Last time, I wrote about reasons why a space might need to be tackled more than once. Yesterday, as I worked with a client in her office, I was reminded of another important organizing lesson. Having time specifically for clean-up is key to staying organized.
If you have children, or even have ever taken care of a child for any extended period of time, I'm sure you can remember a time when play was over, and it was time to clean-up. Some may have made it into a game. My toddler nephew even has a clean-up song! This tells me we're trying to instill the idea of putting things away when we're done at a very early age. Mom and Dad don't want to trip over toys after Baby's gone to bed. Why then would we want to sift through piles of paper tomorrow when there's still time to file things today?
Probably, because we're busier than when we were at two or three. We also don't have parents looking over us to make sure we do it right away. But, we do have bosses or co-workers or a place to live where we share space with another person. And, these people care what their space looks like, just as you do. More importantly, they care about what their space feels like.
I suggest a simple practice to help overcome the "I'll leave it for later" attitude. When the clock is getting closer to quitting time, on whatever it is you're working on - actual work for a job, playing a game, trying to get to bed in the evening - reach for a timer. Anything you can set to warn you that you have 15 minutes or 10 or 20. When the timer goes off, finish your thought to finish what you were working on. Take these last 15 minutes of the work day to put away the files you're done with. Stack up or sort out tomorrow's tasks. Clear your desk so the first thing you see tomorrow isn't a pile of disheveled papers. Take this idea to any area of your life. Before going to bed, set that timer again for 15 minutes. Use these last few minutes to get dishes in the sink or dishwasher, put clothes into hampers and toys back into baskets. Tomorrow morning you'll be greeted with cleared surfaces and less on your to-do plate.
And, yes, 15 minutes is enough. It makes a difference, and it makes a dent. You can even sing a song while you do it!