I am notoriously absent-minded. Sometimes I think it's why I set up my organising business in the first place, as I've had to learn how to cope with my total inability to keep things in my head by developing strategies and systems.
In my 20s and 30s I had a job which involved a lot of travel, which is why I started with beauty bags. I kept all my products permanently in my hanging bag so I could simply roll it up and be ready to go at any time. Now I'm a mum of 2 my head is crammed with even more stuff, and if I didn't run a tight ship I would never remember anything!
That's not to say I haven't had times when the system has fallen apart - like the holiday in Cornwall where we travelled late at night to avoid the traffic, with the kids in in their pyjamas in the back of the car. When we got to St Ives in the morning they had no shoes OR coats. It was a very expensive holiday!
So I've learned that it's crucial to me to store things neatly in the place they are needed, and to keep everything as tidy as possible, otherwise things get forgotten and I quickly start to feel overwhelmed and out of control.
This is borne out by research from scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute which shows 'that our brains like order, and that 'constant visual reminders of disorganisation drain our cognitive resources and reduce our ability to focus'.
As Libby Sander, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at the Bond University Business school puts it, 'Our physical environments significantly influence our cognition, emotions, and behaviour, affecting our decision-making and relationships with others. Cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus, our eating choices, and even our sleep'.
So, how do you keep yourself organised when you're not naturally organised?Here are my top three tips:
1. Buy Less
As Vivienne Westwood says, 'buy less, choose well, make it last'. Consider when you're about to buy a product, you are committing to storing it maintaining it, cleaning it and eventually, disposing of it. I find this helps me to cut down those mindless purchases and only buy what I really need. Less stuff means you have less to think about and less to tidy, so you can focus your attention on what really matters (like packing your kids' shoes!).
Buy the best quality you can afford, and make sure you scrutinise the detail - do the materials look robust? Is it well-designed and functional? Is it classic and not likely to date? Is it easy to clean and maintain? ONLY buy it if all the answers to those questions is an emphatic YES!
2. Declutter regularly
Do it one drawer at a time instead of waiting for the 'perfect moment' to get it ALL done at once. I hang one of those fabric bags I always seem to have a million of on the hook on the back of my bedroom door, and fill it with unwanted (good quality) stuff as I'm tidying up each week. The next time I go into town, I donate it into the nearest charity shop. It's amazing how much clutter you can clear doing it bit by bit!
3. Get it organised
Those precious cognitive resources soon start draining when you have lots of little things to remember, so I tend to organise by end-use and keep things where they are needed.
So for example, my daughter's swimming kit lives in her swimming bag on a hook by the front door. That way it's one less thing to think about when we're in a rush to leave the house 5 minutes before her swimming lesson starts.
Chargers and cables are kept in clear pouches near the charging station - (I write MUM on mine with a sharpie to make sure they don't go walkabout!) My spare laptop charger lives in a clear pouch in my laptop case ready for my next meeting and I keep my kindle together in its charger so it's ready for my next overnight stay. I love using clear bags, because you can see at a glance what's inside, saving precious time and cognitive resources!
I'm also a big fan of drawer dividers, keeping things separate and easy to view. My morning routine was revolutionised when I separated my every day makeup from my 'out-out' cosmetics, so I no longer had to rummage through a load of glittery eyeshadows and false eyelashes to find my tinted moisturiser every morning.
Do you have any organising advice? Do let us know by commenting below, and sign up for our newsletter - it's packed full of hacks and pro tips to keep you organised, calm and in control.