Managed to sneak in a week’s vacation this week. Our office is moving soon to a new location and I’m heavily involved, so getting time away is a challenge.
This week hasn’t been terribly productive, unless you count catching up on sleep. Even so, between downsizing at home and preparing for the move at work, organization is heavily on my mind. Here are a couple of pointers if you’re looking to lighten your load also.
1) Even if you have it on paper (and want to keep it on paper), try to make a digital copy of most everything. Photos, documents, etc. Paper piles up quickly and much of it you really don’t need to have taking up space. Digital copies (and backups) allows you to eliminate much of it. It also saves you if a disaster comes, like flood or fire. At least then, not everything is lost.
And label those digital copies in a useful way. Simply calling a file ‘Joe’, then ‘Joe2’ and ‘Joe3’ isn’t very helpful. Yes, it narrows things down, but what if you’re looking for a photo of Joe Marshall’s fifth birthday party? And what if you know more than one Joe? You still have to wade through all those photos until you find the one you want. Instead, labelling them something like ‘Marshall_Joe_fifth birthday party’ or ‘Marshall_Joe_birthday party_06.21.17’ gives you a much better idea of what/who is in a photo.
While this applies to your day-to-day life, it can also specifically be applied to your hobbies or even your avocations. I have a ton of research I have collected on various topics in connection with my writing. I want to be able to find that information easily, and not have to hunt it down on the Internet a second time. Giving files useful names is the key.
2) Try to keep things organized from the start. It’s much easier to maintain than it is to suddenly start organizing a ton of information. If you already have that ton of information lying around unorganized, start fresh now keeping things in order, and then clean up that disorganized information as you find time. It will make it easier to find things, work with information, etc.
3) Trust me on this – you are NOT going to remember as much as you think you will several years from now. I can look back at things I wrote ten or more years ago about people who were obviously important to me at that time and have no clue who they were, what they looked like or anything about them. If you really want to remember, you’d best be getting it in writing and in photos and making sure photos are labelled as to who is in them, where it was taken and anything else of importance.
4) Take a close look at what you have. Some things are keepsakes, but do you remember why? If not, why are you keeping them? Those books on your shelves – do you ever read them, refer to them or are you likely to do so? If not, why are they there? If it’s broken and useless, put it in the trash. If it is still useful and someone else might like it, give it to someone you know or a charity or a library or anyone else interested.
Some cities have a Freecycle email group wherein you can offer what you have and others can claim it. Then you simply arrange for them to collect it. You can also request things you need that someone might have lying around, but would like to get rid of. If you can find one of those lists, it is a more targeted way of sharing things that you no longer have use for.
Do you want to spend your summer cleaning house and organizing things? Probably not, but you can do a little at a time. If you open a junk drawer and see something that belongs somewhere else or is broken or is no longer needed, get it out of there while you’re thinking of it. If you have time, maybe clean that entire drawer. Set up a box or bag for donations or things to give to family members. Then every time you run across something put it in that box/bag and that’s one less thing in your drawers or closets. If you are getting something out of your closet, and spot something you never wear and probably never will again, pull it out of there now.
Truthfully, I’m one of the laziest people you’ll find, but being efficient means I do less work with less effort. I’m in my living room. If I get up to go into the bathroom, bedroom or kitchen, and there is something in the living room that should be in one of those places, I take it with me when I go. Then I don’t have to make a special trip. If I take a dirty dish to the kitchen and have time, I might wash all the accumulated dirty dishes before I leave the kitchen.
You can simplify your life if you try, and it’s amazing how getting rid of clutter and having things organized lifts a load from your mind.