One of my bigger struggles as a Professional Organizer is how to translate my routines and processes into sharable tips and advice. So much of how I live my life in terms of my daily routines have become so automated that it can be hard for me to realize its efficiency until I step back and look at it.
Lately I have been trying to look at my day more critically in order to put together some kind of formula that I can share with others. But what I have discovered is that I don’t actually have a formula. As counter-intuitive as it may seem I am constantly readjusting and reprioritizing in order to get the most out of my day. So I think I have narrowed it down to the three biggest things that I do on a daily basis that make my life easier and more organized.
Everything Has A Home
Clients and friends ask me all the time “how I do it” (even though I'm not totally sure what “it” is) and remark how organized and clean and perfect my house must be. First of all it’s not clean and perfect and organized all the time. I just don’t feel like that is a realistic or attainable goal. I have three kids (one of which is under one year old) and they like to play and craft and create. So the house is sometimes a bit of a disaster. But that’s ok, because I do have systems in place that when we are ready to tidy up, everything has a home. That way there is no wondering where to put things. Cleaning up becomes a one step process, you know where things go and you just put it back. Now, this isn’t something that just happens overnight, a lot of work went into having a home for all of our belongings. It requires me to be very critical of what comes into my home and to constantly curate our belongings and adapt to my family’s changing needs. But having everything in place does mean that there is a sense of peace in my everyday life, because I can spend time working on what actually matters instead of stressing about my cluttered home.
Prioritize, Reprioritize And Then Re-reprioritize!
I read lots of blogs and follow tons of people who are experts in productivity and organization. Most of them seem to have quite a strict routine that they follow (or at least they seem to on social media!). But for me I find that the opposite is true.
Yes I keep a running ‘to-do’ list and yes I set goals for myself each day, but these goals and to-dos can sometimes change throughout the day. Sometimes items get put off until the next day and then sometimes they are scrapped altogether. And I don’t look at this as a failure to complete my list, I look at as a reprioritization of what I need and what my family needs at a given moment.
There are obviously some non-negotiables on my list. Mostly these consist of deadlines imposed on me by other people: a form for my son’s school needs to be filled out by a certain day, or I have to make 45 valentines cards for each of my kids classmates, or I told a client I would send a follow-up email. For me those items become “must-dos” for my day, my ‘no matter what happens, these things just must get done.’ And I usually do them first. Because let's be honest, you never know what is going to happen. But any other item that found it’s way onto my list gets categorized as a “that would be nice” item. It would be nice if I could get the photos updated on my website today, but if there end up being other things that need to take precedence the world will keep turning if it only gets done next week. The key to this is to not beat yourself up if all the things on your list don’t get checked off. I find myself often saying that I simply had to prioritize my objectives and this just didn’t make the cut. And then I just move on.
Another big one for me is streamlining a lot of our daily tasks, routines and spaces. I built my business around the whole idea that you don’t have time to waste looking for your things, and the same theory applies here. We don’t have the time to spend running around for no reason, so let’s streamline the tasks we do repeatedly.
For instance, I try to keep a wastebasket in nearly every room in our home. There is less likelihood that people (and by people I mean my husband and children) will leave garbage on the floor if they are within arms reach of properly disposing of it.
I also tend to store items where I use them; like having our coffee machine on the counter while the cupboard directly above it contains coffee, filters and mugs. Because the last thing you need is to stumble around for your caffeine fix at 5:30 in the morning. Amirite?
If you follow me with any regularity you probably are already aware of my eternal love for stair-baskets but they deserve another shout-out here. They go on the stairs, collect the items that need to go to another floor and prevent multiple wasted trips up and down. They are my organizing all-star.
I also keep a “dirty” bucket under the sink in the kitchen. We wipe the kids’ hands and faces multiple times per day and change out our sponges and dishtowels regularly, I can’t be running to the laundry room every time. Enter the dirty bucket. It’s like a mini hamper within arms reach that can be brought to be washed in one trip.
This post was originally titled ‘‘The Number One Way That I Stay Organized’. Then I realized that title was b.s. I don’t have just one thing that I do, I have several that work together to help me stay on top of my game, both for my business and my family.
And I think that’s what I really want you to take away from this. There are multiple paths to your goal or leading a more organized life, and it’s really okay for those paths to twist and turn and even loop back around again, just try to keep moving forward and adapt to the many roadblocks that will be thrown in your way.
Good Luck & Happy Organizing!