I was once sitting on a beach chatting with friends when I turned to one of the guys and asked him if he had a watch. His response, “Do you want to know if I have a watch or do you want to know what the time is?” I remember thinking, “How rude!” but then I realized he was correct. Asking the correct questions means you will get the answers you are looking for. And yes, I wanted to know what the time was and not if he had a watch.
When it comes to getting organized, asking the right questions is the first step to getting organized. Important questions include:
- How many people are going to use the organizing system?
- Does the system have to match everyone’s organizational styles?
- Do I need to have a schedule for maintaining the system?
- What type of storage will work best?
- What are my personal roadblocks to getting organized? Am I sentimental about things? Do I have low energy when I am tackling tasks?
Adopting a strategic approach will help you with your planning and decision-making throughout the organizing process.
© Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Most people are motivated to get organized because they want to:
- reduce stress
- save time
- be on time for appointments and events
- save money by not having to re-buy things that have gone missing
- enjoy being at home
But where to start?
- Focus on one area/pile at a time.
- Move in one direction – either from left to right or right to left. This forces you to make a decision about every item you pick up. Don’t put anything down until you have made a decision about it: keep/toss/donate/relocate/add to group of ‘like’ items.
- Choose the best space and storage option for each group of ‘like’ items.
- Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. Time management and setting routines in place for maintaining the organization systems are key factors in developing sustainable systems.
1. Relocated the cat tree to the entryway on the first level.
2. Relocated the bookcase from the dining area to the living room and filled it with books that had been in a box in the main bedroom.
3. Found an unused lamp and placed it on the bookcase for additional lighting.
4. Bought mobile desktop file holders for filing storage that is easy to access and attractive enough to be displayed.
5. Corralled the pet toys and placed them in a container under one of the side tables. The removable cotton liner is washable and the woven polypropylene container is easy to wipe down and clean.
6. Bought each child a wooden box to collect little “knickknacks” that invariably make their way into the living area.
7. Repurposed a nightstand for the electronics. The remote controls fit into the drawer.
Photo credits © Paula Berman Organizing
RESEARCH Learn how to transfer photos from all your digital devices to one location. Create a personalized cheat sheet for each device to save time with future downloads.
CREATE FOLDERS AND SUBFOLDERS Create a main folder and subfolders on your computer. Example: Main folder Photos_2016 with subfolders 01-2016, 02-2016, and 03-2016, etc. Subfolders will automatically be saved in chronological order when named this way. Give the folders names that make the most sense to you. You want to file for retrieval.
TRANSFER Gather all photos in one location.
EDIT AND DELETE Edit the photos you want to keep for red eye and other blemishes. Delete all duplicate, fuzzy, and unflattering photos. You are creating a treasury of memories, not a collection of blackmail photos.
RENAME AND SORT Rename your photos so that they are easily identifiable by date and/or event or location. For example, 06-12-2013_Beach_picnic, 08-02-2013_Labor_Day, etc. Move the photos into the appropriate subfolders.
SCHEDULE Schedule time on your calendar to transfer and save photos on a regular basis.
BACK UP For long-term storage, back up photos to a separate location either online or on an external storage device.
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“The children aren’t putting their art supplies back and they’re taking supplies from my desk when they should be using their own.”
– Contest Winner, 2013
- It’s not easy to put things back when you don’t know where they belong.
- The containers aren’t easily accessible.
- Group “like with like.”
- Lower the containers.
Photo credits © Paula Berman Organizing