Yup, I admit it. I’m a messy person – just ask my hubby. I’m not be the best at putting away my stuff after I use it. I am known for kicking off my shoes and leaving them to lie where they land.
I am messy, but I’m organized.
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Organization comes naturally to me- to an extent. If left to my own devices, my organizing consists of: “that pile over there is bills, that pile over there is dirty laundry, that one over there is clean…” You get the picture. I would know the general vicinity of things, but no one else in the house would. My busy life of being a working mom, side hustler, and a graduate student just doesn’t work with an organizing system consisting of piles of “stuff.”
I have to force myself to stay organized, which in turn helps with my messy mom syndrome.
I have to create systems and constantly
force remind myself to stick to them.
My favorite organizing tool is The Organizing Sourcebook by Kathy Waddil. It’s rare that I find a book so helpful that I re-read it over and over but I’ve read The Organizing Sourcebook about once a year since 2001. It is THE BEST organizing book I have ever read (and I’ve read a lot!). It’s an older book so you can find it on Amazon for a penny. Score!
The best advice I have pulled from this book over the years is that our organizing needs to change as we have changes in our lives. For example, a filing system that worked before you married no longer works after you’re married. A kitchen system that worked great before kids is now a disaster. An accounting system that was great during a marriage, but after a divorce it doesn’t. This book goes over many examples of unorganized people and the most recurring theme is that all of them had some sort of life change and their organizing system hadn’t changed with them.
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Stay Organized Through Life Changes
Ultimately, this makes total sense to me. I had my s#*% together in college but when I got married I could never keep all of our papers organized. Same with having kids, going back to school, etc… Reading The Organizing Sourcebook reminds me that it’s not me necessarily, it’s the life changes I have gone through that require me to re-evaluate my organizing systems.
The Organizing Sourcebook gives nine strategies for simplifying your life and keeping you organized. Waddill breaks everything down clearly and makes this book enjoyable to read. (Yes I just said an organizing book is enjoyable. I know right?!!)
The Nine Strategies
- Make Your Systems Fit You and Your Life.This strategy is all about evaluating what your life needs right now, not what may have worked for you five years ago. By far this is the best section of the book for my circumstances.
- Sort Everything By How You Use It. Duh- but so hard. Basically put like with like. For example, we had tape spread all over the house. Duct tape with the tools, scotch tape with the pens, masking tape with the paint. Now we have a bin where all tape goes. These adjustable drawer dividers are in every drawer in my house.
- Weed Consistently. Don’t use it? Donate or toss. Do this often. Waddill says it best, “keep what supports you instead of getting in your way.”
- Use the Right Containers and Tools. Just because something says it’s an organizing device doesn’t work if it isn’t working for you. Make sure your “organizers” are helping you with organizing, not creating more problems.
- Label Everything. Not just some things. Label EVUREEETHING. I love this label maker because you can make colored tape.
- Keep It Simple. For example, don’t color code until you can’t tell what is what. Don’t have a filing system with so many subheadings that you want to pull your hair out. Keep it simple stupid. (I added that, just a turn of phrase- I’m not calling you stupid. )
- Decide to Decide. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today. Postponing decisions increases mess and stress levels. Just do it NOW and get it over with.
- Get Help When You Need It. If you don’t have to do all this work yourself, don’t. Hire someone, delegate tasks to someone- let go of some of the control and stress.
- Evaluate Honestly and Often. This is another biggie for me. Once you have your new systems in place, honestly evaluate them. If you are still getting papers piled up on the kitchen counter or shoes piling up in the hallway- something is not working. Evaluate and try something else.
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So there you have it- nine strategies for simplifying your life and staying organized.
The Organizing Sourcebook clocks in at 310 pages but it is well worth a read.
Do you have any go-to organizing books? I’d love to hear about them.