Some people say I am a “neat freak.” I always have been. When I was a little girl, I would actually have fun organizing and labeling. I’d frequently clean and rearrange my room and I loved vacuuming. As an adult, not much has changed. I still keep my home and office in “neat freak” order, and I frequently teach my teen and young adult clients how to get organized.
There are so many benefits to being organized. For one, you know where everything is, which minimizes stress. When your drawers or cabinets are neat and orderly, you can actually experience more ease in day-to-day tasks. A tidy desk makes it easier to focus and be productive. A well-organized bedroom contributes to peace and relaxation, promoting better sleep.
While organization does not come naturally to everyone, there are ways to get into the habit of organization. And when you do, you’ll start feeling the benefits which will encourage you to keep it up.
Here are five tips to get and stay organized, from a self-proclaimed organizational expert (or so-called “neat freak”).
The first step to getting organized is to get rid of what you don’t need. Take some time to go through a selected space, like your desk or closet, and get rid of anything that is outdated or unusable. Donate clothes you’ve outgrown or haven’t worn for years.
2. Give essentials a home.
Put the items you use daily in a designated space. For example, at your desk, store writing utensils in a jar, reference books on a shelf, and items like paperclips in a container. If you are a student with a lot of papers, use color-coded folders for different subjects. Put your homework and school supplies in the same place so you always know where to grab it when you’re on the go.
3. Go paperless.
If it’s possible to go paperless, do it. Aside from my all-time favorite paper, the Post-It Note, I stopped using paper years ago and reduced so much clutter! An iPad or phone is great for notes and reminders. Keep electronic files on a hard drive or in the cloud.
4. Create systems.
Creating a system or daily routine might take some time. However, getting into good time management habits and helpful routines are essential to staying organized. Try a time management system like time blocking or List, Prune Prioritize, Plan (found in my book Power Up Your Parenting). Establish a daily routine that includes a regular time to wake up, work or study, rest and play, and wind down. It’s also helpful to have a morning and evening routine that promotes optimism and rest so you can stay on track with your organizational goals.
5. Make time.
As you are getting into strong organizational habits, be sure to make time for weekly check-ins. I encourage my teen and young adult clients to make time on a Sunday to check their room, desk, backpack, and closet and put away anything that may not have made its way back to its designated space. It’s also a great time to outline a weekly time-block schedule.
Be patient and don’t give up. As you strengthen your organizational muscle, you might experience setbacks or fall back into disorganized habits. Try not to get discouraged. Remember you can always restart. The Year in Focus Journal can help you stay organized. Download it here and print out the organizer tracker for this month.