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The Ten Habits of Highly Organized People

By JLP | March 9, 2010

Sara Stebbins has written a nice little piece with some helpful tips on getting organized. Her tips (along with my thoughts on a few of them):

1. Walk away from bargains

Some people can’t walk away from bargains. I’m not saying my mom had this problem but I do remember her telling my dad stuff like, “I saved $20 on this dress.” My dad would reply, “But you SPENT $30 you didn’t need to spend.” Of course, that was my dad’s usual reply to money being spent on anything. Anyway, the point of point is that you shouldn’t just buy something because it’s a bargain. Doing so leads to clutter and clutter is the enemy of organization.

2. Make peace with imperfection

3. Never label anything “miscellaneous”

Uhhh…I have this problem.

4. Schedule regular decluttering sessions

This is a great idea. Be proactive before things get out of hand.

5. Stick with what works

6. Create a dump zone

I’d say this is an okay idea as long as it doesn’t go on too long. One of the things I notice is that when I’m cleaning the house, I spend a ton of time just putting stuff back where it belongs. Maybe we should institute a dump zone.

7. Ask for help

8. Separate emotions from possessions

9. Foresee (and avoid) problems

10. Know where to donate

To this I might add: MAKE SURE your kids know about this too. One of my sons threw away nearly-new shoes in his attempt at cleaning his room. I was not a happy camper. I should have communicated better to my kids that we give away nice stuff that they no longer need.

I also would like to add a few points:

• I have a rule that anything I haven’t used in six months and don’t plan on using in the next six months, I get rid of. I hate clutter.

• Organize your closet in a way so that you aren’t constantly having to move things out of the way to get to other things. The less movement you have to do, the less likely you are to make a mess.

Now I need to read something on organizing an office. My office is a hellhole.

Topics: How to... | 10 Comments »


10 Responses to “The Ten Habits of Highly Organized People”

  1. Sam Says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks. We have a constant struggle in our house of keeping the clutter down. Having a good place to give stuff away is a big help to us.

  2. Lindsay Downs Says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    We don’t have a “dump zone” because it would just get bigger and bigger. BUT, one of the things I do when I clean is get a large laundry basket, and go through the house putting everything that is out of it’s place in the basket.

    (Then, I can usually give the basket to the kids and tell them to put everything up.)

    This lets me just pick everything up, without wasting time going into different rooms to put everything up one at a time – I can do it all at once. Plus, you see results really quickly.

  3. Tracy P Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 9:45 am

    You know, I work as a system admin – and it constantly amazes me that people who are “de-clutter” freaks about their home and materials things are HORRIBLE about clutter when it comes to their electronic files. They never delete email, never get their computer files organized in any manner of fashion, or set “purge” dates for old files for themselves, etc. So I really must ask you – are you a diligent with your digital data as you are with your material things?

  4. Jamie Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Suggestion for a “dump zone”: We live in a two-story house with a basement. We have a basket at the bottom of the stairs leading to the upstairs and at the top of the stairs leading to the basement. Rather than run up and down stairs all day, I throw things into these baskets. Every day, one kid is assigned the “stair baskets” as a chore. That means s/he takes the basket up/downstairs and puts everything in it away. I also keep a “Goodwill” box out so that things you don’t want anymore can just be put in there. I take it to Goodwill about once every 2 months. Other thoughts: A basket near the front door for all school bags and a “filing” box. Finally, each kid has a two-pocket folder that we keep all their “in process” papers in (schedules, weekly homework sheets, list of chores, etc.). Now, if I could only figure out what to do with all of hubby’s stuff…

  5. mapgirl Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Great list! I totally mark things ‘misc’ and treat it as my dump area (whether emails, filing, clutter).

    WRT #2: Ever hear the phrase ‘Perfect is the enemy of good?’ Perfection leads to misery. Strive for a quality work ethic, but demanding perfection from everything in life leads to disappointment and disatisfaction. At a certain point, good enough really is good enough and that last 80% of effort to get 20% more perfection just isn’t worth it.

    WRT #8: Like a Buddhist, striving to have less attachment to the material world will help folks let go of possessions.

  6. Stacey Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    mapgirl…but w/so much labeled ‘Misc’, don’t you find you’re handling your papers more than once? That’s a big no-no for time mgmt experts. And yes, I’m guilty of it over and over and over and thus am no expert! :)

  7. John @ The Financial Ladder Says:
    March 11th, 2010 at 11:01 am

    7.5 out of 10 ain’t bad. I faulter with the Misc. labeling, asking for help, and staying with what works.

  8. Forex Automatic Says:
    March 15th, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I, myself, am guilty of labeling some expenses as ‘miscellaneous’. I have never really thought about it until now. Thanks for sharing.

  9. ben Says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    In regard to your “6 month use it or lose it” policy, if my mother didn’t throw out my shoebox full of mint condition baseball cards in the 60’s, I’d be sending you this from my private jet right now.

  10. JLP Says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    ben,

    Obviously that statement doesn’t apply to everything…lol. I was referring to junk, not collectibles.

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