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Getting organized is an oft-promised, seldom-achieved goal that bedevils busy parents, worker bees, college students and even well-meaning grandparents. Clutter and a messy environment are proven causes of distraction and increased stress levels, both of which prohibit creativity and productivity. Despite our best efforts, staying organized is a big challenge when life gets hectic.
Those of us seeking a more streamlined lifestyle this year may also be influenced by the needs for a place for everything and everything in its place, as they say. Bills, bags, books–each item needs its own space. Home design trends such as minimalist movement are not just great strategies for helping us tidy up but they’re effective for enhanced organization and part of an intentional approach to living.
Moreover, ultimately, organizing our space helps us to put our best selves forward. Consider these steps toward a more organized and intentional life in 2016:
If you don’t need, use, or love it, toss or donate it.
Decluttering is a natural first step in getting organized. But the experts will tell you: Don’t toss items just to make space for more stuff you don’t need or use. Rather, be aware of what you’re choosing to occupy space in your life and make a decision to keep it or let it go based on what’s best for you and what you really like. Start by doing an initial sort before you actually start purging so you can easily identify duplicates and keep your favorites. Only keep what you use and love; the rest is taking up precious space.
The idea of your space being “precious” or valuable is key to keeping sentimentality from sabotaging this process. “If you don’t love it, need it, or use it, then it doesn’t deserve a place in your home,” says Janet Bernstein, certified professional organizer and owner of The Organizing Professionals L.L.C., in Philadelphia. Focus on this concept as you’re decluttering to help speed up the process when you’re forced to categorize your possessions in this way.
Experts also note that getting organized takes time, so don’t expect overnight results. Also, don’t allow your mind to become weighed down by the ensuing chaos. Remove items room by room, starting with the area that bothers you most. That way, you can carry the sense of accomplishment you feel in tackling that room to others throughout your space.
Find a home for remaining items.
Putting back items you’ve decided to keep is not as simple as tossing them into a storage container. Rows of clear plastic bins even those with expertly-applied labels simply disguise chaos as order and help promote forgetfulness and the illusion of order. They’re also not a long-term solution for being organized.
One reason so many people find it hard to stay organized is that they do it once, dismantle it when they need something stored at the bottom of the bin, and then don’t have the energy to put it all back together again. Instead, determine the proper home for items based on when and where you need them, so access and storage are both intuitive and practical. Reinforce your commitment to keeping organized through repetition. Continue placing “like with like” as you did during the decluttering process so you always know where to find–and store–batteries, light bulbs, and even important documents.
Think “functionalityâ€ when shopping for storage solutions.
Most experts agree storage containers are worthy investments, but purchasing these items before deciding how they’ll be used is a waste of money. Just purchasing organizing products will not provide a solution to clutter woes. You’re only putting the cart before the horse and leaving yourself open to adding more “stuffâ€ to find useful.
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