Getting organized is a dream of many, but taking that first step is often a challenge. Organizing and time management expert, Julie Morgenstern (author of Organizing from the Inside Out) shares her strategies for overcoming those roadblocks and implementing successful storage systems. She even has suggestions for how to get the rest of the family involved so everyone works together toward one goal.
“Don’t get organized just to make things look good,” says Julie Morgenstern. “It should be a gateway to a bigger goal: saving time, saving money, or simply getting access to the things you own.” Remind yourself of all of the distraction, anxiety, and stress that you will eliminate by also eliminating the disorganization, and focus on what you're going to gain from it.
2Keep the Stuff
Morgenstern suggests starting off in the smallest space that you spend the most time in. That way, you can accomplish the task in a manageable amount of time and see the product of your hard work on a regular basis. Organizing a bathroom drawer, your handbag, or the inside of the refrigerator should leave you motivated for other projects. And you don’t have to throw everything away to accomplish the task. “Organizing is about designing a system that makes you more efficient in whatever you are trying to do,” she says. “As long as you can find things within your space, by all means put all 20 belts on the closet door!”
3Make the Payoff Visible
If your issue is not so much starting the process as it is seeing it through to the end, Morgenstern says to write down your goal on a sticky note and hang it up where you can see it. It will make the payoff visible and will also serve as a reminder. In larger areas, like a closet, Morgenstern also suggests working methodically (top to bottom or right to left) with designated break points: “That way you’ll see the results from where you left off as opposed to a haphazard space.”
Unless you’re playing something instrumental that truly blends into the background, Morgenstern says to avoid music while you're working. “Organizing involves a lot of decision making and if you’re playing music and singing, your brain is otherwise occupied,” she says.
5Get Everyone Involved
In shared spaces, Morgenstern suggests working together to design an organization system. Don’t simply dive right in. Her motto here is: analyze, strategize, organize. Analyze: “Each of you should define the objects that are in the space that you are always looking for,” she says. “The space has to work for everybody in order for the system not to fall apart.” Strategize: Together with your family, figure out what the space will look like when it’s complete. Model it after a kindergarten classroom with similar items grouped together and activity zones (for sporting equipment, for example). Organize: Everyone can help sort and group the items, help purge, and box items up for donations before implementing the strategy everyone came up with together.
6Help Your Future Self
“We’re all too busy to remember everything, so use attractive, uniform labels to make it clear where items belong,” says Morgenstern. She also suggests building in a rule for daily maintenance. “Every time you leave a room, put everything back where it belongs and set it up for its next use. It shouldn’t take more than two minutes if every item has a home.”