How to Get Organized: Expert-Backed Tips to Reduce Stress

January 13, 2021 by Julia Weaver

Getting organized doesn’t just mean your belongings are in the right place all the time, it can also be beneficial to your wellbeing. Living in an organized home makes everyday tasks that much easier, even if it’s something simple like locating the house keys or finding your phone charger. 

Almost everyone wishes they were more organized, but the task of organizing itself can just be wishful thinking to some. Sometimes finding the time to begin organizing, or even knowing where to start can be the biggest obstacle. Whether you live in a condo in Atlanta or a home in Philadelphia, there is no better time to start organizing than today. We’ve asked experts to share their best tips for staying organized so you can take back control of your space.

organized home free of files digital organizing

Organize digitally to boost productivity

Organizing your digital clutter will boost your productivity by allowing you to find what you need when you need it. Take some time at the beginning of every year to do an audit of your digital files and delete what you no longer need. Files that you regularly download, like home appliance manuals, should be saved into a folder for easy access. Don’t take up precious computer resources with duplicates. – Tidy Your Time

Look at your house through the eyes of a Professional Organizer

Walk through each room, define what bothers you about it, write down your organizing goals for that space, the action steps you need to accomplish them, the supplies or resources you will need, and schedule how you will complete them on your calendar throughout the year. Tackle each step over time instead of trying to do it all at once with your new action plan as your motivating guide. – Kristin Vander Wiede, Professional Organizer, Livable Solutions Professional Organizing

Take your time and don’t overfill your plate

My best advice is to encourage people to manage their own expectations and not try to tackle too many projects at the same time. Most cluttered rooms and spaces did not become cluttered overnight, so it is very unrealistic to believe that they can be cleaned up in one day or a couple of hours. Focus on finishing one task or project to completion before starting another. If tackling a really cluttered room or difficult project, break down the entire project into manageable, time-sensitive tasks, and then work each task to completion before starting another. Also, create sufficient time in your life that will allow you to work on any project or goal you have. Most clutter accumulates due to our own procrastination and indecisiveness. In the new year let “do it now” become your new mantra.  – Your Life Less Messy

Purge your excess stuff

The reality is, if you don’t get rid of all the extra stuff, you will constantly be organizing and reorganizing. You can get creative and tackle most organizing challenges with great systems, but at some point, if there’s too much stuff, there’s just too much stuff. I also think it’s really important to utilize systems that you know you’ll use. For me, that means less steps, so things like open bins and baskets that are easy to toss items into, drawer organizers that create a spot for everything, and keeping like things together in one location of your home. The less work, the more likely that you’ll continue to actually put stuff away. And if you keep on top of putting things away, then the pile doesn’t accumulate that you have to, you guessed it, organize. – My Blissful Space

Use the backs of doors as “found space”

In a kitchen, use them for message boards and family command centers, racks to hold spices, medication, and small kitchen tools like measuring spoons. In a closet, use the backs of doors for hanging hats, jewelry, and scarves. In a utility or hall closet, use the back of the door for a rack to hold pet supplies or wrapping paper. The Container Store makes a door rack system that is easily customizable for different needs, but you can also achieve this with command hooks. – Blueprint Organizing

Assign zones to your desk

A cluttered and disorganized desk makes it harder to concentrate, and you lose papers and other items among the clutter. Assign zones to your desk so you can easily refer to a zone when looking for certain things like office supplies or paperwork. Create an inbox and outbox for paperwork, or use a vertical file holder to keep multiple projects handy. Have files you regularly refer to at arm’s reach. Use desk drawers to containerize items such as pens and other office supplies. Have adequate task lighting and a comfortable chair. An organized desk will make you more productive. – Become Organized

Have the right organizing tools

It’s easier to keep things organized when they are contained. That’s where the right box or tray comes in handy. Clear containers are always best in the majority of spaces, choosing rectangular shapes that waste little or no space. Removing all product stickers and applying a simple label identifying the contents, makes things easier to find. – Katy Home Organizer

Make digital to-do lists and inventory lists

Digitize the critical information that you want and need to have At Your Fingertips! When digitizing existing documents, you can either scan or photograph them. Create a spreadsheet or document on a cloud-based platform so you can easily change it no matter where you are. Simplify the process by using a cloud-based platform that you’re comfortable with. My go-to’s are Google and Evernote. I suggest creating a digitized inventory of your possessions. This is an invaluable resource in the event of a fire, theft, natural disaster, etc., and the associated need to file an insurance claim. Another benefit? You can use it to estimate the value of your possessions to ensure sufficient insurance coverage. – At Your Fingertips Organizing

Start small and stay on “TRAC”

Set a timer for 15 minutes, throw on some tunes, podcast, or audiobook, and just work on one tiny space. Pick one shelf from one cabinet or one drawer at a time. Take everything out of that space, Remove any clutter or trash, Arrange items in that space into like categories, Contain like items in bins so things stay in place neatly. – All About Organizing

Challenge yourself to avoid shopping online for an entire month

It’s an eye-opening exercise in how unchecked consumerism and single-click shopping opportunities are the number one cause of clutter, which leads to stress and anxiety, and who needs any more of that after 2020? A new year is about reconnecting with what’s important in our lives, and you can’t buy that online. – Piña Home

Eliminate your “catch-all” area as this is where clutter is born

Deal with the stuff as it comes in to keep the clutter at bay.  Added bonus: it saves you time in the long run. – Empowering Home Organization

Ask yourself what you want to keep

Decluttering is arguably one of the most important steps in anyone’s organizing journey. Most of us don’t have a “not enough space” challenge but rather a “too many things” problem. And when you find yourself overwhelmed by asking the question “What should I get rid of?” stop and flip the question around to instead focus on “What do I want to keep?” or “What is serving the goals I have for me, my family and my life?”. This positive framing really helps illuminate the things that do have a lot of meaning and purpose in our life. – Aspire Organizing

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