Non-scary, super-helpful ways to accomplish that 'get organized' resolution
We're (almost) a month in to 2023—wow, that was fast. Did you make a New Years resolution to finally get organized? If you're struggling with that one, I have tips for you.
None of these suggestions involve spending entire weekends cleaning out or meticulously folding clothes to fit in a complicated drawer system. Less overhauling your life and more keeping things manageable.
These aren't projects, per se, more like habits that will help you stay more organized in general.
return the returns
I admit this one is a pain, but you will feel great when it's done. First, go find all the things that need to be returned: gifts that didn't work out, things you overbought, don't need, whatever it may be. Go pour yourself a drink (coffee, wine, whatever will help you power through) and get the receipt, or start the online return process, print all the labels, package it all up. Next—and this is key—put them in your car. If you're at Target but the returns are in your kitchen, well... If they're in your car, preferably somewhere visible, you are more likely to return them, mail them, drop them off, etc. And don't forget about drop-off locations: I drop off FedEx packages at Shaw's while doing my normal grocery shopping and CVS takes UPS packages (in both cases, they need to be full packaged, labeled, and ready to ship.)
And if that's just not gonna happen? Drop them in a donation box and be done with it.
be ruthless with Paper + mail
When you bring mail into the house, walk directly to the recycling bin. Toss as much as possible into the bin: ads, outer envelopes, those little inserts that come with bills, catalogs, etc. Don't save it for the weekend or next month, just get rid of it now. And remember—so many things are online. If you need it, you can probably look it up.
Positive that piece of paper is a keeper? I suggest two categories: things that require action (i.e. bills to pay, an invite needing an RSVP) and things to read (i.e. catalog or magazine—but don't save it if you're not actually going to read it. Be honest. You're doing future you a favor!) Have a home for each category, whether that's a folder, a clipboard, a basket, etc. When it's full, or weekly, or whatever schedule works for you, clean it out.
If you want to receive less mail in the first place, here are some resources for you:
for less direct mail and catalogs
for fewer credit card offers
Or maybe the paper problem is kids' artwork? If it's not special (and daily math sheets and coloring pages are almost always not special), don't save it. Recycle it. Ask your kid to pick their favorite thing or two from the week and hang it up somewhere. Everything else goes. Only save the special things. (For more on kids artwork, see this blog post.)
always have a donation box
Sometimes clutter accumulates because you no longer need something, but it's still useful. You don't want to trash it, but you're not going to drop off just a couple items. Enter the donation box—find any box or bag that you don't mind getting rid of. Put it in an out-of-the-way spot in the garage, basement, etc. Any time you come across something you don't need (single shirt, stack of books, toys, water bottles, whatever), put it in the box. When you have a full box or two, either drop it off or schedule a donation pick-up.
But wait—it's worth money! I could sell it! Could you? Yes. But will you? With the exception of a few unicorn people, you are not going to sell it. It's just going to live in the closet for years. Sorry. Just donate it. Factor in the time it will take to sell something—is what you'll actually sell it for worth that amount of time?
And if you want to feel better about the state of your house but only have 15 minutes? Grab a bag and walk through tossing in anything you don't need or want. Try to look at the room as if you were seeing it for the first time—sometimes we stop seeing things in our homes and when you really look, you realize there's a Barbie doll on the living room bookshelf even though your kids haven't played with dolls in at least 3 years.
Not the state, but a state of mind. Or more accurately, a habit. OHIO stands for Only Handle It Once and if you can get in the habit of doing this it will save you a ton of time and keep your house neater with minimal effort. Basically, instead of putting something down, you put it away. All the way away, as I say to my kids. (They just love hearing it.) It really only takes a minute to open the drawers and put the clean laundry inside instead of dropping it on the bed for later. Or if it's a quick little task, just do it now. Sign the permission form the minute it hits your hands, send the Venmo, and be done with it instead of having to remember it later.
After all, William James said it well— “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
out of your head, into an app
Do you lie in bed at night thinking about all the little things you need to do? Feel constantly frazzled by the many tasks swimming around your head? Get them out of your head and into a list form. Sure, a paper list will work if that's more your speed. But an app can remind you and that's really helpful.
I group reminders and lists into categories (i.e. home, work, etc.) to create 'buckets' for my life. Some reminders are recurring (take vitamins, every day; take out trash, every week) others are one-time (buy present for party), but knowing I have a reminder means I don't need to focus on it. So those little nagging things are less likely to visit my head at 1 am when I'm trying to sleep.
It keeps you on top of the little things, without the little things taking over your head.
I use Apple's Reminders, but there are tons of options out there. Here are just a few: Todoist; TickTick; Google Tasks; Habitica (if you want to add a gaming element); Any.do (if you need a little help remembering to use the app).
And if these tips are great and all, but you want hands-on help with the things or spaces in your house, I've gotchu. Let's chat!