.
Better yet, organize with a friend. Help with his/her project and then work together on yours. Both tasks will go twice as fast and be much more fun together.
If your job seems too overwhelming, contact a professional organizer who knows where to start and can keep you on task.
Lastly, don’t forget to build rewards into your organizing efforts. Celebrate each victory with an activity or purchase that holds special meaning for you. You did a great job!
Remember though, if you bring one new thing into your renovated space, let another go.
- For example: Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern, Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home and Life by Laura Leist, or Organize with Confidence by Elizabeth Hagen [↩]