An organizing mantra can help anyone. Simply, an organizing mantra is a well-known and well-accepted principle that is true regardless of conditions.
Let’s face it – when you’re disorganized, it can be difficult to know where to start. You may be surprised to know that the BEST place to begin your organizing journey is INSIDE YOUR HEAD! These organizing tips to help you center and focus on the bigger wins, and get organized for good.
1. Organizing Mantra – Know What Is Truly Important
The first Organizing Mantra is: Know what is truly important to you. One question I asked each client who struggled with clutter was: “if everything is important, then nothing really is important.” So, therefore, it’s critical to give yourself permission to decide what is truly important in your life and that will help you focus on what to keep and honor.
2. Decide Every Time You Touch Items
The second Organizing Mantra is: Decide what to do with something when you touch it! Clutter is caused by delayed decisions about what is next, or where something belongs. When you touch items multiple times, you continue to postpone a decision. Instead, as soon as you pick something upt, decide immediately where to place it (for good) – or get rid of it. When you think you cannot decide, you can… Just decide. If you don’t like your decision, decide again. Chocolate, or vanilla… CHOOSE!
3. Organizing Mantra – Function Before Form
The third Organizing Mantra is: Function before form. It is certainly easy to buy beautiful products and feel like they’ll solve your organizing dilemma. Unfortunately, aesthetics are different than functionality. Focusing solely on aesthetics when getting organized has fundamental flaws and may actually postpone good organizing decisions.
Instead, think about how you USE an item or space before you find something beautiful to fill it up. Identifying functionality, or how something is used (as in your spaces, tools, furniture, and products) – is more important than what it looks like. If an item is not functional, it will not be used and therefore not just waste money, but add to clutter!
4. Organizing begins by finding a home
During 1-on-1 sessions the fourth Organizing Mantra – ‘find a home’ is often evoked. I often ask clients: “Where does this item live?” When clients can’t answer, I know it’s time to assign the item a living place, or a “home”. Once a home is assigned, the behavior of returning items back home can be better managed.
5. Organizing Mantra – Set Limits
The Container Principle has merit as an organizing mantra. In order to feel more organized Limits and boundaries keep you organized.
If you’re one of those people who can keep a pantry or drawers better organized consider tht the limiting container principle is at work. Your brain needs a container to make sense of the space and create a sense of capacity. So this is why disorganization can be attributed to a lack of clear boundaries. To get more organized, consider the practice of setting limits in your space and time.
6. Organizing tip – Place like items together
The sixth Organizing Mantra is to keep like items together. When sorting items, put like items together to create categorical groups. You may sort differently than your friends or family members – and that is ok! Trust yourself to know how you like items grouped and work with your intuition!
7. Stop overshopping, instead buy purposefully
The seventh Organizing Mantra is: Buy Purposefully. This means that you think about things before purchasing. Whenever an item lands in your cart, develop a habit to decide on its purpose. Ask yourself where it will live in your home. If you don’t know, don’t buy. You’re likely being triggered by some other “hidden” factor. Taking a breather and space helps your logical mind get back in control, and quiets whatever emotional need may be spinning at that moment!
8. Organizing Mantra – Find The Right Container
The eighth Organizing Mantra is: find the right container. Buy containers only when you know what will go in them. Containers are often purchased to “solve an organizing problem” only to create more clutter because the owner doesn’t know what to do with them. MOST clients have more containers than they need when they pare down their stuff.
9. Organizing Mantra – Label Everything
Organizing Mantra number nine is: Label everything. This ensures that anything can be put away and that everyone knows where an item lives. Labels help calm your brain by immediately reducing decision-making anxiety. Don’t worry, you can always change the labels if you need to! It’s best to label items specifically and avoid catch-all labels like the dreaded ‘miscellaneous’… what is that?
10. Avoid Hopping
The tenth Organizing Mantra is: start in an area and push through till it’s done. Getting organized raises tensions. And, increased tension causes us to hop so we can avoid it. So, to overcome the hopping, make a plan. Then choose an area that you can stick with long enough to gain some traction. If you find something that belongs in another area of your home, don’t move it until you are finished organizing the space you started in. Hopping can make you lose focus on your original task. To avoid hopping while organizing, place items to move to another area in a box marked “elsewhere”.
11. Organizing Mantra – 1-In, 1-Out
The eleventh Organizing Mantra is: 1 in 1 out. This simply means that when something new comes into your home, something must leave. Following the 1 in 1 out rule helps balance your collections and capacity.
12. Organizing Mantra – Reduce Redundancy
The twelfth Organizing Mantra is: reduce redundancy. Ask yourself, “Can I get this information somewhere else?” If you can easily find the information somewhere else, (think the web or the library) then you don’t need to keep that piece of paper—toss it! Most people keep 80% more information than they actually ever pull for later use. If that includes you, check out my quick downloadable tips book: Time To Toss It.
13. Organizing Mantra – Make time to Maintain
Finally, the thirteenth Organizing Mantra is: maintain your systems. Organizing is NOT a one-time “clean sweep” event. Creating systems is the first step, maintaining them and being rigorous with your behaviors, will avoid backsliding and crisis!
Want some help bringing these organizing mantras into your life? Check out these self-paced resources.
- For a step by step guide to clearing clutter – download my “Dimensions Workbook“
- For guidelines on when to toss items out and how long to keep papers – download “Time To Toss It!”
- Need to get your home and family organized? download “Get Organized to Keep Your Family Sane” E-book and Audio Course
- To understand where to begin and get free feedback on your own personal organizing challenges, take the TSSI to learn your personal organizing personality type.