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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Get It Together! Tips For Getting Organized

Ah, January. The old year is over and now there is a whole new year to do things in, a fresh start full of promise, hope, and even a few resolutions. Even if you don’t make big resolutions chances are that when the calendar flipped from 2014 to 2015 you had some plans or goals that you wanted to achieve. Chances are also likely that you got a few days into year and got a little overwhelmed and even felt like you just didn’t have time. A 2012 Daily Mail article stated that we spend 153 days over the course of a lifetime looking for things we’ve misplaced. That’s just over six months of time lost! Not to fear, though. January is Get Organized Month.

Established in 2005 by the National Association of Professional Organizers, Get Organized Month is designed to raise awareness of how important it is to be organized. It sounds pretty straightforward, but anyone who has ever seriously tried to get organized will tell you it isn’t always as simple as just deciding and tackling. Being organized takes a some planning, a little time getting things and your system in place, and then the dedication to build new habits based on your organizational plan. Feeling overwhelmed again already? Don’t worry. As an incredibly organized person I have some tips that will help you clear the clutter, find your things and get off on an excellent and organized foot for the rest of the year!

Image Credit: Lifehacker

Image Credit: Lifehacker

1. Don’t organize everything at once.
Every area of the home has its own brand of chaos. Too much stuff in the living room? Kitchen cabinets a nightmare? Bathroom just poorly put together? This is normal and you absolutely want to tackle each room, but the trick to doing it without getting overwhelmed is to not do it all at once. Instead, take a moment to figure out which room bothers you the most and focus on that room first. Don’t work on another room until you’ve gotten that one where you want it.

2. Define what organized means to you before you begin.
For some people organization means spotless, color-coded, arranged in size order and pristine. For others it could be piles of like things. Before you start digging into the work of organizing you need to define what your organized looks like. Being organized is a very personal thing and you want your organization to match what will be functional for you, not what looks pretty in pictures.

3. Consider your habits and match your plan to them.
Do you always take your watch and jewelry off right when you walk in the door, but the jewelry box is all the way in another room? To you have a place to store your shoes right inside the door, but you never leave them there? This is a moment where you can work smarter instead of harder. Put receptacles where you naturally put things. In my life I put a basket on a little bookshelf right by the door so when I walk in I take my watch and jewelry off and drop it right there. That’s not it permanent home, but it fits my habits. This leads me to tip four…

4. Put things back in their homes at a time it makes sense for you.
I try once every other evening or so, about twenty minutes before bed, to go around the rooms of my house to collect things that don’t belong in the room they are in. I put them in a little plastic basket I got at the dollar store. Sometimes I’ll immediately put them in their homes (such as my jewelry back in my dressing area or books back to the shelves.) Other times I’ll put the basket in a safe, visible place and deal with it the next day. In either case, stray items are picked up and they keep my overall organization plan in place and it’s less stress on me.

5. Make note of things you can’t find and keep it handy (like on the fridge or a bathroom mirror.)
Missing items and the hunt for them take up so much time (remember that lost six months?) and even the best organizing plan can still be thwarted by them. What to do? Make a list of the things you can’t find and where it really belongs, then place that list somewhere very visible. Then, when you’re going about your life and find the missing item or replace it, you’ll know exactly where you intend it to go so you can take it right there. My best personal example is about a series of pendants I got every Christmas as part of a professional uniform. Without fail I’d misplace one of them and never think about it until I needed the pendant. When I’d finally find the pendant later on, I’d forget not only that it had been misplaced, but where I needed it to be so that I could find it again. By making a list when I realized something was lost and noting where I wanted it to be kept I was not only able to better understand my most commonly-lost items, but the list helped me relocate things in a hurry. That lost pendant? Next time I was running late looking for it, I just checked my list and knew right where to go.

6. Remember to be nice to yourself. No one is perfect. Getting organized takes time.
So you decided to take the weekend to get things organized the way that works for you and you don’t have it all done come Monday. Guess what? That’s just fine. Being organized is a process and it is one that is ever-changing. Take your time. Just keep working on it.

The work of getting organized isn’t always easy or fast, but it is always worth it. These six tips will, hopefully, give you a good starting point for getting your own organization going this month. Here’s to reclaiming six months of our lives!

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