Calm the Chaos
Life is chaotic. Between trying to juggle busy schedules, commitments to family and friends, housework, and everything else life throws at you, it’s easy for even the most organized person to get overwhelmed.
We place a lot of emphasis on being organized in our professional lives. However, an organized personal life is also essential to maintaining balance, order, and sanity.
A lot of people see me as super organized. The truth is I’ve had my own organization struggles over the years, and I’ve relied on several professional organizers to get and stay organized – in my professional and personal life. What they’ve taught me is that there are four basic organization principles that work for organizing just about anything – from your projects to your laundry room.
Step 1: Gather similar items together.
Step 2: Contain the items.
Step 3: Label the items.
Step 4: Create a home for the items.
While these organization principles work in a lot of situations, they still need to be tailored to fit each specific project. Getting your personal files in order is going to take a different tactic than cleaning out your pantry.
[Tweet “Life is chaotic! Fortunately, there is a simple formula that can help. #organize”]
For instance, here’s how to use these principles to organize your personal files:
- Gather all of your papers together, such as bills, invoices, records, statements, and receipts. Sort them into stacks by category or topic.
- Contain the stacks by using file folders or expanding files. You may also need to use binder clips, paper clips, or staples to contain the groupings of paperwork in each file folder.
- Label the file folders with the name of the contents.
- Create a home for each file in a file drawer, file sorter or desk drawer.
You can also apply these same principles to organizing your to-do list:
- Identify all of the tasks you want or need to accomplish.
- Make a list of the tasks either with pen and paper or digitally.
- Identify broad categories for your to-dos (e.g., shopping list, errands, appointments) or group them by date they need to be done.
- Create a home for the categorized list in a notebook, on an app, or some other digital format that is easily accessible.
I also encourage you to post the graphic of these four principles as a visual reminder. Doing this has helped other members of my household embrace these same principles in maintaining more organized surroundings. When stacks or clutter begin to appear, we now look at this graphic and identify where our system broke down. It’s music to my ears when my husband says, “Where does this [item] live?” – instead of just setting it down and creating more chaos!
In addition to using these basic organization principles to find order in your personal life, I also recommend gathering the following supplies to create a portable organizing station somewhere very near your primary work zones (kitchen counter, pantry shelf, etc.) to make the organizing process easier in the moment.
- 1 file folder box or plastic tub designed for hanging files (use this to contain all of the following items in your organizing station)
- 1 box of hanging file folders – letter size
- 1 box of manila file folders – 1/3 cut, letter size
- 1 box of colored file folders – 1/3 cut, letter size
- 3-4 pads of assorted color sticky notes – 3” square size
- 2 pencils
- 2 pens (blue or black)
- 2 black permanent markers (fine or bullet tip)
- 1 box of clear, quart-size storage bags that zip close
- 1 box of clear, gallon-size storage bags that zip close
- 1 package of mailing address labels (optional)
Having these items at your fingertips will make it easier for you to gather, contain, label, and create homes for things quickly.
Keep in mind, organization doesn’t mean perfection. You don’t have to neatly list or label everything in order to achieve order. A handwritten list or label is just as useful as a printed one! This is the point of organizing in the first place. When there’s a massive stack of mail on your counter or mountains of pantry items you can’t identify or locate, it’s not organized or useful. Don’t worry about whether the organization process is perfect — just get the mail, your paperwork, or your pantry items gathered, contained, labeled, and placed in their rightful homes! The reduction in clutter and visual noise will create more order in your home and more calm, balance, and sanity in your life.
Please share your thoughts and comments
How will you begin to keep your personal life in order? Will you post the graphic of these four principles as a visual reminder? Or did you have another system in mind? Let us know in the comments below!
To contact Julie directly, you may find her at http://allthingsadmin.com/
Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is an administrative expert, author, speaker, and all around procedures pro. She is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, a company dedicated to developing and providing breakthrough products, training, mentoring, and resources for administrative professionals worldwide.
Julie has more than 20 years of experience in the administrative profession spanning several industries and serving in corporate and startup settings. She is also the author of The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation In Your Administrative Career (book), several ebooks, and the upcoming new release, The Organized Admin (book).