SORTED: Steps to Organize Your Life

The SORTED System

When life is all cluttered up with too much stuff, it’s distracting and stressful. We fill our time with stuff we call work so that we can buy stuff we call things. Once we have those things, we spend even more time working to manage those things and keep them in their places.


It’s an endless cycle. The more things you have the less you are able to enjoy what you have. The more you fill up your time with things that don’t bring true fulfillment, the less time you have to really enjoy doing what you love.


“SORTED” is a system that I developed to help busy people with busy lives simplify and organize so that they are able to enjoy life more. It gives structure to the process of bringing order to your life, so that you are able to actually complete the process and enjoy the freedom that it creates, rather than trying endlessly to declutter, and never feeling like you’re getting anywhere.


SORTED is an acronym for the process. Each of the six letters of “SORTED” stands for one of the steps of the system. When the steps are completed in the correct order, they bring significant, lasting change.


The SORTED system can be applied to any area of your life that you’d like to create more order in. In the book, I discuss in detail how to apply SORTED to your schedule, physical possessions, and future goals.


SORTED: The System

Summon

The first letter of SORTED is “S” and it stands for “Summon.” According to the dictionary, to Summon means, “To authoritatively call to be present.” So whatever you are trying to bring order to needs to be brought out.


Gather up all the items that you want to get sorted. If you’re working on organizing your house, then you’ll want to work through it one category at a time. So, for example, you could Summon all of your clothing.


As the definition of Summon says, “authoritatively.” You’re in charge of your stuff! It doesn’t have power of its own. If you’ve decided that you want to bring order to it, then you have a right to do so.


Bring all the items out into the light, together in one place. Don’t let any of them hide away in the back of your closet or the laundry pile. Pull it all out so you can really take care of it.


Order

Once you have everything assembled, then you’re ready to move on to the next step, Order. With everything in one big heap, it’s tough to see what you’re really working with. You’ll hold up one item after another and just feel overwhelmed and unsure.


So, you need to bring order to the category of items, so that you have more clarity. Do this by sorting the big pile into many smaller categories. If you’re working on clothes, for example, order the items into piles such as “sweaters,” “skirts,” “jackets,” etc. If you were sorting your kitchen items, then you might have piles of “mugs,” “glasses,” “silverware,” and so on.


Once everything is broken down into specific categories, you’ll be able to really see how many sweaters you have --- and it’s likely more than you realized! “Ordering” the items is so beneficial because it brings clarity that you can’t get any other way.


Reclaim

Now that all the items are clearly defined, you can work through each of the specific piles and decide what you want to keep. And yes, that’s how you should think about it: “What do I really want to keep?”


You have all this stuff, and you know it’s weighing you down, distracting you, and wasting your time. You’ve already decided you don’t want it all, and you KNOW that it’s certainly not all necessary. So, what do you want to keep? Which of these items are really worth your time, and worth sacrificing space for?


Keep those things that give you real enjoyment: the things that when you pick them up you feel happy inside! Keep the practical things that you actually use on a regular basis.


All the rest? Just let it go. “The rest” is stuff that’s cluttering up your life; stuff that isn’t adding real value, but IS sucking up your time.


But, don’t focus on what you should get rid of. That will only make you hold on tighter and cling to that stuff you “might need.” Yes, you might need it; but more likely you won’t, and until you might happen to need it, it’s just going to be wasting your valuable time.


Transform

After you choose which things you actually want to keep, you get to transform your space (or schedule, or goals, etc.) into something new and much more enjoyable! The “Transform” step involves finding a good home for each item.


When you’re not using any given item, it’s going to have to hang out somewhere, and finding the best place for it to stay will help your space feel much more pleasant. Things will look tidier, you’ll be able to find what you need more easily, and everything will be more open feeling.


Of course, the first part of “Transforming” will be to let all the things go that you didn’t choose to Reclaim. Donate them to a charity you feel good about supporting, or sell them and use the money to increase your savings or reduce your debts.


Once those things are out of your life, you’ll have a lot more room to breath, and more space to find good homes for the items you decided to keep. One specific category at a time, decide where you will store each of the items. Make sure the location is convenient (especially for tidying up), and attractive (to keep your space looking nice).


The simplest way to store most items is to keep the specific categories assembled together in one storage place. This is obvious for some categories --- most people know to store their pants together, or their plates together.


However, for some other categories it can be tempting to store them throughout your house. For example, with pens and paper. Often people keep pens and paper in their kitchen, bedroom, and office! If you instead keep all the writing utensils and stationery together in one place, you’ll be able to keep the amount in check, find it more easily, and have “fewer” things overall (fewer collections of pens, fewer piles of paper, etc.). This will make your space feel simpler and more relaxing.


Enjoy

Once you’ve transformed a whole category, you need to spend some focused, intentional time Enjoying the work that you have done for yourself, and the positive results that you have created. This step is vital because it creates a positive emotional imprint that will play a key role in keeping you motivated to maintain the order you have created.


Once everything is in order, it can very easily fall back into shambles again --- unless you take a few important steps to keep yourself motivated. Schedule a little time each day for at least a week to truly Enjoy your transformed space (or schedule, or routine, or goals, etc.).


Pray a prayer of thanksgiving, meditate on grateful thoughts, or simply bask in the peacefulness that surrounds you. But be mindful about it! A casual thought of, “This sure is nice,” really isn’t going to cut it here, and have the lasting impact that you need to maintain your commitment.


Determine

“Enjoying” will create beautiful feelings that will make it easier to stay committed, but those nice feelings won’t always be enough. There will still be days when you’re stressed, too busy, or just plain old tired! On those days, you won’t feel like doing your chores or putting your things away in their homes after you use them.


So, you need to make yourself a commitment. You need to promise that you WILL do the little bit of necessary work required to maintain order, even when you DON’T feel like it.


Determine to “Do what’s right, not what’s easy,” and your work will have lasting impact. Your life will truly be able to stay well organized and free of clutter.


Conclusion

As I mentioned above, the SORTED system can be applied to any area of your life. I strongly recommend that you start with your time, so that you develop some solid routines, before you try to get your physical possessions SORTED. Routines make it much easier to maintain order!


Wherever you choose to start, be sure to follow the steps in order, and not to skip over any of them. They are all important parts of the process, and without them, your results will be much more difficult to maintain.


As always, I love to hear of your successes and help with any snags you run into. Connect with the movement on Facebook, or shoot me a question on the “Contact” page.

SORTED Book

SORTED: Steps to Organize Your Life

When life is all cluttered up with too much stuff, it’s distracting and stressful. We fill our time with stuff we call work so that we can buy stuff we call things. Once we have those things, we spend even more time working to manage those things and keep them in their places.

 

It’s an endless cycle. The more things you have the less you are able to enjoy what you have. The more you fill up your time with things that don’t bring true fulfillment, the less time you have to really enjoy doing what you love.

 

“SORTED” is a system that I developed to help busy people with busy lives simplify and organize so that they are able to enjoy life more. It gives structure to the process of bringing order to your life, so that you are able to actually complete the process and enjoy the freedom that it creates, rather than trying endlessly to declutter, and never feeling like you’re getting anywhere.

 

SORTED is an acronym for the process. Each of the six letters of “SORTED” stands for one of the steps of the system. When the steps are completed in the correct order, they bring significant, lasting change.

 

The SORTED system can be applied to any area of your life that you’d like to create more order in. In the book, I discuss in detail how to apply SORTED to your schedule, physical possessions, and future goals.

 

SORTED: The System

 

Summon

The first letter of SORTED is “S” and it stands for “Summon.” According to the dictionary, to Summon means, “To authoritatively call to be present.” So whatever you are trying to bring order to needs to be brought out.

 

Gather up all the items that you want to get sorted. If you’re working on organizing your house, then you’ll want to work through it one category at a time. So, for example, you could Summon all of your clothing.

 

As the definition of Summon says, “authoritatively.” You’re in charge of your stuff! It doesn’t have power of its own. If you’ve decided that you want to bring order to it, then you have a right to do so.

 

Bring all the items out into the light, together in one place. Don’t let any of them hide away in the back of your closet or the laundry pile. Pull it all out so you can really take care of it.

 

Order

Once you have everything assembled, then you’re ready to move on to the next step, Order. With everything in one big heap, it’s tough to see what you’re really working with. You’ll hold up one item after another and just feel overwhelmed and unsure.

 

So, you need to bring order to the category of items, so that you have more clarity. Do this by sorting the big pile into many smaller categories. If you’re working on clothes, for example, order the items into piles such as “sweaters,” “skirts,” “jackets,” etc. If you were sorting your kitchen items, then you might have piles of “mugs,” “glasses,” “silverware,” and so on.

 

Once everything is broken down into specific categories, you’ll be able to really see how many sweaters you have — and it’s likely more than you realized! “Ordering” the items is so beneficial because it brings clarity that you can’t get any other way.

 

Reclaim

Now that all the items are clearly defined, you can work through each of the specific piles and decide what you want to keep. And yes, that’s how you should think about it: “What do I really want to keep?”

 

You have all this stuff, and you know it’s weighing you down, distracting you, and wasting your time. You’ve already decided you don’t want it all, and you KNOW that it’s certainly not all necessary. So, what do you want to keep? Which of these items are really worth your time, and worth sacrificing space for?

 

Keep those things that give you real enjoyment: the things that when you pick them up you feel happy inside! Keep the practical things that you actually use on a regular basis.

 

All the rest? Just let it go. “The rest” is stuff that’s cluttering up your life; stuff that isn’t adding real value, but IS sucking up your time.

 

But, don’t focus on what you should get rid of. That will only make you hold on tighter and cling to that stuff you “might need.” Yes, you might need it; but more likely you won’t, and until you might happen to need it, it’s just going to be wasting your valuable time.

 

Transform

After you choose which things you actually want to keep, you get to transform your space (or schedule, or goals, etc.) into something new and much more enjoyable! The “Transform” step involves finding a good home for each item.

 

When you’re not using any given item, it’s going to have to hang out somewhere, and finding the best place for it to stay will help your space feel much more pleasant. Things will look tidier, you’ll be able to find what you need more easily, and everything will be more open feeling.

 

Of course, the first part of “Transforming” will be to let all the things go that you didn’t choose to Reclaim. Donate them to a charity you feel good about supporting, or sell them and use the money to increase your savings or reduce your debts.

 

Once those things are out of your life, you’ll have a lot more room to breath, and more space to find good homes for the items you decided to keep. One specific category at a time, decide where you will store each of the items. Make sure the location is convenient (especially for tidying up), and attractive (to keep your space looking nice).

 

The simplest way to store most items is to keep the specific categories assembled together in one storage place. This is obvious for some categories — most people know to store their pants together, or their plates together.

 

However, for some other categories it can be tempting to store them throughout your house. For example, with pens and paper. Often people keep pens and paper in their kitchen, bedroom, and office! If you instead keep all the writing utensils and stationery together in one place, you’ll be able to keep the amount in check, find it more easily, and have “fewer” things overall (fewer collections of pens, fewer piles of paper, etc.). This will make your space feel simpler and more relaxing.

 

Enjoy

Once you’ve transformed a whole category, you need to spend some focused, intentional time Enjoying the work that you have done for yourself, and the positive results that you have created. This step is vital because it creates a positive emotional imprint that will play a key role in keeping you motivated to maintain the order you have created.

 

Once everything is in order, it can very easily fall back into shambles again — unless you take a few important steps to keep yourself motivated. Schedule a little time each day for at least a week to truly Enjoy your transformed space (or schedule, or routine, or goals, etc.).

 

Pray a prayer of thanksgiving, meditate on grateful thoughts, or simply bask in the peacefulness that surrounds you. But be mindful about it! A casual thought of, “This sure is nice,” really isn’t going to cut it here, and have the lasting impact that you need to maintain your commitment.

 

Determine

“Enjoying” will create beautiful feelings that will make it easier to stay committed, but those nice feelings won’t always be enough. There will still be days when you’re stressed, too busy, or just plain old tired! On those days, you won’t feel like doing your chores or putting your things away in their homes after you use them.

 

So, you need to make yourself a commitment. You need to promise that you WILL do the little bit of necessary work required to maintain order, even when you DON’T feel like it.

 

Determine to “Do what’s right, not what’s easy,” and your work will have lasting impact. Your life will truly be able to stay well organized and free of clutter.

 

Conclusion

As I mentioned above, the SORTED system can be applied to any area of your life. I strongly recommend that you start with your time, so that you develop some solid routines, before you try to get your physical possessions SORTED. Routines make it much easier to maintain order!

 

Wherever you choose to start, be sure to follow the steps in order, and not to skip over any of them. They are all important parts of the process, and without them, your results will be much more difficult to maintain.

 

As always, I love to hear of your successes and help with any snags you run into. Connect with the movement on Facebook, or shoot me a question on the “Contact” page.

 


SORTED Book

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