We have all thought it and no doubt said it – “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Not a problem in the short term, but repeatedly putting off decisions about what to do with our possessions and the other items that arrive in our homes every day can lead to a long-term problem: stress caused by overwhelming clutter and disorganization.
So how do you beat procrastination and get down to sorting through the clutter that has built up in your home or workspace?
- Find some motivation. Set yourself an ‘organizing target’, clearing the surface of your desk for example, and give yourself a reward for completing the task. Pro tip: try to make the reward something that doesn’t further add to your clutter; think of a positive experience rather than just more stuff.
- Accept ‘good enough’. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before making a start on organizing – the perfect time may never come.
- Think small. Break the organizing up into smaller, more manageable tasks, such as clearing one drawer or closet, and write as a list or put each task separately onto a sticky note. Have great pleasure in crossing the task off the list or piling up your sticky notes as you work through your organizing, one bite-sized task at a time.
- Ask for help. If tackling your clutter seems too overwhelming on your own, ask a friend you trust to help you get going. If lots of the items you are trying to sort out belong to other family members or grown up children that no longer live with you, call them and ask them to come and pick their stuff up. This saves you from having to continue to store their things until you get around to delivering items yourself.
- Allow plenty of time. Be realistic about how long it will take to organize your space. Every organizing project is different and accurately estimating the time it will take you is near to impossible, but is almost guaranteed to be greater than you would think. If you are tackling a whole room it would be sensible to leave yourself a free weekend, rather than just a couple of hours one morning, so you have enough time to make decent progress and don’t have an excuse to go and do something else.
- Try ‘one box at a time’. One strategy that can help people to focus on sorting through their possessions, particularly paperwork, is to put all of your clutter into medium sized storage boxes and then go through them one box at a time. Setting yourself a target to sort through the boxes, one box a week for example, can help to prevent the boxes from staying there forever while more clutter builds up around them! Pro tip: be careful to separate time-sensitive paperwork such as bills that need to be paid, so you can deal with them first.
- Invite the pressure. This option is certainly not for the faint-hearted – invite a friend or relative to come and see your organized space when you expect to be finished organizing. That should give you some much needed motivation to get going and be done before they arrive.
I know it’s tempting, but don’t just shove your piles into the nearest closet or bag before you have visitors and think you’re done – this method not only doesn’t work for the long-term, it actually makes it more difficult for you to achieve your organizing goals in the future. Whatever you choose to do to get more organized, just choose to do something about it and soon your procrastinating days will be long behind you.