Getting organized is a state of mind; staying organized is a set of habits.

Getting organized is a state of mind; staying organized is a set of habits.

Getting and staying organized is as much a state of mind as it is a set of habits. It can take some getting used to, and it?s important to never procrastinate, but with a little bit of effort anybody can feel like they?re in charge of their own life. It is satisfying to put order into your life, both at home and at work. Order reduces stress and actually frees your time for other activities.

Here are just a few basic tips to eliminate mess and be more efficient with your time.

1) De-clutter

The first step to getting and feeling organized is to make sure your living and work spaces are tidy and well-ordered. It?s impossible to feel like you?re on top of your affairs when you live in a mess!  Start by eliminating clutter and getting rid of the things you know you?ll never need.

Be honest with yourself about what?s essential and what isn?t– it might be nice to hang on to that box of glow-in-the-dark pens you got from work five years ago, but are you ever going to use them, or are they just taking up space? Remember, we all have an inner ?hoarder,? but if something is of no conceivable use to you now, it probably  never will be!

2) Organize your space

You?ll want to find a logical place to put your things once you?ve got everything sorted. Find boxes and storage space for the things you rarely use or only need on a seasonal basis. Keep the things you use regularly in easily accessible spaces. Designate filing spaces for your various personal papers, and designate a separate space for the things you rarely use but know you need to keep track of (like a passport, for instance). Keep your bills in a prominent location, so that you don?t forget about them.

3) Keep a planner

Now that your space is organized, you?ll want to make sure you stay on top of your schedule. Invest in a day planner (or use one on your computer), and keep track of all your activities for the week. It may help to designate a certain time at every week (such as Sunday night) to go over your calendar and mark your upcoming tasks for the month.

It?s not just enough to write things down, either– check your planner on a regular basis, so that you don?t forget what you have coming up, and to keep yourself in the habit of staying on top of things.


4) Block out time for certain tasks

Certain tasks are best handled in ?blocks? of time. Set aside weekly chunks of time to pay all your bills at once, or to make all of your family phone calls. It?s much easier to get these things done in one sitting than it is when spread across the week.

5) Always keep a ?to-do? list

If you feel like you have a mountain of work piling up, write a quick to-do list, with your tasks prioritized by importance. An erasable marker board works great– cross off or erase each task as you complete it, and always place the board in a prominent location, such as right above your computer monitor. Again, refer to your day planner or calendar. You?ll find that it?s much easier to get around to the things hanging over your head if you can identify them and cross them off a list.

6) Always open your mail immediately

Don?t let mail pile up in your mailbox, or on your dining room table. As soon as you receive it, open it. Items that need reply should be placed in a prominent location for regular handling, and anything that isn?t important goes straight to the trash! This goes for e-mail too, particularly at the office.

7) Follow a regular schedule

It can be difficult to stay on top of everything you need to complete in a week, but if you have a consistent schedule things will tend to fall in to place. Make every Tuesday and Thursday, for instance, your gym days, while designating Monday for bills and Wednesday for relaxation. Sunday evening is often a good time to call family members. Whatever your schedule or the tasks you need to accomplish, it?s easiest if you know when you need to fit things in.

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WebMD: How to Get Organized Finally!