People often tell me they haven’t been successful when they try to organize their spaces. Although everyone has a different story, they usually fall into one of the reasons listed below:
1. You started too big. Instead, limit the scope of your project. You probably aren’t going to complete an entire garage overhaul, for example, in one afternoon. Instead, take on a manageable piece of the room and schedule another manageable piece for another day.
2. You don’t have systems in place. You say you want to organize your closet, but you don’t have anywhere to put out-of-season clothes, which take up all the available space. Instead of piling on a chair the clothes you currently wear, make room for them in the closet. Select a place for out-of-season clothes that is not as accessible (attic, basement, spare room, etc.). If you don’t have another room, get creative – use the space under your bed or at the top of the linen closet, for example.
3. You didn’t give yourself enough time to try out a system. Studies show that it takes at least 21 days of consistent effort before something becomes a habit. Before you declare that your filing system doesn’t work, be honest about the number of times you actually filed papers. Are you surrendering before you’ve really put any effort in?
4. You don’t know when to stop. Getting it done is more important than getting it done perfectly. Look for the maximum impact – putting the clothes in the closet, not putting them in color-order; putting papers in a folder, not putting them in reverse-chronological order. You can always modify the way you store or display items, after you’ve created habits to put them away.
5. You think organizing is an event. Organizing is a process and requires maintenance, like personal hygiene or cleaning your house. No one says, “I did laundry, why do I have to do it again?” Consider your organizing project a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in this one for the long haul.
What’s your greatest organizing challenge?