I love the concept of sharing our inside secrets as organizers. Throughout the month of May I have asked my colleagues to share what works for them. I know you will enjoy this post from Janice Simon, in house organizer at M.D.Anderson.
I work as an in-house organizer at a Houston area hospital, and I also have a home I’m trying to renovate. Here are a few of the ways I organize myself.
- Go digital whenever possible. I use Dropbox to house my documents and photos, Evernote to capture my ideas and things that catch my eye, Wunderlist keeps my action list handy, and the calendar with my email lets me know where I’m supposed to be. At work, I use a scanner to create PDF’s of anything that didn’t come to me electronically, and I’m starting the same process at home.
- Write Stuff Down (WSD). I stumbled across this concept from a couple of bloggers, and it’s brilliant. I don’t keep things in my head, and I will readily admit that my head is not the best organizing tool. I write down everything I need to do or to buy on my calendar or action list. It doesn’t stay in my head, swirling around to wake me up at 3 a.m.
- I have to be in love. If I don’t love something any longer or don’t use it, I donate it or give it to a friend who admired it. If something brings up bad feelings and bad mojo, it goes away.
- Establish boundaries. I’ve learned to say no over the years, and I’ve set strong boundaries. When I go on vacation, I don’t look at work email. It can wait.
- Take time off. And speaking of vacations, I take them. Since I work for a company, I practice what I preach to my colleagues. I don’t lose vacation time at the end of the fiscal year because I didn’t take enough time off.
- Remember birthdays. Because I have 14 nieces, nephews, godchildren and other small fries who call me Auntie Janice, I keep all of their birthdays on my digital calendar. Since all but two live outside of Houston, I set the reminder to remind me a week ahead.
- Everything in the closet must fit. If clothing doesn’t fit or I don’t like it or wear it, it goes. I only keep the items that I actually wear. I have a box in my closet where donated items go. Anything that is stained, torn, faded or otherwise unwearable goes in the trash. Charities spend millions of dollars sorting out trashed items in their donations, and I don’t want to be part of the problem.
- Repurpose, reuse or recycle. I recycle all that I can recycle. If something can repurposed or reused in another manner, I’ll do that. It may take a little imagination, spray paint and creativity, but it’s nice to save money when you can reuse something.
- The New Year Purge. The end of December is a great time to go through things at home to clear out anything I no longer love. I also go through digital and paper documents as well. At work, I clean out things at the end of the fiscal year and again at the end of the calendar year.
- Pay bills online or automatically. All of my bills are either automatically withdrawn or paid online by going to their individual websites. I don’t go through my bank itself to do their bill pay, and this is because I don’t want to do it through them. Not that I’m bitter after the way they treated most of us during the recession. At least not much.
- (BONUS TIP!) Reward yourself! When I make progress on a project, I reward myself with little things, such as dark chocolate or a pedicure. It’s important to remind yourself to take care of yourself and get plenty of rest.
Janice Marie Simon, MA, CPO, is an in-house professional organizer at a Houston hospital and is The Clutter Princess at www.theclutterprincess.com.