No doubt about it, some people have a gift for organization. Me? I was behind the door when that gift was handed out. Be that as it may, even the organization-challenged can learn new habits and organizational skills for a greater degree of order and efficiency. While home organization comes to mind, organizational skills for college students are also a necessity. What are nine organizational skills?

One very popular system for improving organization in the home is that of “Messies Anonymous,” founded by Sandra Felton. Felton was once a disorganized “Messie.” She rated her friends on a scale of 1 to 10 according to how neat their homes were, then grilled the 9′s to find their tips. (She found that the 10′s were so extreme they had traded off some of the joy of living for the sake of a clean home!)

Marla Cilley, author of Sink Reflections has helped many homemakers overcome disorganized habits, too. She refers to people as either “BO’s” (born organized), or “SHE’s” (sidetracked home executives.) SHE’s exhibit some of the characteristics of people who have been diagnosed with adult ADHD. These people feel on the go constantly and avoid routine tasks. They have a hard time finishing projects, too. Even a person with ADHD can learn the techniques of the naturally organized, and become more organized themselves.

1. Do it now. Procrastination leads to getting snowed under a pile of work.

2. Use your trash can liberally. Born organized people don’t think twice about throwing things away. They aren’t tempted to keep old worn out appliances around “just in case.” They don’t worry about whether they can recycle that mayonnaise jar or not. They just toss things.

3. Get into a routine. B.O.’s don’t wait for time to clean the whole bathroom. They wipe off the sink every time they notice it’s splashed. They shine the mirror every day while brushing their teeth. They run sudsy water to use while cooking, so stirring spoons and saute pans are washed before the meal even goes on the table.

4. Put it where it goes. Disorganized people tend to stash things until they can figure out a better place for it or decide whether to even keep it or not. B.O.’s go ahead and toss it, file it, or otherwise deal with it before it becomes clutter.

5. Write dates on your calendar, and then remember to check the calendar every day. B.O.’s don’t have to be told.

6. Pick up after yourself. (How embarrassing that we adults need to be reminded to do this!) Periodically look around for things you’ve left out of place – a used coffee cup, the mail, or a book you’re reading. Put them away before the mess gets out of hand.

7. Invest in organizing gadgets and then use them. Office organization is one area that benefits from file drawers, in/out boxes, and desk organizers. However, if the system is unrealistic or unhandy, you won’t use it.

8. Don’t be afraid of a little expenditure of energy. Many times the small tasks of putting things away and keeping things clean take much less time and energy than we think they will. I find that if I push myself a bit, these tasks are much simpler done more frequently, while the job is still small.

9. Get yourself a daily planner, and use it. Cilley points out that B.O.’s don’t have to be told how to use a calendar or a planner, but on her website, she gives directions for gaining these organizational skills. Her directions for creating a “control journal” in effect fix readers up with free organizing planners.

Anyone, whether naturally inclined to organization or not, can benefit from implementing these suggestions. For those of us who struggle with disorganization, a few simple tips like these can give us a real boost in efficiency.

Barbara Wood is a writer and educator living with her family in the Missouri Ozarks.

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