Ask the Organizer

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I’m asked a lot of questions about the process of getting organized; here are some of my favorites with the answers.

What do you think is the main cause of disorganization?

Indecision. Putting things aside because you’re not sure what to do with them creates physical clutter and causes piles to grow. Decision making is a skill that can be learned, practiced and perfected. Once you make a decision about what to do with something or make a decision about where something belongs, you never have to make that decision again.

What’s the best organizing tool I can use?

A simple spiral notebook. It’s flexible, mobile and professional. A spiral notebook, regardless of the size, eliminates scraps of paper all over your desk and allows you to capture all of your ideas and notes in one spot. Once you create the habit of writing everything in your spiral notebook, you will never again have to search for information you need.

I’ve tried getting organized before but it hasn’t ‘stuck’; why do think that is?

Don’t worry, you’re not an anomaly. Organizing starts in your head; you have to begin thinking differently before you can begin acting differently. If you make conscious, deliberate decisions about how you’re going to change your behavior in relation to your ‘stuff’, those new behaviors will become your new, organized habits.

Should you backslide, just start again. It’s unrealistic and self defeating to think that you will immediately embrace all your new techniques; it takes time and a commitment to make a change.

What is the biggest mistake I could make if I’m trying to get organized?

People mistakenly believe that they have to try to organize their entire area (desk, office, kitchen, closet, etc.) all at once so they dump everything into one pile. This is a poor strategy because while you will feel energized and motivated when you begin, within just a few hours you’ll typically feel worn-out and tired. You’ll stop working through the pile and you’ll actually be in worse shape than you were when you started.

It’s better to start your organizing project in one small area and methodically work through that one area. If your desk is piled with stacks, start with one stack. If your kitchen clutter is overwhelming, start with one drawer. If your closet is crammed with clothes, start with one section or one shelf.

Use a timer and set it in ½ hour increments; check yourself after the first ½ hour and if you’re motivated to continue, do so. As long as you’re making progress, keep working but as soon as you start feeling overwhelmed, tired or stuck, stop. Schedule another time within the next 7 days to finish that particular project, and once it’s complete, pick another area to work on. Use the timer the same way and systematically work through all the problem areas in your office or your home.

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Office Organizers is The Entrepreneur’s Organizer. Founded in 1993, they work with business people to create solutions for their organizational challenges.

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