Life is full of hectic times and unexpected events. Sometimes our organization falls to the wayside during these busy and stressful times. But you can always get back to organization! Today I’m sharing how I get organized after a busy season.
How to Get Organized After a Busy Season
Life is busy….
When we hit a particularly busy season of life our organizational routines and systems can fall to the wayside.
But when things calm down and return to a more normal pace, we can always get back to those organizational habits and routines.
Instead of jumping in and overwhelming myself, I like to complete a few simple steps that help me to “reset” after a hectic time.
Today, I’m sharing the steps I take to get organized after a busy season!
Declutter (and Clean) Our Home’s Main Floor
After the dust has settled (literally and metaphorically) after a busy season, one of the first tasks I tackle is to straighten and clean our home’s main floor. Our main floor includes our family and living rooms, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom.
Thirty minutes to an hour spent clearing clutter helps me to breathe a sigh of relief. And the lack of clutter in our main living spaces frees up mental and physical energy that I desperately need after coming off a crazy season!
If I have time, I’ll quickly dust, sweep, and vacuum the main living areas and clean the toilet, counters, and mirrors in the main floor bathroom. I don’t worry about doing a deep cleaning, because I know I’ll be getting back to my regular daily and weekly cleaning tasks within a few days.
Once I’ve cleared the clutter from our main living areas, I head into my home office.
Clear My Desk
The first thing I do in my home office to get organized after a busy season is clear my desk.
My desk is the central hub of my office, and it’s stressful to try to work at a cluttered desk. Shuffling piles, notebooks, writing utensils, and unfinished projects just to find a spot to work is a recipe for poor focus and productivity.
Desk Clearing Steps
These are the steps I complete to clear my desk:
- Put writing utensils away
- File papers in my file system or binders
- Return books and binders to their shelves
- Throw away or recycle items
- Fill a bin with items that need returned to other rooms
- Place items that require action from me in my inbox (mail that needs opened, items I need to review, bills to be paid, etc.)
- Wipe down my desk top, if necessary, to clear the dust, lint, and itty bitty irritants
I have a regular habit of clearing off the top of my desk, so this only takes me about 15 minutes unless it has been a really hectic season.
No matter how long it takes, clearing my desk is a simple and effective way to reset after a busy time!
I talk more about the importance of a desk clearing habit and how to establish one in my 7-Day Office Organization Challenge. Each day we tackle one office trouble spot, declutter and organize it, and create processes (habits & routines) to KEEP it that way! Join the challenge for FREE!
Empty My Inbox
At this point, I’ve decluttered the main floor of our home and cleared the top of my desk. Yay!
Now, I turn my attention to my office inbox.
My inbox is always overflowing after a busy season like the holidays or the end of summer break.
I’ll spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour processing all the items in my inbox. This is such a nice way for me to get current with the paperwork that has flowed into our home during a hectic time.
Inbox Emptying Steps
When I empty my inbox and process the items in it, I:
- Open mail
- File papers
- Record important information in my planner and/or calendar
- Pay bills
- Deposit checks
- Add tasks to my to-do list
- Create folders or binders for new projects
- Scan items
- Sign school papers and have my kids return them to their backpacks
I love the sight of an empty inbox, and it sets the tone for my return to a more “normal” schedule and pace!
Learn more about how I use an office inbox and the steps I complete to maintain it in this post: My Favorite Clutter-Busting Tool for the Home Office!
Straighten and Declutter My Home Office
Once my desk top is clear and my inbox is empty, it’s time to declutter the rest of my home office!
During a busy season, like the holidays, my office becomes a dumping ground for stuff that doesn’t have a home (or an easily accessed home). Kids’ projects, extra decor items (that I didn’t return to the basement), myriad papers, and mail all end up piled in my office.
Since I rarely have time for anything other than must-do tasks during busy seasons, the piles that build up in my office sit there until life slows down or returns to a more normal pace.
How I Quickly Declutter My Office
When it’s time to declutter my office, I set a timer for 15 minutes and move as quickly as possible to clear the stacks and piles.
- Throw trash away
- Put items to be recycled in a bin
- Place items that belong in another room in a bin
- Return office items to their assigned homes
Once I’ve collected and sorted the clutter in my office, I take some time to empty the bins I filled. I dump the trash and recycling in the larger collection bins, shred items that need shredded, and return items that belong in other rooms to their assigned homes.
This entire process usually takes me about 30 minutes, but the rewards make that time well spent!
If you’d like to take this process a little deeper, check out my post, Spring Clean and Declutter Your Office in 4 Steps. It’s a great way to achieve a shiny clean and clutter-free office without the overwhelm (and it works anytime, not just in the spring)!
Now I’ve cleared my desktop, emptied my inbox, and decluttered my office, so I can sit down at my desk and focus.
This is the time I like to complete a brain dump.
Brain dumps are my favorite way to clear mental clutter!
All you need is a notepad or notebook, paper, and something with which to write. You can also add a timer if you’re afraid you might spend too much time on this step or get sucked into the task list vortex. 😉
I look around my office, at my calendar and my planner, in my email inbox, at my action files and Trello boards, and in my office inbox, etc., to see what tasks, projects, ideas, and thoughts pop up.
I write as fast as I can and try not to censor myself. The point here is to empty my brain of as much mental clutter as I can as quickly as possible!
I include EVERYTHING (household, family, personal, work) when I complete a brain dump. If you’d rather do separate brain dumps for each area of your life, feel free. As always, make this process your own!
When I’m not in a hectic time of life, I complete a brain dump during my Sunday routine. You can see the entire routine in this post, 6 Things To Do on Sunday for the Best Work Week Ever!
Questions to Help with Your Brain Dump
If this process feels too open-ended for you, here’s a list of questions to get your brain dump started.
**Resist the urge to become overwhelmed when looking at this list! It’s long, but the questions are meant to work like triggers, so that your mind will remember anything related to those areas.
- What projects are unfinished?
- What steps need to be taken to finish those projects? (*Need a Project Planner to break the steps down? Grab one HERE!)
- What items need a place to live, as in “everything in its place?”
- Do you need any office supplies?
- Does your computer, printer, phone, or other tech items need maintenance, software, updates, or scanned for viruses and other vulnerabilities?
- If you drive your car for work, does it need cleaned?
- Does your car need any maintenance?
- Are there any concerns with your car?
- Are there emails you need to send or return?
- Does your inbox need decluttered or organized?
- What’s happening this week?
- What prep do you need to complete for this week?
- Are there any events that aren’t on your calendar that need to be?
- What else pops into your mind when you look at your calendar?
- How do you want to start your day?
- How would you like to end your day?
- What do you want to accomplish this week?
- What would you like to read this week?
- Is there anything you need to mail?
- What small steps can you take this week to make progress on your big goals?
These questions will likely trigger other dump items that aren’t related. That’s okay. Include them, and keep writing until you run out of things to write (or until your timer goes off).
Make a Plan
Once I finish my brain dump, I feel SO much better! Not only is my physical space clear and uncluttered, so is my mind, and I can actually focus. What an amazing feeling especially after coming off a hectic season of life!
At this point, I like to go back through my brain dump and categorize the items on it.
This is the system I created:
- Neon Orange Asterisk – I put this next to items that are bugging me or weighing on me
- Purple Star – for items associated with deadlines
- Red Line – I mark urgent items with a red line
- Pink Circle – this category is for items that are important (usually they relate to my highest values and goals: my family, personal development, health and wellness, etc)
- Aqua Heart – items that I want to do get marked with an aqua heart (we need some fun stuff on our lists, too, right?!)
Once items have been categorized, I go back through and use letters (A, B, C) to prioritize the items in each category.
Finally, I’ll add top tasks to my Trello lists for each of the upcoming workdays, or I’ll create a written list in my bullet journal.
When adding tasks to my Trello lists, I try to include one item from each category. But that doesn’t always work out. Sometimes items with purple stars fill my list entirely (deadline-related items). However, if I try to include items from each category, then I’m better able to maintain balance and I don’t risk burning myself out.
Check out my 7 tips for writing a better to-do list in this post: How to Write a Better To-Do List & Actually Get Your To-Do’s DONE!
How to Get Organized After a Busy Season
It’s perfectly normal for our organizational routines and systems to fall to the wayside during busy seasons of life.
The important thing to remember is that you can always get re-organized and come back to your systems and routines!
These are the steps I follow to get organized after a busy season. I hope they help you to get re-organized and reset, too!
If you found today’s post helpful, you might also enjoy these related posts:
- 5 Habits of Organized People You Can Adopt Today
- The #1 Habit You Need to Make Office Organization Successful
- 10 Quick and Easy Ways to Declutter Your Desk
- How to Prioritize Your To-Do List by Asking 5 Questions
What tasks do you tackle in order to reset after a busy season in life?
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Thanks for joining me today!