We had the amazing opportunity to hold an organizing workshop at Cal Tech this past Friday. While we love educating the public with organizing how-to's and basics we always are amazed at what we learn from the crowd. One gentleman in particular asked a great question. He wondered, "How come, when we go to our friends' houses, it's always so pristine and organized. Don't they have the same issues we have?" Our first response was, "Well--you never know what's hidden behind closed doors or who owns a set of keys to a storage shed..."But after further thought--we went on to tell this particular audience member that families who have their belongings in order are really good at making decisions. We've said it before and we'll say it again, clutter is a delayed decision. The more you get into the habit of making daily decisions on what comes into your life and to your space, the more organized your life will be. We've come up with 4 tips to help you make the decision process easier.
- Track your habits. If you're going out to any sort of event where you know they might be handing out goodie bags, pamphlets, or postcards--just say no. Because we're such a consumerist society, we'll take the free stuff (even when we don't need it). So if you already know ahead of time that you like taking the free stuff, remind yourself before you walk out of the door to just say no!
- Make less paper come in the apartment. Mail is one of the biggest clutter offenders. Because we receive mail almost daily, it's hard to keep up with all of it. First, you need to get off the junk mailing lists. This is a great post that gives you the resources to get off the junk mail lists. Also, it's about creating good habits. Opening the mail daily (even if you don't act on it immediately) is a great way to declutter. Recycling goes immediately in the recycle bin and the paper that needs to be shredded is taken care of at once. If you have a landing strip set up to handle incoming mail, your new habits should be much easier to form.
- Don't give up just because your new system didn't work out. The reality is, organizing takes time. You didn't become disorganized overnight and chances are, you won't become organized over night. If you start out knowing that eventually, your life will become more streamlined then you're less likely to give up during the process. We always tell our clients, it's going to get messy before it gets better (how can it not, we're literally pulling everything out).
- Maintenance is key. Just because you finally get your life organized doesn't mean your life will always stay organized. In order for your previous organizing systems to work, you have to maintain them. Paper will always come in the door and we will always buy more things--you just have to have the rules and guidelines in place to prevent overflow.
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[Image from Gregory Han via House Tour: Seonna's Hillside Modern]