Unleash Your Inner Neat Freak

Getting organized was one of the top three New Year’s resolutions in 2009 for the majority of people. If you were one of the people hankering to get a little bit more buttoned up this year, but haven’t quite gotten off the mark, what’s holding you back? Are you overwhelmed and wondering where to start? Are you too busy? No matter the excuse, we’ve put together a list of ten simple things you can do today, this week, or this month to get you on your way to a neater, more organized life.

1. Enlist the Troops

If you find you’re just too busy and can’t find the time to get organized, you need to learn the power of delegation. Enlist the help of family members or roommates by using a laminated calendar and dry erase markers to list out chores/errands/tasks for each person to do each week. This step alone will get everyone in your home more organized and that makes less “tornado” clean-up work for you! If you don’t have people to share the load, consider enlisting the help of a buddy to get you motivated, or hiring a professional to get you started.

2. Use the “One-A-Week” Goal

Focus is a powerful thing. Pick one, and only one, area of your home per week to spend an hour or two reorganizing or cleaning. Whether it’s the pantry, closet, or bathroom drawers- set the time and date and be done. Trying to spend a whole Saturday doing a super sweep clean may work once and a while, but it usually just leads to an aggravated and exhausted family and a frustrated you.

3. Take a Commercial Break

Anytime you’re watching TV, take the time during the commercials to tidy up one room of the house. You will be amazed what you can accomplish in just 2 minutes and 2 seconds.

4. Start a Family Agenda

If schedules are hectic, one central family “appointment” book where everyone in the house writes in all of their school, work, social, athletic and other commitments will eliminate a lot of headaches. If you keep it in a central spot, the whole family can get up to speed quickly without relying on one person (mom) to know everyone’s schedule, reducing chances that someone will be double booked by mistake.

5. Set up a Mail Center

The mail pile is a problem area for many people. To keep yours under control, set up a mail center in your foyer, hallway or the kitchen. The most essential part of your mail station: a stylish recycling bin for all of that unsightly junk mail that makes its way into your mailbox each day. Try a mail depot with different compartments for each member of the household, plus a separate one for catalogs and magazines.

6. Can the SPAM!

If you have email and you haven’t set up your spam filters, you could save yourself at least 5 minutes a day (and 30 hours a year) by eliminating or at least seriously curbing unsolicited emails that you have to deal with. You’ll not only save time by ensuring you receive only your most important messages, you’ll eliminate the potential of getting a virus.

7. Start a YUNK box

Do you have papers that you are holding on to, not because you need them, but because you’re afraid if you throw it out, you might just need it? If so, you should start a YUNK box. YUNK stands for YoU Never Know, the perfect name for those betwixt and between files. Your box can be a simple cardboard box, a durable plastic container, or even an accordion file, whatever works for you. You may also want to create one for holding the magazine pages, brochures, photos that inspire you or represent things you want to try or do someday (i.e. that brochure showcasing the relaxing vacation in the Caribbean, a wine label, or the picture of a dream house).

8. Clear the clutter from your car

Is your car a rolling junk bin? Improve the environment you spend so much time in by grabbing a trash bag and sifting through the clutter, throwing away garbage or junk. Then arrange the glove compartment or seat back pockets to contain unnecessary items. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes.

9. Organize family paperwork one week at a time

We all know we should organize our most important documents and family information, but it can seem like a daunting task. Get a binder with six tabs and create eight sections: family basics, emergency plan, medical information, insurance, finances, and legal. Take one week at a time to organize the information for each area.

10. Simple File

If you don’t have a filing system, get started with a simple one. Get 13 hanging folders with labels and make space in a portable file box or cabinet drawer. Label ten files: Home, Medical, Family, School/Work, Dental, Legal, Credit Card, Bank, Insurance, Taxes. Make two miscellaneous, and 1 active. Put anything you’ll need for the next week or two in the Active file so it’s easy to get to.