By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
If organizing your stuff causes you stress, either because you find it to be a daunting task or you worry you spend too much time on it, there is help. Developing a strategy that works for you—and motivating yourself to stick to it—is the key to eliminating the clutter in your life.
Julie Gutman, professional organizer, owner of Simplify Me, LLC and former EDA participant, joined our Executive Director Breakfast Club this morning to teach participants how to love organizing. “Loving organizing doesn’t mean it has to be your passion like it is mine,” Gutman states. “But you like how it makes you feel, right? That’s what it’s all about!”
As Gutman said, the simple act of crossing things off a to-do list is very satisfying, and the more things you can check off the more at ease you will feel. Checking things off your list takes action, which is why Gutman suggests you follow the four Fs: finish it, forward it, file it or flick it. Organize office supplies, documents and even emails into these four categories and take action accordingly by tying up loose ends and trashing/recycling the rest.
Because this can obviously be a time-consuming process, dedicate time solely to organizing. While the time that you allot should fit into your schedule, you can be flexible about when you work on organizing and how much time you allow, as long as you really commit that time to organizing. Prepare a checklist ahead of time with a rough estimate of the time each item will take so that you know what you need to accomplish and how long it will take.
Some organizations take an entire day or week where everyone in the office is able to catch up on organizing. If that much time is a luxury you cannot afford, set up a consistent timeframe when you will slowly chip away at your to-do list. If you spend 10 or 15 minutes at the end of every day sorting and filing documents and prioritizing your to-do list for the next day, you will slowly but surely transform your workspace and your habits. Changing habits takes time, JVA Senior Associate, Ashley Kasprzak says, so if organizing does not come easily at first don’t let it worry you.
Set a timer when you’re first starting out. If the idea of spending lots of time organizing sounds agonizing, or you are trying to avoid getting sucked into the never-ending process, a timer will alleviate some of that stress. Gutman advises that you set the timer, finish as much as you can from the list and when the timer goes off, move on to something else.
For more ideas on organizing yourself and your space, check out Julie Gutman’s Simplify Me blog.