Kim Stetson, a professional organizer based in Portland, Oregon, utilizes her skills to help people clear out the chaos in their lives. She has worked in a multitude of environments, from large companies looking to streamline their data storage systems to individuals clearing clutter and selling unwanted items on Craigslist. She knows that good organization, no matter how large or small, begins with the everyday tasks, like putting your keys in the same place each day. This notion sounds simple but for many people not finding keys in the morning sets a frenzied and negative tone for the day. Kim has graciously agreed to share her professional wisdom with us.
Knowing that good organization is habit forming (meaning that if we repeat the same good habits each day we will be more likely to follow those habits) is key to starting your journey towards success. Completing tasks like the ones outlined below will help you start your day organized and stress-free!
Sort the mail every day: 5 minutes a day
When you bring in the mail, immediately sort out and recycle junk mail, put magazines/catalogs into a specific area for reviewing later, and put bills and mail requiring action into a separate folder or basket. Keep the folders/baskets in sight to remind you to take further action. The idea is to avoid being overwhelmed by all the paper and make it easy to focus on the important stuff!
Keep your keys in the same place: 1 minute a day
Decide on a spot that can hold your keys, wallet, phone, etc. when you’re at home. This could be a bowl on a table or shelf near the front door, or a drawer in the kitchen. The idea is to grab and go, without wasting time searching around the house for the vitals.
Keep a daily “to-do” journal: 15 minutes a day
Every night before bed write down a new list of everything you could possibly do the next day, from grocery shopping to sending out an invoice to finding a new soup recipe to try. Get it all out on paper, even if you know there’s no way you’ll be able to do everything on the list in one day. The idea is to get it out from swirling around in your head and down on paper in one place. The next night review your “to-do” list and cross off the items you completed and transfer the unfinished items to the new list for the next day. This technique alleviates stress and helps you get more done!
De-clutter each day: 15 minutes a day
Set a timer for 15 minutes and dedicate that time to putting things away and de-cluttering your living space. Move quickly throughout the main areas of the home and stay focused on high-level organizing rather than delving into a big “organize the sock drawer” kind of project. The idea is to do a little each day so you don’t get overwhelmed with having to do a huge infrequent house cleaning.
Follow the 1-year rule: 5 hours every two months
If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it. This is a good rule for clothing, dishware, bedding, gear and hobby supplies. Mark out a few hours on your calendar every couple months to clean out certain areas, following the 1-year rule. For example: clean out your clothing closet 2 times per year, once in the summer (to get rid of unused winter clothes) and once in the winter (to get rid of unused summer clothes). The point here is that we can all stand to have less stuff in our lives and live more simply!
Thank you, Kim and Project Organize, for your expert advice!
Image credit: David Carroll