Tips on Getting Organized

If you need some tips on getting organized then start here!

In this article I want to focus on getting motivated so you can begin organizing your personal life, your home or your office. For this reason these are very general tips on getting organized - if you are looking for some more specific areas such as The Pantry, The Laundry, and Organizing Paper follow the links (when I get them up!)

Help! Where do I start?

Sometimes we have all the intention in the world of sorting our lives and our stuff out but we get so overwhelmed with the enormity of it all that we don't know where to start. Because we don't know where to start guess what - we don't start at all. I'm hoping that these tips on getting organized will help you to at least get going.

I can say this, because it's happened to me plenty of times. Most recently, when we decided to move countries, my husband was already working in the new country so the actual move was left to me. For months beforehand, I knew we were moving but I could never seem to get started. It wasn't like I didn't want to pack everything up - I was super excited about the move. It was more a feeling of lethargy and the thinking that I would tackle it the next day. So what happened? Well a friend of mine came over and got me motivated to get moving. That was all it took - a bit of a pep talk and we were off!

In the same way, you too should think of me as your friend - I'm here to give you that pep talk and inspiration as well as some tips on getting organized. As your friend, I'm going to share with you my five best tips on getting organized

Tip 1. Don't delay

Otherwise known as "Do it Now". When I first started running I kept saying things like "It's raining outside, I'll start tomorrow". When we were moving house, I would think "I'll clear out that room tomorrow because I've got family coming over now".

Funnily enough, getting organized is very similar to the mental games we play with ourselves during life changes like losing weight, or starting a fitness regime. For these scenario's you need the same tip - the first thing you need to do is get up off that couch and get outside.

So, if you are serious about getting organized then you need to start now! Of course, I mean once you've finished reading this article and are suitably motivated.

Tip 2. It doesn't need to look pretty

I love pretty things, especially pretty organized things. I sometimes look at magazines and ooh and aah over the nice pretty storage they have in their houses. I remember watching an episode of Desperate Housewives and they showed Bree's laundry in one shot. I paused the TV and salivated over her very gorgeous and organized laundry.

My dream is to have gorgeous storage boxes and gorgeous pantry storage. Maybe it's yours too (or not if you're a guy...) but I've learnt that if you want to get organized, you can't afford to wait until you have the right storage items to do it. Just get organized now and then if you find and can afford that pretty storage then buy it afterwards.

This rule applies for everything by the way - not just for storage boxes. When I was wanting to organize my desk at work I kept delaying because I wanted to print out some neat labels for my filing folders. Since I never got time to choose my font, set the template up on the computer and then print the labels out, I never actually organized my desk.

The breakthrough came when a time management guru came to my desk and asked why nothing was filed. After I explained, he reminded me that printing out neat labels was wasting time and I should just handwrite the labels so I could get on with the organizing. I actually chose to use the office labeller which was a better compromise. At home I just handwrite the labels.

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Tip 3. First things first

If you're feeling overwhelmed then start and complete one task. If you are organizing the house - start with your bedroom. I've suggested the bedroom because at the end of a stressful or energetic day, coming into a clean, tidy and organized bedroom is like entering an oasis.

If you're organizing your desk at work, start with the in/out tray or your email inbox.

If you're a student - organize your desk.

Tip 4. Chuck it out

When in doubt - chuck it out! To me, the first action item for organizing yourself is to get rid of accumulated clutter in your life. Once this is completed then you feel more in control and can focus on other areas like prioritising and scheduling the important actions for your day.

When we were moving, I had a very dear friend come over and help me (she actually had lots more tips on getting organized which I will share with you throughout the other articles). Anyway, her mantra was "what's the worst that could happen if we chuck this out". That really struck home with me. Over the years, we had accumulated a lot of stuff which just sat in the garage and even with best intentions, I never got around to sorting through. And it's so true! What is the worst that could happen?

My worst scenario was that six months later I realised I had thrown out one item which I now needed (the item was a pair of nice black dress heels for a wedding we were attending). I shrugged my shoulders and went and bought a new pair all the while congratulating myself that it was only this one (inexpensive) item I had missed.

If you are cleaning out your paper in-tray and email in-box. Ask yourself - what's the worst that could happen if I chucked this document in the bin? If you're not going to get fired then, my advice is to throw it in the bin!

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Tip 5. Go to bed early

If you want to be organized then you need to be in the right frame of mind and you need to be able to think clearly. Having enough sleep is one of the essential elements to coping well with stress and being able to think clearly.

I'm the worst one with actually following this tip but when I do actually make an effort to go to bed earlyish, I find it makes an absolute world of difference.

It's also very easy to say but harder to accomplish - I've got three children and am home by myself at night. Once I finally have them in bed, the last thing I want to do is go to bed as well since I love having a bit of time to relax on my own. What works for me is that I set my phone for bedtime. So once I've put the kids down, I have a drink (depending on my day, it could be a glass of wine or a cup of herbal tea) and catch up on a magazine or relax for an hour. Then my alarm goes off telling me that it's time for bed. Once in bed, I read until I'm so tired that I can't hold the book (or the ipad because I've found the joys of reading kindle books but that's for another website!).

I try not to attempt going to sleep until I am really tired otherwise I just toss and turn and worry about not sleeping. Going to bed early is a habit which needs developing and once you get into it then you will love it.

You're finished (this article)!

So that's my top five tips on getting organized. You've finished, well, finished reading - the hard work is still to begin.

As I said earlier, I talk in other articles about my experiences in organizing specific areas of my life such as my laundry, my pantry, my paper. Click on these links (when I get them up!) for more information.

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