Sometimes All It Takes to Get Organized is a Small Change

February is a funny month.  We get itchy in every sense of the word – dry skin from the intense wind and cold, cabin fever from staying indoors for so long, and irritable because nothing seems to be working.  Everything has slowed to a halt and you feel stuck.

Sometimes all it takes is a little change or tweak to get organized.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

How is your planner working out for you?

By now, you will have had a chance to use your new 2010 planner and see how it’s working for you.  Do you need something smaller, bigger or more colourful?  Do you need to move your schedule from paper to computer or phone?

If something is bugging you about your system and is keeping you from using it, then it’s time for a change.

And you know what?  That’s a good thing.  It’s better to have a planner that is doing its job than one that was free from the office or that you feel you should be using.

I changed planners 10 days into January!  I found something way better than what I was using and now, I am getting at least 50% more accomplished every day, simply because it’s a better layout for me and allows me the room to write what I need to.

This small change has impacted my work and personal life so immensely – I feel much farther ahead than I have in years!

Maybe it just needs to be moved?

I wrote an article recently where I mentioned how incredibly small my pantry is – one cupboard with 3 small shelves that holds everything that doesn’t go in the fridge.  Someone commented that I could store things elsewhere throughout the house.  What a crazy idea, I thought.  But I let it sit for a couple of days and I realized that the many, many cans of beans (that take up so much space) could actually go on a shelf behind a door in the hallway where no one would see it, but I would still have access to it.

Not only did it free up space for everything so that I don’t have to take things out in order to access items from the back (ahhh), but when I open the cupboard to get ingredients to make dinner, I feel so good I want to throw my hat in the air like Mary Tyler Moore.

And it can be anything from the front porch to the laundry room to the hall closet.

Sometimes it takes a little outside advice to prompt you to do something.  It might sound crazy at first, but don’t dismiss it until you’ve at least given it a try.

You never know.

This container is o-k-a-y, but…

Sometimes you’re in a hurry and you put something away in a box or basket and don’t think about it again until you have to access it.

Things kind of fit, but they’re a little awkward and stick out.  Sometimes the simple action of replacing a container is all it takes to make it completely accessible – and enjoyable.

Because I’m a freelance writer, I am writing on a bunch of different topics for varying deadlines – hourly, daily and weekly.  I have this pile that grows and

All it took was a cheap plastic basket that I bought for my pantry items (see problem above) that didn’t fit in the kitchen cupboard and I was looking to repurpose it for something.

I saw the pile on my desk, swiped everything into it and by sheer luck, it has transformed my items into neatly filled, easily accessible items!

It doesn’t matter if it’s planned out or completely by accident – if it works, then use it!

Bottom line

Take a good look around each room and see what needs a home, a container, a replacement and/or a change.  It’s amazing what you’ll find.  And what a difference it makes once you’ve got things that work for you!

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic.  She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper.  But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…