Start Up Your Organizing Engine

Check out these three tricks for kicking the “I’ll organize it later” habit.

Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes

How much time do you waste searching for things every day? Keys? Phone bill? Neighbor's salad bowl? Would you believe 60 minutes? On average, people squander an hour each and every day digging through overstuffed files and messy rooms for misplaced items. That translates to seven hours a week, a little over a day a month, or two weeks a year!  If you're one of the 60 percent of the country who believe there just aren't enough hours in the day - you may just be wasting time on the great hunt.

The Benefits of Being a Neat Freak

Are you busy wondering what you could do with that two weeks? How about 100 additional hours of quality time with your kids? Or what about extra workout time at the gym? For some of you who need further convincing, that's time enough for a daily manicure, a weekly poker extravaganza, or a monthly getaway.

Light That Fire

For most of us, the problem isn't figuring out how to use the time we'd gain from getting organized. It's figuring out when, where, and how to get started. Yes, it does take some elbow grease to keep things tidy. But, the truth is, it takes far less effort than you think. The key is to commit to a few ‘bite-sized' tasks each day to pull yourself from under the weight of the mess.

One, Two, Organize

#1: Recognize the Need to Make it Fun

We know. You'd rather being doing something...anything else than organizing. To change this, adjust the negative associations you may have about cleaning and organizing. First, put on your favorite playlist. Then make a collage with images that represent the benefits of being more organized. For example, collect vacation snapshots of you with your kids, a serene beach scene, or books you're dying and paste them on construction paper. Hang it in a visible spot, such as the bathroom mirror or the front door.

#2: Break It Up

With the iTunes blaring, write down all the areas you need to organize on separate slips of paper. Break up each area into mini-tasks that can be finished in 30 minutes or less. Be specific. Go for "balance checkbook" or "pay bills due Oct 15th" over "get finances in order."  When you're done, fold each slip of paper in half and put each one in a basket or box right next to your collage.

#3: Go Fish

Before you leave the house each morning, take a slip of paper and promise to complete one task on it that day.  If you can, make it the very first thing you do.  If by the end of the day you haven't completed it, look at your collage for inspiration and don't forget the music. Remember: 10 minutes today saves 10 hours tomorrow!

Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed people get themselves organized. They are also co-authors of Everything (almost) In Its Place.

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