As a professional organizer, I've been asked before if I'm "one of those people who like to have everything just so."
I reply with, “No, I am not a perfectionist." I'm not particular about having everything perfect, but I do like to be able to find things when I need them. So I suppose if having everything "just so" means having a specific place for everything I own, then maybe I am one of those people.
I actually have become an organized person out of necessity because of my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. I also have a low tolerance for juggling tasks and remembering things. I get flustered easily, and my short attention span makes me forgetful and flighty. I need to keep things really simple for myself in order to keep all my ducks in a row, lest I forget a duck.
I learned early on that everything in my life needs to have a permanent home in order for me to keep track of things. Here are my tips for staying organized.
Have less stuff and make sure everything has a home.
Though my home is not perfectly organized all of the time, my family and I can keep it looking fairly presentable without much effort thanks to our simple system: Keep less stuff and make sure everything has a place.
To start, I make a strong effort to frequently get rid of things we no longer use. This is really the biggest secret to staying on top of keeping order in our house. I take a load of donated items to a local charity twice a year, including things like clothing that does not fit anymore and toys and other things my daughters have stopped using. Since larger items like old furniture take up so much space, I make it a priority to get those things out the door ASAP to free up space.
Second, I make sure everything has a place. Everyone in our family knows where we keep things like scissors, fingernail clippers and the can opener. They also know they need to return the items to their permanent homes when they are done using them. What makes this doable is that everyone in my family knows where everything in our home belongs, so things are usually put back when we are done using them. Nobody does this perfectly, of course, but we have established the habit of doing it most of the time, which goes a long way in maintaining order overall.
Simplify the job at hand.
I like to get things done with the least amount of effort possible. I'm always looking for ways to consolidate errands or household tasks, or save a step when cleaning. So when complicated tasks are presented to me, my mind automatically starts figuring out how to simplify the job at hand. This comes in handy when getting things done.
Recently, I went to a gift store to buy a birthday gift. Before I left I thought, "Is there anything else I need to buy here?" Then I realized my brother in-law's birthday was also in a few days, so I managed to find something for him, too.
I much prefer simple organizational systems to complicated ones because they are easier to maintain and use. For keeping sorted items together, I often use clear plastic containers without lids for easy access and I use pan lid organizers to store many kitchen items like casserole dishes vertically. When it comes to paperwork, I keep filing systems simple and minimalistic.
Keep a simple schedule.
When it comes to my schedule, I keep that as simple as possible, too. This may mean having to say no when I am asked to take on too much, but it is important that I do this for the sake of my sanity since I get overwhelmed so easily. I limit my involvement to the things that are most important to me keeping my priorities in check, such as family time.
Overall, I don’t spend a lot of energy fussing over and making sure everything is in perfect order at home. Being organized has less to do with trying to achieve perfection and more to do with keeping things simple, lightening the load in our homes and schedules, and establishing and sticking to helpful habits and routines.
Whether we are talking about consolidating household tasks, simplifying dinner or filling our calendars, we should always ask ourselves the same question: How can I make this easier for myself so that I can minimize my stress and maximize the peace in our home?