Choices define us. Why we choose what we do differentiates us from others. Some make choices based on values. Some make choices based on emotions and others make choices based on circumstances or resources. Every time you make a choice, what you choose wins and what you don’t looses. That is partly why it’s sometimes hard to make a choice.
As a professional organizer, I help clients make choices. What I do each day is simply a matter of following a few practical steps combined with a few steadfast organizing techniques. The key is that it’s a two part process. Follow both and I guarantee you will be better organized.
Part 1: Define what you want.
Too often I work with clients that focus on the problem rather than the solution. If you focus on the problem (i.e. the stuff on the floor, the papers on the desk, the full garage bay, you will most likely reach the wrong goal. For example, if you only focus on the papers on your desk rather than your office as it relates to your life as a whole, you may not realize that there isn’t any flow to your office, or the existing paper system is inadequate for your needs or you may not have time to handle the paperwork.
If you start by defining what you want, it is a lot easier to see what parts of the problem relate to the solution and which do not. Once that is identified, moving forward makes more sense because you can separate these tasks and prioritize your time to handle the higher value ones. Defining what supports your dreams versus what detracts from them makes the decision process a lot easier and adds focus to the project.
Part 2: Follow the three S’s-Structure, Sort, Store
Now that you have more clarity around the organizing process, implementing a strategy is pretty straightforward. First make sure that the structure you are working within meets your needs. Do you have enough storage space/shelf space/work space to do what you want to do. If so, then move on to the next step. If not, make sure to put the structure in place first.
Next, define the high value areas (the things that make or break your world) and do those first. For example, if you are organizing for the holidays and company is coming, I would identify the tasks that need to be done to ensure a smooth visit with friends and family and tackle them first. Then I would address the areas that will make you feel better when company is present and third I would tackle areas that aren’t directly impacted but will make a difference in the long run.
If you are in an office environment, I would check that you have enough light, work space, storage space and easy access to everything you need. With the structure in place then you can address the areas that are in sync with your goals.
Once you know what needs to be stored (what’s left after you made your choices), put like with like (the sorting phase), and then put it away (the storage part). It’s important to remember that the storage part of the process is last. Most people try to do this first and one of the biggest reasons why people fail at organizing their space.
In summation, first, start with gaining clarity. Then take that clarity and separate the things that move you closer to your goals. Once you know what needs to be organized/stored define where things will go and how it will be organized/stored. Lastly, put everything away and enjoy the final result.