We all make resolutions to be better versions of ourselves in the New Year, and that means something different to everybody. If one of your personal promises is to become more organized, it can be difficult to know where to begin — especially if you're not an organized person by nature. The key to getting your life back together is to start slowly and take it one thing at a time.
1. Paperwork and Documents
When you come through the door after work and toss the mail on the table, it's easy to forget it's there and lose track of it. At best this is unsightly, but at worst you miss an important bill and have a late fee that you were unaware of. Get your paperwork in order by sorting physical mail and paper files as well as making digital copies of things for your records.
A Drive file such as Google Drive can be an excellent resource for dragging and dropping your files if you prefer a more simplistic approach to things. However, document management software is more secure and also much more personalized. It's so simple to use: Scan your documents and the software can help you group them by name or file type, add password encryption for secure documents, and quickly search by name or keyword to find them again.
This method takes a lot of time and unfortunately, there's no quick way to scan hundreds of documents. It's worth it in ease of use and security features, though, so take the time to do it. Brew a pot of coffee and bump up your favorite music to help speed up the process.
Even if you have a drop spot as soon as you walk in the door, at least make the drop spot more sensical for your needs. You've already discovered that your piles don't work, so sort your mail differently:
- Keep three document baskets handy on your normal drop station and give them labels: Open, Sort and Shred. Make it a rule to have each basket empty by Saturday morning.
- Create a mail station for every family member and deliver it to each person when you get the mail. This can be anything as cutesy from personal mini-mailboxes on the console table or as simple as clothespins attached to their bedroom doors.
2. Closets, Cabinets and Cupboards
No matter how big or small your home is, you have somewhere that you shove your excess junk. Now's as good a time as any to confront that beast and get it tamed again. Remember not to take on an entire room all at once; empty each one-by-one. Tackle every space in only three steps:
1. Remove Everything
Yes, everything. Take everything out of your secret cubbyhole until it is completely empty. Be sure that you have a space big enough to put all the goodies you find; try spreading out an old blanket so that you don't get your furniture or carpets dusty. Once you see the amount of stuff you have versus the size of the space it used to live in, it will probably surprise you.
2. Clean Out the Area
When was the last time this area got some TLC? Whether it's a full room or a tiny cabinet, clean it out and make it feel like new again. Dust, sweep and wipe down any walls and shelves. Spray with a nontoxic all-purpose cleaner to get it smelling fresh and to kill any germs. Once there's no dust, you'll feel better and want to keep it looking nice.
3. Sort and Start Purging
Now that you can see what lies before you, it's time to get it under control. Touch every item and decide whether or not it's worth keeping. Do you use, want or need it? If any or all of those answers is no, part ways. Be honest and realistic with yourself; if it's been a year since you bought the boots and have yet to wear them, try selling them. Donate, sell or get rid of what you no longer want.
Take your New Year's resolution of getting your chaotic spaces back in order seriously. Make a conscious effort to change your mindset about the way you do things, and develop new and better strategies. It's a great and healthy goal to decide that you don't want to live with excess clutter or junk any longer. Getting organized means more than having your things in order — it also symbolizes how you are feeling internally as well.