Making Organizing a Part of Your Life
Seemingly small steps have a powerful effect on our daily lives. Organizational habits remove the decision-making you’re faced with at home and in life.
You don’t think about starting the coffee pot in the morning. You just do, because it’s a habit. You don’t decide to hang your jacket on the hook behind your office door. But you do it every morning, without fail, because it’s a habit.
Organizing can be a habit too. Dr. Maxwell Maltz, an expert in habit formation, found that a habit is developed in about 3 weeks. Maltz thinks that any activity, done daily for 21 days, will become a habit.
It may be tempting to overhaul the way you clean your home all at once. Instead, start small. Change only one thing at a time. Slowly, as each task becomes second nature, you can add new things to your list.
The more you practice organizing, through small daily tasks, the more organized you’ll become.
Aim for Done, Not Perfect
Eliminate perfectionism. It will only slow you down and will most likely cause you to procrastinate. When something is good enough, meaning it works for you and your family, move on.
Make quick decisions as you’re organizing and don’t second-guess yourself. Think big picture. You want an organized living room, not an alphabetically ordered bookshelf, at least for now. 😉
Focus on Maintenance
Large projects, like cleaning out the garage, are a big push. There’s something exciting about pulling everything off those dusty shelves, tossing old cans of paint and hanging hooks for your new bicycle. Those projects can be fun, but they’re also very time and energy consuming.
It’s much easier to make your bed every day or make sure all your clothes are in the hamper each night. Those daily habits may seem insignificant, but it’s small maintenance tasks that control clutter.
Adopt a Get-It-Done Attitude
Do you ever find yourself saying, “Mañana, Mañana, I don’t wanna!”
OK, you probably don’t say it out loud, but your actions may be doing the talking. When you walk in the door, do you kick off your shoes and toss your coat on the couch?
It would only take a minute or two to hang your coat and return your shoes to their place. Tossing those items on furniture may only take a second, but those habits cause pileups and major clutter.
If something takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately. You’ll be glad you did.
When you form a new habit, it’s important to designate time for the new task. Let your family members know you’ll be making a change and ask for their support.
For example, if you want to make sure you run the dishwasher every evening, ask your spouse and children to clean their plates and neatly stack dishes next to the sink.
Then give yourself enough time to complete the task. Avoid distractions and stay focused.
Don’t Give Up
If you miss one day or hit a roadblock, it doesn’t matter. Don’t beat yourself up. Habits are formed over the long-term. One day won’t sidetrack you unless you let it. Make a promise to yourself to stay the course, even if you hit a bump in the road.
Daily Habit Ideas
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas for new organizing habits.
- Open your mail as soon as you check it. When you stop by the mailbox, sort the mail on your way back to the house. What’s important and what’s junk? Toss junk mail immediately. Open all the other envelopes. If there’s a bill due, pay it right away. Bank statements and other important documents should be filed or shredded. This one habit alone will prevent paper pileups in your home and office.
- Make your bed every morning. It takes under a minute to tighten your sheets, fluff your pillows and straighten your comforter. The bed is the center of the room. If your bed is tidy, it will encourage you to make sure the rest of your bedroom stays organized as well. Plus, what’s nicer than lifting the sheets and crawling into your comfy bed after a hard day? I talk about life-skills here and it’s starts with your bed.
- Write Everything Down. Make lists of to-dos and keep a calendar. Don’t try to remember every little thing you have to do. Free up space in your brain to focus on the things you enjoy. As soon as you commit to an event, add it to the family calendar. When you think about an email you have to send tomorrow, write it down. You’ll be amazed how much more you get done when you put your thoughts on paper.
What are your best organizing habits?