For most of us, an environment where every paper is in its place is nothing more than an elusive fantasy. How to get organized? "Start somewhere," said Los Angeles organizing consultant Kim Anker-Paddon. "It doesn't matter where. I usually start with something that is bothering the client, but is not so big that it's overwhelming." Anker-Paddon shared some simple tips on how to get organized this year:
Bring less into your house. Instead of just liking something, keep the things you love that add to your life in some way. Once things are in the house, it's harder to get rid of stuff. Donate things to charity rather than sell them, unless you are really good at it. A lot of times you just don't get much money for your things. And if your goal is to get organized, it's best to get the stuff out of the house.
Know exactly where you will put what you're bringing into the house. Think about it before you acquire the object.
Find a convenient home for items. Putting things away should be just as easy as putting them down. Think about where you use objects. Create zones or areas where you do certain activities. Keep supplies for those activities together. Make it convenient so you can put supplies down and come back to it later.
Know exactly why you keep each piece of paper. Set up systems to streamline the paper flow. Keep important papers near your desk. Right now you should be keeping tax-related papers as they arrive. I encourage people not to spend too much time on filing. If you have an overly detailed filing system, you'll have a harder time finding things. Assign big categories: credit cards, taxes. Keep a shredder someplace handy. If you don't like shredding, gather boxes or bags of papers and take them to a shredding company.
Have fun organizing. Trade with a friend: Have someone help you with a closet or a pantry and help them in return. You will have some company and it's more enjoyable. If organization doesn't come easily to you, get some help.
Watch out for perfectionism. This really impedes getting organized. People think they have to be perfect. It's not always a neat and tidy process.
Delegate. Getting help can make all the difference. I encourage my clients to work in the areas of their strength and delegate what they can't or don't want to do.