What a presumptive post title… A couple of readers have asked me to write a few “organisation posts” and like most things as soon as I start to think about them I stumble and gasp and realise how disorganised we are. Despite that, a month of organising posts is coming your way. There are probably only a few areas of my life that require systematic organising… our home, our school, our schedule, our blog and myself!!! I plan to write about: How to Declutter Forever; Systems that Work Really Well… and those that don’t… And I fully intend to reveal our project, so that you have a step by step case study, for Org Junkie’s #1 Days Organisational Challenge… So, you can look forward to a post or two a week on Organising for the month of March. I thought I would begin with an general organising introduction and if you have questions that you would like me to answer then leave a comment… I will try and address them in the posts that follow over the next couple of weeks…
Se7en + 1 Steps to Getting Organised…
- Dream Big and Be Intentional:
- Start Small:
- Schedule Organising:
- Finish One thing Before You Start Another:
- There Isn’t an App for That:
- Don’t Forget the People:
Think about the way you want to live and visualise it. I hate to say it but that is not enough… you have to think of the steps you need to take to get from where you are right now to where you want to be… often thinking backwards from what you visualise is an easier way to work out the steps you need to take to get there. If you want to wake up to a clean kitchen every morning then you have to tidy your kitchen the night before – I know it is not exactly rocket science. Think about how you want to spend your time: looking for things to do a project or just getting on with the project. If it takes twenty minutes for everyone to find their shoes whenever you want to go out, then you might not need to re-organise your entire life… but develop a system of keeping all the shoes on a shelf at the front door. It will take a while to get everyone to follow the new system – but when they do… sigh!!!
I think the whole idea of “getting organised” can be so overwhelming that we simply sit on the couch and think about it… being organised is unfortunately a habit, or a discipline, and so requires some work, no matter how small on our part. Your house, your life, your blog… is not going to suddenly become sorted out because you are aware that it needs organising… it is more about taking little steps and organising little areas of our lives at a time. So if you are planning to make some changes, and you want to be successful, then settle for little changes. My experience is that drastic changes are just that… great explosions of energy that fizzle as quickly as they begin. Changing small habits one little step at a time is a workable way of changing habits that have set in over a lifetime.
Get rid of stuff… I can’t say this enough and I can’t blog about it enough… Get rid of the stuff!!! We live in a culture of accumulation… in fact I met a young married couple a couple of weeks back and they asked me how to curb the chaos in their kitchen… I mentioned that they might want to at least clear one counter for working on… and keep it clear… they were aghast when I suggested that they might want to get rid of some of the equipment that they weren’t using. Why on earth would you need to get rid of stuff to get organised – obviously they were in a season of accumulation. Ask any organiser on earth – if you want to get organised then you have to get rid of the clutter: in your schedule, in your paperwork, in your life and on your kitchen counter. Get a system in place for decluttering and then go with it… when the system bores you to death start a new one… I have done a drawer a day, a bag a day, 100 things out right now… whatever works… get rid of stuff. Don’t just rearrange your stuff, if you don’t use it then get rid of it. Don’t save things in case you might need them, don’t keep clothes you don’t like because you might wear them – you won’t!!! Have a place to put stuff you want to get rid of and then get rid of it!!!
When I became intentional about organising our home, I quickly realised that decluttering wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to get rid of the toys that my children didn’t play with. We also needed a place and a system, to keep the toys they did play with. And then we need a system for putting the toys where they belong. And this really applies to all things… everything needs a place, that isn’t necessarily the kitchen counter, and everything needs to be put in it’s place. Store like things together, or all the things you need for a task in one place… have a letter writing box with paper, envelopes, stamps and addresses all in one place – if it makes a task easier to get done then you might actually do it!!!
I know scheduling time to organise stuff is bordering on the insane… but some folk, ho hum… myself, might spend their entire life decluttering and never get round to actually doing something. There are certain areas that need to be decluttered every single day – the kitchen counter for instance… and other areas that only need to be attended to once a year, like the blanket pile. Then there are areas that I don’t like attending too… “little” areas of school papers that should have been filed or put into journals… I try and tackle only one of those tasks a week, as soon as I finish a task I make a mental note of the next one. This week I tackled a pile of school books that hadn’t been put away forever… it took about fifteen minutes. What an enormous difference to our school days… to be able to retrieve books from where they are meant to be… a math book mysteriously reappeared and so did a journal that has been “missing” for weeks!!!
This is so hard for me as to be laughable… But I am your typical see a mess on the kitchen counter start to clear it… take a library book from the counter and discover the library shelf in a mess. Start to tidy the library shelf and discover a school workbook on the library shelf and return it to the correct child’s pile of books… notice that their science notes have not been put in their file. Set out to find the file at all costs, find it under their bed with the water-colour paints… return the water-colours to the art box and discover a collection of seashells that should be on the nature shelf… head for the nature shelf and discover a cereal bowl… which I take to the kitchen counter and think: “I really must clean the kitchen counter…” Entire days of my life are spent like this!!! Getting nothing sorted… Start with one task and stick with it until you are finished.
Contrary to popular belief technology is not going to organise your life and neither are books on decluttering… nice to read for ideas and tips and then move them on!!! For all the glamour and glitz of the internet, it is probably not your best friend when it comes to organising. Technology is a tool that we can use to help us sort, store and organise information… but no app or program is going to remove the work of organising. Getting organised requires work and the easiest way, I have found, to get on with a great organising project is to have a power failure. You can get nothing done if you are distracted, checking your mail or instagraming your progress. Surprisingly it is often good old systems, that have worked forever, that stand the test of time… don’t be afraid to implement simple ideas like colour coding, into your home. Some of these systems really do just work!!!
And the se7en + 1th…
It is so easy to fall into the trap of running things smoothly that you don’t want to have folks interrupt it. You know just when you have got your house clean and sorted a bookshelf from top to bottom you have visitors and their toddler unpacks the entire bookshelf while no one is looking… hold your breathe and pack it back, that is just part of the work of organising. Also, and don’t faint here, but I love a good project… I could declutter forever… I could go on and on and on… I have eight kids after all. I have to be really careful of spending far too much time on this: a quick whiffle through their clothes once a month is one thing… an hour or two spent helping a child sort through their treasures is another – and enough for one weekend. It is hard for me to believe but it is not my life’s work to spend every waking moment organising stuff. A Lot of stuff is organised enough and my kids would rather I went for an amble with them or read books on the couch with them than spent the entire weekend making their shelves neat. So being organised is important, and it is nice when things work smoothly and flow well… but time spent together is as a priority and something I would want my kids to remember me by.