"Where’s that video I borrowed from the library last week? I need to return it today. " “Ah, man. I finished that research paper on Wednesday night and it’s due this morning. Where-in-the-world is it?" Does this sound too familiar? When you were in school, it was a real pain-in-the-neck to not be able to find something in your dorm room when you needed it—and maybe the consequences of not finding what you needed weren’t too big. But imagine what could happen if the thing you can’t find is a report your boss needs first thing this morning? Your job could be on the line. . . all because your house (or apartment or office) is in chaos.
And if you think things are hard to find now, picture yourself a few years from now rummaging through a four-bedroom house for one small item! It’s now or never. . . get your home (and your life) organized, or you may never know the peace and confidence of knowing where your ‘stuff’ is.
To make a success of your career (and your life as a whole), you need to know which end is up, where you’re going, and. . . where your stuff is! When you’ve got a new career to build, you can’t waste your time trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing today, which meeting you’re supposed to attend tonight, or where everyday items are hiding. It’s going to take some time to get your life pulled together, but it’ll take less time now than it will if you don’t try it until five or ten years from now, so it’s worth whatever time it takes.
What you need to do before you start organizing is to simplify. It makes no sense to take your precious time to beautifully organize a bunch of stuff you don’t use, need, or want. So rather than trying to organize what you have, you need to sort through what you have and get rid of everything you don’t need, want, use, or love.
Start in your bedroom. Spend an evening going through your dresser. Touch every single thing in every single drawer. Pick it up. Look at it. Think about the last time you actually used or wore it. If it’s been a year, or longer, toss it in a box—you’ll decide later what to do with these things. Next, move to the closet and do the same thing. You may find lots of clothing items that you really like, but when you think about the last time you actually picked that item and wore it out of the house, you might realize that you don’t really use or need it. . .in the box it goes. If you have a bookcase, or other furniture or dumping grounds, in your bedroom, continue repeating this same exercise until you’ve touched, and made a decision about, every item in your room.
Some situations you might come across while going through your things are broken items, items missing parts (or socks missing their mates), and things that can’t even be identified. Until you get comfortable tossing unused and unloved items, you might hold on to things that you think you’ll need (or wear) sometime in the future. Face it—if you haven’t used it or worn it in a year, you’re not likely to use it or wear it again. . . unclench that fist and chuck it in the box.
Once you’ve pared down the stuff in your home to just the things you use, need, and love, find the most practical place for each item. Do you read in bed or on the sofa in the living room? That’s where your books and magazines should be kept. If you don’t have and can’t afford bookcases, get some baskets for keeping your reading material neat and orderly.
Obviously, kitchen items belong in the kitchen—dishes, utensils, and glasses should stay near the sink and dishwasher (if you have one), and pots and pans should be kept next to (or even in) the stove. Clothes belong either in the bedroom closet or a dresser. . . no piles on the floor! If you don’t have a dresser, get plastic storage boxes to keep your clothes and shoes in order and free from dust. And for paying bills or bringing work home from the office, have one designated place for those things and never lay them down anywhere else.
You get the picture—“a place for everything and everything in its place. ” If you get yourself in the habit of always putting the same things back in the same places, you’ll never waste your time hunting for something you need right away. . . and you won’t have to make up excuses like ‘the dog ate my quarterly report. ’ Simplifying and organizing your home (and your life) does nothing but good things for you, but you need to do it now. . . or maybe never!
Kathryn Marion is President of Education for Reality™.in Erie, Colorado. Her book Success in the ‘Real World:’ The Graduate's Complete Guide to Making the Most of Your Career (and Your Life!) was released in April ‘05 in e-book format for its tenth anniversary-it was distributed through schools, colleges, and universities to nearly two million new graduates. Jam-packed with savvy insights and helpful advicem it covers everything from careers to money management to handling personal and even legal matters.
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