Admit it: Nearly all of us have areas of our lives where we could use a little more order and a little less chaos. Maybe it’s the teetering stack of unopened mail on the kitchen countertop threatening to collapse at any minute. Maybe it’s a vehicle that is overflowing with fast food bags, the stench of two-week-old French fries permeating the air. Or maybe it’s just our minds—clouded and weighed down with endless to-do lists. Denver resident Melinda Smith understands that this is the reality for most people. But she also understands that today’s often chaotic and fast-paced lifestyle can pose a serious detriment to one’s mind, body and soul. “We all feel better when we’re organized. There’s a real sense of accomplishment and balance,” Smith says. Nearly ten years ago, Smith, who is certified by the National Association of Professional Organizers, started Balance and Harmony. She helps busy Lake Norman residents take control of all aspects of their lives, including work, home and overall planning and time management. The key, she says, is to change the process one follows in daily living. After all, anybody can clean up a room and store things in a container box, but if a new process isn’t put in place that room is just going to get messy again in a matter of weeks. To help you de-clutter and better organize your life for the New Year, she offers the following tips:
Every time you get gas, make it a point to clean out your car. “It can be as simple as that. It doesn’t have to be added to your day, it’s looking for moments when you can be more productive.”
When you get the mail, immediately throw away what’s trash, shred what needs to be shredded and put any bills in a folder. “The longer you delay, the more mail you’re going to have to go through, which is going to take longer.”
Smith says a lot of kitchens have too many items that are rarely used. To cut down on the clutter, arrange your cabinets so that the things you use more often are the most accessible.
Split up your cleaning duties throughout the week so that it doesn’t seem overwhelming. For example, dust on Mondays, vacuum on Tuesdays and do laundry on Wednesdays.
Don’t just make to-do lists. Schedule your to-dos into your calendar so that your lists don’t languish. And if you can skip the to-do paper altogether by creating an electronic list, that’s one less piece of clutter you have to worry about.
In your bathroom, organize items by function. “You want to have it be harder to get and easier to put away. Our mindset is, if we need something, we’re going to go out of our way to get it. If it’s not easy to put away, we tend to put it on the counter and say, ‘I’ll get to it later.’ As an example, consider creating a drawer for hair supplies where you may have to dig through it to find what you need but where it will be easier to put items away.
Reserve the last 15 minutes of your work shift for cleaning up your desk and tying up loose ends. “You’re going to feel better the next day when you have a clean workspace to start the day.”
If all else fails, make sure to do these three things everyday: Make your bed, do the dishes and maintain a clean desk. “Even if other things are out of place, by doing these three things you’re going to feeling more orderly and in control.”