Start Today - 7 Simple Tips to Organize Your Space

Work space

Do you have a space in your home or at work that you’ve been meaning to organize for a while but you never seem to get to it?

For the past year, I’ve been wanting to organize my office space. Everything was tucked away. There was no clutter around and everything looked nice and tidy—on the surface. The closet was a nightmare.

The office setup itself wasn’t functional. I didn’t like using the space. Every time I wanted to do something, I wasted time looking for the stuff I needed. There was no system in place and there was a lot of crap.

I started this project estimating that it would take me a couple of days. Little did I know that, like every other project, doubling the time and effort is the minimum requirement. After 4 days I’m happy to say that mission is accomplished.

I am writing this article sitting at my desk and focusing on what I’m doing. It feels great.

Reflecting on the experience, I wanted to share with you a few tips to help you with your organizing efforts.

1. Just start. If you wait for the right time or to have a complete plan laid out before you do something, you will never get it done.  If your project has been nagging at you for a while, the best antidote is action. By starting, I mean go to the space you want to organize and take everything out. Once everything is out of its place, you will have to deal with it.

2. Work with what you have. Don’t wait to get this tool or that gadget. If you need something, you can get it as you progress: it would be a nice break and a change of routine. When I was organizing the closet, I needed some paint which I didn’t have. So I stopped, got the paint and then continued.

3. Find uses for the stuff you own. Don’t go buying stuff to replace what you have. Try to find a use for your stuff first. Sometimes you can organize your possessions differently.  You may also get creative in how you use your space. You will save money and put your stuff to better use. Everything in my office is from my home. I did not buy one new thing and I’m so thankful for that.

4. Things don’t have to be perfect. When you are working in your space, you will face challenges and might have to change some of your ideas or outcome.  Don’t get bogged down by minor details. Instead, focus on the improvements you have made so far.

After applying new paint in the office closet, I noticed that the color was a bit off from the original. I was tempted to go back and get an exact match for the paint and redo it. Then I thought to myself, my intention was to patch the walls and organize. This is not a paint job. So I moved on and accepted that the color is not perfect. The closet looks much better than when I started.

5. Keep only what you use. This is simple but not easy. Getting rid of what you don’t use is harder when you start thinking of what you could do with your stuff. If you are unsure whether to get rid of something or not, put it in a visible place and mark a date on it (say 8 weeks). If you use it before that time, great. If not,  get rid of it without even thinking about it.

6. Identify problematic thoughts and habits. What are the thought and behavioral patterns that you keep repeating? Are they adding more to your physical or mental clutter? Once you become aware of what you do and how it affects your space, try to do things differently to break the cycle.

For me I have this bad habit of wanting to document everything. So I keep files and papers for years. I hardly go back and look at them. I did not eliminate everything at this point but started a process to avoid adding more documents.

7. Create an ongoing maintenance process. When you deal with everything in your space, you will have a better understanding of what you have and how you got there. Take advantage of this knowledge and create a simple maintenance process that you can apply on a regular basis to eliminate the need for another big organization project.

Here is my process:

  • No more paper. Keep only accounting and tax records required by law. Scan other important documents and throw out the rest.
  • Every day go through a couple of old documents and shred.
  • Don’t buy more folders or office supplies.
  • Don’t buy new books until all the  books I have are read or disposed of. Eliminate two books per month.
  • Start and end the day with everything in its place.
  • Be aware of what is working and what is not. When something is not working, deal with it right away. Don’t put stuff in a box to deal with later.
  • Simplify as much as possible. Continue to eliminate things that have not been used.

There is an amazing feeling of lightness and relief after you get rid of stuff and make sense of what you have. You will also have a reason to celebrate your accomplishment;  you completed something you’ve been wanting to do for a while. If you have something you need to organize and simplify, go for it. Now is the best time.

I hope you found my experience useful. I would love to hear about your own experience with organizing and decluttering your space.