We all have a closet or drawer that we cram random stuff into, piles of stuff that we need to deal with. Sometimes, those piles accumulate more than we planned on. After a while, the thought of cleaning it up gets overwhelming. I'm pretty sure we have all been there.
I have spent the last two weeks helping a friend clean out their mess. My friend was beyond overwhelmed with the tubs and tubs of paperwork he had not dealt with over the years. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named prefers to remain anonymous on this post.
In the tubs of paperwork, we found empty envelopes, unopened junk mail, unopened important mail, napkins, wrappers, receipts dating back to 1995, paper scraps, money, mold growing on files, balls that chime (no joke) and even a pair of baby-sized scissors.
It was a mess.
For those of you who are wondering how to find your way out of this mess, I have some suggestions.
1. Motivation and procrastination books do not work. In this case, they just got buried with the rest of the junk. I was even told, "Save that! I'm going to read those!" by my hoarder friend.
2. Make lists and prioritize them. I'd probably pick #4 to go first.
3. If you are not a naturally organized person, ask a friend to help you. This would work best if you have an OCD friend (like me) who thinks organizing people's stuff is fun. I know it is a sick and twisted trait, but it is the truth. It brings me happiness. Maybe you have someone like that in your life too? Just know that if you have a friend help you will have to suck up your pride and get a sense of humor about it.
4. Reserve a day or a set of days to get to work. Got a Saturday or Sunday you can stay home? Perfect.
5. Find things to sort your piles of stuff into. I have used bankers boxes (Walmart sells them by the 10-pack), paper sacks, and laundry baskets in the past. You can sort files this way or even sort by which room of the house things will go to.
6. If you are doing this at home alone on a Saturday, try to find a way to make it fun. I like to bring everything to my living room and watch a chick flick (or two if I have that much stuff). If I can't be in my living room, I listen to fun music or load a movie onto my iPad. I usually pick a movie that I have seen a million times but still love (Pride & Prejudice or Bridget Jones' Diary are my usual picks) so that I won't be glued to the screen too much.
7. Set up a system you will be able to use. Be realistic. Too often we make things too hard and it all goes right back to the way it was. If you aren't going to file or deal with paperwork daily, put a basket somewhere to throw stuff in and promise yourself to get around to it one day a week. Then do it.
My favorite thing about getting organized is that the rest of my life starts feeling more relaxed. It's true! When I get unorganized my thoughts start to scatter.
Now if I could only get paid to organize for an actual job, that would be a great deal!