We live in a society that is busy, busy, busy -- go, go, go. It is so easy get overwhelmed with our day-to-day activities and responsibilities. With the economic down turn we are told that in order to secure our jobs we must be willing to take on more and more with out objection and figure out how to handle it later. Outside of work we have responsibilities and homes to manage. It's no wonder so many of us struggle with highly stressful lifestyles.
By taking steps to organize our lives and be more mindful of our choices we can cut out some of the stress and simplify our lives.
1. De-clutter regularly- Over time things have a tendency to build up and clutter our homes and offices. Take time frequently to look at your surroundings and edit what can be removed. Start with the big things, for example, do you have a tendency to collect furniture? You buy a new end table to replace the existing one but rather than get rid of the old one, you just move it to fulfill a new function. This could easily result in an abundance of end tables. Go room-to-room and take it step-by-step. Soon your home or office will be less cluttered and more relaxing.
2. Put things back- Once you have your space de-cluttered and more organized, remember to put things back where they belong! It makes no sense to spend time organizing your bathroom drawers only to go back to leaving your flat iron on the counter every morning. It has a spot, put it away!
3. Color code your closet- This is my favorite way to be organized! I hang all my clothes in color order in my closet starting with white and ending with black. I also keep a bin near the bottom of my closet so that when I take a piece of clothing out to wear I can put the hanger in the bin. That way hangers don't get lost or stuck at strange angles in the closet and when you go to hang your clothes back up you can just grab a hanger and then stick the clothes in the correct color zone.
4. Pay bills twice a month- Separate your bills into two chunks, those that need to be paid at the beginning of the month and those that need to be paid the second half of the month. At the beginning of the month, on pay day, pay the first half of bills. That way you do not have to worry about missing bills or remembering due dates. This also allows you more control of your budget. Once all your bills are paid for that pay period you know exactly how much expendable income you have. Do the same for the second half of the month.
5. Keep your computer desktop clean- Rather than saving all your files individually to your desk top, create folders to keep things organized and easy to find. For example, instead of having one folder designated for photos, have multiple folders for Family, Friends, Birthdays, Christmas, etc. that way when you are looking for a photo it will be easier to track down.
6. Hang up your keys- You should always keep your keys in the same place and it should be a designated place. Whether it is a hook near the door so you can hang them up when you come in and go out, or like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, you just keep them in a bowl called the "key bowl," your keys need a home. You can save precious time searching for your missing keys when in a hurry if you put them away every time.
7. Pick a day for major chores- Set aside a day to do the major cleaning such as dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the toilets. If you set aside some time and do these all at once it will go much quicker and your home will be cleaner and more pleasant.
8. Keep your inbox empty- Read through your emails and delete all the junk. If you have emails that you need to keep for reference use folders to keep you inbox clean and less overwhelming.
9. Think good thoughts- Try to stay positive. If you find yourself griping about a co-worker or family member try to think of something good about them to negate the negative. I have a hard time with this one, it's hard in the moment to take a step back and try to be positive. However, I find that the times that I do this I have a much better outlook and am able to get over it faster than if I let if fester.
10. Evaluate your commitments and learn to say no- Take a good look at the things you are committed to and evaluate the reasons you do them. Are you involved in a social club that is draining you and sucking up your time and efforts. Really contemplate why you do these things and if it is really worth the effort, time and sometimes money that you spend. Learn to say no, don't over stretch yourself. Just because you say no does not mean you don't care.
For further reading on how to simplify your life refer to Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways To Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter, by Elain St. James; Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from the Inside Out, by Richard Carlson; Organizing Plain and Simple: A Ready Reference Guide with Hundreds of Solutions to Your Everyday Clutter Challenges, by Donna Smallin. All of these books can be found at www.Amazon.com.