Do you feel that there are not enough hours in the day or money on your account? Is your car’s tank still empty, and your trash always full? You suffer from the common illness of the overworked person: you have no time to waste and no time to relax. The good news is that there is a cure: the organization!
Organize yourself mentally
Determine the cause of your lack of organization
Why do you feel overloaded? For some people, busy schedules accumulate making the organization difficult.
For others, it is because of a simple lack of motivation or they do not know how to do it. To start organizing your life, you must recognize the cause and make the decision to change.
See what needs to be organized
While it’s easy to answer “everything”, there are chances that there are specific areas of your life that are more congested than others.
In what area are you most disorganized? Think about your skills to plan things, do housework or go shopping. What seems to be the most stressful thing to do? Do not forget to take into account your professional life and your friends too.
- If you need to organize different things in your life, start by focusing on one point, then when it’s done, move on to the next topic.
Fill out a calendar
If you have a busy schedule, or even if it’s not the case, get yourself or make a robust schedule. Then put it in plain sight. This can be near your keys, on your fridge or in your home office. Take a few minutes to fill the agenda with important appointments and upcoming events.
- Avoid listing the day-to-day activities that will clutter your calendar, but write down the ones you really want to do. It can be courses, your professional schedule, doctor’s appointments or major events such as weddings or funerals.
- Review your calendar and have a look at your typical week. Where are your breaks? Are there short periods between each event that you can turn to your advantage? When are you busiest?
Find a good agenda
The next step is the portable agenda: an ultra-organized list of your daily activities.
Although the idea of an agenda may seem stupid, it is widely used by organized people.
Whether you plan things for an event, assign a project to school, or need to keep track of your errands, put it in your calendar.
- Try to code your calendar with colors to better organize it. Use a single color to record minor events (such as homework or shopping) and other colors to record major events (for example, use red to emphasize something that needs to be done on time).
- Take your agenda everywhere with you. There is no point in having a diary and leaving it at home or under a pile of books. To stay organized, keep it in your bag, car, or office, where you’ll remember to take it.
Of course, a to-do list looks like an agenda. However, consider your list as a way of compartmentalizing your day into smaller, more malleable pieces.
Do not list large or confusing projects (such as cleaning the house or exercising more).
Give yourself clear directions with short, easy tasks (like cleaning the kitchen, scouring the toilets and running a mile).
- Add small checkboxes in front of each task, even if it sounds silly. Ticking these boxes as you go through the day will serve as a visual reminder, will make you feel like you have accomplished things and will make you proud of your work.
- Keep your to-do list in a place where you will often see it to remind you of the tasks that need to be done. You can even consider keeping it in your diary.
- Finish the biggest projects on your list before tackling the smaller ones. For example, finish “scouring the fridge” before “checking the mail” to give you momentum and be more productive.
It may be the hardest thing to do: procrastinating is doing a lot of damage to organizing your life. Instead of pushing things away, do them right away.
Force yourself to do things without expecting to finish them. If they can be done in two minutes or less, always do them immediately while dividing larger tasks into smaller pieces to make them more manageable.
- Set a timer on fifteen minutes and work like crazy during this time. Do not be distracted, do not take a break and do not stop under any circumstances, except emergency, while your timer is running. Then, allow yourself to stop working when the timer stops. You will probably continue to work because you will eventually get into a project you avoid.
- Spread your distractions, whatever they are. It’s often the internet, the phone, sleep or even a good book. No matter what distracts you: set a length of time you work on your projects without distractions.
Start your day off right
When you get up, have a good breakfast, a shower and wash your face, get dressed and put on your shoes.
Do all things, every day, as if you’re going to work. This will change your mental outlook: by preparing and making yourself presentable, you have prepared for success.
You will be more confident because you will know that you are prepared for everything, you will be more direct in your way of accomplishing your work and more organized.
Put everything in writing
As soon as you have an idea, remember something you do not want to forget or remind you of something to do, write it down. You can do this on your agenda or in another notebook that you keep on you.
Putting your thoughts in writing will not only remove them from your mind (by de-cluttering your consciousness at the same time), but it will also place them in a place you can come back to without forgetting them.
Do not overwhelm yourself
If you find that you are running out of time and your schedule is full, consider dropping less important things.
Is this glass with your friend really necessary today? And your project to work on your file outside of your working time? If you do too many things at once, you will feel more disorganized and tend to be anxious. Cancel plans when necessary to make room in your head to think.
- Learn to delegate projects to others. If you know you have to go to the grocery store, but are too busy to think about it, ask a family member or a close friend to do it for you. As long as you do not postpone important tasks or do not give important things from a personal point of view to someone else, delegating can be healthy.
- Do not accept everything you are asked to do if you know you do not have time to do it. Your friends will not hate you, your boss will not think you are neglected and your partner will understand that you need some free time for you.
Do not be a perfectionist
If you do not feel that you have accomplished anything other than “perfect”, you will give up a lot of tasks that will clutter your life.
Similarly, if you expect to be in the “perfect” state of mind to start something, you will wait a very long time.
- Do not postpone your projects any longer and know when a project is pretty well done and can be stopped. When you get to the point where it’s “pretty good”, move on to the next thing.
- If you have some projects that you can not perfect, try to pause and come back when you have completed several other small tasks. You will do more for the same length of time than annoying yourself and wasting time on one imperfect task.
Organize your house and your office
Find a place for everything
If your house is disorganized, it’s because you probably have not assigned any space to everything.
Instead of letting things go, choose a specific place for everything in your home.
- Do not let a thing sit on your bedside table: create a special space for this object. Do the same for all items in your house so they do not hang around without storage space.
- Keep something like a basket or a small table near your front door where you can put things that you will take care of when you have more time. This can include your mail, items purchased at the store or things that come from school and work.
Clean your space
Choose a day of the week when you have the freest time. Then choose a single place that is disorganized and needs to be tidied up. This can be a part of your home, your car or your office. Then, just throw away unnecessary things that take up space in this part of your life.
- Get containers, folders and storage boxes to help you stay organized. You can buy items made for storage in many stores, or you can make them using things like cups, shoe boxes, and dishes. Make these storage objects more attractive with a coat of paint or covering them.
- Think about the last time you used the items you are storing. If this goes back several months or years, consider throwing them away.
Get rid of things you do not need
Even if you think you “need” everything you own, a disorganized house certainly contains things you do not need.
Sort the objects that clutter you regularly and determine their level of utility. If you have not used them for a long time, do not use them frequently, do not like them anymore or do not need them, get rid of them.
- Detach yourself emotionally from things you sort. Of course, your grand aunt offered you this porcelain trinket, but do you want it or do you really need it? Sort these items and do not think you are a bad person.
- Separate things that you get rid of in several piles like “trash”, “to give” and “to sell”.
- Organize a flea market to make a little money with the things you get rid of. Large items, such as furniture or appliances, can be put online on sales sites like eBay or Craiglist to avoid you to organize a big flea market.
Do not bring back other useless objects
Do not compromise the organizing process by bringing in new things you do not need.
Falling on good deals is one of the main reasons for doing so. Avoid big sales or sales, as this will make you buy things you do not really need.
- When shopping, ask yourself where the item you have chosen will go to your home. Do you have a special place for him, a place where he will stay permanently?
- When you go to a store, take a list of things you are looking for. Then, while you are looking for these things, do not stray from your list. You will return home with what you need instead of going home with things you thought you needed.
- Think of the money you save by avoiding buying. Even if you make a good deal, you continue to spend money on something you may not need.
Put things back in their place immediately
Everyone does it: we take a pen in the drawer, we write a word, then we leave the pen there. Instead of leaving things where they are easier, take another minute to put them back in the right place.
- If what you plan to do is less than two minutes, do it immediately. Doing so will leave your house organized and leave you less to do later.
- If there are several things hanging in the same corner, take a few minutes to put them away. This will prevent the unmanageable stack from getting bigger and more difficult to manage.
Put labels everywhere
Do you have boxes or drawers full of mysterious objects that you have long forgotten? Well, take out your marker and label everything you have. Leave things in one place so labeling is easier.
Organize your days
Take the time to think and decide what are the 5 most important things in your life. Work, love, family, music, sleep, travel, write a book, get rich …
Create a schedule
Plan your goals in a notebook or with Excel, insert a box for each day of the next month and note which of the 5 points that are your priorities you focus on each day.
Define your goals
If your goal is to play one piano hour each day, write it in each box.
Check the objectives achieved
When you finish a task that you have set, check it on your schedule.
Reward your efforts
For example, if you checked 50 boxes, you will spend a Sunday at the seaside where you will be massaged in a spa.
- Do not try to do everything at once. Choose one thing, finish it and check your list. Otherwise, you will only make minimal progress in each task, instead of finishing them, and will eventually be discouraged. It’s a vicious circle.
- Thinking about doing things on your lists is not like doing these things. If you think of all that you have to do, you will not really do it, because you will be tired of thinking too much. Try the 15-minute sequence advice described previously.