You know the room. It might be your office with towering stacks of paper that loom so high they’re giving the Dubai skyline a run for its money. Or maybe it’s your dining room, where the ghosts of sit-down-dinners past sadly meander among a tableful of junk. The worst part of being disorganized isn’t that you can’t find anything when you need it. It’s not even the embarrassment you feel when an unexpected guest drops by. The worst part about living with disorganization is that it makes you feel like crap.
You wake up, have your coffee, read the paper. You’re feeling pretty good, looking forward to your day. Then something ominous invades your peripheral vision – it’s that blasted pile of receipts, bills, unopened mail, expense reports, tax documents, and God knows what else. A dark cloud of anxiety and exasperation morphs your good mood into sour dread. You know you need to organize that mess, but where to begin? And how can you organize such a random conglomeration of documents from so many different areas of your life?
1. Use Less Will Power
Have you noticed that will power only becomes an issue when you don’t want to do something? You never have to use will power to eat pizza, sleep in, or watch your favorite movie. You actually want to do those things. But at a certain point – say, if you’ve had a few pizza slices too many – the desire to lose weight and eat healthy may become stronger than the desire to sample Domino’s Friday night special.
Until inspiration strikes, let the piles lay where they may. Forcing yourself to get organized saps all the fun out of the process, makes you feel guilty and tired, and prevents you from making the kind of long-term changes that will keep you organized in the future.
2. Assemble the Proper Tools
Learning how to organize is really just learning how to choose the right people and services to do the organizing for you. Shoeboxed services can certainly remove a lot of the organizational burden you’re facing, no matter how insurmountable it seems to you right now. But it takes two to tango! Researching various applications, software programs and online services can easily turn into a full time job in itself.
Begin your organizational journey by conducting some online research about going paperless, and ask your always-organized friends what they’ve done to be successful. You may be surprised to hear that they’ve faced many of the same challenges as you. Selecting organizational tools is like creating a support team that will be with you every step of the way.
3. Don’t Work So Hard
Once you’ve chosen a web-based application and have at least two inspiring friends on speed dial, it’s time to dive in. That means you’re actually going to start separating documents into piles, scanning receipts, and morphing your mess into something that others can make sense of. But slow and steady wins the race, my friend. You don’t want to burn out on the first day by organizing like a maniac for 12 hours straight.
Set the timer on your phone for an embarrassingly small amount of time – 5 minutes, 2 minutes, even 30 seconds! Tackle your piles with gusto for that amount of time, and then walk away. You’ll feel great about accomplishing exactly what you set out to do, and the next day, when you’re really not feeling motivated, you’ll think “Hey, it’s just 30 seconds. I can stand anything for 30 seconds.” Before you know it, a week will have gone by, and you’ll start to see an impressive dent in your mountain of mayhem. You may even find you start to ignore your timer when it goes off because you prefer to keep working.
4. Impulse Shopping for Inner Peace
When you’re learning how to organize, it’s important to create a work space that is inspiring and motivates you to keep going. If your room of woe is the spare bedroom, you probably already associate the space with feelings of dread, anxiety and guilt. In order to spend the time needed to get organized, and to enjoy yourself in the process, you need to go shopping!
Go to your favorite flea market, thrift store, or art gallery. Find a painting, a poster, scented candles, a flowering plant, or anything else that inspires you and makes you feel good. Don’t choose just any old thing – it should be something completely unique to both you and the house, something that causes a visceral reaction within you. Bring your precious treasure home and place it in the room where it will be in your line of vision while you work. When frustrations arise, stop what you’re doing and gaze at the painting, water the plant, or inhale the candle’s scent. You’ll start to associate your inner feelings of calm inspiration with the room that used to totally freak you out.
The key to learning how to organize your space and your life is to go easy on yourself. Most people feel they could be more organized – you are not alone! And you’re certainly not alone as you begin your quest for an office, a study, or a dining room that is completely paperless and clutter-free. With an endlessly helpful tool like Shoeboxed, you have a built-in support team on your side every single step of the way.
The greatest thing about organizing your home or office is that doing so makes you feel mentally organized. How could you possibly feel happy and peaceful inside, when you’re staring at a ginormous pile of ancient tax returns? Learning how to organize your space, while having many practical benefits for day to day living, is a great way to create internal balance and harmony within yourself. And let’s be honest – isn’t that what we’re all really looking for when we begin our organizational adventure?