Clean your desk, edit your closet, make better lists: organizing tips

Therese Reyes
Organizing isn’t just about being clutter-free; it can also help you do things better

MANILA, Philippines – “Keep only things that spark joy.”

That’s the philosophy behind KonMari, the revolutionary organizing method created by Marie Kondo. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s simply about gathering all your belongings in one room, classifying them into categories (clothes, books, etc.), and checking to see which items make you happy. If the acid-wash wide leg jeans you think you’ll need for Halloween doesn’t make the cut, its time to say bye-bye. A quick Pinterest search of users who have “Kondo’ed” their closets yields very drastic, interesting results.

While you don’t need to go into extremes like basically throwing away everything you own, there certainly is merit in decluttering your life. And it doesn’t stop with your material belongings. Decluttering can also work for tidying up your priorities and letting go of emotional baggage. 

If you’ve been feeling like you’re stuck in a rut, here are some tips to help you jumpstart a few changes: from cleaning your desk, to editing your wardrobe, to discovering what it really is you truly want to do with your life.

Clearing your desk

Your desk or work area is where you probably spend most of your time. Unsurprisingly, how it looks can affect your mood and outlook for the rest of the week. 

Start organizing your desk by getting rid of things you don’t need. This is called “The Purge” and it’s less scary than it sounds. Letting go of clutter means finally throwing away old receipts, extra coffee mugs, and leaking pens. This way, you only have to organize things you do have use for. 

Once you’ve zoned in on the bare necessities, organize your things by making use of filing trays, penholders, corkboards, and magazine racks. Compartmentalizing won’t only make your desk look nice, it will also subtly distinguish “work zones” from “leisure zones.” 

After cleaning out your physical desktop, do the same with your computer. Go through your folders and delete files you don’t need anymore. If there’s a chance that they’ll be of use in the future, move them to a hard drive.  

Cleaning out your closet

Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are just some examples of successful people who have avoided the “what should I wear?” problem by donning the same outfit everyday. While you don’t need to do exactly that, your closet could still benefit from a little streamlining. 

Do this by applying the same technique you used for your desk. If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in a while, it might be time for you to let it go. Remember: every item should have a purpose. If it doesn’t fit anymore, you should pass it on already, too.

To avoid having an overflowing closet again, think long and hard before purchasing something next time. The usual advice is to invest in key pieces like jeans, crisp shirts, and little black dresses, but there’s no need to limit yourself to these recos if they don’t suit your style. The secret is to buy things you know you’ll be using all the time ­– if for you that means clogs, then go right ahead. 

Photo courtesy of The Bullet Journal's official Facebook page

The art of making lists

Although our mobile phones and laptops have hardwired us to keep all records in a digital space, there’s still some value in writing things down. Keep track of everything you need to do for the day by creating lists; for example, many people swear by the Bullet Journal method to create their task lists. It allows you to “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” Its monthly logs give you an overview of what you need to accomplish for that month while daily logs show you a rundown of more specific tasks. 

One thing that sets the Bullet Journal apart is its use of short bulleted sentences in three categories: tasks (dot bullet), events (circle bullet), and notes (dash bullet), giving you an instant visual of what’s in store for the day. 

And you don’t even need to follow it to a T. Take what works for you and create your own system. 

Which should go first, easy or difficult tasks? 

Whether you should start your day with easy or difficult tasks all depends on your outlook.

If you’re the type of person who tends to dread things, then ripping the Band-Aid fast and doing difficult things first might be a good idea. This way, you get over them quicker and have easier, more enjoyable tasks to look forward to. 

On the other hand, if your usual problem is getting into “the zone,” then starting with easier duties can get you there. This will give you confidence, drive, and momentum to work on harder things later on. 

Setting goals 

Craft your goals so that they are  specific, doable, and most importantly, things you truly want. For example, instead of saying, “I will become sexy,” say, “I will exercise for an hour 3x a week.”

Once you know what things you want to accomplish, jot them down on a piece of paper or on your phone. Separate short-term goals from long-term ones so you don’t get intimidated. It also helps to read or re-write them everyday as a constant reminder. Or, set a deadline for achieving them!

If you find yourself getting sidetracked, that’s okay. Goals are there to guide you, but be open to different outcomes. After all, these surprise opportunities may just be better than what you’ve initially planned for yourself. – 

Reflect on your priorities, write down your objectives, and review your progress with the Rappler Be The Good Organizer. Use the Be The Good board to visualize your goals and the My Mood Meter page to keep track of what makes you happy, amused, and inspired.