How to get yourself organized without all the fuss and cost, Part 1

by cherylone

Getting organized in your work and your personal life doesn't have to be an all out battle. Nor does it have to cost you your life's savings.

I have outlined several easy steps you can take to organize your life. They are quick, easy to do, and with just a little effort, will make you the go to person when people need help organizing. PS: You'll be the hit of the office, home, and charity with these steps under your belt.

Our lives are busy from the moment we rise until we hit the sack for a night's rest.

Often we go for 18-20 hours a day trying to incorporate home, work, family, errands, and cleaning.  We don’t seem to have a moment to ourselves.  We don’t seem to have a moment for those little things that mean so much, like a restful, and much earned, glass of wine after the kids have gone to bed.  And, because our lives are so rushed and complicated, we rarely get a good night’s sleep because we are thinking of all the things that will have to be done the next day because we didn’t have time today. We need time to ourselves so we can slow down our brains, calm down our heart rates, and relax, but often demands make that impossible.

Is there hope?  Yes!!!!!  There is hope and I’m here to help you find it.  When you don’t find time to relax and rest your thoughts and your body, you are basically building a time bomb inside yourself.  Eventually that bomb will go off.  When that happens, you will get even more stressed and worried because the things you usually handle during your 18 hour stints are now being handled by those with no experience, or worse, aren’t being done at all.

All it takes is a moment of your time, just a quick moment--what you might take to fill your coffee cup, or get paper for the copy machine--and you will be well on your way to being organaized.

How? Everything is so messed up, it will take years to clean it all!

I know it seems like it, but it only takes minutes a day, honest.  Impossible, you say, no one can clean up THIS mess in minutes?  Nonsense.  Anyone can get organized AND it really does only takes a few minutes of your time a day to create hours of restful relaxation for yourself. I know that it  seems like it will be impossible because it is so hard to focus when you know you have so much you have to do, but after only a few short practice runs, you will be organizing like a pro.  Just one thing--it won’t happen overnight.  You have to keep at it and in just one short week you will already begin to find time to yourself, I promise.


When our desk or work area is piled high, we can't find the things we need to do our job.
Cezanne: Geffroy, 1895-96

The first step is to organize your area.

The one that you spend most of your time in.

It could be the kitchen, the living room, your office, your sun room, your garage, it could be anywhere.  Just think--where do you spend the majority of your day?  For most people that is in their job.  Now go to that area.  All of your tools for your job need to be relatively close by while still allowing for easy movement so the job can get done.  Are you right handed?  Then all of your WORK items would go on the right.  For a business person that would be the phone, the pens and pencils, the stapler, etc.  For a mechanic (for example) it might be their tool box, the testing equipment used most often, and the information book.  On the left should be your FLOW items.  For an office it could be the in/out box, the decoration for the desk, the candy dish for visitors, etc.  For the mechanic it would be the equipment and tools that are used for special jobs.  The center of your work area would have the things you need for both busy and slow times.  For the business person it would be their calendar or their ToDo list.  For the mechanic it might be their list of jobs for the day, or their safety belts.  This first step should only take you about 5, maybe 10, minutes of your time.  Perhaps you could come in a bit early so the boss won’t get angry that you seem to be playing and not working. 

Does it seem overwhelming? Try this...

Look at your area, move out what doesn't need to be there like phone books and copies of reports.  Set them in an out of the way spot for the moment.  Now move your items around to make a pleasant work area that flows.  Next, take those other items, the ones that were covering your work space, and put them in their place.  Don't have a place?  Make one.  For instance, the phone book could go under the phone, on a nearby book case, in a bottom desk drawer, or even on a shelf above your desk.  These places are not set in stone.  If the area is not convenient, you can always move it to a spot that is.  The trick is to put it where you can easily get to it when needed.

Do you think you can organize your area?

Do you think it will be quick?
  Display results
You have to be willing to do the basics in order to benefit from the outcome.

Once you have everything set up, try it out.  Move things around until you get a nice flow to the items (yes even a garage needs a nice flow for efficiency).  Now try to do something.  Is it comfortable?  Is it easy to get what you need?  Move things, adjust things, and work with the set up.  Take a day or two to ensure that everything is placed in the best spot for you.  For instance, if you are always reaching to the right for your stapler, but because you didn’t use it much you put it on the left, then perhaps it would be better for it to be on the right.

Once you have that area set up to be comfortable, easy, and flowing; remind yourself each and every day to put everything back where it belongs.  If you pick up the stapler to use it, place it back where it was; same with your pens, your paper, your calculator, etc.  Once you get yourself into that habit, it will become second nature.  A quick trick to help is to post a sign on paper, bright or white, (and it doesn’t have to be very big) above your work area reminding you “if you pick it up, put it back where you found it”.  This will also be a reminder for others who might decide to ‘borrow’ something from your area.

You could create a bright colorful sign that you hang up.

Or you can just print it on a piece of paper!
A sign you can post...
A sign you can post...
Cheryl Simonds

It has been a week, how is the system working?

It should be much easier now and the flow should be much better.  If you find it isn’t, try reworking it and practice for another week.  The trick to getting organized is to keep things moving smoothly from one thing to another.  That is what this exercise is all about.  Once you have the routine down, you will find that your jobs will move much faster.  Your thoughts will flow much easier.  And you will feel less stressed about completing your tasks. 

The week is done and....

Your work area is neat, clean, organized, and easy to work with.  And you have become a hit with the boss because you always have your tasks done on time.  Is that it?  Are you organized now?  Hardly, but you now have the basics to move into the next phase.  I hear the moans out there, bear with me, it won’t be as hard as you think.  The hardest part of this whole process is……..drum roll please……if you pick it up, put it back where you found it.  That’s it!  No great secret.  No hard work or process.  No gadgets that you have to pay 100’s of dollars for, nothing but a one sentence line--if you pick it up, put it back where you found it.  It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?  Way too simple to be effective, yet it is.  Follow that 'secret' and you will be a winner!

Here's how it works.

Once you have a work area organized with everything at your fingertips, it makes it easy to find what you need quickly and do what needs to be done.  By putting that item back when you are done with it, you can easily find it again when you need it.  There is no hectic search, no tossing notes around, no worrying that it fell into the trash and went out with the cleaning person.  It is there when you need it. It sounds so simple, and yet it is a hard concept to latch onto because it is SO much easier to just set it down wherever you happen to be when you are done with it.  But that is why the next time you need it you have to search for it because things shove it aside, get tossed on top of it, get tangled in it, etc. and before you know it you can’t find it.

Did it get taken out with the trash?
Boston Terrier Sitting in Garbage Can
"Nope, it's not here!"
You can't move that tiny inch?
Comb Your Hair

Now for the next step.

No groaning now!

All you have to do for the next step is to begin organizing the rest of your areas.  Organize your car so you can find things without searching (and put a trash bag in place so you aren’t digging through a ton of trash to find the charger for your phone).  Organize your kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, everything using the same process.  Put the items where you need them the most and once you have an easy flow, put all items back when you are done.  How hard can that be?  Well, you use a comb for your hair in the bathroom, you toss it on the sink when you are done, but the container that holds the comb is only 1” from where you actually set down the comb, you couldn’t move that 1”? 

As you move around your other areas and begin to organize...

Get yourself motivated, and keep yourself motivated, by the fact that you now have so much more time at work and your breaks and lunches are much more relaxed; aren’t they?  No tall stories now, this is your teacher you are talking to.  You don’t have to search for that elusive report to finish your presentation, and you don’t have to search to find out where your next appointment is located.  Life is easier and quicker.  Proudly, you CAN finish on time. And the boss is now using you as an example to the other employees about how efficiency works.  The ease of your office is now the focal point of everyone.  Psssst:  don't tell them how you did it-they'll think you spent hundreds on a special 'get better organized' course or something.

Now that your home, office and car are done, what next?

Well, once the original organizing is done, you need to organize your appointments, your daily activities, your bills, your party plans, your entertainment schedule…….too much?  Okay, we’ll cover those areas in part 2.  Now, go get organizing and make everything FLOW!  And remember your simple sentence:  If you pick it up, put it back where you found it! 

I'm so proud of you!

How did you do?

  Display results
Organization is the only way to go when you need more time.
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Updated: 04/05/2012, cherylone
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cherylone on 04/10/2012

BrendaReeves, I have as well, and sometimes you just gotta take matters into your own hands. LOL Hope my ideas help.

BrendaReeves on 04/09/2012

I've read every organizing book on the market and have made very slow progress, but I'm getting better.

katiem2 on 04/06/2012

cherylone, I will be looking for part 3, hmm this maybe something I have to wait for till they get their own home, so I've heard. Thanks again for the great guide.

cherylone on 04/04/2012

katiem, I'll try to cover that part in Part 3, LOL, thanks for the great vote of confidence and I hope your daughters, well, maybe they will see your sign, if they don't cover it over with the plate they ate their snack on.... Thanks you for stopping by and commenting, always a pleasure.

katiem2 on 04/04/2012

Great information, and it does truly work, I put it to the test focusing on my work space and maintaining it then moved to my kitchen area, these are both spotless, organized and maintaining well. I have just one problem, the problem I now realize was probably the very thing triggering my mess and lack of organization... Its my two daughters. I never noticed how messy and careless they are until I really got organized again. They move things, I need a bigger sign and don't put them back, get things out and leave them where they used them.... Ugh, maybe you can write another helpful guide as to how we can get out kids in on the organization team! Love this it is very helpful and works.

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