10 Ideas to Help You De-clutter Home, Work, Your Car, Mind, Life….

No one will ever accuse me of having a spotless car or a home that resembles one of those homes featured in “Better Homes and Gardens.”  Oh, I want to have that; however, it seems that I am always in a hurry to get here or there or do this or that and there is never enough time to organize anything.  The phrase “an organized mess” describes my office and desk perfectly.  My car is a rolling office and second home full of clothes, snacks and work to be done.  It is a wonder that I ever accomplished anything because I could never find anything I needed without calling in the dogs and troops to wage an all-out hunt.


However, as I was digging through my office to find a copy of our tax returns so that I could complete a financial aid application for our child's college, I realized I needed to make a change.  Therefore, I asked the people in my life who are super-organized (they never look more than 60 seconds for anything) to give me their secrets for staying organized.  Here are the top 10 tips for being organized from those who have already mastered the skill.


1. Handle paper once and only once – Laying down mail, forms or other pieces of paper on the counter, on your kitchen table or in your front seat just means that you will need to deal with it again.  While you may not be able to take care of every piece of paper immediately, make a conscious effort to deal with papers immediately if possible to cut down on the clutter and your workload. You can file your important papers away or just scan the important documents then once scanned toss in the garbage bin.


2. Make a list and check it twice – Have a list of tasks organized by priority helps you move from one task to another quickly and efficiently.  You know what you must do and in what order.  Refer to your list often, update it daily and you will be more focused, motivated and organized.


3. Elicit help – Recognize that you cannot do everything for everyone - - there is no shame in having help.  Delegate tasks to others so that you can focus on items that need your attention the most.


4. Everything should have a home – Find a place for every item and make sure that your family knows to return items to their rightful place.  This not only cuts down on clutter (less dusting is also a huge plus) but it also helps you spend less time hunting for an item you need and you know it is in your home but you just cannot locate it.


5. Get rid of duplicates – This is an excellent way to de-clutter, help others and have a nice tax deduction at the end of the year.  Do you really need 20 coffee mugs or six pairs of black pants?  Start with one room at a time and get rid of what you do not need.  At the same time, you can organize what remains into an orderly, easy to manage area.


6. Stick to a schedule – While it may not sound appealing to run your home and life as if you were in the military, having schedules does help you to be more organized and efficient.  Having a morning and evening routine will help you get out of the house without the stress often associated with hectic mornings.


7. Buy and use storage containers – There are some items that you do not want to get rid of but that you only use on certain occasions.  Purchase clear plastic containers, pack them up and then store them out of the way until they are needed.


8. Label everything – If you put anything in a container or box and label it “miscellaneous” you are making it harder on yourself in the future.  You may think you will remember what is in that box; however, within a week you will probably forget.  Take a few seconds and write down what is in the box so that you do not have to hunt for it later.


9. Avoid multi-tasking – Many people live by the idea of multi-tasking; however, if you manage your time better you will get more done.  When you multi-task, your focus and energy is divided between tasks.  Instead, focus your entire energy on completely one task then move on to another.  You will feel less scatterbrained and more in control of your home, work and life.


10. Automate everything you can – If you can automate your bill payments, transfers to saving and other tasks that occur on a regular basis, that is one less thing you must do.  It is always a great way to never miss a payment again because you could not find the bill (in the clutter on your desk) or you were so busy multi-tasking that you forgot what day it was.


Image credit: Alison Headley