OK, I admit it…..I am an organising junkie – my shameful secret….I LOVE ORGANISING!!!
That feeling when you need something and you can lay your hand on it right away…or it’s your best friend’s birthday tomorrow and you bought her the perfect gift two weeks ago….don’t we all aspire to that? I know I do! Some people seem to do this naturally; they have systems in place so that they are on top of their work, or their house is uber-tidy, or they pack for a two week beach holiday in one carry-on piece of luggage. The trouble is, what no-one tells you is that for most of us this is an effort. It just doesn’t come naturally and we have to work at it. There are, however, ways to make this easier, and below are the principles which, through years of reading books, scrolling through Pinterest, watching YouTubers, and trying my best every damn day, I have found are key principles to help you become – and remain – an organised person. Let’s begin.
Decluttering (and keeping decluttered). This is the first principle. If you can only do one of these, then this is the one to do. When you feel the joy of shedding all of those ‘things’ you have been saving ‘just in case’, it will inspire you to move along your organising journey, and it will make you feel free. There are several ways of doing this, and one of the most popular is the Marie Kondo method. As I have already said, organising is not easy and decluttering is as hard as it gets – after all, you have kept all of that stuff for a reason, haven’t you? And it’s much harder to make a decision about whether to keep something, than it is to just not think about it, keep hold of it and defer that decision to another day. But – you have to pull on your big girl/boy pants and make a start. Kondo recommends you start with clothes – these are the items we have the least emotional attachment to and, in theory at least, it should be easier to start with these. Be ruthless. It does get easier…
Think of it as a way of freeing up valuable space in your home – you may be considering moving to a bigger home, which will cost you more, all because you have Too. Much. Stuff. How crazy is that? The other thing to remember about decluttering is that it isn’t something you do once then forget about, it’s a constant process. You can’t let your guard down or before you know it you’ll be featuring on one of those ‘hoarder’ programmes (joking..)
Keep ‘like with like’. Now that you have decluttered (or have made good progress), it’s time to think about how to store your things. Firstly, think about the most logical place to keep things – for example, if you are into gardening you probably have gardening equipment. Keep it all together, for example in a shed, or an outside storage box. If you have spare parts for your lawnmower, keep them near the lawnmower. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? It’s easy to fall into the habit of keeping ‘like’ things in different areas, but if you think about it logically, you will be able to put your hand on things quickly.
Store your most-used items so they are at hand. Following on from ‘keeping like with like’, have a look at whether you are storing items you use the most frequently in places where they are easily located. This was a game changer for me! It’s probably most noticeable in the kitchen. Do you store your cups and tea/coffee making supplies near the kettle, or are they on the other side of the kitchen? Do you keep a blender that you use daily on a high shelf that’s difficult to get to? Next time you are cooking, consciously think about how you are getting all of your equipment and supplies ready – are they stored conveniently, or do you have to move things out of the way so that you can grab them? It also applies to other areas – for example, spare bathroom supplies. Are your spare toilet rolls stored in the garage downstairs when your only loo is upstairs?!
Little and often. So many times, I have put off a ‘big’ organising task (like sorting out the garage of doom…) because I think I need a full day or a weekend to do it. And that big chunk of time never, or rarely, comes around – so the job remains undone. The way to tackle these big jobs is to break them up into manageable chunks – and that means doing it little and often. Taking organising the garage as an example, make a start by tackling whatever is on the floor. Give yourself a time limit to do it (amazing how a deadline can motivate you to finish…) and by the end of the allotted 20 minutes or so you will be amazed at what you have achieved. The key is to continue to chip away at it…little and often. I use the same technique with housework – each day I tackle a cleaning task such as wiping down the sinks and toilets, or wiping the front of the kitchen cupboards, plus cleaning a floor or hoovering, plus maybe a wash load or a spot of ironing. By the end of the week, you have gone through the whole house (I won’t say without realising it because there will have been some effort and hard work involved!) but it won’t have been that psychological burden of thinking you had to spend a whole day or weekend doing it.
Remembering important dates. For this one you are going to need a diary or a calendar, preferably an online one. I know, I know, I’m a paper and pen kind of gal myself too, but after one missed hair appointment too many I realised I had to move online rather than my trusty pocket diary. Get yourself set up with a calendar – I highly recommend Google calendar; so easy to use, you can colour code it for ease, and share it with family members or work colleagues. Start by blocking out all the birthdays and special events you already know about. For birthdays you can even set them to recur every year….genius!! Set yourself an appropriate reminder, or notification, say two weeks in advance to give yourself time to shop for a card and gift. You can even add notes in – for example if you are going to a gig, and you have stored the paper tickets somewhere safe, make a note of where they are in the notes section of the event in your calendar. Get into the habit of adding things as they occur – so when you are at the hairdressers and you’re booking in your next appointment, add it straight away. If you’ve got a work event that impacts on your home life, add it to your calendar. (use a different colour for work events). If your son or daughter has an important event that their other parent needs to attend or know about, add them in to the event as a participant. Everyone needs a calendar – they are not just for busy executives!
Routines aren’t just for babies… I can be a bit impulsive. I don’t like feeling tied down, and I don’t like things to be predictable. However, I love routines! Routines are the oil that greases the wheels of everyday life. A good routine to create is a bedtime routine – going to bed at the same time every night promotes good sleep health, and we all know how important sleep is! Way before bedtime, have a routine that includes preparing, cooking and clearing away dinner, getting stuff ready for the next day (meals, clothes, paperwork you may need to do something with etc), relaxing, doing some housework and preparing for bed. Routines can be helpful for children too, so they learn responsibilities such as feeding their pet, doing their chores, completing their homework. It just makes life much more simple – and organised!
Lists and checklists… I couldn’t write this article and not include lists! My love of a good list is legendary around these parts. I have daily lists of things to do, yearly lists of goals to achieve, lists of books to read and films to watch…you get the picture! The key for this is that everything is captured in a list. Nothing stays in my head – mainly because I would soon forget about it 😊 I tend to use paper lists for my deskwork, and electronic lists of other stuff like books to read etc (so that if I’m in a charity shop I can quickly scan my list to see if any of the books are in stock). The beauty of online lists is that they can be shared – ideal if it’s a family project, or even a shopping list that everyone can add to! The other things I love about lists is having prepared checklists for regularly occurring activities – for example holiday packing. I keep lists of things to pack for a camping or caravanning weekend, packing lists for family holidays, packing lists for a short weekend away. I don’t have to start afresh with a blank sheet of paper when I’m thinking about what to take on holiday. Such a simple thing, but it makes such a difference!
So there you have it – my top 7 principles for living in a more organised way. I think these are really simple practices, but they are such a good foundation to build your more organised life on! I hope these help you in some way; even if you only adopt one of them it might make your life easier!