Organizational Systems That Will Change Your Life

by Toria Sheffield

Getting organized isn't always the hard part — it's staying organized that's the doozy. It's why not just organizing, but developing organizational systems that you will actually stick to are so incredibly important when it comes to keeping things in your life streamlined and efficient.

The thing about organizational systems (for example, a process that you always stick to when it comes to how you put your clothes away) is that a little extra work up front means a lot less work overall. It's the difference between a little daily maintenance and having to spend an entire weekend cleaning out your closet because you let the mess go so very far.

And it's a lesson that took me a long time to learn. In fact, I didn't start really organizing my life until I started having a lot of unexpected medical issues, which meant a lot of random yet super important paper work started flooding into my mailbox each week. I basically needed to develop a system for filing and organizing lest I lose something crazy important, and as soon as I realized how completely revolutionary this way, I was an organizational system convert.

If you've started to feel like clutter and disorganization are getting the best of you, here are eight super helpful organizational systems that will help you majorly keep things together.

1. A Command Center

You've probably seen them on Pinterest, but if you haven't, all a "command center" really means is a centralized location in your home where important information is displayed. It's where you can keep a hanging wall calendar, a running list of things you need from the store, and things like the Wi-Fi password. If you have multiple members of your household you can also include a box for each person's incoming mail or for things you don't want to lose, like your keys.

2. A Proper Filing System

White + Aqua Stow 3-Drawer File Cabinet, $229,

Investing in a filing cabinet is probably the single most important thing I have ever done for my personal organization. It meant I suddenly had a centralized location to keep things like bank information, eye prescriptions, and remote control directions, as well as fun momentos like birthday cards that I wanted to keep without creating clutter. Blogger and Slow Your Home podcaster Brooke McAlary recommends investing in a filing cabinet for all of the various papers in your home. For those new to an organizational system, she says to go through your space and grab every single item of paper clutter, and then spend time putting it in the appropriate file category.

3. A Mail System

In a piece for Good Housekeeping, Cheryl Eisen, home stager and President of the Interior Marketing Group, said she subjects every piece of mail that she gets to the "two F's test." If you can't file it or frame it, then you should toss it asap. This will save you sorting through a pile of mail on the weekend, or worse, losing something important.

4. A Follow Up Box

Stacking Multiform Letter Tray, $8.95,

This is a personal tip that helps me ensure I never lose anything important or that needs attention. I keep a "follow up" box on my kitchen table for mail I need to address immediately, like bills or RSVPs. That way I don't need to waste time looking for things when I actually have time to deal wit them.

5. E-mail Folders

Keeping things decluttered doesn't just have to be about your physical space; it can be about your virtual space as well. In a piece for Apartment Therapy, personal organizer Jeni Aron strongly recommended creating email folders for all your different projects and information so that you don't waste any time searching through hundreds of files for a single email. "You can do this with doctors, kid's school emails (sort by year, teacher, kid) and every other area of your life. When the project or year is over, go nuts with deleting," Aron said.

6. To Do List

This might seem super obvious, but it's worth mentioning because it's so incredibly helpful. In a piece for Forbes, productivity expert Vanessa Loder noted that to-do lists are extremely important in terms of keeping ourselves organized because they help us prioritize. However, she also stressed the importance of not overwhelming yourself with too many list items (in fact, she recommended keeping it to three, even though I personally like to keep track of every little thing in one place), and said to do the most important thing first. That way you'll already have accomplished the most necessary list-item, even if you don't get to everything.

7. A Personal Calendar

If a "command center" style wall calendar isn't for you, you should probably consider a personal planner or a digital calendar system. A piece on on the effective use of personal calendars stressed the importance of keeping things simple. They noted that having too many calendars can be just as useless as not having one at all, as the more calendars you have to synch and update, the higher the likelihood something will fall through the cracks. They recommended sticking to a single calendar if you can, and two at most for work and home.

I personally like to keep all important dates and appointments in my calendar and keep a running to do and "to buy" list in a separate place, so that way whenever I find myself at the store I don't have to worry about not remembering something I needed.

8. A System For Jewelry

A Real Tree Come True Jewelry Stand, $39.99,

I find that unorganized jewelry is one of the fastest ways to forget what you have and to never actually end up wearing it. I started keeping my necklaces on a jewelry tree and everything else in a hanging organizer. That way I not only can easily see what I own, but nothing every gets annoyingly tangled.

Don't let organization intimidate you. Just carve out a day to set up a few basic systems, and prepare to spend way less time cleaning and decluttering.

Images: Pexels (5)