Painless Organizing

Having an orderly home or office has to be easy, or none of us will have the time or energy to keep it up. So it's worthwhile to be thinking as you are clearing out clutter, "How can I set up this space to make it easy to keep it clean and organized for the future?" Clearly, this means that the less you have, the less you have to take care of, so rather than think about potential future uses of each item you are debating getting rid of, ask yourself whether the price of keeping it - more objects to keep track of and take care of and more of your precious space is taken up - is worthwhile.
So here are some tips for ways to make the clearing out and keeping up process EASY:
- even tiny bits of time can be opportunities to move your clearing out process forward, so look for times when you can organize, neaten and clear things out for just a few minutes; some common opportunities: while the microwave, coffeemaker, or teapot are running, while you are on hold on the phone, or while watching TV or listening to the radio
- if you have more than one room to organize, keeping a set of bags or boxes with the labels for their destinations (Toss, Recycle, Give Away, Put Away) in each area that needs to be organized makes clearing out and keeping uncluttered much easier. A good place for such a set of such bags is in or near the closet(s) so that you can instantly decide the fate of clothing you no longer need. Also, any place where you want to unclutter.
- I like to apply the principle of always moving objects closer to where they need to go if I can't take them there immediately; following this principle, I deposit things that need to go downstairs near the door so that I can easily pick them up on my way out, in my bedroom, I have a ledge of a bookshelf that is designated for things going to the living room or the kitchen and have similar spaces in the other room, so I know when I am leaving the room to go to one of those other areas to check that space and see if there is anything there I should take with me. When I'm opening mail or clearing out files, I make a designated pile for papers that are going to the shredder; when done sorting, I just take it with me.
- really, I promise you, 15 minutes neatening up at the end of each day, whether at work or at home, can work miracles. It may take a while to develop the habit, but the benefits are enormous. One easy way to get into this is to do a quick visual sweep of each room before your leave it - what is out of place, needs a wipe, needs straightening? A quick fix and the next time you enter the room, you will feel better about being there (and probably about yourself too).
- having a little portable tote box with your cleaning supplies (rags, sprays, brushes, gloves, whatever) that you can easily carry from room to room makes quick, small cleanups of whatever is in reach easier.
- and on that note, the easiest way to clean a room is to go after whatever is closest and take care of it, then move a little and do a bit more, if not immediately, then every time you walk in or out of the room. Next thing you know, the whole room is done, just by doing small bits.
- every time you have to do anything with your piles of papers or whatever, use it as an opportunity to do a very quick sort: what can you TOSS, RECYCLE, GIVE AWAY, PUT AWAY, or ACT on? It might help to use a timer to limit your sorting time to no more than 5 minutes, so that you will always know, yes, you do have 5 minutes to become more organized. A good rule to follow is to never pick up a pile without moving everything in it closer to resolution.
- it pays to think about how things are stored as you are putting them away: Is this the best container or space for this object? Would all of the objects in this space be easier to access if they were re-arranged? Would it be better stored if it traded places with another object? Does it still serve its purpose? Do I have another object that can do the job that this one does as well or better, saving me from having to store two objects?


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