A Guide on How to Stay Organized as a Minimalist

Getting organized isn’t particularly hard. It’s an accumulation of small steps that can create a functioning ensemble. Whether it’s your workspace, your living areas, or your car, a few daily habits can help you declutter, build organizational systems, and stay on top of tasks. On this basis, here is a no-nonsense guide on how to stay organized as a minimalist.

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If you want to get super organized, you need to build systems that will automate themselves. In other words, you need to treat the cause of disorganization, not its symptoms. 

Consequently, staying organized is all about following a series of steps regularly. These steps will both contain impending messes and deal with them once they arise. 

A guide on how to stay organized as a minimalist

Organizational systems only work if they become an automatic part of your daily routine. As such, you need to implement your organizational techniques daily. The following are five minimalist ways to stay super organized.

A Guide on How to Stay Organized as a Minimalist - tea pots on table
Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash

Get yourself into the best possible starting position 

Before trying to organize, you need to separate the essentials from the expendables. 

A great place to start is your desk. Look at all the things that are currently lying around and divide them into categories. Find out which ones are essential to today’s work and which ones are not. Only keep the items that you use daily on your desk. Once your desk is clear, you can move on to other areas. 

The idea is to get every space into a functional state. In other words, purge before trying to implement organizational hacks. It’s much easier to organize a decluttered, minimalist space than to arrange a never-ending mess.  

Automate micro-decisions

The next way to stay organized as a minimalist is to stop pondering micro-decisions. 

Should I put this tech device on my desk or in a drawer? Where do I write down my to-do list? And what are the best organizational steps to follow in the morning?  

If you want to master organization, automate your mini-decisions. Those are decluttering steps that take less than five minutes. 

How does that work in practice? 

For one day, monitor all of your micro-decisions that concern organization and decluttering. You’ll find lots of seemingly insignificant acts that add up. By themselves, these decisions – like where to put a device that you currently don’t use – don’t take up much time. In combination, however, they prevent you from staying organized. 

Once you know which decisions fall under that mantle, automate as many as possible. 

Select a place in your office to store all of the devices that you don’t use. Add a few organizational steps – like making your bed and tidying your bathroom – to your morning routine. Write down primary to-dos before going to sleep. And finally, create a list with all of these micro-habits and internalize them. 

Over time, your micro-decision-list will become a natural part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth. And once you stop thinking about these small decluttering acts, you’ll be one step ahead when it comes to staying organized in everyday life. 

Master the art of planning

Another way to stay organized as a minimalist is to schedule your days intentionally. 

I use a Moleskine weekly planner to define time blocks every day. In this context, I dedicate each time block to a specific task. 

The first three blocks – from early morning to noon – contain my “Most Important Tasks” (“MITs”). These MITs are professional and personal tasks that I need to get done today. Because they are essential, I structure my days around them. 

After the MITs, I schedule one block for my daily workout – and another one for reading at night. Between the blocks, I leave 20-30 minutes for unforeseeable delays and breaks.  

The time-blocking strategy is a hailed productivity technique featured in bestsellers like Cal Newport’s Deep Work and Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less. I’ve been using the method for over two years now, and it works wonders. It helps me stay productive when I travel and also master daily planning at home.

Organize right now, not tomorrow

Any guide on how to stay organized would be incomplete without mentioning the “do-it-right-now” rule. 

Many organizational problems are the result of procrastination. A dirty plate here, a stack of papers there – and the clutter quickly piles up. 

That’s why you need to set a five-minute rule. In simple terms, if an organizational task takes less than five minutes, do it right away. 

By implementing this norm daily, you’ll save yourself a lot of decluttering sessions. Because you eliminate the clutter at its earliest stage, you don’t give it a chance to grow. Much like eating well before having to diet, getting organized right away is a powerful long-term strategy.

Use technology, but don’t become a slave to it 

Finally, the last part of my guide on how to stay organized concerns technology. 

Smartphones and other tech devices can be organizational tools, but they can also become distractions. 

That’s why you need a deliberate relationship with technology

In practice, you need to utilize the organizational benefits of technology without becoming a slave to it. Ask yourself how your smartphone can help you become more organized. 

As an example, my smartphone only contains apps that I use for work. I uninstalled Youtube and Facebook. That way, I need to go on my laptop to use social media.  

In that same vein, I always leave my tablet in flight mode. I only use it to read books, and connecting it to the WiFi would create room for distractions.  

The primary challenge resides in identifying the best ways to use technology as an organizational tool. For everything to-do list-related, I use an old-school journal. I believe that once you become too dependent on technology, you’ll start to give in to distractions. 

Technology makes our lives better if we use it intentionally and give ourselves rules. These rules should become the framework of our relationship with technology and enable us to use our devices wisely – helping us become super organized. 

Useful links on How to Stay Organized as a Minimalist

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