That moment when you re-enter your home from a day out defines how organized your home will be and how organized it will remain (or not). That is the defining moment.
From groceries and mail to a briefcase or your children’s school and sports gear, chances are you are carrying things into your home each time you come back from a day of errands, work, or a trip.
So, what do you do at that moment? Do you put things down, or do you put things away?
There is a big difference between putting things down and putting things away. If you needed to put everything away in your home right now, could you?
The answer depends on whether everything in your house has a specific place to belong. Ideally, everything in your home should have a single, designated, permanent space where that item or item category lives. By recognizing and following this principle, your daily life may turn easier and more efficient.
When items have a permanent, specific storage place, you find everything easily. It also facilitates putting things away since items have a known space where they should go.
But if in your house anything can go anywhere, then everything will go everywhere. So, day after day, this way of going about your environment won’t yield positive results.
When you “put things down for later” instead of taking the time to put things away, several things happen:
“Later” never seems to arrive (it is not an actual date on the calendar!). Every day’s residue accumulates all over the house day after day.
Your home becomes cluttered because clutter invites more clutter. It’s a vicious cycle.
You can’t find what you need when you need it because nothing is in a logical or proper place.
Looking for things, you waste lots of time. Also, you spend money buying replacements for items you have but can’t find.
Then one random Saturday morning, when the sun is shining, and you feel great, you decide to clean up your place. You spend hours sorting through the clutter and finally put things away.
When finished, your home is manageable again, but you’ve spent the whole day cleaning up instead of being outside, enjoying the possibilities that await you.
You are tired, sore, and frustrated. Yet, ironically, you conclude that being organized is a drag – something that intrudes on your life, preventing you from living your life.
As a result, you put off “organizing” or “cleaning up” again for as long as possible. The senseless circle of events repeats itself.
What if you took a moment or two to put everything away (as in “where everything should permanently go’) instead of “putting things down until later” every time you come home? Your home would remain organized.
If your home remains organized, there is no need to spend an entire day organizing later. Yes, it takes a few minutes every day, and it might take some time to make the practice a habit, but it indeed pays off in significant ways.
Besides, spending a few minutes every day to keep our environment organized is more manageable and less time-consuming than spending hours cleaning up or trying to find what we need.
The next time you enter through that door carrying all that “stuff,” think about it – It is a defining moment.
We will not give you little “tips and tricks” about how or where to store your things. Instead, I will shed some light on a simple truth that is obvious yet incredibly overlooked.
Do You Need It Out There?
We all need certain things handy. I hear it all the time – “oh, this is out here because we use it all the time, and we needed it handy.” So, let’s consider this for a moment.
If you have already purged everything that does not serve your life anymore, what you keep, by definition, is something that you or your household members need.
If you were to apply the same reasoning of “it is out there because we use it all the time,” everything you own would be “out here.” Add to this all the things you do not need or use frequently that are still in your home, “out there,” because no one cared to put them back where they belong. Can you see the chaos?
You would be surprised at the amount of unused space or underutilized space we find all the time in clients’ homes. The reasoning of “it needs to be out here because we use it all the time” rules.
A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place
Sorry to break the news to you, but to stay organized, you need to have a place for everything, and you also need to put everything in its place. That is why we find each item a good home in the first place.
It does not matter how wonderfully organized a home ends up; if everyday effort and discipline don’t follow, chaos will return.
A couple of things left out of place due to frequent use will soon justify all other things that we use often left out of place. That mess that drives you crazy will come back.
We create systems and organize, considering accessibility and frequency of use of the things we use the most. After all, the idea behind organizing is to make life easier. But there is a fine line between making life easier and making it so easy that all discipline and effort goes out the window. Things still need to go back to where they belong each time to maintain the home organization. That is key to finding those things again quickly.
Many have trouble understanding their disorganization. Some want to buy containers and additional storage solutions. Others go after the latest trend in organizing, devour books related to the topic and try all sorts of methods. Unfortunately, the result is usually less than satisfactory.
The truth is that none of that matters if you don’t first let go of all the excess in your life, assign a home for everything you own and put everything back in its designated spot after each use. Those three things are fundamental to maintaining an organized space.
We Can Help
You might need help with that initial organizing effort if your home has never been in top shape. The initial organizing of the house can be a profoundly confusing process to many people. If that is your case, do not hesitate to look for help. We can assist you with the initial organizing but, most importantly, help you develop the systems and methods to keep your home space in great shape. Contact My Space Reclaimed, LLC!
You might wonder what could possibly be the mess the Organizer made. Allow me to explain.
We overbuy for a myriad of reasons. We hoard stuff sometimes. Other times, it’s a matter of not letting go. Whatever the reason, we have a severe problem with space (although the real problem lies in how much stuff we accumulate).
We seem to need every inch of space available to store all the things we own. We have drawers open in a spare room, and there we go, filling them with the most unimaginable items just because there is available storage space.
What We Find
Too often, clients call us to organize a room in their home and insist there is insufficient storage space in the area they want to manage. However, upon assessing the project, almost invariably, we realize three things:
(1) inefficient use of the space
(2) the space contains many unwanted things that had failed to leave the home
(3) much of what the project space includes does not belong there
Well, no wonder there is no space for what needs to go in that area!
Once unwanted items are removed from the space, and we correctly allocate and organize what the client wants to keep, they usually marvel at all the space they have.
That is until they turn around and see the mess in their living room. Then clients might not be so happy (for just a little while, though).
How It Happens
During the organizing process, what we remove from an area of the home accumulates somewhere else while working on our project’s primary goal. But no one expects to end with a mess in other house areas when they engage an organizer to work on their home space.
Once we finish organizing the project area, whatever we removed needs sorting as well. The client needs to decide what stays or goes and the best place to allocate what they keep.
Often, we must repeat the organizing process in areas of the home that our client did not contemplate in the project. Such is when stuff removed from the space we are organizing needs to go to different home areas with no apparent space available. Then we need to create that space so that what logically belongs in those places can be stored in them.
Here are two pictures from a recent project. Our goal was to organize seven home areas, starting with three bedrooms upstairs. Although the plan included the living room, this area was initially uncluttered. Ironically, that was not the case once we finished the first three rooms!
The first picture is the living area “before” picture. The second picture is the living room after organizing the first three bedrooms. The before picture looks somewhat like the “after” and vice versa! That’s the mess we made! But it all worked out in the end. The client was delighted.
And as much as we would like to estimate the time a project might take, this shifting of things inherent to the organizing process makes it unpredictable. All we can assure the client is that “It will get worse before it gets better.”
As Organizers, we want to delight the client, take care of everything and leave their home looking perfect. So, take a deep breath and play along. The mess the Organizer made will go away.
When we feel overwhelmed or sad, we tend to let go of things around us that are not urgent or important. But the last thing you should do when faced with adversity or you “don’t feel like it” is to throw the structure and plans out the window. Instead, do those chores, follow that routine, and excel.
Keeping your routines in place and focusing on what needs to be done, despite how you feel about it, is key to avoiding future trouble.
Let’s say you are feeling sad, and as a result, you recoil and decide to stop your day and your chores. Most likely, you’ll soon have to deal with the same heartache plus all the things you’ve left undone.
Your proverbial strike won’t make your pain go away. Ignoring your chores won’t make them disappear either.
Things pile up, especially those we consider unimportant. So, many “unimportant” things together have the power to take us down and overwhelm us even more. And that overwhelming feeling does not help anybody get over any heartache anyway.
On the other hand, if you choose to keep doing what needs to be done, despite your feelings and the circumstances surrounding you, you come out on the other end with an enormous sense of achievement, feeling in control of your environment. That feeling will feed your spirit to continue moving forward.
I know some circumstances in life take us down, body, mind, and soul. But I’m not referring to those instances. Instead, I’m talking about typical roadblocks that shut us down when they should not have the power to do so.
Digital clutter is a thing. Although it is present in many ways, its lack of physical appearance allows us to ignore it. This type of clutter appears as a disorganized desktop, misplaced electronic files, multiple copies of the same documents, and misspelled file names, among other things.
Our digital clutter causes us to spend precious time looking for information, going through duplicated files and folders, forgetting tasks, and missing appointments. Digital clutter fills up our hard drives, and before we know it, we have 10,000+ messages in your inbox as well.
Organizing our email system might be a daunting task. However, email is so front and center in our lives that a change in this area can produce substantial changes to boost productivity and increase our efficiency.
Here are some email management tips to start reducing electronic clutter.
How about setting up a folder for promotions and store-related matters? If your email service does not allow creating folders within the inbox, consider setting up a separate email account just for stores, ads, and orders. After setting up that folder, go through your current retail subscriptions and move each one to the new folder. Instead, if you need to create a new email account, change the email address retailers use to communicate with you to the new account’s email address. Then, only check your new retail folder or the new email account when placing orders. Finally, clean out the new file or inbox monthly.
Email and Breakfast Do Not Match
Avoid reading your email first thing in the morning. When you do, you let someone or something else prioritize your day. This practice sets the day off to a stressful tone—instead, schedule times during the day to read your email. You will notice an increase in productivity in your email response time and other tasks.
“You’ve Got Mail”
For most, the chime of a new message creates an immediate reaction to check the email. Turn off notification sounds that make you jump and see how more productive you become. You lose momentum and efficiency when distracted by email notifications. And remember that the multitasking phenomenon is a myth. Attempting to multitask makes us absent-minded and derailed.
Add important senders right to your address book. Otherwise, their messages might appear spam or junk, and you will miss important information and dates. Keep your contacts updated for your peace of mind.
Managing Emails Efficiently
Strive to read each email only once. Using folders and category options in the email is a necessity. Use the following categories or actions for each email message:
Delete – When the message is not needed now or later, delete it at once.
2-Minute Action – if your response or action to this message will take less than 2 minutes, process the information at that moment and then delete it, if possible. If the answer or action to take requires additional time, leave the message in the inbox as a reminder to tackle later.
Pending Matter – Messages with information to be referred to in the short-term future and notifications to remember can stay in the inbox until the time comes to act on these. Limit inbox messages to follow-up and immediate action items to allow these messages to stand out.
File – File messages or notifications containing information for future reference. These messages might deserve a permanent electronic file but removing them from the inbox is important.
An inbox containing 4,230 messages will not help improve efficiency or boost productivity – it will hide essential messages that should stand out for your inbox to become a productivity tool.
More importantly, an inbox with this many messages is evidence of delayed decisions. An inbox full of messages of all kinds is no different than that basement or garage, where you keep things “just in case” – no one knows what is in there for sure.
Digital clutter might not be as apparent as physical clutter, but it affects us. And whether the mess is digital or physical, it creeps up every time we postpone decisions and actions.
So, decide and act promptly and consistently when processing your email messages. Decrease your digital clutter by increasing your inbox control.