Staying Organized For Life

Staying Organized For Life

Most people live with a lot of clutter in their lives. Most people just purchase or find another thing they don’t need, they don’t know what to do with it so they throw it in a pile, or a drawer, or a closet, and promptly forget about it. Most people go through this process at least once a day, whether that unnecessary item is an appliance, a book, or just a scrap of paper. Repeated at least once a day, a year or two later is it any surprise when they find their lives disorganized and filled with an overwhelming amount of things they don’t need?

Cleaning up this mess, sorting through and throwing out all the stuff you don’t need, and organizing the things you do need, is just the first step in reversing this problem. You summon the strength and courage you need to confront the problem, you whip your life and home into shape, and you’re back at a clean slate.

This is great, but if you don’t fix the habits that lead to the problem in the first place, than in just another year or two you’ll be back where you started. Instead of accumulating more stuff and waiting around until you reach your breaking point again, it’s better to just take some preventative measures to ensure that you do not end up as cluttered and disorganized as you once were.

To stay organized, you have to treat the root of your disorganization, which are the habits you have that lead to accumulated junk. Here are a few tips to get started becoming a perpetually organized person.

Often, purchases accumulate in strange hodge-podge piles as soon as we bring them home. We have this new item and we don’t know what to do with it or where to put it, so we just set it down somewhere random. Or even worse, we throw it into a pile somewhere.

Instead, make a habit of giving all new purchases a defined place to stay as soon as you bring them home. Better yet, before you make a purchase set aside a place for it in your home, decide where you’re going to put it before you even buy it. If you can’t think of a place to put it, re-evaluate whether you actually need it.

  1. Don’t print pictures unless you have an album or a frame where you’re already going to put them. This applies for both traditionally developed photos, as well as digital photos you print at home. Don’t accumulate a stack of pictures you printed just because you wanted to hold them- give them a home, or leave them on the computer.
  2. Put everything back at the end of the day. Since everything you own will have a defined home already, it’ll be easy to set them in their place when you’re done using them. A big reason we don’t put things away is because we don’t want to go through the hassle of figuring out where to put them. Since you don’t have this excuse anymore, just take the two seconds to put your things back properly. Better yet, put your things away as soon as you’re done with them- don’t wait for the end of the day.
  3. Keep trash bins and recycling receptacles nearby where you’re going to be throwing things out. This is obvious when it comes to, say, the kitchen. But it also makes sense to have things nearby where you work, or where you spend a good amount of leisure time.

There’s the old saying to “clean as you cook.” Anyone who has thrown a dinner party that involves tons of cooking, multiple dishes, and every kitchen utensil, container, appliance, pot and pan you own knows that this piece of advice can be a real life saver. It can be maddening to end the day of cooking and the night of partying to see your entire kitchen in a state of despair.

But if you clean as you cook, if you wash each kitchen aid as soon as you are done using it, you end the day without any hassle to deal with. It doesn’t really take any more work to insert a little bit of cleaning into your workflow, but it does take a lot more energy to go from zero to sixty at the end of the night to take care of your mess.

The same holds true for any work or activity you involve yourself in. It just makes more sense to clean as you go. Instead of batching your cleaning for the end of the day, just insert it into the workflow, and keep that big mess from accumulating.

Shred and throw away papers as soon as you’re done with them, clean your kitchen each time you cook a meal, make your bed in the morning and keep your bathroom organized after you get ready in the morning, for a start. Even just putting away your clothes at the end of the day and making your bed first thing in the morning makes a world of difference in the overall feeling of organization that permeates your life.

One surefire way to keep your stuff organized and in its neat and proper place is to simply own fewer things. There’s that old saw that “the things you own will eventually own you.” Throwing away all the things you don’t need, all the things that don’t tangibly improve your life greater than the effort it takes to own them is a good start. But it’s useless if you just keep purchasing new items that you don’t need, items that require upkeep greater than what they give back.

So the obvious cure is, after throwing away the needless stuff you own, to stop accumulating more needless stuff. Just stop buying so many things. Stop feeling like you need to own quite so many possessions. Each time you’re about to purchase a new item, ask yourself- Do I really need to own this item?

Would my life actually be that much worse if I don’t buy this item? Do I already have something that suits this item’s purpose in a satisfying enough manner? Can I use this money to strengthen my finances through saving or investing? Can I use this money to purchase an experience that will make me happier than this item?

Most of the time, purchasing the item really isn’t a matter of life or death, and most items don’t actually improve our life in any tangible and long-lasting way. I’m not saying you shouldn’t purchase items, I’m just saying don’t do it reflexively. Don’t spend a thousand dollars on clothes if you can use that money to pay off debt, which is something that absolutely WILL make you happier in the immediate and long term.

Don’t spend a thousand dollars on clothes if you can spend that money on a trip you’ve always wanted to take. It isn’t about not spending your money. Instead, it’s about being conscious about what you choose to invest in- because all spending is ultimately investing. Make sure you invest in something that matters, and don’t invest in too many frivolous things that just add to the clutter.

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