Get organized and stress less

Mar 22, 2010 at 2:08 p.m. ET

Do you want to have more time, energy and space in your life? It's not as difficult as you may imagine. Simply thinking about clutter and living in disorganized space robs you of your energy, wastes your time and heightens your level of stress. With a few action steps, you can be on your way to crafting an environment that supports you to achieve greater levels of success.

organized home

How to get organized and stress less

Creating calm

Living in disorganized space affects your inner self, meaning you may feel discouraged and distracted. Every time you need to find something -- every time you look at the mess all around you -- your energy is zapped. And every time your energy is zapped, you feel more and more drained. It's no wonder you're exhausted at the end of the day and can find little time to do the things you want to do!

There are simple steps you can take to eliminate the clutter, simplify your life, give yourself more energy and find greater peace. There are two parts to the plan: first is getting organized, and the second is staying organized.

Solo a no-go?

If you are really unable to get started by yourself, you may want to hire a professional organizer. (Yes, there are people out there who make a living doing this!)

Many people finding that having a coach (like a life coach) helps them get focused and keeps them motivated to get it done!

Get started Organizing!

neat, orderly bedroom

While you are getting everything sorted out, you can create systems to stop additional clutter.

A great way to get started and keep things from piling up is the touch-it-only-once-rule. When you come into the house with your mail, for example, stand by the recycling bin (or trashcan) and go through it. Separate the bills and other things you need to keep, recycle/throw out what you can, and then file everything else away. Create a simple system so that it becomes second nature.

 Deal with things in the moment using the "3D model" -- Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it.

Think of it this way: Clutter is really the result of delayed decision-making. By using the 3D system, you are teaching yourself to make decisions on the spot.

Most of the things you save (even the papers you file) you will never use or look at again. Don't be afraid of discarding things you don't use or need. If you are afraid to get rid of something, put a date on it -- and if you haven't used it by that date, get rid of it! (Get more tips in our article Time-saving strategies for keeping records, paying bills.)

Another basic rule to organization: if you move something, put it back. Teach your children and other family members to do the same.

So that's what the top of the desk looks like!

Is your desk a mess? Put aside 15 minutes of uninterrupted time each day -- that means door closed and your phone to voice mail -- and clear it out one drawer at a time. Or better yet, come in on a day off and clean out the entire desk! You may be surprised at what you find. (One person I know found several checks that she had not deposited, and another discovered a restaurant gift certificate that was a week away from expiring.)

Every day, stop work 15 to 30 minutes before you are ready to leave to clear your desk and organize your work. Get in the habit of not allowing clutter into your life. Take a stand and stop procrastinating -- take yourself more seriously and stop saving stuff you will never read or use!

Can you envision it: no more wasted time spent looking for things... everything you need being right at your fingertips... lots of space to move around and do your work. (Get a good labeling system in place -- that will make it even easier to find what you need at a glance.)

Leaving your workspace clutter-free and organized is a great way to wrap up your day -- and think of how you'll feel when you come in the next day to an organized and clutter-free workspace!

More organizing tips and tricks: