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For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.
For me organizing and simplifying my life, feels like a cleansing of my soul. During this “downtime” of the year, I push to get prepared for the new year. Organization and planning help motivate. Nothing is quite as freeing as a clean, organized space. The goal is to clean and organize your spaces, implement procedures to eliminate problem areas and increase efficiency, and to improve your productivity. It is a lot of work, but it is necessary to start the year off right.
Organization of my home and office is a high priority. We live, and I work, in a 900 sq. Ft house with three people, usually more, and we need all the space we can get. Ideally, I eliminate and organize on a quarterly basis. It makes the job less overwhelming, and you only need to hit your trouble areas. Review a few posts on minimalism beforehand to get you primed and ready to be brutal and decisive. I have a few areas in my house that need to be organized repeatedly including my bedroom/office, kitchen, and my son’s room. If you have your office in your home, like me, you are inundated with paper. I store most of my records on a remote storage server using Dropbox. It is safe, flexible and easy to use. It eliminates the majority of my paperwork storage at home, plus I can access it anywhere with a mobile device. Beyond the paperwork, my wardrobe is something I need to thin out regularly. I do not have a closet, so my drawers fill quickly. My weight fluctuates, the seasons change, so if I haven’t worn an item in six months, it goes. If it has holes or stains, it goes. It leaves me with a minimal but highly functional wardrobe. This process may feel impossible for some people, but I find it saves my sanity. Next on the list is my kitchen. Due to the lack of space in my kitchen, I need to prioritize appliances. If I don’t use one regularly, I have to do without it. My kitchen is the most challenging space because the only real solution is to update it. Until then I spend hours viewing suggestions on storage for small kitchens. My son’s room is difficult because like many kids he accumulates more and more toys. I developed a system, where I sort through his toy bins quarterly to toss broken toys, donate toys he has outgrown and remove toys he has not played with for a while to box them up for storage. Every couple of months, I switch out these boxes of toys with different toys from the house. This system keeps his toys fresh and exciting and minimizes the clutter.
Being Organized is Being in Control
Raising small children makes streamlining my system imperative. I focus on fixing tricky spots that were continually problematic last year. My first issue was transition times. So I designed solutions to clarify transitions for the kids. In the evening, I post the schedule for the next day. I review it with the kids the following day before breakfast, so they know what to expect. Posting visual guides for transitions such as getting ready to leave the house and getting ready for bed, helps the kids understand what needs to get done. The next problem was clarifying house rules for everyone. By posting them where everyone could see them, new kiddos, know what we expect of them. Guides go a long way in helping kids feel confident in daily routines; it allows them to develop control and independence. Anger was another issue. Many of the children coming into our home have a lot of big emotions. By making an anger wheel, I allow them to pick from a list of appropriate ways to deal with their frustration and anger. The final and most impactful issue was time management. I now make use of my Amazon Echo Dot. If I have appointments that day, I ask Alexa to remind me 45 minutes before we have to leave. The reminder gives me sufficient time to get myself prepared before I provide the kids with a 10-minute warning. It also reminds me to take my pills in the morning and anything else I am likely to forget. Alexa has made a significant impact on getting us out the door on time and in a much better mood.
Time is non-refundable, use it with intention
The final step towards getting organized is to set goals, plan how to reach them, schedule your time, and increase your productivity. I have already discussed my process for planning and scheduling in my post Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. After finding the program or planner that works best for you, it is time to put it to good use. List your goals, and then outline the steps to get you there, while keeping in mind these seven tips.
1) Work smarter not harder. We are all most efficient in the morning. Your peak time is when to do your most important and least pleasant tasks of the day. The 80/20 rule comes to play here. Looking at your task list, 80% of your productivity will come from accomplishing 20% of your tasks. By focusing on those tasks first, you increase productivity exponentially.
2) Batch less productive activities like emails and phone calls. Set aside a half an hour twice daily to review and respond to them. By dealing with them all at once you save time, and by making a time limit, you become more efficient.
3) Use the phone when a question takes more than one reply email or text to resolve.
4) Be proactive. Procrastination is the death of productivity. You end up in a cycle of putting out fires, instead of a position of control where you guide the outcomes.
5) Get your body moving. Get outside. I find that once I have made it through my peak morning hours, I get out for a walk. It is invigorating and most importantly stops my head from spinning with all the task I need to get done.
6) Never leave your workspace a mess. Before you go home for the day, take the time to straighten it up, it will help keep you organized longer. You also have a fresh start in the morning.
7) Make a vision board. I find that if I make a visual representation of my goals, and put it in a place I see it often, it keeps my goals and priorities forefront in my mind.
These tips can help bring your productivity to the next level. If you know what you want and you have a plan to achieve those goals. The final step is to get there as efficiently as possible. None of us have more than 24 hours in our day.
The new year is now upon us. Time to organize your space, increase your efficiency, and increase productivity. Now you are ready to take on this new year with energy and passion. Reach for those goals with everything you have, and don’t stop until they are firmly in your grasp. Welcome, 2019! We have big plans for you.