Staying Organized

Do I dare say that spring is here at last?  I’m not sure, but I certainly hope so.  I think spring is a happy season.  It brings renewed energy and desire to take control of our surroundings and lighten our loads.  If, for you, that means getting and staying organized, then the article below is written just for you.


Creating Guidelines


As a Professional Organizer I’m often asked by the homeowners I work with, “How can I stay organized?”  They explain that they spend time creating order and buying cool organizing products to help them stay organized, but in two months, things look just like they did before.  In addition, their cool new organizing products are not helping or worse, they’re not even being used.

The best way to answer their question is to share this example.  Imagine you have  magazines all over your house, piles of them here and there, and you have a hard time throwing them out.  You decide something needs to be done with them.  So, you purchase a few magazine racks to help corral them.  Great!  Problem solved, right?  No!  In a few months the magazine racks are overflowing and magazines are finding their way to other parts of your house again.  So, what can you do?
You need to complete the organizing process.  I call it the ‘creating guidelines phase’.  By purchasing the magazine racks you have created a place for them to be kept, but now you need to create some guidelines for yourself pertaining to those magazines.  The guidelines help you  decide how long to keep each magazine and when you have enough magazines.
Guidelines take the form of questions, and I find it helpful to write them down.    Here are a few examples:
1.  How long will you keep a single magazine issue?
2.  What are the deciding factors for keeping an issue longer than the given timeframe?
3.  What is the maximum number of magazine issues you will keep at one time?  (As many as will properly fit in the magazine racks?)
4.  Once that maximum number is reached, will you practice the one in, one out rule?

5.  What will you do with the magazines when it is time to get rid of them? (Recycle them, donate them to a daycare, leave them at your doctor’s office, give them to a senior center?)

6.  How frequently will  you go through the racks to prevent stockpiling?

Answering these six questions and establishing a system to process your magazines, enables you to keep them organized.  By practicing the process and having a little self discipline you should be able to stay organized.
These guidelines can be modified to fit other items in your space.  If you are struggling with the creating guidelines phase’ I recommend using the six sample questions listed above to help you establish organizing systems for the things and paper in your life.


©2010 Janine Cavanaugh, Professional Organizer.  All Rights Reserved

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