Don’t wait until you reach your breaking point to start organizing. Do use it as a daily practice to reflect and encourage who you are, what you want, and where you’re going, says Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out.
Don’t pay attention to looks. Do focus on function instead. “If you can find what you’re looking for when you need it, feel unencumbered in achieving your goals, and are happy in your space, then you are well-organized,” says Morgenstern in her new book.
Don’t organize from the outside in by acting on impulse. Do organize from the inside out and evaluate the total picture before making any immediate changes. You may need that file you unintentionally throw out when rummaging for the documents below it.
Don’t attack before analyzing and strategizing. Do take the time to step back and take stock of your current situation by defining where you are, where you’re going, what’s holding you back, and why it’s important to get there, says Morgenstern. Then, create a plan of action to successfully employ.
Don’t blame yourself—or your genes!—for utter disorganization. Do identify barriers that could be standing in your way like technical errors, external realities, and psychological obstacles. Complex organizing systems, uncooperative partners, and unclear goals and priorities can all play a part, says Morgenstern.
Don’t give up trying to organize when you run into difficulties. Do take stock and figure out on paper what’s working, what’s not working, what items are most essential to you, what do you want to get organized, and what’s causing the problems? Morgenstern recommends considering each question for every organizing project you take on.
Don’t simply fit organizing into your free time; it may take longer or much less time to complete. Do factor organizing into your schedule to devote adequate attention to it without feeling stressed or bullied by a big mess.
Don’t forget to equalize, the last step in Morgenstern’s “SPACE” plan. After a couple of weeks, do take time to balance things out and continue to make appointments with yourself periodically to evaluate how well your system is working, says Morgenstern.