Do you have a New Year’s goal to bring some order to the evil Empire of clutter that reigns in your home? Have you pledged to get your lightsabers in line and junk drawer organized? If so, here’s five principles from Star Wars that will to get you headed in the right direction.
“Do, or Do Not. There is No Try”
Don’t set yourself up to give a half-effort. Pick a reasonable task to start with, and commit to completing it. One small victory will whet your organizational appetite, and you’ll find yourself eager for the next project. Even if you only organize one area of your home, that’s one less room, closet, or drawer that belongs to the dark side.
Put up a calendar and make an organizational date with yourself. Do your best to set aside more time than you think you’ll need for the project. Let your friends or family know that you’re organizing on that date, make an announcement on social media, rent a billboard. Do whatever it takes to hold yourself accountable!
“Focus on the Here and Now”
A Jedi focuses on the moment, and doesn’t allow non-essentials to cloud her judgment. In the same way, your daily life will flow better if the things you use most often are within easy reach, and easily identifiable. This means storage containers that are either transparent or clearly labeled. Don’t hide things from yourself—that only forces you to make a mess as you hunt for what you need and discourages you from sticking to your organizational plan.
Take a cluttered area (maybe a bath vanity top or kitchen counter) and sort the mess into groups. Toothbrushes here, cotton swabs there, or spatulas in one pile, measuring cups in another. From each pile, select the items that you use the most, and set the others aside. This may mean tossing them into a hidden storage area (do you really need the entire box of 500 Q-tips on the counter?) or trashing them completely (family of four with nine toothbrushes? Time to purge!).
Now put those commonly used items in clear containers. Make them easy to see, and easy to put back where they belong.
Images courtesy of Good Housekeeping, Crate & Barrel, and Refinery 29
“Unlearn What You Have Learned”
Messy conditions come from bad habits. Break those habits, and provide clear alternatives for how to do things going forward. Use the clear container and clear labeling strategy from the above tip to help yourself and others see where items should go. If possible, make the storage system attractive or fun, so that there’s a psychological reward every time it’s used.
Entry areas can be a real swamp when it comes to piles of wet, dirty coats and boots. See my blog, The Best Tips for Organizing Your Entryway, for tips on bringing order to these hotspots of mess.
Let’s use dress shoes as a case study. A simple, DIY shoe rack can let you scan your options quickly, and takes away any guess work about where your shoes go when you put them back. By making it a no-brainer to see where your shoes go, you’ll train yourself to put your shoes away, rather than collect in a pile. Note that this shoe rack doesn’t require each pair have its own unique spot—as long as they’re up off the floor and easily visible, you don’t need a complicated set of rules for what goes where.
Image courtesy of Brit + Co.
“Size Matters Not”
No matter how big your home, no matter how messy it is, if you break it down into smaller projects it will suddenly become manageable.
With one small but effective organization completed, do some dreaming. Take the biggest, wildest, most impossibly complex organizational task you’ve got, and picture how it will look completed. Maybe it’s the garage packed full of things other than cars, or a house with clutter in every room. Now mentally divide it into smaller areas, until you can imagine one project that’s within your grasp.
And for those projects that involve moving items that are too large or too heavy for just you? Well, remember that Jedis are generals. Recruit friends or family to help move larger items, or to push through a tough project. Aim to complete the job while they’re present, or share photos of the completed project with them when you’re done. This lets your helpers know that all their hard work was time well-spent, and makes them more likely to help you out in the future.
Take one rebellious step. In your garage, organize just the rakes. Bring order to one small area of a bigger project, and allow yourself to celebrate your success. Then, tackle one more aspect of that project. Gradually, you’ll find that each new step accelerates the process, leaving you with a cleaner, more organized home.
Image courtesy of Apartment Therapy
“Let the Wookie Win”
Give yourself permission to be imperfect. A well-organized home can be a beautiful thing, but you don’t need to hold yourself up to an impossible standard. Letting chaos reign in a few place can sometimes be relaxing, and make you appreciate the organized parts of your home all the more.
Have one spot where you give yourself permission to be as cluttered as you want. Maybe a child’s playroom that stays covered with toys, or a large ‘junk’ bin that you don’t even bother trying to sort through. Now, go to that spot and relax. Play with the kids, rummage through the junk box, and laugh at all the weird stuff you’ve collected over the years. Have some fun, and recharge your batteries for your next project!