Signs you need to get organized

  • Missing deadlines
  • Lots of looping back when you are running errands or shopping
  • People have to remind you to do things
  • On-going search for glasses, keys, pens, bags
  • Buying things you know you own – but can’t find

So what can you do? Try some new habits.

The first three things on this list can be helped by using one calendar and a planner – see previous posts!

Here are tips to help solve the last two.

On-going search for glasses, keys, pens, bags
Make one specific place for things you tend to lose. If keys are an issue for you, get a key rack and put it near the door you usually come in when you get out of the car. Hang your keys on one specific peg. You are already coming in the house – that’s a habit. Tie a new habit in of hanging up your keys every time you come in. Every time. That’s the key. 🙂

If you lose reading glasses and have multiple pairs, still put them in specific places – maybe one per room. Find them there and return them there each time you are done and are leaving that space. You usually use reading glasses for something specific and don’t tend to walk around with them – so leave them in place and they’ll be there the next time you need them.

Finding a specific space to put things takes a little time to plan but will give you peace of mind and save you time in the long run.

Buying things you know you own but can’t find
If you have too much stuff to keep track of, it’s time to sort out and declutter. Tackle one place at a time – i.e. one closet, one “stuff” drawer, one garage shelf. Make sure you have time to start and finish this because this is going to take time and it’s going to be messy!

I’ll use a closet as an example.

Step 1: Take everything out of the closet. Everything.

Step 2: Decide what makes sense to have in this closet. How is it being used now? What is this closet close to? And what would make finding things easier? Do you need more shelves? Pegs? Drawers? If that’s the case, stop and get the storage you need. The goal is to have things you can easily access – both for height and for visibility. And you want enough room to put similar things together for future finding.

Step 3: When you have what you need for physical structures, you are ready to sort. In the larger space of the room, sort things into similar piles – papers, books, clothing, toys, etc. Pick a pile and look at each item. Is it useful or does it bring you joy? Start a pile for things that will stay in the closet. If it is not useful or does not bring you joy but might be useful or joyful to others, then start a pile of things to give away. If it’s broken or not useful, start a pile for trash.

Step 4: Do this for each sorted pile you have. When you are done, you should have one pile per type of item, one pile to give away, and one pile of trash.

Step 5: Before you start to re-load the closet, take the give-away pile and bag it, box it, or whatever works and put it in your car. Bag or box the trash, and take it to the big outside trash area.

Now back to that closet!

Step 6: Look at what you have to fit in the closet, remembering that the goal is to be able to see and easily retrieve whatever you put in the closet. Keep this in mind as you take each pile of similar items and place them together thoughtfully in the closet space.

Step 7: Be vigilant! Every time you put something in the closet put it in its designated space of similar items where you know you can find it. Organizational Zen is the peace of mind of knowing what you own and where you can find it when you need it.

Of note: For shared space, you can either try to get everyone on board by talking about what you are doing and possibly adding labels on drawers, boxes, or pegs in the closet. Or you can decide that having an organized closet is only important to you and make yourself the keeper-of-the-closet.

If you are the only person the disorganization was bugging, #2 may be your only option. As my fellow blogger Leo Babauta at Zen Habits says: be thankful you have others in your house whom you love, and recognize that there is a certain level of chaos that comes with shared space.

I hope this helps! Happy organizing.

I’ll close with a moment of chaotic but peaceful beauty from the coast of Maine.

photo 2


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