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Getting Organized - Are You Falling Behind with Clutter?


Published: 05/08/2014

by Hellen Buttigieg

Is it just me, or is life getting busier? It takes a lot of juggling to keep all the balls in the air. But every once in a while, something comes along that pulls us off balance.

It could be something we welcome, like a promotion, a new addition to the family, a move or a renovation, or something unwanted, like an illness, death of a loved one, or job loss.


Whether it’s a pleasant change or a difficult one, it takes our time, energy and focus away from our day-to-day balancing act, and the balls start to drop. Tasks start to pile up, clutter starts to build and we fall behind.


When we get to a place of being overwhelmed, everything seems important and it’s difficult to decide where to start to get back on track. We feel stuck. But the longer we wait, the harder it is to catch up.


Here are some steps to get you back into the flow of life.


1. Take a deep breath and remember that you don’t have to do everything in one day. Managing your expectations and thoughts will keep you in a positive frame of mind and increase your productivity.


2. Put everything on hold that’s not urgent. Give yourself uninterrupted time to tackle the most pressing tasks first. Delegate tasks if you can.


3. Use shortcuts to catch up on e-mail. Arrange e-mails by ‘From’. This is a quick way to group them so you can highlight and delete those that are not important. Create a ‘To read’ folder for newsletters and other correspondence that would be nice to read someday – when you are not crunched for time. Don’t get pulled into reading unimportant messages. Set a timer to keep you on task.


4. Clear your desk or table to allow you to focus clearly and be more effective. Sort through the mail and other paperwork that has accumulated.


5. Get help with laundry. Whether you enlist family members to do some of it (e.g., sorting, folding and putting away) or send it out to a laundry service once in a while, it will relieve stress and ensure everyone has clean underwear.

No one has it all together 100% of the time, so ease up on yourself. Take these steps, one at a time, and you’ll have your life back on track in no time. 


 Quick and easy paperwork sorting tips


Envelopes that are empty and other irrelevant paperwork should go straight into a recycling bin or a box for shredding later.


Magazines and other ‘To read’ items go into a basket placed where you do most of your reading.


Bills go into a ‘To pay’ file. Book a recurring date on your calendar to handle these – perhaps every other week.


Documents you need to keep (but that require no action) go in a ‘To file’ tray. Place it on or near a filing cabinet.


Any documents that require some kind of action (but not urgently) go in an ‘Act’ file. Book a date on your calendar to go through this file and schedule time to tackle each item. It may be helpful to keep a running list of these actions.


Hellen Buttigieg, CPO, is a Certified Professional Organizer, life coach, TV

personality, author and speaker. For details, visit

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