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Getting Organized: A Quick FAQ

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Whether I’m at a networking meeting, a client’s home, or a social or family gathering I am often asked the same few questions about getting organized. Some people ask me about products, others ask me how I feel about all the organizing shows that have been on television, but most ask the questions below.

I hope the answers to these questions prove to be helpful as you begin or continue your journey to an organized life.

Why is it important to be organized?
Organized people are able to find the things they need when they need them—and finding what you need when you need it is what ‘being organized’ is all about. Being organized saves you time, money, and stress. By being organized, one is able to put lost time back in their day, money back in their wallets, and live life with less stress and frustration overall.

How do I get organized if I don’t have the time?
You have to MAKE the time. If you didn’t make the time to get your car an oil change would it work well? If you didn’t make the time to exercise and cook healthy meals would your body be able to maintain an active lifestyle? If you don’t set aside the time to ‘get organized,’ your household as well as your life will not function to it’s fullest capacity.

Start by making a fifteen-minute appointment with yourself at a time of day when you are most energetic. Mark it in a calendar and stick to it. You don’t need to devote eight hours on a Sunday to getting organized—you’d be amazed at how much you can get done by spending fifteen minutes in ‘organizing mode.’

Where do I begin?
I’m always asked this question and the person asking it usually has a look of panic on their face! I always recommend to people that they take inventory of their organizing needs and select an area that is driving them crazy or making their life difficult. For a small business owner, it may be their filing system. For a stay-at-home mom, it may be the playroom or the kitchen.

Break the task down into small, manageable tasks. For instance, if it’s your kitchen that’s disorganized, start by going through the silverware drawer. After you’ve tackled the drawer, you’re done with organizing for the day unless you choose to move on to another small section of the kitchen such as the sippy cup collection or the spice rack.

Once I’m organized, how do I maintain it?
The most important thing you need to keep your home/home office organized is DESIRE—the desire to keep your space organized and the desire to put forth the effort to keep it as so. Realistic goals are also necessary when it comes to ‘staying organized.’ You cannot expect an overnight change–on average it takes 21 days to establish a habit. So, if you install a hook by the front door for your keys and you forget once in a while to hang them there, don’t beat yourself up over it—it will come naturally soon enough.

Be prepared–there will be some days where you won’t have the time or energy to organize even the smallest of spaces—that’s OK. Just do your best. I tell people that one of the most important things they can do when they lack the time or energy to organize is to just stay ‘on top of their lives.’ Putting dishes back in the cabinet after they’ve dried, dealing with your mail shortly after you walk through the door, straightening out the medicine cabinet while you’re brushing your teeth are all quick and easy ways to prevent disorganization from creeping back into a newly organized space.

NAPO logo

National Association of Professional Organizers

What can a Professional Organizer do for me?
A Professional Organizer has the skills and experience to provide their clients with information, ideas, solutions and systems to increase productivity and reduce stress. By hiring a professional organizer you will not only be able to take advantage of their knowledge, and expertise, but you’ll be able to benefit from their non-judgemental physical and emotional support as well.

To find a Professional Organizer in your area, go to the website of the National Association of Professional Organizers and click on ‘Find an Organizer.’ It may be the first step on your journey to an organized life.

Do you have any other questions? Ask away!

About Stacey Agin Murray

Stacey is a professional organizer & speaker in New Jersey specializing in residential organizing, time, and paper management challenges. She also authored The Organized Bride’s Thank You Note Handbook: Let Systems and 101 Modern Sample Thank You Notes Take You From Overwhelmed to Organized.

Categories: Basic Organizing Principles, Clutter, Helpful Organizing Tips, Time

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4 responses to “Getting Organized: A Quick FAQ”

  1. Deb Lee says:

    “You have to MAKE the time.” <– So true! There never seems to be enough time to do the things we need to do. So, if it's important to us, we have to carve out the time. The oil change analogy really drives home that point.

    • Stacey Agin Murray says:

      Even in my own life, I find that if I don’t MAKE the time, what I need to get done rarely happens. Another analogy I often use is the ‘making time for a haircut’ or in my case ‘hair color.’ I’d be looking a little scary if I didn’t make time for that! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Sarah Krivel says:

    These answers are all spot on. I especially love the advice to break overwhelming projects into small, manageable tasks. It’s amazing the momentum we gain from simply starting!

    • Stacey Agin Murray says:

      Sarah, I tell my clients that they can accomplish just about anything if they break the task down into itty bitty manageable parts. That itty bitty task is a baby step taken towards reaching their goal.

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