You don't have to be a hoarder to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of an organized home. For most of us, an environment where every paper is in its place is nothing more than an elusive fantasy.
How to get organized? "Start somewhere," said Los Angeles organizing consultant Kim Anker-Paddon. "It doesn't matter where. I usually start with something that is bothering the client but is not so big that it's overwhelming."
Acknowledging that organized living takes commitment, time and loads of effort (and in some cases, finances), Anker-Paddon shared some simple tips on how to get organized in 2014:
1. Bring less into your house. I encourage people to raise the bar on what they buy and what they keep. Most of the people I work with have a lot of stuff. Instead of just liking something, keep the things you love that add to your life in some way. Once things are in the house, it's harder to get rid of stuff. Donate things to the best charity possible rather than sell them, unless you are really good at it. A lot of times you just don't get much money for your things. And if your goal is to get organized, it's best to get the stuff out of the house.
2. Know exactly where you will put what you're bringing into the house. Think about it before you acquire the object. Many clients can't find what they are looking for so they go out and buy it again.
3. Find a convenient home for items. Putting things away should be just as easy as putting them down. Think about where you use objects. Create zones or areas where you do certain activities. Keep supplies for those activities together. Make it convenient so you can put supplies down and come back to it later.
4. Know exactly why you keep each piece of paper. Paper is the biggest problem that I encounter. We all keep too much of it. Set up systems to streamline the paper flow. Keep important papers near your desk. Right now you should be keeping tax-related papers as they arrive. I encourage people not to spend too much time on filing. If you have an overly detailed filing system, you'll have a harder time finding things. It should be really simple. Assign big categories: credit cards, taxes. The same is true with your desktop. Keep a shredder someplace handy. If you don't like shredding, gather boxes or bags of papers and take them to an industrial shredder such as Shred It. For larger projects, shredding trucks will come to the house.
5. Have fun organizing. When inspiration hits, run with it. Trade with a friend: Have someone help you with a closet or a pantry and help them in return. You will have some company and it's more enjoyable. If organization doesn't come easily to you, get some help. You can have someone help you set up a system and then you can maintain it.
6. Watch out for perfectionism. This really impedes getting organized. People think they have to be perfect. It's not always a neat and tidy process.
7. Delegate. All of my clients work really hard and have a lot going on in their lives. Getting some help makes all the difference for them. Hire a housekeeper. It doesn't have to be every week. An excellent housekeeper can help you stay on track. Or a bookkeeper. I encourage my clients to work in the areas of their strength and delegate what they can't do or really dislike.