Thursday, April 23, 2009

the 3 phases of getting organized

The key to getting organized (and staying that way!) is to understand that organizing is made up of three distinct phases: the project phase, the habits-creation phase, and use and maintenance.

The Project Phase:
The project phase is what we typically think of when we set out to “get organized.” It’s the Saturday afternoon spent in your closet, sorting your clothes, deciding what to keep and what to let go of, and placing your keepers into nifty storage containers or onto new, matching hangers. For many, the project phase is the most rewarding. You start out with a mess and end with a calm and orderly space—complete with shiny new storage solutions.

The Habits-Creation Phase:
The next phase of organizing involves creating new habits—habits that enable you to consistently use your newly created organizing systems. If you successfully create new habits, your space will stay organized for longer and you won’t have to repeat the project phase as frequently.

The Use and Maintenance Phase:
The final stage in organizing is the use and maintenance phase. What happens when you buy a new jacket, shirt or pair of pants? Does it go into the closet with the rest of your clothes, or do you pull out a tired and faded garment on the spot? Using this type of one-in-one-out system is just one example of how to maintain your organized space going forward. The use and maintenance phase involves selecting specific strategies that will help you keep up your organized spaces (and enjoy their benefits!), as well as tweak your systems if you find they don’t work for you.

Once you recognize these three distinct phases of organizing, and how they apply to the various projects in your home, you can use this knowledge to troubleshoot what isn’t working for you and, most importantly, why. Did you set up the system in a way that will work best for you during the project phase? Did you create the necessary habits to use the system effectively? So often our first step when things aren’t working is to repeat the project phase, but it could be that your systems are set up perfectly, and you just need to create the habits to use your systems more effectively.

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