My soon-to-be sister-in-law called me yesterday asking if I would help her unpack. She had just moved up from California to be with my brother and was trying to incorporate her stuff with his.
“I’m a neat freak,” she admitted. “I have to have things where I want them so I can find them.”
This is all the more important, because she is blind. About eight years ago, she lost her sight to disease, and in her late 40s, she has no plans to let it hinder her life.
Watching her work tenaciously with my brother’s enormous collection of mismatched kitchen storage containers and lids, I realized how the rest of us, including myself, find lots of excuses for not getting organized. My office is a wreck. I find things eventually under the piles, but it wastes time and causes a lot of stress. So, with inspiration from Kandee Christiansen, I vow to get it together this year.
Interestingly, the rest of my life is very organized. I keep an accurate calendar, manage to multi-task without amping out, and in addition, keep everyone else in the house organized, too. I’ve had to choose which parts of my home and life to keep in control, while clutter reigns elsewhere.
Catherine Gersich, owner of PriOrganize.net in Bellingham makes a good point.
“People need simplicity. They become paralyzed by their environment, and aren’t able to function. By minimizing clutter and chaos, you achieve a positive and productive environment.”
Gersich helps people whose clutter has gotten out of control, and those who simply need a little help. Typical of her clients are home offices, downsizing seniors, crowded families, divorced men and single moms. It’s hard to keep things in order when life comes first.
Catherine got me thinking about those things I do well, and the things that could use work. I came up with a few thoughts to share with you for more efficient office and home life.
Take it in steps
Looking at an entire room — like my messy office — is overwhelming. Looking at one shelf, or one corner, is doable. Take one hour a day or a couple hours each week and work on one thing at a time. It will make slow but sure progress and lead you in a direction of accomplishment instead of furthering the problem.
Shop for organizers
Check out those plastic bins, shelving units, desk organizers and baskets. Create a place for everything. I tend to collect catalogs of things I might order from some day. I realized that they needed their own spot, not mixed in with articles I needed to file. I also need to weed them out on a regular basis. Keep a handy paper recycling bin under the desk and toss the junk the second you don’t need it. Go through the mail only once and separate it then. Don’t just leave it lying around.
Use reminder cues
Post-it Notes are fabulous for keeping you on track. The key is to write the note while you are thinking of something, not hoping you’ll get back to it later. Have one spot where the notes go and toss them when the item is completed. I’ll leave a light on in the laundry room to remind me to empty the dryer, or leave my glass of water on the table to remind me to take my pills. Put empty files on the desk so you’ll remember to file that pile. Do things that will remind you later of things you’re thinking of now.
eBay is great! So are other places to get rid of things you no longer need or use. Last year I got $200 from my Barbie Doll on eBay. A 50-year old does not need a Barbie Doll box cluttering her home office! I recently sold my electric bass. It’s not the 1980s anymore, and I haven’t played it for over 10 years. If you don’t use it, but can’t part with it, stick it in a bin in a storage area away from daily use spaces. You don’t need the constant reminder that it’s there, and the space can be used for something else.
This has become a huge problem for businesses. Old computers, scanners, printers, phones and fax machines clutter offices and closets. You’ll never use them again, and you don’t want to toss them in the trash. Get online and find the closest place that will take them to either refurbish, or take apart to recycle. Remove those dust collectors from your space permanently.
Coordinate your clothes
Lastly, get into the closet and organize your clothing every season. Give away or consign things you don’t wear, and pack up clothes you don’t need right now. Last weekend I organized my jewelry box and found tons of stuff I forgot I had. Now people are asking where I got the new necklace. Mornings will be easier and you’ll look better if the closet is put together.