I have written about and taught people how to get organized and stay ahead of clutter for over 10 years. Some of my clients enjoy quick success, while others have ongoing problems. As I analyze why some people find it
more difficult to keep their lives in order, it often comes down to one simple thing…they don’t put items back in place after use. The first step in ordering one’s personal or professional space is, of course, giving everything that should be in that space a place to “live” permanently. But the even bigger and more challenging part of the equation is to put items back after use.
That all seems pretty simple and straight forward but you would be surprised how hard it is to get into the habit of putting things away immediately after use. This is a habit that needs concentration and persistence to develop. To help people create this new habit I suggest that my clients work at this day-by-day, rewarding themselves with each successful day of putting items away after use. It will take about 3 weeks to develop this new habit, and if you have struggled with the problem a long time, it may take a little longer to stick. However, once you are good at putting things away immediately after use, you will be surprised at how much time you save in a day.
So what does that look like exactly? When you wake up in the morning and you go to take a shower and brush your teeth, you place PJs in the closet or where ever they normally live. You brush your teeth and put the toothbrush and paste away. After you have breakfast, you put your dishes in the dishwasher. At work, you put files and documents away neatly and tidy your desk quickly before you leave. When you get home you put work clothes away and tidy used dishes in the dishwasher.
The point is that most clutter is a result of postponing work and decisions. The best way to combat creating clutter is to do tasks immediately unless you are in a huge time crunch. There are always times when doing tasks immediately is not possible, but if they become the exception rather than the rule you will have more time for fun and spend less time cleaning up.