Organize Your Life in Six Easy Steps

If you’re constantly searching for your keys in a panic or trying to find that one shirt that matches that specific skirt, you’re not alone. But contrary to how it appears on Pinterest, you don’t have to build color-coded kitchen drawer dividers or create a 27-piece capsule wardrobe in order to be more organized. In fact, you can tackle projects in a little as 10 minutes. Regina Leeds, author of the One Year to an Organized Life series and The 8 Minute Organizer: Easy Solutions to Simplify Your Life in Your Spare Time, shares her secrets of getting and staying organized — fast.

Make the time. Take 10 minutes that you’d otherwise be on social media and focus. Look at the different areas of your home and make a list of what is most in need of organizing. Where are you losing time? Usually it’s that your clothes are not organized, so you can’t get dressed quickly in the morning. Or, the kitchen is not organized, so you don’t have time to cook and can’t have breakfast. Or, the garage is a mess. Pick one area, set a timer and tackle the space.

Break projects down into smaller projects. If you look at your whole closet or your whole office, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Instead, start by just eliminating things. Take out what you don’t need, don’t want and aren’t going to use. And yes, this means you don’t have to empty the entire closet before you start. That directive makes me insane, and Marie Kondo is not the only organizer who advocates that. Don’t do that. Yes, everything has to come out, but it can come out item by item. As it comes out, you can designate where it’s going. So the items that are going to stay in the closet, let them continue to hang and just pull out what does not belong.

Contrary to how it appears on Pinterest, you don’t have to build color-coded kitchen drawer dividers or create a 27-piece capsule wardrobe in order to be more organized.

Be realistic. Women save baby clothes; they save clothes from when they were pregnant. They will save clothes from when they were working in corporate America with the idea they might go back one day. Yes, you might go back one day, but you probably won’t want 10-year-old or 15-year-old suits. Or you’re attached to your evening clothes and your evening shoes, not realizing that they’re outdated.

Categorize and organize. For the stuff you’re getting rid of, make a pile for Dress for Success or Good Will. And for the stuff you’re keeping, start putting things in categories. In most areas of the home, especially the closets, organizing by color will do that for you. If you have categories, you’ll realize you never need to buy a white long-sleeve shirt again because you already have four.

Involve your kiddos. I believe that from as young as 18 months to 2-years-old, children can learn about organizing, and it can be fun. You can get colored bins for toys and divide the toys by type: Barbies go in one place, Star Wars in another, soft toys in another and so on. You’re teaching color, cleanliness and organization. I see a lot of parents today who think that their children shouldn’t have chores and should enjoy being a kid. That does a disservice to a child, especially as they age into adulthood. It’s really important to know how to do laundry and dishes, how to stack a dishwasher and make your bed. These are basic skills you learn through having chores as a child. Ultimately, understanding how a home runs will prepare your children for life in a dorm or their first college apartment.

Keep it up. Everything in life that’s worthwhile requires maintenance. There’ll never come a time when you don’t have to dust or sort through mail or put your clothes back. That’s the central rule of organizing: Create a place for everything, and then keep everything in that place. When you need it or want it again, you’ll be able to find it.

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