PART 1: ORGANIZED BLISS

Very few people are perfectly organized all of the time. Most of us can see room for improvement in many aspects of our lives. Those who are organized have to get organized to stay that way! These organizational wizards will usually create systems, schedules, fail-safes, and continually improve their plan. We love to hear your ideas and we also love to read about what really works from successful organizers all over the world. Working together we can save so much time and energy getting things in order.

Let's talk about reward systems. It's easy to say that you should reward yourself for tasks completed, but if you're anything like me, you'll end up taking the reward whether you finish or not. Let's say I have some really good ice cream in my freezer. I promise myself that I won't eat any until the junk drawer is finished. However, fifty things came up that afternoon, the drawer was left worse than when I started, and I know that I'm going to eat that ice cream anyway. Let's face it. If we had discipline, we wouldn't need help organizing in the first place.

I like to put my husband on "prize patrol". When something is finished, I can choose from certain rewards. For instance, when I'm done, I can either have a back rub, he'll do the dishes, or he'll handle the laundry for the night. If I don't finish, he's all too happy to withhold the reward and it's very motivating.

I usually advise people to start small and work their way up. Put two or three things on your to-do list that are most pressing or important; for instance, dishes and laundry. These two things are usually at the top of my list. Next, I make one little thing a third priority for the day. It may be something as simple as dusting the mantle, but it's just something that I always put off until the dust is a half-inch thick up there.

I keep a calendar so that I can jot down little notes. I keep track of the time that it took and what might make it easier next time. Then the next time that I do it, I write down how long I waited and if it would be better to do it sooner the next time. After the first couple of months, you'll have an idea of how many maintenance chores you have, how long they will take, what you need to complete them, and when you should schedule them in next. I always leave a day free each week for catching up and I try not to schedule more than 30 minutes or an hour of extra chores for myself.

When I started this, I felt a little overwhelmed. I thought that there was just too much. However, I was really surprised after about a week at how much easier it all seemed. I would concentrate on one thing at a time instead of worrying about the whole house. I loved having an experiment to focus on instead of randomly cleaning things that would be destroyed again in two days.

In Part 2 of the series "Organized Bliss" we will discuss how to set rules for yourself to better keep things organized after you get them that way. For example, do you know the clothes hangers trick? Turn all of your hangers backwards at the beginning of the season. When the season is over, give away the ones that are still backwards. Tips and more!