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Golden rules to get organized

There are many different methods, tools, and rules for organizing, and many of them are specific to an individual’s preferences, personality, and lifestyle. One person may choose to use a PDA to keep daily reminders and to-do lists, while another person would prefer a small pocket notebook. It’s about what works for you, not for someone else! However, there are some golden rules that apply to getting organized that can help you on your way to organization. Remember to use what works for you!

1. ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’-

You may be convinced that there is no way in the world that you can find a place for everything. However, this is a key step to help you stay organized. If something is important enough to keep, it deserves to have its own “place.” Once items have been assigned a home, it’s easier for everyone to retrieve and replace them. You (and your family!) know where the items are because they are where they belong. In contrast, when you check your mail, you can take care of everything right away because you know exactly where everything belongs. When assigning a home to an item, remember to assign a location based on who uses the item, how often it is used, and make the location as practical and convenient as possible, and use labels (or pictures to help those who don’t!) can read!).

2. Save it and do it now– Many times, we spend more energy avoiding a task than completing it. Once you have a place for everything, you’ll know where items go as soon as they reach your hands. It takes only a minute or two to put things away (the same amount of time it takes to set them aside, just to move them around and around…). Enforce this with family members: whoever takes it out is responsible for putting it away…now, not later. Schedule 15 minutes to tidy up by walking around your house with an empty basket and pick up items that are lying around and put them away.

3. Change your clothing purchase– Buy less! – “That’s impossible,” you say. It is actually much easier than it seems. It’s time to take control of your purchasing decisions. We spend an inordinate amount of time shopping for things, cleaning, and storing things. Don’t buy something that’s on sale just because it’s a great price. Think twice before purchasing items that require a lot of extra maintenance or serve only one purpose, like cookware or trinkets (ie quesadilla maker) or keepsakes that just take up space…and require cleaning. Take photos instead.

4. Minimize paper clutter– Limit paper input by dealing with spam before it reaches the house. Unsubscribe from posts if you rarely or never read them. Ask yourself, “Can I access the information elsewhere?” that is, the internet. Think twice before duplicating documents i.e. printing emails, photocopying. Also, don’t bring home free brochures and flyers, read them on the spot and make notes in your diary or notepad with only the information you need for reference i.e. website, name and phone number etc.

5. Adopt a ‘one in, one out’ rule- Before you buy something new, try to purge, donate, or sell a similar item. This can be applied to anything including books, magazines, clothing, and even children’s toys. Try to get the kids into the spirit of donating gently used toys or things they don’t play with. This will also help prioritize the importance of the items, is it more important to buy that new cookbook or should I keep the old one?

6. Use your resources- Do you really have to buy the latest novel or DVD? Borrow books, videos, and DVDs from the library, rent them from the video store, or borrow them from a friend. You can also trade, borrow, or rent infrequently used home and garden tools.

7. Use it or lose it!- Do you keep tons of clothes that you know you won’t wear again or “just in case”? Do you have 40 towels and bedding for 20 in a household of 3? Curtains from your last apartment that don’t even fit your current windows? Tablecloths in the wrong size? Table linen that no longer matches your decoration? If they add to the clutter and your inability to locate items when you need them, they are costing you time and money! Donate or sell these items. If you’re committed to using them, then go for it. If not, donate or sell these items.

These Rules are guidelines to help you on your way to organization. Try to remember the rules as you go about your daily routines. Instead of trying to throw out all your old ways of doing things and starting from scratch, try applying the rules as you go. This will help you create a system that you will be able to maintain.

Happy organization!

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