Organizers weigh in on how to get things in order

Many people choose the start of a new year as an opportunity to make changes in their lives, such as becoming more organized. The new year is well underway, but that doesn’t mean one has to wait until 2020 to turn things around.

The thought of being a more organized individual is easier than actually making it happen, but achieving this is not impossible. For those who consider themselves very disorganized people, there are healthy habits one can cultivate, said Bob Farkas, owner of The Clutter Wizard, a professional organizing company based in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“(The) true key to clutter control is changing bad habits and replacing them with good ones,” said Farkas.

To be more organized may mean something different to everyone. It could mean knowing where to access the things that you need when you need them, not procrastinating, arriving at destinations on time and/or feeling like you are in control of your day.

Regardless of what each person is aiming to achieve with becoming more organized, there are a handful of essential steps one can take. Here are some tips as shared by SCV professional organizers:

Don’t procrastinate

Removing clutter is key to getting organized. There are a number of ways to approach a challenging situation.

The longer you wait to tackle something, the harder it may be to get it done. It’s important to just dive right into what you want to organize in your life, said Christie Johnson, an SCV-based professional organizer and owner of Vision to be Organized, which offers home, photo and virtual organizing services.

“It’s easy to stand in front of the clutter you see in your closet or garage and get shut down,” said Johnson. “You have to take it one step at a time and inspire and motivate yourself to keep going. The big thing is to get started.”

Tip: Think of something you want to organize in your life. Whether on a mobile device or on a handy notebook, jot down when that can get done and what is needed to get that completed. If you can do it right now, tackle the task.

Declutter and simplify

Whether it’s before the holiday season or for spring cleaning, clutter removal is helpful in keeping your life organized. More importantly, however, is doing so regularly to avoid accumulation.

To get started, Johnson suggests taking on a “quick start” project, where you focus on decluttering a focus area under a timer. She said, “When we start, we start on a corner and work our way around the room. You want to work slowly around the room and break it down into smaller projects. Depending on what you’re working on, give yourself 15 minutes or an hour and stick to that.”

Farkas also suggests to establish a routine and spend a few minutes every day picking up and putting away clutter, which will help “save you loads of time in the long run.”

Tip: Set a timer for 15 minutes. Grab a garbage bag and dispose of 10 items you no longer need from around your home or office space and recycle items such as unnecessary magazines, paperwork and expired coupons.

Give everything a home

Delegating tasks to a loved one is a great way to manage a chore load.

Everyone knows about the “junk drawer,” the one where you store so many items that don’t have a logical storage place around the house other than that space. But there are solutions to help prevent this.

Whether it’s the kitchen, a bedroom closet or garage, Johnson suggests compartmentalizing. In the office, for example, implement a sturdy system on the computer or cloud service with a folder structure to file photos or documents you need to save. This will help remove physical paperwork from your workspace.

Tip: For your garage, Johnson said to install cabinets or add bins with labels to store what is necessary. The goal is to remove clutter and actually be able to park the car inside the garage.

Safe filing

When clearing out spaces, you will most likely bump into important documents, financial account information and important contact numbers. It’s important to save this in an organized and safe manner.

While many opt for digital filing, there are important physical documents that most households will have stored. Consider making a copy of everything in your wallet, said Johnson. Items such as driver’s license, credit and debit cars, and medical insurance cards can be scanned and easily accessed if stored in a safe or file folder labeled “emergency.”

“If your wallet is stolen, you won’t waste time trying to remember what was in your wallet,” she said. “You’ll be able to call the customer service numbers on the back of the cards to cancel and replace them quickly.”

Tip: Record and store a photo inventory of your home and its contents for easier insurance claims should you experience a theft or fire.

Delegate responsibilities

Someone who is well-organized has just the right amount of work on their plate, but that can be challenging to maintain. One way to keep your organizing momentum going is to delegate.

“Delegate some tasks to family, staff members or professional colleagues,” said Farkas. Johnson also recommends reaching out to professional organizers who can help condense your list of responsibilities and deadlines. This serves as a “therapy session,” she said, that you can follow continuously or as a one-time session.

Tip:  Make a to-do list and go through each item listed. Find at least one that you can remove or assign to someone else for a more effective way to tackle the rest of your list.

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About the author

Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga covers city hall and business for The Signal. She joined in the summer of 2018, previously working in Northern California as an assistant editor and reporter for the Lake County Record-Bee. In 2016, she graduated from Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles. Have a story tip? Message her on Twitter or at [email protected]