Thursday, November 4, 2010

Organization Tips for the Chronically Cluttered


The above picture is my desk right now. I don't think I need to say that I'm not the most organized person. Everything's sort've strewn (this is actually much better than normal) and it drives my neat-freak boyfriend crazy. He tries to clean thing up for me a lot, but I usually find it doesn't help. Things go back to my version of normal pretty quickly. Oh well, nice try.

I'm like a lot of disorganized people I know in that my brain sort've malfunctions when things are too tidy. I know where most of my stuff is, even if it looks like there's no way I could have any clue. I do lose things on occasion, but I try to use a few simple tips to keep my clutter from ruining my peace of mind.

Don't Be Pressured

My boyfriend won't agree with this, but here's the thing: don't let yourself be told how you have to organize yourself. Not everyone works efficiently in the same way, so if a workspace that's kept super clean and sterile makes you cringe or cramps your style, screw it. You don't have to do things that way. Work with your quirks!

Color Coding

This, for me, is the most essential part of being efficiently cluttered, if you will. When it comes to notebook for class or important notes about assignments, I try to come up with a color system. All my notebooks are a different color and I generally write notes to myself in a certain pen so that I can tell what the note regards without too much thought. Since papers tend to pile up around these parts, having different bright colors to search for is super helpful. I can find a red notebook among the chaos pretty easily.

In and Out Boxes/Bins/Etc.

Since this is a short list of tips to help you stay cluttery but not lose anything, I have to advocate casual organization tools like bins. In and out boxes would be ideal-- I wish I had some-- so that you know where everything is generally speaking but it's also not a case of having everything all over the floor. You could make these cheap by cutting up old cereal boxes and either painting over them or using a chic wrapping paper to cover them (unless you're really fond of Cheerios).

White Boards

This may be a stretch, but a lot of us cluttered-types are also creative-types, and what do creative, whimsical people like more than a dry erase board? You can do silly doodles while staying on top of your schedule! I have one now that has a notes section and slots for each weekday and I think it will really help me keep my thoughts straight throughout the week (no more forgetting!) I've always loved planners, but unlike a planner, a white board's a one-time purchase and much more green, considering a day planner for every year of your life would be a whole lot of paper. And an added bonus: since you can mount a white board on the wall, it won't take up more desk space (or get lost).

Pile Technology

This is a term I coined sometime in the last year or so and has been my go-to room cleaning technique. It combines both organization (boring, eh) and disorganization (exciting, fun!) into several nice little packages ready to be put away. And I suppose we should put things away sometimes. Basically, it's easier for me to put my disarray of skirts into a pile, and shirts into a pile, and papers into a pile, etc. and go from there. I never know where to start when it comes to cleaning, so this way I can work my way through a lot of stuff in bite-size chunks. My boyfriend claims this method doesn't work and actually makes things more messy, but he likes to lie. A bunch of nice little piles is better than crap strewn all over the place, right?

Are you messy or neat? What does organization mean for you? What do you do to keep yourself organized?


Sydnie said...

I color code all of my things, too! My closet is entirely color coded, and within the colors, the clothes are organized from tanktop to teeshirt, shorts to pants. I'm actually quite a neat freak to the point where it's almost unacceptable ... there could be worse things to be, I suppose!


Mindy said...

Ah yes, the pile method. Made me immediately think of my childhood. When asked to clean the playroom, my siblings and I would play bulldozer and push everything into a big pile in the middle of the room and sort from there. I still do that sort of thing - when taking care of laundry - because starting with one big pile seems less intimidating than stuff scattered everywhere (and much less bending over for each and every pair of socks). The other childhood method for group cleaning was pretending their was a flood - so either work from the bottom up, or from one side of the room to the other. This could also be done with a time limit, and if there is anything left on the floor after a certain time, then it gets ruined in the "flood" and tossed out.

Kelly said...

When it comes to desks or other workspaces, I am totally cluttered. Everything I'm working on, all my reference books, every note I take, post its, magazines, notebooks - all of it is just all over the place. I feel like I can't think or *work* if I have to stop every 20 minutes to fish something out of a filing system or some perfectly organized drawer. and it drives my boyfriend CRAZY. He keeps trying to convince me to be more "organized" but he doesn't understand that putting everything away is totally the opposite of what I need. I'm this cluttered for a reason, not because I'm lazy!

Luke, Vanessa's Maid said...

The problem is you're all madness and no method. If I had a dime for each time you lost something, we wouldn't need to work EVER.

Also, pile technology only works for you because *I* end up putting your stuff away.

hugs and kisses

Vanessa said...

Luke: While I appreciate you taking the time to comment, I think you're just bitter because of that one time there was a spider on you and it was supposedly MY fault. So shush.

looooove you.

Elaine said...

Im' totally a clean freak. I love having things in their place!

Jeanni said...

I am SO messy! I need to clean my desk off though, which I haven't done in a while, and under my desk is getting bad. But I have a great spatial memory, so I remember where I put things pretty well. It drives my mom crazy, and I'm sure my roommate because she's very neat, but it's the way my life works out best. Although part of it is I'm basically living out of a suitcase for the next four years when I'm with my parents since everything I own is in storage because it's my grandmother's house and she already had the house the way she wanted it, so "my" room is really her spare room and it's full of her stuff in the closets and the dresser and desk. So I have a suitcase on the floor and some clothes hung up in the closet, and I really can't avoid a mess when I don't have any space of my own there. Dorms are small, so to me it seems crazy that anyone can keep them neat. Although, I'll admit, I'm guilty of not putting laundry away for a week before.

Vanessa said...

Jeanni: Don't feel bad about not putting laundry away-- I don't think anyone likes to do it, and I'm definitely guilty of taking a week, too :)

laii said...

I follow the pile method too! For me "organized chaos" works. I've tried to follow the PEEP method (a place for everything, and everything in its place) and it works for about a week or so, but then I just end up back in piles.

I've noticed that the pile method tends to work better when there is a neat person to help counter-balance the clutter. My fiancee is more of a "neat freak" personality, but he's learned to embrace my piles and make them work for him as well.


Vanessa said...

PEEP method? That's the most adorable acronym I've ever heard!

Laells said...

I definitely colour code things or I least try to keep things in folders.

I admit that I'm a pack rat and I leave things all over but I never let it get to messy.

Thank goodness my boyfriend is tidier than myself. His tidyness and better organizational skills have rubbed off on me a little bit.

Kimberley said...

Fab post and it came at just the right time! I have chaotic mess everywhere at the moment and am finding the clean up a little overwhelming. Will definitely keep your tips in mind. :) x


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