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I was always being told to clean my room when I was a kid. It wasn’t because I was disobedient (actually the opposite is true); I was just naturally messy. I think it is the way some minds naturally work.

Photo Credit: risaikeda via Compfight cc

I can’t speak for all the messy folks out there, but my issue is once I know the outcome, I rarely need to finish. As such, I am ready to move on to the next thing. For a child, that means toys don’t get put away, craft projects are not completed and their room is super messy. For adults it means papers are not filed, lots of projects are in progress and the surface of the desk is only a distant memory. But there is hope for those of us that are naturally messy.

I won’t say that these organizational tips for messy people are easy, because depending upon our mindsets they can be extremely difficult. However, none of them are physically complicated. As with many things, it can be just a case of mind over matter.

Trick #1 – Eliminate the Extra

Getting rid of the all things that you “might need some day,” frees up space for the things that you actually DO need. The key to this is finding someone to help with the purge process. Although I can totally help someone else with this process, it is super difficult for me to do on my own. So I hire a friend for a half-a-day to work with me on a focused area (too much at one time is overwhelming). Because it is not their stuff, they can look at all of it objectively. Have the other person ask questions like:

  • When was the last time you needed/use/wore this?
  • How will you use this in the future?
  • In the future will you actually use/wear this one or will you want/need to buy a newer version?
  • Does it have sentimental value?

Working through the questions helps you understand why you are keeping something or makes it easier to get rid of it.

Having a plan for your discards is also helpful. I am much quicker to get rid of the old sweater that I don’t wear and is out of style when I realize the donation of the sweater will help someone in need. So part of what I hire my helper to also do is take and distribute all of my donations on my behalf. Otherwise, they never get truly donated, they just end up in a different pile in a different part of the house.

Trick #2 – Make a Home

Giving everything a permanent space to live (that isn’t a pile), makes it much easier to get things put away. This is most challenging as new things arrive into your life. Thus the reasoning behind Trick #1. Some things will belong with similar items (like filing), but other things will be new and different.

Most often these wind up on the nearest flat surface and then tend to stay there for an indefinite period of time. When something new comes into your possession, strive to make a home for it immediately whether it is a permanent home, temporary home or in the trash. If not, you will need to see Trick #3.

Trick #3 – Schedule Clean-ups

Even when the other two tricks are well implemented, there will still be slip-ups, ultimately resulting in a messy space. Right now I can see most of my desk and that has been the case for nearly a week. That might be a new record for me given I have not been traveling. But I know at some point I will slip…I am naturally messy.

So I have a recurring task that pops up 10 days after the last time I checked it off to “Clean My Office”. Because even though I am naturally messy, I have also discovered that I am significantly more productive when my work space is clear of clutter. I have learned that when I stick to my 10-day cycle, the focused effort to pick up and put things away is relatively minimal.

In addition to ongoing management clean-ups, I will also regularly schedule (at much longer intervals) the “big” cleans that are associated with Tricks 1 & 2. As with the others, these too become easier as time passes and a regular schedule is established.

Are you naturally messy or neat? Either way, if you have tricks for staying organized, we would love to hear them.