How to Stay Organized

by Barbara Boone on July 13, 2009 | Articles

How to Stay Organized

The longer I help clients organize, the more I see that staying organized is not just about setting up a dynamic system, but it is about changing behaviors. I can set up the most wonderful system for a client, but if they don’t work it, they will not see the desired results. I often encounter clients who have tried in vain to keep themselves organized. Usually that is when they hire me. My approach, after a few years of organizing, has changed. I now focus on the client’s behavior in addition to a great organizing system.

The following steps will help you maintain the organizing you have done.

  • Identify your organizing issues. Do you have trouble with filing? Do you have trouble finding things? Do you have trouble letting go of things? Do you have trouble making decisions?
  • Set realistic goals for yourself. Change happens small and gets bigger the more success you see.
  • Develop a plan. Prioritize the organizing projects you have identified.
  • Decide how you will implement the plan.
  • Set up a realistic schedule to work on the projects. Some people have a deadline, such as relatives visiting, which motivates them to get things done. Even if you don’t have a deadline, make up one so that you have something to work towards.
  • Reward yourself in small increments when you finish each project.
  • Make sure that the process or system you set up fits your style or approach.
  • Make organizing fun. Play your favorite music as you work or invite a friend to help you or at least to be in the same room as you organize.
  • Set up a regular maintenance schedule that will work for you. This is possibly the most important step and where most people fail in keeping themselves organized. Some may need daily maintenance, others weekly, and still others can manage with longer time between maintenance.
  • Hold yourself accountable to someone, whether it is a spouse, friend, or professional organizer. Ask them to be your organizing coach or mentor to keep you on track and check in with you periodically to see that you are maintaining the projects or systems that you put into place.

Your continued commitment to staying organized will reduce stress and give you a feeling of control over your environment. If you keep doing what you have always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten. Let that become an organized space.

Barbara Boone is the owner of Productivity Solutions which helps small businesses create and sustain a productive work environment by setting up systems for their workspace, work flow design, paper and digital information, and project management.

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