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How to Get Organized: 5 Tips to Declutter Your Home or Workspace

On this page are 5 tips on how to get organized. You can apply these generic ideas for getting organized at work, or having an organized home. Or you can use some of these ideas for helping kids get organized as well.

These ideas help declutter your space as a one-time or occasional process, and provide ideas to see your organizing effort through its end.

Once you have successfully organized your space, review our tips on how to stay organized and keep that way, which is an ongoing process involving daily actions.

1. Start with the right task

This is important. Divide your organizing effort into reasonable and trackable tasks, prioritize and start with a task which you believe will give you the most bang for the effort you put into organizing it and getting it done.

This could be a smaller task, which you know will be done quickly enough, giving you the much needed motivation booster to move on to the next bigger projects that you have been dreading.

Or alternatively, it could be a bigger task which you know has been screaming for your attention for a while now, and getting it off your plate will take the most load off your mind.

Take a second if you need to decide this. That's time well spent, compared to the potential hours you may lose working on a particular task, only to leave it unfinished in the middle.

How to get organized #1: Start Right.

2. Don't get side-tracked with mini sub-tasks

This is probably the most common reason why trying to get organized fails for a lot of people.

You start organizing something, like say your photo albums, and then start to look at those photos and slip back into memories. Before you realize, a couple of hours have passed, and you may have even had a good time, but - those albums haven't moved.

Another example would be organizing your documents, only to get side tracked when you get to those tax documents, and you start computing your tax refund.

Remember, "Organizing" itself is a task, and just like other tasks - when you start it, focus should be on seeing it through - come what may, however tempting.

Be methodical and surgical about it; if necessary, set yourself a reasonable time limit to complete each task, and make sticking to it a priority.

Tell yourself once you are done organizing, you will relax and spend an hour browsing those albums, maybe sipping a well deserved drink.

How to get organized #2: Focus on the Task.

3. Create a temporary holding area

While clearing your clutter, occasionally you may run into items for which you have not created a space for, and are not sure where to put them. You have two options to deal with them:

You can either spend a little time to think through where they belong, and set them there. You can group similar things together, and assign a common place holder for them, based on where you need them the most.

Ideally speaking, this is a more preferable option, as that way those items would have been dealt with, and you won't need to have to go back to them again.

Alternatively, if you feel that figuring out what to do with them is taking too much time, or distracting you from your overall organizing effort, you can set them in a "temporary holding area", like a cardboard carton, with a mental note (or a sticky note) to come back to it once the rest of it is done.

A warning, though - if you start tossing everything you have a question about into this temporary place, pretty soon it will become one more clutter which you will eventually have to deal with. And that defeats its purpose, doesn't it?

Best approach is to deal with everything as you go, and only use this idea for really specific items which need some hard thinking.

How to get organized #3: Don't Dwell on Something for Too Long.

4. Don't multi-task

Don't be tempted to try and get everything done at once. While this may seem more efficient, in the long run it doesn't turn out to be, because chances are it may lead to jumping back and forth between tasks, and you may end up not completing anything.

Instead, prioritize based on the suggestion in step 1, and do only one thing at a time based on the priority. Alternatively, delegate a task or a portion of the task to someone else, if that is feasible.

Know that your organizing will be done and you will do it; focus on only ONE thing at a time, and use prioritizing and delegation instead of multitasking.

How to get organized #4: Do One Thing at a Time.

5. Don't be a perfectionist

Last but not the least, don't be a perfectionist in trying to fit everything in exactly defined places. Be flexible. Know that everything cannot be perfect, and as long as you know where your things are, and are able to get to your items without any effort, you are organized, even if it appears as a clutter to the next person.

What is important is your organization effort should result in it being convenient for you, and not how it looks to someone else.

How to get organized #5: Be Flexible.

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