I think of myself as a pretty self aware person. I know my strengths and weaknesses. For example, baking is not a strength of mine as evident of this #pinterestfail. I’ll let you guess which one is mine. —->
What I lack in operating an oven, I hopefully make up in organizing. I’m not perfect, but I do love it and am intentional about how I spend my time. I came up with 10 ‘principles’ so to speak that I try to follow:
1. Make a List and Check It Twice
FREE your mind (and the rest will follow) …. Literally. Yes, we all make to-do lists. That’s a given. But the uber organized write down EVERYTHING. No matter how small in order to get it off their mind. Yes, you’re smart and yes, you may have an awesome memory. Yet, if you’re taking up space in your mind remembering tiny details, you’re likely not able to focus on the task at hand. Whether you’re an electronic gal like me (Wunderlist and Todoist are awesome apps) or a paper gal, have a place where you write down things that pop up. My phone comes with me to bed (and it’s not just because it’s my alarm clock) 🙂 . If it’s on my mind before I go to bed it gets typed in my phone.
2. A Home for Everything
I’m not going to go crazy and say you can’t have a junk drawer or two, but everything in your home should have … well a home. Clutter adds chaos. Not only should everything have a home, but that home should make sense. For example, my coffee cups are in the cabinet directly above my coffee machine so it makes getting coffee in the morning easier (which is fabulous because I drink about 5 cups of coffee a day). I also spend 10 minutes at the end of the day, cleaning out my ‘junk spaces’ and putting those items back in to their home. Although I may allow for a junk basket to throw things in, I don’t allow the items to say in there long. Otherwise I really don’t need them … which leads me to #3.
3. No Unnecessary Clutter
That old rule ‘if you haven’t used it in 6 months it has to go’ is in full swing. Organized people don’t have unnecessary STUFF hanging around their house that they don’t use, even for that magical ‘rainy day’. Everything has a place and everything has a purpose. As a self declared pack rat, it took me a little while to get onboard with this. When my husband, Joe, and I first moved in together 5 years ago, we both owned our own toasters. I had a near nervous breakdown when he said we couldn’t keep both. “But if one breaks, then we’ll have an extra” was my justification. Well 5 years later the wining toaster (his) still hasn’t broke. And yes, I got rid of mine.
4. Love Mornings!
Yep, you knew this one was coming. You may not be a morning person; no one is telling you that you need to get up before the sunrise, BUT …. you should be intentional about what you do in the morning. Have a plan. For example, the age old statement that organized people make their bed every morning does have merit. But don’t limit it to that. Something as simple as taking out dishes from the dishwasher can set the tone for the day. For me I wipe down our kitchen counters every morning. I hate crumbs and it’s oddly calming to get home after a long day at work and know my kitchen doesn’t look like a mess. I also try to wake up an extra 10 minutes early (it’s totally doable… it’s 10 minutes!) just so I don’t feel like I’m rushing in the morning. Nothing makes me feel more disorganized than a morning scramble.
5. Break Down Big Projects
Large projects can be overwhelming and stressful. And most of the time the stress isn’t helpful in feeling organized or efficient. For example I’m hosting out of town guests in a couple weeks. Since that’s not really a to-do list item, I break it down in to categories such as itinerary, cleaning, groceries. Then under each of those categories I will list the action items I need to do. So for groceries my action items are:
- Make a list of the groceries we need for the weekend
- Check the kitchen to see which of those items I already have
- Go to the grocery store to purchase the remaining items
Yes, this isn’t brain surgery. But the sooner you do this, the easier it is to prevent last minute fire drills and stress.
6. An Organizing System That’s Realistic
You can have the fanciest newest app or prettiest binder with as many tabs as your heart desires, but if it’s not realistic to maintain you might as well skip it completely. For the longest time I was the queen of this. Not the princess, the QUEEN. I’d spend hours transferring all my to do items over to my newest system. At the end I feel like I conquered the world. But actually I didn’t accomplish anything. And most of these were so rigorous that I couldn’t keep up and I’d fail within a week. Sadly, it would have been a better use of my time to color code my sock drawer.
7. Do It Now
Organized people want to act and get things done. Why put off for tomorrow what can be done today? This ensures that your to do list doesn’t pile up unnecessarily. Something as little as bringing dirty laundry down from the bedroom to the laundry room as you’re walking past this room saves time and effort later on. We have a 3 story townhouse (yes, this my way of exercising) and I have a rule that I never walk up or down a flight of stairs empty handed.
8. Prioritize The Things You NEED To Get Done
Over the things you ‘want’ to get done. There’s always things on our to-do list that we just aren’t excited about. Well, find that thing and do it today. Get it off your mind and checked off your list. You’ll feel so much better and you won’t spend time dreading it. I learned this lesson the hard way. For me it was calling a plumber. Our toilets were making really weird noises (literally sounded like this) and my husband was really busy with a work project so I got the job of handling it. I just didn’t want to deal with it. Not my wheel house. I actually put doing laundry ahead of the toilet. Well, by the time I finally called a plumber the problem had gotten so much worse and cost us a lot more money to fix. Tough. Lesson. Learned. Ugh.
This is another cliche organizing word. But it’s true. Organized people not only figure out what they need to accomplish today, but in to the future. For example, I try to go grocery shop every Saturday morning. By looking ahead at my calendar I realized I needed to bring a present to our friends’ son’s birthday party in three weeks. The grocery store is near Target = one trip out instead of two. I just saved myself at least an hour or two making a separate trip.
10. Multi-Tasking is SO 2014
More and more us type A people like to boast that we’re always multitasking. We’re doing so much at once. Aren’t we amazing? But seriously. Yes, you may be doing a couple things at once, but how well are you doing any of them? And how long did it take you to complete those things? Ever try to just buckle down and do one thing at a time? So a slightly embarrassing confession: I’ve been known to get on a stair climber, drink a glass of wine while responding to emails and watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Let’s just say, I definitely didn’t burn any calories and it I had to reread each email about 3 times before I could respond. Now wine & Real Housewives is multitasking I’ve definitely mastered 🙂 .
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