How to Be Your Own Professional Organizer: 10 Top Tips from the Pros

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We can all use a little organizing reminder every now and again; I know I do. I always start out with the best intentions, and then they fall by the wayside shortly thereafter. I've gathered 10 tips used by professional organizers— just to scan over — whenever I need a little help getting back on track:

1. Get Ready The Night Before. Start your day off a little less frantically by setting out your clothes, prepping the meals, getting the kids' bags ready, setting the coffee maker on automatic, etc.

2. Open Mail Over The Recycle Bin. Don't set it down in a pile to get to later because you know what will happen. Get rid of the paper and junk right away, and put the important stuff in your mail/bill area.

3. Write It Down. I know this is a big thing for me. If I don't write things down they just keep a constant party going on in my head. Writing it down helps to free me and let me relax. You can't keep it all in there: it's just too much and can keep you awake at night. Get it out and down on paper.

4. Slow And Steady Wins The Race. I, for one, am terrible at this. I see a project at hand, and I attack it like a maniac until it's done. Because I tend to work this way, I get overwhelmed by the thought of new tasks and end up never starting in the first place. Focusing on a little bit at a time is a much better solution. Unpack one box in storage a day, instead of waiting for one whole free day to tackle it all. Those free days don't come around that often.

5. Time Out. Set a timer for ten minutes and clean whatever you can in that amount of time each day. If you have kids, it can be a game and the winner gets a prize. Who can get the most done before the bell goes off? You may be shocked by how much you can accomplish in such a short period of time.

6. Play Cards. Write household tasks on index cards and draw one each day. That becomes your chore for the day. Be sure to include a few "Free Day" cards in there. When you finish the box start again. This is also a great way to incorporate kids' chores as well.

7. Pad Your Time. The phrase "Just give me five minutes" is often overused and rarely true. Most things take longer than five minutes. Try to set a realistic time frame for the little things you need to do so you can have a more accurate time management system throughout the day. 10-15 minutes per task is much more realistic and lets you slow down and breathe if you end up with a little buffer.

8. Set Goals. Write any long-term goals or dreams on a set of index cards, then arrange them in order of importance. Write deadlines on the top of each card, break them down into mini-goals and schedule time to achieve them.

9. Give It Up. Whenever you see something that you don't use any more, immediately put it in an outbox. When the box is full bring it to Goodwill or other donation center. You don't need to wait for that big clean out day.

10. Put It Away Now. Don't wait to do it later. Everything should have its home and, when you are finished, gets puts back in its place. It takes just as much energy to be disorganized as it does to be organized.

Re-edited from a post originally published 1.25.12 - DF