6 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Get Organized

Organizing expert Julie Morgenstern (author of Organizing from the Inside Out) shares her roadblock-busting strategies to implement successful storage systems.

Neatly organized command center
Jonny Valiant
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Shift Your Mindset

“Don’t get organized just to make things look good,” says pro organizer 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 the distractions, anxiety, and stress that you will eliminate, and focus on what you're going to gain from it.

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Keep the Stuff

Morgenstern suggests starting in the smallest space 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 regularly. 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 it allows you to find things, by all means, put all 20 belts on the closet door!”

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Make the Payoff Visible

If your issue is not so much starting the process as finishing it, 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 suggests working methodically (top to bottom or right to left) with designated breakpoints: “That way you’ll see the results from where you left off as opposed to a haphazard space.”

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Avoid Distractions

Avoid distracting 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. The exception is if you’re playing something instrumental that genuinely blends into the background.

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Get Everyone Involved

If you share a space with others, don’t simply dive right in. Morgenstern suggests working together to design an organizational system. Her motto here is: analyze, strategize, and organize.

Analyze: “Each of you should identify the objects in the space you are always looking for,” she says. “It has to work for everybody for the system not to fall apart.”

Strategize: Collectively figure out what the space will look like when it’s complete. Imagine the organizational genius of a kindergarten classroom, where similar items are grouped together into 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 shared strategy.

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Help 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.”

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