I was working on organizing my digital files on my computer the other day. I had learned a few things to get me started while listening in on a class by Tracey Gritz of The Efficient Office. As I began, I realized that organizing digital files was similar to home organizing.
All files, whether computer or paper, should be organized into work and personal.
Under ‘My Documents’ I added my two businesses and a personal file which I called HOME. By adding an underscore, these three files will stay at the beginning of the list. By capitalizing them, it distinguishes them as MAIN categories. Here is what it looks like on my computer:
Even though I added these main categories, ALL of my files are still under ‘My Documents’. Nothing ‘magically’ organizes them all into their specific categories. I have been using random bits of free time to go through each file and either delete it or slide it into one of the three categories. This takes time! I have so many documents that I have saved over the years I don’t even know what they are! Opening each one, reading it, and then exiting out to either delete it or drag it into the correct category takes so long. (Whine, whine…yes, I’d like some cheese with my whine.)
While I was going along doing this, I was feeling good. Oh, to see what files I actually had! I loved deleting files. It felt good to sort them into categories. The thing is, once I sort them into one of the three categories I STILL will have to go back through each of the three main categories to organize them.
Then I had a ‘light bulb’ moment.
This was JUST like any organizing project.
The first step is to SORT. As you sort an area you may be able to put it away, throw away, or place the item in the donate pile right away. If not, you have to place it in a category pile. Know this location may not be it’s permanent home.
For example, you are organizing your bathroom and you come across two random candles that you want to keep. Candles are around the house in various locations. You must decide that ALL candles will be gathered/placed in ONE location. You choose the cabinet under the bar in the kitchen for now. Any candle that you come across as you organize any room will now be placed in the cabinet under the bar. Just like with my files, if I kept a file related to family, home, kids, etc I slid it over to my HOME file. Later I will go back to that category and organize it. Later you will go back to the candle cabinet and organize it.
This is a roadblock to many people.
They are not sure where they should put things as they are organizing one room because their whole house is disorganized. There is no easy solution. Just pick a place. You can always change it later. Label it so you don’t forget, and place all like items there from now on! Here are some client examples:
- We were organizing a child’s room. There were baby items in the closet, but her child was currently 8 years old. We put those baby items in the corner of the basement. Special memorabilia went into a plastic tub in this corner. Other items went on the floor or piled on top of each other. We put a big sign above this location: BABY STUFF. As we sorted other areas of the house and found more baby items and baby memorabilia we placed them in the BABY STUFF location. Later, when we got to the basement, we went through the baby items and purged, donated, boxed up the items to keep, and created a permanent home for them.
- I was helping a client organize her kitchen. We come across school supplies in a cabinet. She had other paper supplies in a closet in the basement guest room. We designated that area for all office/school/paper supplies. As we sorted the hall closet, kitchen, and storage room, we put all items we found that fit into the school supplies category outside of the guest room closet. It was a mess, but eventually we got to that area to organize it. As we organized the school supplies it was great to know ALL the items that we needed to organize were in this ONE location!
Here is a before photo of the supply closet. I never took a photo of the supplies that we had gathered outside of the closet. 🙁
Here are the after photos of the closet. The closet is for school and paper supplies. It will also be used as a wrapping station. AND, there is still room for guests to use the closet!
Take the next ACTION STEPS.
- As you are organizing, understand that other areas of your home may appear messy and unorganized. This is part of the process.
- Decide on locations to temporarily gather ‘like’ items.
- Label these areas, if needed, so you don’t forget.
- Keep a list of the areas that you eventually need to get to. Don’t stress. Finish the area you are working on and gradually move through the list…one little area at a time!
- Remember, if you give them dates and are accountable to someone you increase your chances of success!
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Happy Organizing!!