Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I Want to Get Organized, But Where Do I Start?

It's a month into the new year, and you said you wanted to go to the gym six times a week. But you keep running late because you can't find your sneakers and you forgot to wash your gym clothes...again. Mission: change your resolution. It's time to get organized! We only get 24 hours a day, so use these tips to regain your time and streamline your home.

1. Set goals. The best place to begin is at the end. Visualize how you want to feel when your space is organized and when systems are put into place. How will it improve your life? Won't it be great having more time to spend on the things you want to do instead of spending time looking for things? Your goals will help you get through the organizing process, especially if you're dreading it.

2. Start small. Don't let not knowing where to start stop you from starting. If your whole house overwhelms you, begin with a small project. Organize the top of your dresser or your purse, then move up to a closet, a filing cabinet, or under the bed. If you just want to organize one room, break it into sections. Based on your goals, make a list of actions, and how long you think they will take. Avoid perfectionism-it is more important to start now than to start in the absolutely perfect place.

3. Schedule time. Mark your calendar with one-, two-, or three-hour appointments for sorting and purging. Don't try to do it all in one sitting until you get tired or frustrated and are more likely to make
bad decisions or give up. When it's time for your organizing appointment, close the door, turn off your phone, and set a timer, so you can commit yourself to clearing your space. These few hours will save you dozens of hours in the future, so stick to your duties and remember your goals.

4. Plan how items will leave the house. Decide what you will do with purged items before you start organizing, whether it's donating them to a thrift shop or making a hand-me-down bag for a friend. It may be helpful to sort in these five piles: "keep," "other rooms," "donations," "recycling,"
and "trash."

5. Ask for help. Don't be ashamed to ask friends or family members for help. Ask people to deliver donations to a thrift shop or shred old documents for you. If you need more direction, don't
be embarrassed to call a professional. There are over 4,000 professional organizers nationwide serving tens of thousands of clients, so you are not alone in your organizing challenges.