I saw a Twitter-tweet recently, “In my attempt to get organized I believe I’ve become more disorganized than before I started.”
It’s quite a strange phenomena indeed, but one that is so common I shouldn’t consider it strange.
See, it often goes like this: When people start to organize an area, it goes from a disorganized mess to what seems like total chaos and then unfolds into an organized area. It’s the cycle of getting organized.
Stopping at the apparent chaos stage is bad. Don’t do that. And, although it’s tempting to run and get away from the scene you created, just keep at it because organization is just around the corner.
I’ve seen this happen time after time, even when I organize someone. Take, for example, a disorganized office. There are piles of paper and miscellaneious stuff all around. You start to sort through the papers and one stack turns into numerous categorized stacks. That can seem like chaos, but it’s really order that looks like a mess.
Eventually, all those now-categorized papers go somewhere (other than staying as piles in view to the world). They go into file folders or filing baskets; they get put into filing cabinets or storage boxes; they are placed into desktop folder holders or action bins.
It’s the putting away so you can find it part that brings total order to disorder. And it’s the last step after all the sorting. So, you’re not far away from a “done” while you’re sorting and creating a bigger mess in the area.
Think of it this way: the mess is just confusion. Confusion is just a bunch of stuff all around and you can’t make heads or tails out of any of it. When you start creating a bigger (but more organized) mess while sorting through the stuff, confusion is just a little more obvious because it’s flying around more (before it was motionless).
That can be overwhelming, so to prevent that, just be sure to focus on what you’re doing, one item at a time. Start with one stack, pick up the first item in that stack, decide what to do with it, and then move on to the next piece.
Pretty soon, whalla! You’ve gone from disorder to order!
I do admit, I’ve taken great pleasure from people who catch the glimpse inside and, if I’m with someone, I usually hear, “Wish my garage looked like this.” My reply back is simply, “It can.” I then refrain from saying, “Just organize it.”
My garage happens to be the storage place for most of my junk. At least what I consider junk, which is all a matter of view-point really. I actually call my garage a resting place for stuff before final burial.
By final burial, I mean the final place for stuff, whether it resides in someone else’s home or the garbage dump. It’s rare that it continues to reside in my garage.
My trick in making my junk not look like junk to other people however is how it is organized. When I no longer want something in the house, or no longer feel I have a use for it, I put it in a large wicker basket in the garage designated to take to a charity retail store. If I can’t find a place for it in my house but still want it, I find a place for it in my garage, and not just a dumping place either.
See, even my garage has a place for everything and everything in its place. My shelves are lined with storage containers that either stack or pull out drawers. The floor along one wall is lined with stacking container bins and another wall with a storage cabinet and wall shelves over a work table.
The thing is, even these organized places can get out of hand when we keep too much stuff. So, the real trick is in deciding which junk we don’t really need anymore and getting it out of the garage (or wherever we’ve put the junk) and out of our life.
I recently bought a new juicer and put the old one in the garage in a box. It still worked and I thought I might need it someday in case something happened to the newer one. After keeping it in my garage for a couple months, I realized that someone else would benefit from it more than me and it was just taking up space, so I put it in my Charity Basket.
That’s what I mean by resting place before final burial. I couldn’t get rid of it at first, but then when I examined it later, the value of the item had changed and I was able to discard it and get it out of my life for good.
My sister, daughter, and friends love to come over and shop-for-free in my garage, too. I typically invite some people over every once in awhile to browse through the Charity Basket before I put it in my car and haul it away. Many of them now ask me, “Get rid of anything lately?”
That question has actually worked to my benefit. It prompts me to take time to look around again and see what I don’t need around the house. Streamlining my belongings has become a regular event in my life as a result.
I once wrote about preparing for a disaster, “Plan for best, prepare for worst,” and took a look at what we have and decide its value to us and what we would want to take with us if we had to depart from our home suddenly. I have since thought about doing a drill on that.
The drill would be: give yourself thirty minutes to look around and decide what you would need to take with you if you had to flee quickly and never come back. It’s certainly a good way to see what you hold of value to you. And it’s also a good opportunity to get in the mindset of letting go of stuff.
I did this, but it wasn’t a drill. It was for real. I had to evacuate because of a looming fire heading my way. And it was the motivation I needed to crack down on my stuff.
I didn’t need a dozen purses, or nail polishes, or lipsticks. I typically only used one of two of these items most of the time. I also didn’t need so many shoes or clothing I haven’t worn in ages. And, what was I doing with three sets of dishware anyway? I only used one set!
I did however gather up all my photo albums and photo CDs. Memories like those are irreplaceable. And, that’s the bottom line: what is replaceable and what isn’t?
So, what would you load up in your car if you had to leave and start over? And ladies, please don’t say it includes a bag of a dozen nail polishes.
Watch video on preparing for a disaster:
Many individuals are looking for ways to adjust their business to help them get through this challenging economic downturn. The usual approach to business growth isn’t as applicable during a rough economy, so people need to make changes.
One of the changes a business should look at in their strategy for improvement is getting better organized. And there are a number of ways that being organized can help improve a company’s bottom line.
One very important task to undertake is handling any clutter. Every minute you spend looking in piles, wondering where that document is, or being distracted from where your focus should be costs you. After all, these “minutes” do add up.
Fact is, it wastes time and money. With a business, time is money and the amount of time spent looking for a document or item costs you. So therefore an overhaul of your work area should be the number one starting point to becoming more efficient.
There’s more you can do of course in getting your work organized. Here are a few:
- Organize files into standard categories, properly labeled
- Organize financial information (bills and financial paperwork)
- Establish ways to track your bills to pay on time
- Designate a place for everything and keep everything in its place
- Set up a more efficient work space
- Have supplies at hand
- Streamline your methods of work flow and cut out unnecessary activities
- Use computer applications to automate tasks
The key is to keep it simple. The more complicated something is to do means that task needs to be organized into a more efficient task.
One example of this is how a person processes a new contact or lead. Let’s say you get someone’s business card, then you get back to the office and put that card on your desk or dump it into your phone book to enter into your contact database later. Then when you want to contact that person you’re either sorting through a number of other cards or within papers around your desk.
To streamline this process, have a card scanner where you can just quickly scan the card and it goes right into your contact database.
So yes, keep it simple. Being better organized is the road to simplicity and the ingredient for running an efficient business.
Column by Cyndi Seidler
Sharing a home with a spouse, children, roommate, or live-in loved one can typically be trying. Although I may have much agreement about that statement, let me explain how I’ve made this presumed diplomatically correct conclusion.
The way I see it, there are usually rules that govern a household in which, if respected and executed by everyone, can lead to more harmonious. Yet, no matter how commonsensical a rule or policy may be, some regulations are just meant to bring trouble with them if not understood and agreed upon by those involved.
Yes, it does matter who you impose certain rules upon. And yes, it does have significant effect on your well-being if a particular guiding principle of the household is not valued.
My friend, for example, has a roommate and they get along pretty well. While both are tidy people, the boss of them (my friend) tends to be more stringent about how she likes to keep the house.
They are not exactly an “odd couple” or opposites in the way they like the home, and most of the household rules are honored between them. However, it’s the abstract make-up-rules-as-you-go wishes that go from a simple request, like folding up a throw blanket when done with it, to a “new rule” imagined by the other. This often times has made the requesting person seem a bit over-the-top.
There was one instance where my friend simply stated to her roommate, “Can you return the sofa pillows to their position when you leave?” She claims that this request came after repeatedly re-organizing the pillows back to normal position on the sofa after he left so everything looked tidy.
Okay, seems like a legitimate argument for a new household guideline. But as “a rule,” that might be something to deliberate about.
A rule and a guideline or policy is actually different, although both have very similar connotations to them. The implication that both are expected to be carried out by others is what makes them so similar actually. “Please don’t leave your dishes in the sink” has the overtone of a request, although what this is really saying is, “Please don’t leave your dishes in the sink anymore, ever or there’s going to be trouble.” That could then classify the request as a new rule.
Now, another friend can’t get her husband to do anything around the house, therefore doesn’t expect it. There are no rules because, if made, they wouldn’t be agreed upon anyway, so therefore not honored. Her work-around has been to hire the help she needs to carry out tasks she wishes her husband to do. Therefore, her “teenage husbands-for-hire” come and do any heavy lifting and help her with household projects. She has accepted taking on many manly tasks herself however, like taking out the trash.
I guess you could consider their situation harmonious in that, if nothing is expected from the other, than no hard feelings will ensue and they can live in peace. However, if there are resentments that go along with “no expectations,” than this just might open up a discussion about what peaceful living is about.
I know my sister and her spouse share in household responsibilities. When I asked her about rules they have among them, she didn’t hesitate to list the main ones that make them both happy. Things like clean up your own mess, return items taken from a place when done, don’t leave lights on, don’t talk during a television show’s dialog or try to start a conversation while the other is reading, and if you see something on the floor, that’s a cue to pick it up.
Fair enough, those sounded sane to me and not too over-indulgent or strict in their aim for living a harmonious lifestyle. Back to my friend and her roommate, when too many requests are viewed as new rules, she can be considered a dictator who was never voted into office.
My guess, in that circumstance and many others similar to it, would be about compromises. You can ask of something you wish to be carried out from hereon, but not expect it and even do something yourself which you wish the other to do. This would, of course, depend on the severity or demand you need or want something done.
Asking a child to keep their room straight should be a rule, not a request, for example, and not carried out by you if they don’t do it. Again, that’s where rules and guidelines differ.
In either case, the rule or the guideline need to be understand, agreed upon and hold value. And, if you look up the word “value” in a thesaurus, you’ll find words like worth, importance, and usefulness, among others.
Myself, I can appreciate a good rule that has value. I do tend to enjoy making rules rather than being given rules, and I confess … I’m more like my friend, the dictator who wasn’t voted into office.
As an organizing expert, I try to be careful not to do that preaching thing. It really bugs me when people sound off advice with this sort of conceited authority and act like they are better than you. They probably are, but I strive to take my authority less seriously.
It’s kind of like when you were young and your parents sat you down and started telling you how important it is for you to do your homework, or keep your room clean, or practice your musical instrument every day. While their talks had some merit to it, they usually lost me at, “Hello, please sit down, I want to talk to you.”
So, just think of me as a person who happens to know a heck of a lot about a particular subject and wishes to impart some words of this wisdom. And, to prove I’m not overly authoritative on it, I want to begin by letting you know I’m not perfect.
With that said, I won’t be telling you that you should keep your room clean, for one thing. I personally tend to pick up a cleaning person rather than pick up a dust cloth. So, that’s an article for a housekeeping expert, not me.
Then again, to have an aesthetic room that you love and enjoy spending time in, that’s something else. Take my living room, for example. It’s one of my favorite rooms in the house, although I’ve made each of my rooms a special place. But my living room is the first place that welcomes me when I come home and we have a special bond.
When I walk into that room, it greets me with a smile. I’m convinced it’s actually happy. That mood usually then transfers to me (unless I just came in from an hour in heavy traffic, in which case it takes longer for me to feel the immediate joy my room wants to give).
This is not to say I typically walk into my living room unhappy and it has to cheer me up. I’m often too tired to know if I’m even in a mood. I’m just saying that the mood of the room is uplifting, no matter what sense of serenity or numbness or even drama I may happen to be experiencing at that moment.
How can a room be happy and be capable of making you happy, you ask? For one thing, it’s the view. And beautiful views can make us feel happy.
In the space of a room, I like to surround myself with things I like and be able to look at things that are appealing to me. Thus, each room in my house is a view.
It’s similar to being there watching a view of the mountains or ocean or any of your favorite scenic views. Some people call each of these types of spots “a happy place.”
Conversely, a cluttered and messy room is stressed out. Distraught furniture sitting in needed pathways isn’t so friendly either. And having all those beautifully framed photos hiding behind a not-so-beautiful stack of papers can be downright sad.
There is a real mix of emotions going on here. We have some overall anxiety mixed in with a dash of antagonism and a pinch of sadness. It’s interesting to see the emotional well-being of individuals that happen to be in that space.
Now, I’ve actually seen really messed up people with all kinds of emotional issues start out with a room just described (since these seem to go together like hand and glove). Then they clean it all up and get organized and make it aesthetically pleasing to them, which subsequently makes them become happier people, at least when they’re at home.
Now, that’s what I call some therapy!
I met someone once who was stunning in her physical appearance. I mean, she looked like she spent an hour on her make-up and equal time selecting the perfect outfit she dressed herself in. This was a lady I was supposed to give organizing advice to on television without a second take. After meeting her, I must say I wasn’t prepared for what I saw next.
Her home was a total and complete disaster zone, from top to bottom, every square inch of it. Miserable and ugly were not the right words for this environment. It was more like, condemned, which is what this woman would be herself if something wasn’t done about it.
I really had a difficult time adjusting to the two different conditions in front of me: a woman who did everything she could to look beautiful, and a home that didn’t match the woman.
Naturally, I wanted to run. This isn’t like me, but I really wanted to bail on this one. All I can say is, good thing I had an acting background so I could pretend I wasn’t mortified.
One can only imagine what this woman must feel when she occupies any space of her home. It certainly wasn’t joy. Essentially, we have a woman who places importance on beauty for her body, but not on her home.
Bottom line, the therapy is the same: make her space as aesthetic as she makes her body. After that, she can take in the fine view and sit back with a glass of wine to go along with the new mood at home: tranquility.
Lucky for me, my friends never seem to notice the dust. Their eyes are usually on the view.
If you need help getting organized this holiday, you’ll find a lot of products here that will help you accomplish that. These also make great gifts! Here’s some suggestions to get you started:
- Check out the DVD “Get Organized with Cyndi Seidler” to see how getting organized is done easily and quickly. Only $10.95.
- Organize menus with this “Menu Organizer
- Great scrapbooking products
- Organize papers in this unique stacking tray system
These are just a few ideas … browse around here and I’m sure you’ll find others!
The DVD “Get Organized with Cyndi Seidler” is an entertaining and informative show that presents techniques to organize clutter and establish various organizing solutions to maintain organization.
“Organizer to the stars” Cyndi Seidler shows a simple method to deal with clutter, as well as highlighting various solutions and products that help in organizing a room, a home office, closets, drawers, and cabinets.
This DVD is also available online (43 minutes). Click here to purchase.
Manage Your Tasks
When there becomes more than one task to something you’re doing or researching, it becomes a project. Some projects only involve a few tasks, while others are more extensive and take many tasks to complete.
This is where a checklist can help you manage all the tasks relating to a project, or series of actions relating to a big task.
Getting organized is a project if it clutter needs to be removed. It involves preparations (like getting sorting boxes), purchasing items to store items in, setting the day to tackle an area, then sorting the items, getting them into their storage or display places, removing the things you’re not keeping, and finishing with a vacuum or dust sweep of the area not previously visible before.
If you’re planning to sell the items you’re not keeping, than another project is made — a garage or yard sale. This involves a different series of tasks, and another checklist should be made to ensure everything gets done for a smooth sale.
Click here for a good checklist for a garage or yard sale.
For a library of other useful checklists for the household to help you stay organized, click here.