Being truly organized extends far beyond keeping a tidy workspace or home. It’s about keeping your life in order, from your schedule to your chores to your thoughts and beyond. Sound like an overwhelming task? Consider the benefits: While getting yourself into a habit of being organized requires an investment of time and energy, once you’re in a groove you’ll reap huge rewards, including less stress, more efficiency, a sharper mind, and the knowledge that when you want to find something, you’ll know exactly where it is. If you’re ready to join the ranks of highly organized people, adopt the following eight habits.
1. They keep only what they need.
Ever notice how clean your organized friends’ spaces are? There’s a reason for that. Organized people don’t hoard a bunch of stuff they don’t need. They amass only things that they actually use and keep decorative objects to a thoughtful minimum. With fewer things to keep track of or care for, they are surrounded by clean, mind-calming space rather than clutter.
2. They give everything a “home.”
In order to be organized, you must first get organized—by dedicating a specific space to each of your things and keeping them there when they are not in use. People who designate a “home” for all of their items and maintain that organizational system always know where to find anything they are looking for the minute they need it. Imagine the time you’ll save if you never lose your keys again!
3. They stock up on organizational gear.
Part of ensuring everything has its own home is making sure you have the right storage spaces. Papers will easily stack up if you don’t have a place to file them, earrings can get tangled or lost without a spot to hang them, and clothes may end up in a pile if there aren’t enough hangers, drawers, or storage containers for them. From drawer dividers to plastic storage bins, organizational accessories are critical for the organized person.
4. They write things down.
You know that super organized friend who never forgets to send you a card on your birthday? Her considerateness is probably not because she’s memorized the day every single person she knows was born. More likely, she’s written down your (and everyone else’s) big day and given herself a written heads-up a few days beforehand so she can pop that card in the mail in time to get to you. From small tasks like grocery-shopping lists and play dates to big events like parties and anniversaries, writing down and reviewing important dates and appointments is as critical as keeping your lists somewhere where you can easily access them and checking them regularly.
5. They create schedules and deadlines.
If you’ve got a list of things to do, the path to maximum accomplishment is to prioritize your tasks and set deadlines for completing them. Setting personal goals helps keep you focused on the clock and your intentions rather than playing around on Facebook (or reading Shine articles!). And the sense of accomplishment you get every time you check a chore off your list fuels your ambition!
6. They don’t procrastinate.
When you don’t get today’s chores done, they get added to tomorrow’s to-do list. Try this for even a few days and you’ll be overwhelmed by the tasks ahead. But that doesn’t happen to seriously organized individuals because they don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today. From folding laundry to straightening up the closet the second it sees disarray to washing the dishes, attacking chores the minute they need to be done perpetually keeps you ahead of the game.
7. They clean as they go.
Professional chefs, who are amazingly organized and neat when cooking, know that cleaning as you go is the most time and energy efficient. The same is true for any organized person. Whenever a mess is made, clean it up immediately and you’ll streamline your chores. And every time you leave a room, create a habit of grabbing any rogue item and returning it to its rightful home. Soon, cleanup will be a breeze.
8. They purge regularly.
The sister rule to “keep only what you need,” the practice of getting rid of unwanted, ill-fitting, outdated, or useless stuff ensures you won’t build up clutter.