4 steps to getting organized
Super-organized people are innately fussy. It’s annoying.
The anaphylactic, anal-retentive manner in which they respond to clutter calls Sigmund Freud to mind. Freud attached this kind of compulsive tidiness to having been potty-trained by an impatient and intolerant parent. Whether he was right or not is impossible to discern without bias once you’ve seen such people in action and made the association.
Chiefly troubling is the notion that organized people believe they have the power to veto a fundamental law of nature; they think that by putting everything in the right spot once, it is somehow beyond continental drift, or universal expansion. Yet the second law of thermodynamics says that life moves toward disorder, not toward order -- nobody has ever spilled milk only to watch it return to its original carton. In short, it is next to impossible to stay organized and still do things other than stay organized.
Getting organized -- well, that’s different. We can all set aside an hour now and then and get organized, and for that we present the following traditional four-step program. It will not keep you organized without added attention -- nothing can achieve that. But every month or so, after everything around you has started to slouch, return to these reliable four steps to getting organized.
Give yourself a good overview of just how disorganized things have become by gathering together all of the component parts. If you're organizing your desk, get everything off the desktop, out of the drawers and onto the floor. If it’s a closet, empty it all out onto the floor. If it’s a schedule, clear it off. Whatever it is, clean the slate because we’re starting from scratch.
Use a pen and paper or open a file on the computer, and take inventory of each of those component parts you've just removed. Don’t concern yourself with categorizing things right now and don’t worry about deciding what to throw away; just create the damn inventory.
Eliminate the unnecessary
Using the inventory list you just compiled, you’ll want to thin it out a bit before any actual reorganization begins -- otherwise you’re just wasting time. To do so effectively, you’ll need to establish some criteria regarding what is and what isn’t necessary for this particular space or system to function efficiently.
For the pack rats of the world, this is a very difficult step. The idea of throwing anything away is hard to swallow, and they can generally manufacture an excuse to keep virtually everything. Whether or not it’s possible to be both a pack rat and organized is beyond the scope of this piece; instead let’s try to determine some initial, workable criteria. For a desk, throw away anything you haven’t accessed or used in a month, and you can’t foresee needing it for another month. The same goes in a closet; are there clothes you don’t ever see yourself wearing again, even as the seasons change? Dump them. This applies to items of clothing that are visibly falling to pieces as well.
Establish a home for everything
You have eliminated or thrown away the unnecessary; what you’re left with are the components that will represent the newly organized space. The issue then becomes in what fashion you will group these components together prior to going back into the system. The method you choose will, to some degree, dictate just how long you’re able to stay organized this time around. This applies to a weekly schedule as well. For example, group together the various duties by room, the various errands by location, and so on.
Begin by grouping like things together so that when you assign a new home for them, they will all fit nicely and neatly. If you’ve ever seen a U.S. television show on the Style Channel called Clean House, you know that this is where they generally introduce plastic bins, often with lots of enthusiasm. These bins are not going to save the world, but if you think they can help you, go buy a small stack.
Re-assemble groups in a logical sequence
You’re almost done -- there's just one final step left. Here, you’ll need to restore all those components back into the system. Before doing so, establish the most effective method, one that’s not only easy for you to remember but also one that makes good sense: alphabetically, big to small, by priority -- whichever suits you, so that you remain this organized a week or a month from now. At your desk, this might mean alphabetizing in a clockwise fashion, beginning on your left-hand side. If you are organizing a weekly schedule, the same thing applies. For example, schedule all of your outside errands for a certain time on a certain day. Do the same for assigning a day to do housework.
This last step is where you truly try to stamp some order on a disorderly world, order that can last a decent amount of time before the inevitable drift sets in.
Real Simple Living *click*
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