As a Professional Organizer and speaker, I am always joking around with audiences that I am an organized person because I am lazy. I don’t want to do things over again, waste time looking for things, or go out when I don’t need to leave my chair.
Upon analyzing this “laziness,” I have realized there are four main questions organized people are always asking themselves. Here are a few tips that will clarify and reinforce each of these concepts so you can start thinking like an organized person in your daily life.
Question 1: How can I do this faster?
Focus on saving steps. Busboys in restaurants save steps by using a plastic tub to gather dishes from multiple tables– a simple tool enables them to carry more than their hands could on their own. If you are going to run one errand, stop and think if there are others on your route you could do at the same time.
Question 2: How can I not do this at all?
Delegate whenever possible. Look into outsourcing tasks whenever possible, as it makes sense for your budget. Tasks like oil changes, housecleaning, and car washes often make sense for most people.
Go online for common tasks. You can print your own postage and arrange for a carrier pickup from the post office’s website, which means you don’t have to go to the post office. Shopping online means you won’t have to drive to the mall.
Think “low maintenance.” Don’t buy things that require a lot of upkeep. Remember, everything you own is something you need to maintain. Buy more dark-colored clothing for children to camouflage stains, and don’t buy white furniture or carpet.
Question 3: How will I remember this later?
Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you do something once, chances are you may need to do it again. Write it down and leave yourself a crumb trail. Capture it into a trusted system, such as your computer, your calendar, or your filing system, so you don’t have to re-create it later.
Question 4: How can I use my time better?
Focus on one thing at a time. You might think of an organized person as juggling many things at once, but actually it’s been proven more efficient to handle things one at a time. This Wall Street Journal article discusses how managing two important mental tasks at once reduces the brainpower available for either task. So, while people think they are saving time by multitasking, they are actually doing both tasks ineffectively.
Wait wisely. Waiting is almost always wasted time, unless you are prepared. Try to prevent this wasted time by going to places when they are less busy, such as shopping at off-peak hours. If you know you are going to wait somewhere, you can bring things with you to do while you wait. Even if all you do is bring your own reading material, it is so much better to read your own things instead of the 2-year-old magazines they have in most waiting rooms.
Most of these tips amount to simply placing a high value on your time. Peter Drucker said, “Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.” If you resolve to place the highest value on your time, organization will soon follow.
Lorie Marrero is a Professional Organizer and creator of The Clutter Diet, an innovative, affordable online program for home organization. Lorie’s site helps members lose “Clutter-Pounds” from their home by providing online access to her team of organizers. Lorie writes something useful, funny, interesting, and/or insanely practical every few days or so in The Clutter Diet Blog. She lives in Austin, TX, where her company has provided hands-on organizing services to clients since 2000.