Sometimes when people think of organization, they immediately think of everything being in it’s place, neatly labeled in a color coordinating container on a beautiful shelf in a spotless room. While that might be organization for you, it’s not my definition. As nice as it would be to have someone come in an organize everything for me, that’s not realistic. Finding a system that works for you is way more important than just getting things put away. You won’t keep up with it if it doesn’t make sense for you and your life style. Here are a few tips to help you decide what’s going to help you get more organized:
Where Do You Need Help?
Take a look and be honest with yourself. Sure it’s easy to say you want to fix everything and maybe that’s the long term goal. It’s also really big and probably going to set you up to fail. Write down everything you’d like to get organized and try to be as specific as possible. Instead of saying you’d like your house to be organized, list what specific areas of your home you’d like to be organized. Maybe it’s the kids shoes that they take off when they get home. Or maybe it’s how you do laundry. Or keeping track of plans and obligations for the week. After you’ve got your list, go through and prioritize your list so you’ll know where to start.
Find Your Thing (and Be Flexible)
Do a little bit of research to see what other people are doing. Pinterest is a great resource for this. Search shoe organization or laundry organization or creating a schedule. I don’t run out and spend a lot of money on a new system right away. Usually I’ll do some research, get a few ideas together, and look around the house to see what I’ve already got before I head off to the store. Sometimes things look great on paper or look like they should work, but when you put them into practice, they’re just not a good fit for your lifestyle or family. Don’t be afraid to tweak your system. Just because it took you a week to research it and set up doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with it. Make changes so it works better or try something different if you need to.
In regards to organizing a schedule, you’ll need to decide what works best for you there too. Are you a paper and pen person? Have to have a calendar on the fridge with everyone’s schedules? Do you rely on Google Calendar alerts? Websites like Cozy also work well for sharing a calendar with multiple people who aren’t all on Gmail. Try to pick a day and time each week to sync everyone’s calendars. Sunday morning over brunch have everyone pull out their agenda books from school, your planner, your spouse’s work calendar, sports schedules, party invitations, and whatever else is going on to make sure nothing gets missed. It’s helpful to have one main calendar everyone adds their events to and if someone needs to make another calendar just for themselves with their events and activities, that’s fine.
Stick to It
Putting a new system in place will take everyone some time to adjust to. Things will go great for a day or two while you’re really excited about it and thinking about it. Until it becomes a habit, you’re going to have to make an effort to work at it. Set a reminder on your phone. Put a sticky note on the mirror or door (or wherever you’ll see it). Your effort will pay off you’ll need a little less effort once you’ve formed a new habit.
Want another layer to help you ensure some level of success? Tell your friends what you’re up to. By having the accountability from them to ask how things are going (or to come over and check your progress if you need something a little more strict), you’ll be more likely to follow through on your goals and new habits. You might even help your friends find a new way to organize something in their own lives as well.
Make Good Use of Your Time
If your goal is to have your house more organized so you’re not spending your Saturday mornings cleaning, you’ve now got time for something else. You can reward yourself with experiences during all the new free time you have. Of course you’re probably trying to get things organized so you can get more done in your days. I get that. Believe me I do. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. But be careful. Don’t fill this new found time (or space) with something new right away. Yes we need to get things done (and have room for things in our spaces), but remember that less is more. Over time that time and space will get filled up with new things and that’s ok. It can be more stressful knowing you have to free up an hour in your day because you’ve already committed to something else and it just not happening so now you’re overwhelmed.
Another way to help you find time in your day is to spend an entire day (ok maybe two days – one week day and a weekend day) documenting what you do. Be honest with yourself and write down everything. All the times you check Facebook, watch something on YouTube, or sit in the school parking lot waiting to pick up kids. Look over your journal and it will help you get a good idea of where you’re spending a good bit of time. Instead of checking Facebook for 20 minutes when you get home from work, maybe you can do that while you’re waiting to pick up the kids and use that time at home for something else. You’ll be amazed too how much more you get done when your conscious of what you’re doing instead of just trying to get through the day. Every now and then I’ll track my activity for a day, especially if I’ve got a deadline coming up, to keep myself on track and productive.
Celebrate the Victories
Did your kids sort their dirty laundry using the new system instead of throwing their clothes on the floor? Celebrate with a movie night at the end of the week and make sure they know how they earned their fun evening. Or maybe you wrote everything in your planner for the week and worked from your to do list. That deserves a reward too.
Once you feel like you’ve got one thing settled from your organization list, start on the next thing you want to tackle. Use the energy and excitement from your success to make progress on something else.
What are some things you used when you started on your journey to being more organized that were helpful?