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I have a bad tendency to let things — paperwork, tasks, laundry — pile up. That's why I'm often not as organized as I should be. By the time I go to put things away, I feel like I'm dealing with clutter so powerful it could defeat Godzilla (I've already started on the screenplay for Godzilla vs. That Pile of Stuff I Still Haven't Put Away Since Moving).
Thus, I am a huge proponent of making little steps towards organization. Below are 25 ways to organize your home, your finances, and your life that are quick and easy enough to attempt today. Seriously, start making a dent in your disorganization before it turns into a movie-worthy monster.
Organize Your Stuff
From the fridge to the filing cabinet, here are some ideas for organizing your things.
1. Identify What You Want to Organize
Yes, I am telling you to organize your organizing. Make a specific list of what you want to organize — the bookshelf? Your closet? Your drawers? If you have time, start to formulate a plan. Now, when you have a couple of hours over the weekend, you're ready to attack.
2. Buy Masking Tape and a Marker
Masking tape is a great way to create temporary labels for everything from storage containers in the basement to Tupperware in the freezer. Buy a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie, and always keep them in the same place.
3. Buy Containers and Dividers
If you're planning an organizing project, buy any containers or other organizing tools you need now. Just as with making the list, you're now totally ready to tackle the project when you have a moment.
Read on for more organizing tips.
4. Organize One Drawer or Shelf
Just one. Throw out junk, move things if they belong elsewhere, and neaten up what's left.
5. Find a Place for One Item
Have one item that's never put away, even though you don't always use it? Find it a home.
6. Designate a Donation Bag or Box
Now, when you see something that you want to donate to Goodwill, you can immediately pick it up and put it in the donation box instead of leaving it for later.
7. Lose the Leftovers
You don't need to clean the whole fridge at once — just remove any questionable leftovers or past-their-prime condiments.
8. Clean Your Bag
Remove everything you use from your purse, messenger bag, or briefcase. Clean out the dust, and put things back in nice and neatly.
9. Get a Mail Organizer
Whether it has different slots for everyone in the house or is just a basket that all the mail gets dropped into, stop throwing your letters and bills on the kitchen table.
10. Pack One Storage Container
Whether it's mementos, out-of-season clothing, or DVDs you rarely watch but want to keep, pack one storage container.
11. Scrapbook One Page
That big pile of photos is daunting. You don't need to organize them all at once, though — scrapbook one page. This is a great activity to do while watching TV.
12. File Something
Similarly, if you have a big pile of papers waiting to be filed, just tackle some of them — don't feel like you have to do them all.
13. Set a Yard Sale Date
Give yourself a deadline for getting yard sale items identified and out of the house. Consider asking a friend or neighbor to do the yard sale with you so someone holds you to it.
14. Cut Down on Accumulation
You have less to organize if you simply have less. When you're buying something, ask yourself if you really need it. Read more about this in Kentin's article on the Zero-Accumulation Household.
Organize Your Finances
It's important to know where you stand in order to reach your financial goals. Understand your money situation by making these small steps toward getting your funds organized.
15. Check Your Budget
Look at your budget — is it still accurate based on your current spending and income? Adjust accordingly. (Don't have a budget yet? Make one!)
16. Start Saving for a Specific Goal
Whether you open an online savings account or put $20 in an envelope labeled "new couch fund," make a plan for saving.
17. Research Opportunities to Streamline Your Accounts
Organize Your Computer
At work or at home, a disorganized computer can make for a unproductive day.
18. Set Up Folders
Are all of your files loose in "My Documents?" Create folders for different areas, and move files accordingly.
19. Clean Off Your Desktop
Now that you have those lovely folders, clean off your desktop. I have a chronic habit of downloading files to my desktop and not putting them elsewhere — in fact, I have (gulp) almost two monitors full right now. I'll be doing this one later tonight.
20. Answer Old Emails
If your inbox is piling up with messages you need to reply to, take a few minutes to start chipping away.
21. Hide Facebook "Friends"
Feeling inundated with status updates that you just don't care about but read anyway? Hide Facebook updates from repeat offenders. You'll still be friends, but you won't have to read about their disgust and fury every time the grocery store is out of cilantro.
Organize Your Time
Feel like you never have time to organize? Well, maybe your time is exactly what you need to tackle.
22. Track Your Time
Whether you use a spreadsheet or a time-tracking application, better understand where your time is going.
23. Get a Calendar
Even if you think you don't need it, almost everyone can benefit from having a calendar. I especially love Google Calendar, because it allows you to share your calendar with friends. Being able to see what my close friends are doing makes it easier to plan get-togethers.
24. Look at Your Calendar
A calendar won't do you any good if you don't use it. This might seem obvious, but I know plenty of folks who have calendars and never actually look at them.
25. Make a Chore Chart
If you have a family or roommates, a chore chart can help you fairly split tasks. And even if you live alone, having a list of chores can help you spread them out over the week.
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