Training yourself to be more organized

A couple of years ago, I was the biggest packrat you ever saw.

I also had files, folders, music, items all scattered all over my entire apartment and in a HUGE HONKING MESS

Then one day, I looked at the pile of papers on the table, felt a migraine coming on and said: This has gotta stop.

And from there, I started reading organizational tips here and there, but mostly, I ended up looking at what I used, what I didn’t use and what I was keeping just for sentimental reasons.

Then this slow wave of “Wow.. my life is SO cluttered right now”.. washed over me, and hence the whole Closet Cleanout ordeal, and the wave of organizing (Project Scanathon – scanning in all my documents into e-copies), and basically trying to pare down on everything I own.

The dream is to be able to move everything I own, in 2 suitcases or less. Big ones mind you, but enough to take everything I own with me to a big city. Can I achieve that? Probably not. Can I try? Hell yes.

But the main point of this rambling post, is that you can train yourself to be organized. For example: I’ve gotten into the habit of the following for files and folders because we all know technology + files + email + attachments = SUCKS

– Using numbers in front. E.g. “1. Project A“, “2. Project B“, because that way, it organizes your folders in a logical manner instead of doing it alphabetically

– Using naming conventions. I do it like this: General Category_Sub Category_Name of file_Day Month Year
E.g. Bank_Statement_Quarterly Retirement_01 Apr 2008

– Renaming everything I get. People send me excel and word files with “untitled”, or non-descriptive terms like “sales”. For me to really find what I need, I rename sales for example to: Project_Sales_Forecast to Plan_JSmith_23 Mar 2008
*JSmith is the person who sent it, so I always remember where I got it from. Sometimes I don’t bother with the name.

The key is to find a naming convention that fits with how your brain works.

– Organizing it into folders: Music, Photographs (by Groups of people like: Friends, Family, etc)

– Backing up everything, two, three, four times. I do this about twice a week or more. Yes, je suis anal retentive. In my line of work, things can disappear off a shared server or drive in a matter of seconds. I like having multiple backups in case I do a major change then someone comes back to me with a puppy dog face like: OOOPS I f*cked up and want it back to the original format, don’t hate me!……. To which I reply: Ok, I won’t any more because you see, I backed up everything from the past πŸ˜›

Kind of mad huh? I also do that “Sort by Type” thing in Windows so that all my Powerpoints group together, or all my Excels group together.

It was a real pain in the ass in the beginning, but now, it’s just habit. πŸ™‚ And it has flowed into almost all aspects of my life, and now everything is ridiculously organized…

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.