The ONE thing that can get you organised

A line in the sandI had a  journalist ask me recently that if there was only one thing she should do to get organised, what would it be?  Of course, there are quite a few things you can do, and quite a few adjustments in your thinking that you can make. However, if there is one thing that could singularly make a change to your life now, it would be boundaries.

Boundaries are everywhere. There are physical boundaries (the block of land your home is on, the walls of your house; curbs and fences), legal boundaries (one must not shop in the supermarket without any clothes on and you can’t take a stranger’s car just for the fun of it), social boundaries (we don’t sing at the top of our voices in the library nor take our own dinner to eat in a restaurant) and self-imposed boundaries (being vegetarian, a teetotaller or a non-smoker or never ever ever wearing runners with jeans, for example). Not all boundaries are ‘good’, nor are they all ‘bad’, but they are there nonetheless.

And you can also use boundaries to help you get organised and stay organised. And if you stick to them, you can’t fail!

If you’re cluttered:

  • The 1-in, 2-out rule will put your home on a diet and ensure that you have more going out than in. Every time you bring a new item into the house, 2 have to go. Useful for all collections of belongings, especially shoes, books and magazines. If it’s a particularly large and overwhelming collection, you may want to have 1-in, 5-out!
  • The ‘nothing lives on this space’ boundary. Visualise your home as the way you want it to be. Which horizontal spaces were empty in that visualisation? Pick one, and make a rule that no matter what, nothing is allowed on there anymore. If something turns up on that spot then it immediately has to have a home found for it. Once you’ve got that as a habit, choose the next spot.
  • The “Don’t Put It Down, Put It Away” rule: this is self-explanatory. Make a home for it if it doesn’t have one – don’t just put it down on the closest horizontal space
  • Shopping with awareness. Shop with a list and determination not to buy anything not on the list. Try to avoid shopping at garage sales or op-shops (as most of this type of shopping is impulsive and unstructured). Also ask yourself when you are purchasing something “Where will this live? Do I have room for it?”.

Once you’re decluttered:

  • Shift to 1-in, 1-out and keep that rule in mind on an ongoing basis
  • Spread your awareness of empty horizontal spaces to the whole home
  • Every time you open a cupboard, check that everything is in its home (it only takes a few seconds)
  • Set up routines to maintain your wonderfully organised spaces.

You’re not alone

I had an amazing night on Friday night speaking to a group of business women in Balaklava, SA. They are an intelligent, hilarious group of girls and many of them commented at the end “I’m so glad it’s not just me!”.

So I decided to write a few things down that I have found to be VERY common, but that everyone is ashamed of doing and think they are the only ones that are ‘slack’, ‘disorganised’, ‘lazy’ etc. You’re not, you’re just normal!

Most people at some stage have:

  • A pile of paper hidden away that they’re too scared to look in
  • Cleaned up in a rush, shoved it all in a shopping bag and hidden it in a spare room
  • Procrastinated despite knowing very well they are procrastinating
  • Cleaned out their car and left the bag of ‘things to bring inside’ at the back door for weeks
  • Been scared to open a drawer for fear of what they might find in it
  • Raced around for 4 hours tidying up for the cleaner
  • Lost something then found it next winter in a coat pocket
  • Kept an unfinished project long after that hobby lost its appeal
  • Kept clothes for when they fit again. One day. Even though they’d go shopping if they got  back in that size anyway.
  • Stared in dismay at a room and thought “I have no idea where to start”

By the way, I have done a few of these things myself (most of them in my pre-organised life admittedly). With the exception of the last one. After all, it’s my job to know where to start ;).

Which ones have you done? Please leave a comment and ‘fess up!!!

And no born-organised Professional Organiser friends of mine are allowed to tell us they haven’t done any of them. We don’t want to know!