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.
Take a few minutes at the end of each day to put things away, so you can start the next day with a clean desk.
Janet Barclay from From the Desk of Janet Barclay (rss)
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!
Dream Mom DBA Dream Organizers.com says
Routines are very important and often overlooked as a way of maintaining organization. I find however, in working with my clients, that many of them are not used to putting things away. They are so used to not being organized that once they get there, it takes a while. It takes real committment to want to change and a routine is just a start. More often than not, they need to make putting things away a habit….hmmm…..maybe they could take your habit course?
Ariane Benefit says
What you are describing about yourself is EXACTLY what I find to be a pattern with ALL the creative personality types I work with.
Highly Creative people do not do well trying to use methods that work for other people.
They always have to tweak and customize their systems AND they have to update or change their organizing systems more often than other people. There are really good reasons for this. One is that THEY actually change more often than other people do. Another is that they literally get “bored” with their systems easily. The creative brain type is ALWAYS seeing possibilities in things and can actually feel a lot of stress in environments that don’t change.
“Creative” is not the same as “artistic” It does not mean that you have to be able to draw, or sing or play music, etc. If you write, create computer programs, or even design new systems of any kind, you are probably a creative type.
Designing anything “new” is creative and requires a different way of thinking and “being” in the world that is actually diametrically opposed to the kind of thinking and “being” it takes to “restore order” or “maintain order” There is so much more to this topic that I have discovered in my work with creative types and from being one myself.
I am currently working on developing “The Creative Person’s Guide to Overcoming Disorganization – Their Way” I did a free teleclass on the “Link between Creativity and Disorganization” and will be posting the recording and announcing a new teleclass series this week.
I think you would really resonate with the things I talk about in the recording and invite you and your readers who have always wondered why it’s so hard for them to develop organizing “routines” to listen to the class. I would post the URL here but I don’t want your SPAM bot to delete my comment : )
If you would like the link to listen free please feel free to email me or visit my blog. Thanks!
Brandie Kajino says
It’s true that it is hard to find a system that works for you. In my experience, my clients have a much to complicated system that drives them crazy. That just leads to frustration and then not using the system. Lanna Nakone wrote a wonderful book called “Organizing For Your Brain Type”, and it’s the best book I’ve read to date that relates how your brain works with setting up your physical environment.
Creating personalized systems is what (good) organizers do. Organization is our business, so if it’s not your strength, give one of us a call! :)
melissa @ the inspired room says
Thanks for including me in this discussion.
Great info here. I completely agree with what every one has said here, you cannot necessarily take someone else’s system or daily routines and apply them to your own life. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy or we would all be perfectly organized! We are all so different.
My husband drives me crazy because he has a routine for everything throughout his entire day and heaven forbid I ask him to do anything in a different order! He has found routines that work for him and they make him happy.
I, on the other hand, have a really hard time sticking to routines and like to be more spontaneous. I get swept away with my own enthusiasm and forget my to do list. That is where I get into trouble, really. I do need some structure or routines or I end up in chaos.
As long as I discipline myself to stick to just a FEW daily routines, I can keep life from falling apart around me without feeling overwhelmed by structure and restrictions. And I have to find some visual satisfaction and personal reward in my routines and organizational habits to keep me focused on them. Being creative, I need beauty to be a part of it (no ugly files or boring notebooks) and I need to see that it is contributing to my life as a whole, not just another thing on my TO DO list.
I am the type who can easily end up with a bunch of pretty notebooks that I don’t use. That is where I need to see how the notebooks fit into the kind of life I want and make them a part of my daily routine. Then I use my notebooks because I can see the benefit to me and they become a part of my day (they have to become a habit). The busier I become with my business the more disciplined I am having to be in order to have the life I want.
I think Ariane’s class sounds really interesting, I need to check that out! Thanks for all the great ideas!
Ariane Benefit says
@Brandie and @Melissa, thanks so much for adding your EXCELLENT points to the discussion. I can’t wait to be able to announce my new class! : ) I’ll try posting the link here when I do – Mark, is it okay to post URLs here?
This was very helpful. Thank you for putting together this interview! I’m good at getting organized, but it is very hard to keep up. WIthin two weeks I’m back where I started again.