My goal for March was to declutter and organize my home office. It was difficult to get going on this task, so I turned to the internet for a few tips.
Here is what I found.
Strategies to Get you Motivated and Keep you Going
Before you start a task, pick a positive reinforcement or reward to motivate you to become more organized. When you’ve completed the task, make sure you give yourself the reward.
Get a friend to help you declutter. Friends can help you get rid of things because they do not have the same sentimental attachment to them that you have. Online chat groups can also provide you with mutual support. Some have features where you make specific commitments to organize a space then move away from your computer to organize for a while and finally return to the computer to encourage each other.
The use of a timer and/or music can help too. The timer can be set to go off if 15-minute increments, with breathers in between. Some people find it helpful to put on a favorite music playlist, begin organizing and keep working until the playlist finishes.
What I Learned
Paper is my biggest enemy of organization! Paper just accumulates in stacks. I know I need to save the paper at least for a while, but then the time goes by and I no longer need the paper, but the stack remains.
I checked out what Marie Kondo has to say about paper. She recognizes that there are some papers that need to be saved and other papers that need to be dealt with. Marie does not recommend an elaborate filing system. However, she does require that all papers be kept in one specific spot only. This is good advice. When I started this month’s project we had papers spread throughout our house. I am still trying to find them all! I also realized that there are lots of types of papers and I needed to address them separately.
I vowed to organize my mail as it comes in the door. I created a mail station with several files for incoming and outgoing mail, things to file, bills to pay, rental checks to deposit and documents to retain in my office. I attached a calendar to the front of the bin and put the whole thing close to a recycling bin so the junk mail never comes to rest. With any luck, my dining room table will stay clear!
PAPERS THAT MUST BE SAVED
The second category of papers I dealt with are those that must be saved. Marie Kondo recognizes that the majority of these papers must be kept “regardless of the fact that they spark no particular joy in your heart.” This might include things like leases, policies, warranties, and tax documents. You may need to keep these items, but you will rarely actually need to access most of these items, so she doesn’t recommend spending a lot of time organizing them. I moved all of them into a filing cabinet in the basement declared those done for now. I will go back later and clear out the papers from 10 years ago that I don’t have to save any more.
The paper category has so far been my least favorite category to work through. I enjoyed going through my kitchen pantry and drawers, but the papers were harder to deal with. Papers don’t actually spark joy but we do need to keep a lot of them so it was harder to feel like I had accomplished anything. I’m so glad to be done with this category and I’m really hoping to be able to keep the paper monster at bay in the future.
ORGANIZING THE OVERFLOW
I got a set of cubbies to go under my window. I like the idea of the cubbies because they are more structured than shelves. I can store baskets of supplies like envelops and cards and still keep a sense of order. The cubbie was a big improvement over the set of shelves that I had there before.
I never did get to organizing my books. I guess that is a task for another month!