I have found the more I can streamline routines and tailor and continue to tweak my organizational systems, the better my spaces function, and I do too. Sometimes with the busyness of life, or just because I am not working my systems, they malfunction, and I do too. I liken it to playing tennis, when my serve is strong and the fundamentals of tennis are there, such as proper follow through, watching the ball and other basic elementary tennis skills, I can play the best tennis and even get in the zone. When I play well, it is so much fun, and life is good, and when I’m not playing well, nine times out of 10 it is because one of the basic tenets of tennis has fallen by the wayside. When I start focusing again on my basic tennis skills, usually I can improve my game right away.
How does this relate to organizing? If you find that your once uncluttered environment is now becoming cluttered, or that you got out of planning your day and you are reacting more, then revisit the tenets of organization … ORDER: Organize, Routines, Decide, Edit and Readiness.
O: Organize – I always tell clients that the easy part of organizing is designing a system that works for the space and, most importantly, has as few steps as possible. The hard part is using the system, i.e., processing the mail, putting keys where you determine make sense, using your filing system, etc. If you find that you can’t keep your systems up, then maybe they need to be simplified, or you may need to utilize tools to help you make it a habit, such as electronic reminders or timers.
R: Routines – Incorporate a 15-minute, end-of-day wrap-up and clean-up routine to help organize your space and position yourself for success the next day. Continue to create routines, especially for children, and to discuss them, practice them, and get their buy-in so that they know what is expected. Routines for adults also contribute to saving time (no searching for lost keys), and enhance productivity because established routines allow us to free up our minds to focus on our priorities. Creating a routine for any standard practice we repeat daily frees up time and reduces stress because we don’t have to worry about the details of life.
D: Decisions – Every day, we have 24 hours to decide how we are going to use it. How do we figure out what truly are our top priorities? It is important to be able to make decisions and differentiate between what is an immediate priority and what is still important but can wait. What happens a lot is we all get into reactive mode instead of planning and prioritizing so that we can decide thoughtfully.
E: Edit – I have learned to be skillful at different types of editing. There is the physical space editing that reduces clutter and enhances visual space. The other editing is related to time, editing out tasks, events and other time-takers that aren’t important now, can be deferred or permanently deleted off of my schedule. This is a skill and like everyone, I can be great at it, but I also have months where I’m not editing items off of my schedule as I should.
R: Readiness – In my house I’m always saying to my kids, “Are you ready for tomorrow?" or “Is your backpack ready and in the right place?” Everything that can be done the night before should be, both for kids and adults. Time just slips away in the morning, and there is some comfort in knowing that if there is an alarm snafu or a mini-crisis in the a.m., at least all bags are packed and are ready to go.
Remember the tenets of organizing, and you will have more time at work to be more productive and more time at home to enjoy and relax and spend as you’d like.