How to Be More Organized

“I always carry lots of stuff with me wherever I roam, always weighted down with books, with cassettes, with pens and paper, just in case I get the urge to sit down somewhere, and oh, I don’t know, read something or write my masterpiece.” -Elizabeth Wurtzel, author

The creative process and organization are closely aligned. While the word “organized” may make some people think of a grey, stifled office cubicle filled with dead-looking filing cabinets, you can be organized in such a way that promotes the creative process. The trick requires balancing the process with the end result. Essentially, you need to use organization as a tool to aid creativity without stifling your energy.

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If you’re wondering how to be more organized then, these easy tips can guide some big changes.

Types of Disorganization

Understanding the cause of your disorganization can help you avoid future challenges. According to Forbes magazine, several types of disorganization pervade our spaces.

  • Clutter
  • Personal Administration
  • Time Management
  • Never Reaching Goals

Which one of these sounds the most like you?

In general, clutter overwhelms most people. The sheer volume of stuff requires time and energy to maintain. That makes organization much harder. So, during this process, you’ll likely find yourself learning how to let things go.

How to Be More Organized

Organization start by setting up simple rules. These little mantras can guide you through the daily decisions. You’ll learn how to be more organized with time and that will aid your creative process.

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1. Give Up on Your Dreams

Cut out the “someday” projects and focus on the things that you can do now. This points your energy toward your real passions.

A certain kind of clutter comes from “someday” projects. You may have a list of hobbies you’d like to start. Or you bought supplies for a big idea. These dreams come with manuals, tools and supplies that fill up your space.

They often bog down your ability to actually get things done. Your to-do list becomes so long. It paralyzes you. You’ll find yourself avoiding organization because you have so many half-finished things on your mind.

Questions to Ask

  • When did I first decide to do this?
  • Why do I want to do this?
  • How do I feel when I think about doing this?
  • How much time have I already put in?
  • What would I lose if I quit?

Based on those answers, you might find that you’re not really interested anymore. If that’s the case, you should think about directing your energy toward something that aligns with your current passions.

So, give up on your “dreams.” If you really wanted to do them, you would have started by now. Get rid of the stuff related to the projects that you keep putting off.

And you can always come back to them if your find a passion again.

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2. Stay Ugly

Don’t wait until you have a perfect studio with a beautiful planner and impeccable shelving. Make a system that works now. Make it pretty later.

Most people hate the daily task list. It’s just not sexy. Bullet journals, cute planners and kitschy calendars can help motivate us. But sometimes, you just need an ugly, ugly list and a ugly, ugly space.

Ugly List

Write your tasks down somewhere you’ll really use them. Don’t let the process of making a perfect list keep you from making a list at all. Each list should have certain elements to keep you on track.

  • Project Name
  • Due Date
  • Category or Label

This simple notation can really help you get organized, especially over the long term.

Ugly Space

Most of us crave a beautifully organized office space.  But, that can keep you from actually getting things done. Instead of waiting to buy perfect office supplies, organization bins or furniture, you must get organized now.

Find ways to use the things you have or can afford right now, even if they aren’t super pretty. Your reward for keeping things organized will be to get nice storage later.

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3. Kick Your Butt

Set up your own simple rules. Gurus, books and bloggers can make things complicated. Make your own system and stick to it.

Motivational gurus propose a million different methods to stay productive. Instead of applying a pre-packaged philosophy, kick your own butt.

You’re reading this list for a reason. You want a change. So, make a list of rules that work for your life and stick to them. Some of mine are below.

  1. Do It Now: If it takes 5 minutes or less to complete, do it now. Sorting mail, taking out trash or filing papers all fall into this category.
  2. Ask First, Buy Second: Before buying anything, check to see if anyone is willing to loan or give you an item. The less things you have to organize, the more organized you’ll be.
  3. One at a Time: I only tackle one project at a time. That means supplies and tools don’t pile up in work spaces. Once a project is complete then, I can move on to the next thing.

By creating my own list of rules, it’s easier to hold myself accountable. They match the way I want to live and keep me in check.

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4. Procrastinate with Purpose

Organize the easy stuff first. Then, you can get a friend to help you sort out the most challenging organizational issues.

Do you try to eat the frog first? This philosophy works for many people because it encourages them to do the worst, hardest thing at the beginning of the day. However, for organization, it’s important to start small.

Otherwise, your entire organization process can be held up by an organization conundrum. If you identify a huge problem area, leave that for last. To tackle it, you may need to get some help. 

Organize These First

  • Files and Paper: If you don’t have one, get a file box and put hanging folders in it. Make very general categories and put your papers in there now. You can get more complex with subcategories and dates later.
  • Supplies: Group like items together and put them into some form of usable storage.
  • Tools: Gather all your tools by the type of project. Put each in a labelled bin.

Anything that is left is probably a little too complicated to easily box up. You can address those after the basic, easy things have a home.

To keep your  momentum, procrastinate with purpose. Take care of all the obvious organization issues. Throw away the trash. Label the file folders. Sort the tools and supplies. Leave the perplexing issues for later when you have the time and energy to solve the problem fully.

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5. Be Generous

Embrace the positive energy that comes from focusing on others. Give things away. Work on projects that help someone else.

Being organized and a giving spirit are actually aligned. Consider everything in terms of what you have to give.

This can be literal, such as passing along unused supplies. Or it can be figurative, making the most of your time in a way that allows to help others.

Focus on…

  • things that will move you forward. Disorganization can be a symptom that you are clinging to something from your past. You may be able to move on if you give away the things that hold you back.
  • the energy of your space. Your creative process is supported by good emotions. Think about what you can do to make the world better. Then, use that feeling to improve your process.
  • whatever brings you joy. Helping others feels good. Make room for this by freeing up your time and energy, starting with an organized space.

As you begin to declutter your home, make generosity a part of your mantra. You’ll find a new energy invades your space and motivates you to stay organized.

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6. Stop Using Your Brain

Write things down. It frees up your brain. Then, you can actually get things down without wasting time and energy.

This excellent lifehack, encourages you to write things down. Instead of remembering everything, make notes and reference them often. You can do it using an app, bulletin board lists or a trendy bullet journal.

Kaya Ismail at Shopify lists several reasons why you should write things down.

  • It helps you think bigger. He explains, “There’s nothing quite like writing down a startup idea in the middle of a blank page and then branching out with a flurry of ideas.”
  • You’ll learn more. Several studies with students have confirmed that writing aids learning and memory.
  • It frees up mental space. Instead of putting energy into remembering, you can focus on doing.

Instead of putting so much strain on your brain, make your lists do the work. Organized people don’t keep everything in their head. They write it down to preserve mental energy.

Stay in Touch

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for organization. Send me pictures or tell me stories about your space. What are your favorite organization ideas?

Also, don’t forget to share this post if it helped you.

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