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Posts Tagged ‘how to get rid of wasted space’

How to Avoid Mistakes Getting Organized

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
January 11th, 2016

7 paper-_folders_pileMistakes to Avoid in Getting Organized

Nothing can be more frustrating then spending time on getting organized only to find that over time it returns back to the way it was. There are common mistakes made in getting organized – most often because you tried to hard. When getting organized at home or work, remember to set up a system that will work for everyone in your environment – not just you. You don’t want to be the only one who can understand and use the system. Seven common organizing mistakes are below. 

1. Be Careful with Color Coding Files
Use caution when color-coding. When setting up a filing system don’t color code with file folders. The only color you will probably remember is green for money. If you can’t remember the color-coding, how will others remember it?

It is okay to use simple color-coding. For example, you may want to designate files that belong in one location. You can designate them by using two different colors, one color for each location. This way it will be very obvious when a file was put back in the wrong place.

You also can designate important files versus unimportant files. Important files can be red. A good rule of them to keep it simple is to use no more than 2 colors.

2. Getting Rid of Air Space, aka Wasted Space
Don’t fall victim to thinking that all items of the same category have to be on the same shelf. If you do, you may have air space or wasted space above them. For example, if you place baking items on a shelf and you place a bag of flour and box of baking soda on the same shelf, you’re definitely going to have some wasted space above the baking soda. If you find considerable air space, you may want to get rid of it by making some easy adjustments.

To understand the concept, think of the soda isle at the grocery store. All Coke products are not on the same shelf or row. Instead, all Coke products are in the same column. You’ll find each shelf, or row, with soda of the same height. All 2-liters of soda are one shelf. All 22-ounce bottles of soda are on another shelf. All soda cans are on yet another. This way there is no air space or wasted space above the different heights of Coke or other sodas.

To maximize storage space, always choose pullout shelving over stationary shelving. With stationary shelving you need to leave space above items to see and reach to the back. With pullout shelving you do not need to leave any space. You will be able to put in more in pullout shelves than with stationary shelves.

3. Don’t Buy Containers
When taking on an organizing project, don’t buy containers before you begin. You’ll need to sort and purge to determine what and how much you have left to organize and containerize.

4. Don’t Let Your Giveaway or Recycle Pile Stay
The first step in getting organized is to purge and get rid of what you don’t need or want. Designate two bags or boxes as giveaway and recycle. But more importantly, make a definite plan as to when you will be dropping these off. A common pitfall is letting the giveaways and recycling sit in a room or garage. If you need to, designate someone, a family member or friend, to see it through.

5. Organizing Takes More Time than You Think

Divide your organizing project into achievable segments. Don’t pull everything out of your garage or clothes closet and think you will get it all done. Before you know it, it’s nightfall. The car needs to go in the garage, but there still is stuff that you pulled out and put on the driveway. Or it’s time for bed and now you need to move your clothes from the bed to chair. Your organizing project looks worse than when you started.

To avoid this common pitfall, first decide the area you want to get organized. Then, determine how much time you have or how much time you can realistically last working on organizing. Then decide what specifically you are going to work on and divide it into achievable segments. Keep in mind the first step in any organizing project should be to sort and purge. Then you will see what you have left to organize.

6. Hire Help or Take a Class
Realize that you’re not an organizing expert and that you can’t be good at everything you do. Your niche may be crafts or cooking. If it is, let it be just that.  Some artists are born with the natural talent to paint. The same is true for organizing.  You’re either born with the organizing gene (passion) or not.

Books on organizing may be great but most people have trouble getting organized from a book because there is no one to talk to and ask questions. If this applies to you, consider taking a class on organizing or hire a professional organizer. This way you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions.

There is so much to learn and know about organizing. Keep in mind, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

7. Organization Takes Maintenance
There are very few things that don’t require maintenance. Just like your lawn and laundry, organization requires maintenance. Your house or office is not going to stay organized unless you take the time to maintain it. For example, your file folders and clothes closet will be bursting at the seams if you don’t take the time to purge once a year.

Have a designated place for everything and put things back right away. If your life gets chaotic, stop and take a half-hour to put things away. For consistent ongoing maintenance to have a clutter-free home, consider having clutter patrol once a night. That means taking 10 minutes at the end of each day when everyone in the household goes around putting their things away.

The same techniques appliy at the office. Stop a half-hour before quitting time. Take 10 minutes to tidy-up. While tiding-up, create your to-do list for tomorrow.

Happy Organizing!
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