What is your best piece of advice to help someone stay organized once they have gone through the initial effort?
“Organization needs to be a habit rather than a one time event. Having a daily routine to maintain the system is as important as the initial effort. While some people cringe at the thought of a daily routine, it is really the secret to more than just organization. Daily routines keep us organized, help us to achieve goals, but most importantly, they allow us to live a balanced life. With the ultimate goal of balanced living, it is easier to view disciplines and habits of organization in proper perspective.”
Melissa Michaels from The Inspired Room (rss)
This is an area where I need to improve. I have a decent organization structure in place, but I often skip the small daily effort it takes to keep everything organized. I’m still fairly organized, but if I’d spend 5 minutes each day on an organization routine it would help keep things a bit more tidy.
Whatever you decided to organize for yourself, put it into your routine! Organizing is not a habit it’s a way of life. By way of life, I mean you have effectively included it into your life style and your daily routine. You wake up in the morning, you brush your teeth, you put the toothpaste and the toothbrush away, you check your email, you get a shower, you head out of the door. That is routine. That is organization. You just do it and you don’t even need to think about it.
Suzanne Babb from Let’s Talk Organizing (rss)
I think it is important to find a routine that works for you. I have ways of brushing my teeth, setting out my clothes, etc. My wife laughs at me sometimes because my way of doing things don’t make sense to her. I laugh at her because her way doesn’t make sense to me. It is easy to look at someone else’s organization routine and assume you need to follow their process, but it is much more natural if you develop a routine that is designed around you personally.
You need to have an “aging” system for continuously moving paper from IN to ACTIONABLE (paper that is current and requires action) to REFERENCE (paper already acted on that you may need to refer to this year) to ARCHIVE (paper you rarely need or that must be kept over one year such as vital documents and memorabilia) to SHRED / RECYCLE.
A complete systematic approach to managing paper based on your personal needs is provided in my 50 page book with diagrams and photos called “Take Charge of Your Paper! with Neat & Simple Essential Paper Organizing Systems” at http://www.neatandsimple.com/organizing-paper.html
Ariane Benefit from Neat and Simple Living (rss)
This comes down to having a system that scales. If your system is setup to simply organize incoming information, you will eventually get bogged down by having too much stuff to manage. Ariane’s suggestion that you have a process for getting rid of things helps avoid scaling problems.
I think that starting each day with everything in place puts you in a good mentality for keeping things organized. I like doing a cleanup mid day right before or after lunch. You can’t put away things you are currently working on, but it helps keep your end of day cleanup from taking as long. Some businesses have a clean desk policy where (usually for security reasons) you are required to clean your desk before leaving. Often this simply results in drawers crammed full of random papers. If you use this type of policy without taking drawer stuffing short cuts, it can be a powerful tool.
Use a system you can keep up with for the long term. If that means a colorful banker box labeled “important stuff” or something more traditional like alphabetized files then go with that. Be true to yourself and what works for you and your chances of staying organized will drastically improve.
Brandie Kajino from The Home Office Organizer (rss)
Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what really works for you. I find that often my idea of what I should is based on what I’ve seen other people doing. Sometimes it takes some experimentation to find what works best for me personally. You have to be willing to re-evaluate your system and process and start over if it isn’t giving you the desired results.
A big thank you to all the organizers who took part in this interview!