5 Simple Ways to Get Organized Right Now!

The prospect of “getting organized” can seem overwhelming.  After all, there is so much to do now that it’s the new year.

But it really only takes a few small steps to starting the process.  And it’s much easier than you think.

All it takes is putting a few quick systems in place, and boom!  You’ll finally have somewhere to put your stuff where you can find it.  It takes just a few minutes and the practice of putting things back in their proper homes.

That’s it!

Here, let me show you how, in 5 easy-to-follow steps:

1. The new year is a great excuse to purge and get rid of items.  The less stuff you have, the less you’ll have to organize.  Get rid of old bills, papers and things that don’t work or you don’t use.  The way I do it is that I use something until it runs or wears out.  When I bring in a new clothing item, I donate one.  When I’m done with a new book, I pass it on or put it on the donation shelf in our building so that others can enjoy it.  It keeps things manageable here in our 1-bedroom apartment where 2 writers work and live with their big cat…

2.  Having said that, how about reassessing what you have?  Sometimes we hold onto things and then don’t think about them until years later, wondering why we still have something that we’ve never used or looked at?  By being aware of your surroundings and possessions, you’ll really only want to keep what’s most important.  And that will help you cut down on clutter, which will help you keep organized… you see where I’m going with this.  Reassess your belongings every 3-6 months and see how much stuff you can pass on.  You’ll feel amazing for not being weighed down by things anymore.

3.  One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned is that if you’re going to keep a piece of paper, create a file folder for it. That way, all of your papers get filed.  Who cares if there’s only a page or two within a file?  At least it’s not floating around on your desktop with you having to pick it up over and over, asking yourself what to do with it.  I know it sounds controversial, but just try it and see what I mean.  The way you deal with paper will drastically change forever.

4.  And to expand on that idea, create a home for everything.  What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t have any piles of things that aren’t designated.  For example, have a specific place for your keys, briefcase, books, bills, pots and pans, whatever it is that you have.  If you always have a place for it, you’ll rarely have to conquer clutter and you’ll always be able to find what you’re looking for.  It’s much easier than you think.

5. Think outside the box.  When I moved to my first apartment, I had 96 boxes of books and magazines.  Now I have one bookcase that holds the few books that I’ve wanted to hold onto – sentimental ones, reference books and my beloved cookbooks.  For the rest of my book needs (which are great, deep and consuming), I use my local library.  I get things in, read them and return them, along with magazines, CDs and DVDs.  That way, I don’t have to make space to store all of that in our little place.  Of course, I do have a towering pile that lowers and rises each month, depending on how much I get out and how quickly I read – but there’s just the one pile versus walls and walls of bookshelves!!  This is just one of the ways I’ve reduced the amount of things I hold onto.

p.s. Getting organized doesn’t have to mean perfection.  Life is busy and things get disorganized.  Piles will form, clothes will be discarded sloppily.  That’s okay.  What’s important is that you have a place to put everything when you can.

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, celebrities and organizing 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…