It’s a challenge for me to stay organized, especially when it comes to small spaces. For some reason, I feel this fear that if I don’t hang on to every shred of paper that I’ve ever had my hands on, then I might screw up a future situation (read: when I may need that paper). Having been raised by the Queen of Organization (hi, Mom), I know a thing or two.
1. Throw It Out
This is a better alternative to shove it in the closet/under the bed/in the drawer. I’ve used all these tactics in the past; they all end in me holding a garbage bag. If you haven’t touched it in the last 6 months, throw it out. If you completely forgot you had it (and, yes, we all love discovering things), throw it out. If you’re not sure if it’s important, but haven’t used it, throw it out. I will pretty much create any scenario (that has a 1% chance or less of happening) and talk myself into keeping the paper/folder/binder/clothing. Do yourself a favor: don’t even go there. Toss it.
2. Always Keep a Planner
You must know your deadlines. Not to mention birthdays, anniversaries, lunch meetings, weddings, etc. I’ve carried a planner with me every day since I was 14. It’s an easy way to keep all your important happenings in one book. I use Erin Condren planners now because they have the monthly calendar and a daily calendar with a weekly goals list. She also throws in cute stickers! It’s pricier than a Barnes & Noble generic planner, but well worth it.
3. Have Designated Areas
Keep your important documents (i.e. tax documents, passport, driver’s license copies) in one place. This area should be separate from work documents and school documents. Meshing it all together is just begging for a crisis, known as “I lost that one paper that I actually needed”. I mostly use shelves and cabinets for this.
4. Color Code It
It’s an age-old tradition for organizers. Grab colored tabs, pens, binders, or whatever else you may need. This trick works for anything. For example, my planner is color coded. Schoolwork is pink, business to-dos are red, blog to-dos are purple, appointments are blue, errands are green, etc. This is an extremely helpful tactic when you only have time to skim your planner because you’ll still be able to get the gist of your day/week without reading it in detail.
5. Keep It Off the Desk
It’s tempting to throw papers on your desk or the kitchen table, but doing so encourages more clutter. Create a system to keep papers and mail filed. Instead of tossing the mail onto the counter, take a couple minutes to weed out the trash and open any important envelopes. If they are something that needs to be taken care of, but not right away, keep a folder by your other documents for “to-do” items.