Some people seem to be more naturally organized than others. My mother was the queen of organization. Her motto was always, “a place for everything and everything in its place.” If we dared walk away from a piece of paper for more than five minutes, it disappeared. She was notorious for putting everything in drawers. She just wanted them out of sight!
If being organized doesn’t come naturally for you, don’t lose hope. You can take control of your workday and your environment if you wish to. It’s just a matter of creating a system. Being organized is about behavior and how you take control of your surroundings — or don’t.
Find below some tips for getting (and staying) organized when the going gets tough.
1. Plan ahead.
Remember the Girl Scout motto? Be prepared.
Being prepared is the key to everything. It doesn’t happen by accident, though. Being prepared requires thinking ahead and anticipating obstacles.
Back to my mom. When we were growing up, she insisted that we put our clothes, shoes, socks, the works, out the night before. She was always caught up on the laundry, so we never had to scramble for something clean. She was an extraordinary planner. She left little to chance. She tried to anticipate every contingency. All that planning kept the potential for any kind of drama at bay.
Plan as much as you can for the next day before you go to bed the night before. That includes putting out your clothes and your kids’ clothes. Put work and school bags near the door. Check your to-do list and, if possible, prepare the things you need for breakfast and lunch the night before. Meal planning may sound boring, but it will save you time, stress, and money. Even if you feel tired, you will appreciate the effort the next morning.
You can even plan for the week ahead. Keep a selection of pre-prepared meals in your freezer. Freezer cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. By cooking up meals during the weekend and freezing them, they’ll be available all week.
On Sunday evening, scan the calendar for the week ahead. Knowing in advance what the schedule is will help prepare you. You can’t control unforeseen events that may occur, of course. But you don’t want to be surprised by things that are already on your calendar.
2. Turn off extra technology.
Studies show that you lose focus and productivity if you try to multitask. If you’ve got a long list of things to do, turn off your email and set designated times when you will check it. Do the same with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Avoid TV, and give 100% of your time and attention to the project at hand. You will wind up completing the project more efficiently and faster.
Once you’ve completed everything, you can go back to technology and enjoy your time on the phone or computer without guilt.
Don’t try to be a superhero. Instead, take a look at your to-do list and rank each item. Cross off or move to another day anything that isn’t essential. Check off anything that you’ve already completed. Delegate whatever you can. Only do the things that need to be done, and you’ll feel more in control.
If it’s not essential, ignore it.
Clutter is easy to create. Don’t let it become a problem.
Take a few minutes each day to put things away and throw out the junk. Put the dishes in the dishwasher. Deal with the mail immediately instead of letting it pile up on the counter. Throw out things you aren’t going to use. Clean drawers and closets periodically. Toss, give away, or sell (have a yard sale) items that you haven’t used for a year or more.
Some people find a certain comfort in collecting things. There is a fine line, however, between collecting and hoarding. If you haven’t used it in a year, you don’t need it.
If you need help, get help. Use online storage tools like Dropbox and Google Drive to keep your computer desktop organized. For paperwork, you don’t want to discard, like receipts, use file folders and keep them in a filing cabinet. Hang on to things you need for your taxes. Mark and organize items in such a way that you will make it easy for yourself to find later. Organize everything for your relatives, too, in case something happens to you and you can’t deal with your own affairs.
5. Get up a little earlier.
While getting up earlier may seem pointless, it can help you get a head start on your day if you use the extra time wisely. Create a morning routine. Practice healthy habits. Exercise, meditate, eat a healthy breakfast. Take a few moments to run through the calendar for the day, so you feel more in control.
By getting up earlier, you can start your day feeling both energized and organized. By completing essential tasks, you make sure that you and your family are ready for the day ahead.
Another thing, before I go, remember to take care of your mental, physical and emotional health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and practice meditation or mindfulness. This will help you feel more able to cope when things don’t go as planned or when life seems to spiral out of control. And don’t forget to get enough sleep.
No matter how organized and well-planned you are, there will be times when life gets busy. You may start to worry that you can’t get everything done. But following these tips will help you stay in control. Happy organizing!