organization Aug 07, 2018

August 2018 is all about getting organized at the office so you can work smarter not harder. Summers are often the time of year that are slower for us as assistants due to our boss’s vacations and overall slower pace of the workforce. This makes Summer the perfect time of year to tackle organization projects. For a brief time, I side-hustled as a professional organizer. I learned a lot during this time about what goes into getting and staying organized. There are 5 basic steps I walked my clients through which I’m going to share with you below. These steps are simple and can be applied to anything: closets, pantries, garages, cupboards, your desk, files, etc.

5 Steps to Organize Anything

Step #1: Set time parameters

Carve out time to tackle your laundry list of organizing projects. If you don’t prioritize getting organized it will never happen. Put it on your to-do list (I use Trello), decide how long you think a project will take and set that amount of time to complete the project. Do not give yourself more time. Parkinson’s Law states that we will use as much time as we give ourselves to complete any given task. I’ve found this to be particularly true of organizing projects. If you give yourself an entire week to complete the project then that is the time it will take to complete it. If you give yourself 2 hours, then it will take 2 hours. Personally, I only give myself 2-3 hours at most to complete office organization projects and 4-5 hours to complete larger home organization projects.

Step #2: Get rid of everything you don’t need or won’t use

This step is my favorite because it is the most freeing. It is also by far the hardest step because it requires us to take a hard look at our relationship with stuff. In an article entitled “21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own”, Joshua Becker found evidence to indicate that Americans consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago. In a society where “bigger” and “more” are the norm, it can be hard to let go. If you struggle with this, I would encourage you to ask yourself why that is. Don’t accept, “I don’t know,” as an answer. When I worked as a professional organizer I found the reason most people hired me was because they wanted someone to coach them and help them let go.

Step #3: Group like items together

Whether it’s in your file cabinet, closet, or pantry, grouping like items together so you are able to see what you have will help your life run smoother and your mind grow calmer. It’s the difference between chaos and peaceful order.

Step #4: Create a place for everything

Everything should have a place to live while not in use. I love creating a clutter-free place for everything! I also love Ikea and Target because they allow me to do this affordably and beautifully. In my office, I have snack storage and envelope storage, both in fabric-covered bins purchased at Target. In my closet at home, I have baskets purchased at Ikea which holds seasonal items like bathing suits for Summer and hats/gloves for Winter. We are all works in progress, myself included. My home and office aren’t tidy and clutter-free 100% of the time, but that is my goal.

Step #5: Create a system for maintenance

This last step is really about intentionality and mindfulness. Once you have everything organized and in its place it’s time to create a system in order to maintain it. Have you given your files a refresh? Then there’s no need to let that stack of papers pile up on your desk. Have you given your closet an overhaul? Don’t leave clothes draped over the door. You have just worked so hard to create something useful and beautiful, be intentional about maintaining it.

In the coming weeks, we will take these 5 steps and apply them to areas that will be most helpful to us as assistants such as your workspace, desktop and time. Now I want to hear from you. What is an aspect of staying organized that’s challenging for you? Head on over to our Facebook Group or leave a comment below.

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