Secret Habits Of The Organized | Giftie Etcetera: Secret Habits Of The Organized

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Secret Habits Of The Organized

How is it that some people have things all together and are so organized, while the rest of us struggle to get through the day?

I have five secrets to share that will help even the most unorganized person get through the day. The truth is that when I do these things, my life stays on track, I show up on time for appointments, and my house is not a disaster. When I don't (like, say, YESTERDAY for example...sigh), things fall apart.

1. Use a planner.

You knew I was going to say that, right?

Seriously, though, yours does NOT need to be as complicated a system as mine.

A small notebook where you write down things you need to remember is fine to start with. Consider using the back of the first page for on-going stuff and the right side for today or this week. When you are done for today or this week, tear out that page (and toss, if you don't have a filing system or need to archive activities), and start tomorrow or next week's page, without having to recopy the on-going stuff, as it is still there on the left!

2. Have a capture board for house only or office only information.

I love my planner. But the list of ideas for extra chores that my kids can do to earn time playing with electronics and my grocery needs don't need to take up valuable planner space, as those things will never leave the house. (I make a grocery list in my coupon binder weekly, but I almost always do that at home.) I do NOT use my fancy dry erase board for planner-appropriate stuff, but for jotting an ingredient that I use the last of while cooking dinner or for noting that my bathroom needs cleaning, the wipe erase board is perfect.

Modify this at the office for those temporary, sometimes reminders that you don't need in your planner. (Lunch with your favorite office mate, anyone? "Lunch with Elle sometime this week!")

3. Do something extra.

When you are wiping up a spill on the counter, go ahead and clean off the top of the stove, the sink, or the knobs on the stove.

While chatting with your spouse as he walks in the door, go ahead and fold those clean towels while you visit.

If you walk from the kitchen to the bathroom, carry the clean towels with you to put away.

Realize you need to take a folder home from work tonight? Put it in your bag.

4. Erase the evidence.

After completing any task, erase the evidence of that task. Teach your family to do this, too.

If I had been erasing the evidence as I got my work done, my desk would not look like this.

You can get rid of the evidence of whatever you are doing. Think about ways you can do this that are not so obvious. 

For example, most people know it's best to clean up after dinner. But what about erasing the evidence of your shower (e.g., wipe down the walls of the shower, put caps back on the shampoo, and hang up your towel)? Make sure no one can tell that you went to karate and ate in your car by putting your karate bag in the trunk, washing your kid's karate uniform, and tossing the fast food bags. After working on a project at work, put the files in the active files, clear away the scraps of paper where you did the math, and backup your work as necessary.

5. Create action prompts.

When I pack lunch for work, I often store it in the fridge. But I put a spoon or fork on top of my work bag, reminding me to grab my lunch before I leave the house.

Last night, I washed the kids' blankets. The blankets are sitting on their chairs in the kitchen, to remind them to put them away before eating supper.

I unloaded the groceries and put my reusable bags by the back door so that I bring it to my car when I leave the house for carpool.

Anything you can do to put things that you will use in activities in a place where they prompt the action (usually, the action to put them away or use them) will help.

Of course, don't let this take the place of doing something extra. It's okay to have a small basket at the bottom of the stairs to prompt you to bring the laundry upstairs the next time you go to the second floor. However, if piles of stuff land at the bottom of the stairs, blocking the stairway, doing something extra and bringing everything upstairs immediately is a better choice for your home.

If you dedicate to doing these five things for a month, I promise it will change your life.

Remember to come back and comment on how you are doing with the five secret habits of the organized!



Josh LaPorte said...

yes, yes, yes. If I can become an organized person, ANYONE can. Seriously. I do all the things listed here and just sort of came upon them on my own. Three years ago I was a total disaster. I am not perfect but am quite organized and much more efficient now.

Unknown said...

I agree on all counts.
Also, Sundays are my planning-of-the-week days. And the basket thing... back in the day when we moved houses (translation; stuff was loitering about) AND my son was a toddler (his toys were everywhere and laundry got ridiculous proportions) I used this basket, with a sturdy handle that I called the cruiser. I collected everything in it that didn´t belong in the room and while I was going to a certain room, the cruiser came with me and got emptied there. Rinse and repeat. Even my son, still wobbly on the legs got the knack of the thing and I often caught him collecting his toys and carrying the basket to his room.
Also, when ever I bring anything to any room, I immediately put it to its home (everything has a home and everything lives in its home) instead of leaving it on the closest surface. It´s not the big cleaning operations, it´s about being mindful constantly and doing these little things and putting things back to their respective homes.

Mrs.B said...

You always have great tips! Erase the evidence. Now if only I could convince the rest of the family to do that. :-)
Thanks! said...

I do all that. Does that mean I'm organized? Yay!

Seriously, these things really do make a difference.

Erin said...

4 is what I am really trying to work on! Another great post! Thanks