For years I resolved to get organized. All though I was born with a gift for organizing I struggled with clutter and chaos. I spent the first thirty years of my life developing bad organizing habits, and the next ten years breaking free from them. Today, not only am I organized, I spend my days helping and coaching you (my clients) so that you too will be organized.
What does it mean to be organized? You are organized if you can put your hands on exactly what you need quickly; and if in your twenty-four hour day, you can accomplish the necessary and still be free to do what you enjoy. Are you there yet? If the answer is no, I can help you get there.
Start by cleaning out and taking control of the active areas in your life. An active area is something that you are in and out every day. It is an area that does eventually get cleaned out, usually when the need for an item or other circumstances demands it. Some examples of active areas are: purse, briefcase, planner, desk, kitchen table, vehicle, checkbook, and refrigerator. This is where I began.
On a Tuesday about eighteen years ago I reached a turning point. My hair seemed a little long. I had a sinking feeling that I had missed my scheduled hair appointment. It was my habit then to stuff the appointment card into my purse (one of my active areas). Eventually the card would surface, and I would record the time on my kitchen calendar. I checked my calendar; no hair appointment anywhere.
I started cleaning out my bulging purse. I found store receipts, bank receipts, lollipops (from the bank), old grocery lists, coupons, pens, change, and other stuff. I also found the appointment card. This time my haphazard system had failed. My hair appointment was for the previous week. I felt so bad; so defeated. I thought about Patty, my stylist. She had waited for me, and I was a “no show.” Have you ever let someone down because of your lack of organization? It’s an awful feeling. I was so angry with myself, that I wrote, clean out purse in bold black ink on each Tuesday on my kitchen calendar.
The next Tuesday, when I saw clean out purse written on my calendar, I thought to myself, “That’s silly. I just did that last week. My purse is still clean.” Then I remembered how bad I felt when I found that appointment card, so I did it anyway. The next week I timed the purse cleaning: forty-five seconds. I felt more confident; actually this action empowered me. I cleaned out other active areas. My confidence soared as I formed good habits and gained control of my surroundings.
What are your active areas?
List and number them according to the stress that they cause. Give the area creating the most stress number one. This is the area that gets organized first. Imagine that this active area is always organized, and that you have control of it. Can you see how this could affect you life? Clean it out. If you are storing items there that don’t belong, find a new home for them. When your first active area is completely organized, schedule cleanup time for each following week on your calendar, in your planner or PDA. When the first scheduled maintenance day comes up, you will probably feel like I did, that it is silly to clean something that is basically clean. Do it anyway! It will only take a minute or two. Make it fun, set a timer, do whatever it takes to get the job done. Each week that you complete this scheduled cleanup time you will gain more confidence. Next, move down your list and attack the other active areas one at a time. Clean them out and schedule weekly cleanup time for them too. You may find that one of your active areas needs daily maintenance. I did. I found that I needed to clean off the kitchen table (family dumping ground) every day. It was and still is easy because I have designated a home for all the stuff that lands there. It either goes in the trash, my Action file, or the Action Basket.
This system has worked for me. (Yes, I still clean out my purse weekly. I have it scheduled as a recurring task on my weekly planning sheet. The first step is the hardest. Take this information and begin. If you need help with your active areas, or help setting up an Action File, contact me. I can help you take control of your space.