Does your life and living/work spaces feel like utter chaos? Have you tried to clean up and make lists only to find it all an overwhelming mess a week later? The good news is that you CAN break this seemingly never-ending cycle of madness. Your desire to become more organized is the beginning of this process and your task now is to learn how to do it and maintain better organization. Here are a few tips that have been helpful to me on becoming better organized.
If the space you are occupying has more stuff in it than there is room to place it out of sight or at least aesthetically pleasing, that is a good indicator that you just have too much of it. Chances are most of the items lying around will never be used by you again.
In order to effectively downsize the amount of material possessions I have had, I found that taking an inventory of everything I currently had to be a helpful first step. This will take time but it does not need to be completed all at once. This is going to be a lifestyle change, so thoroughness is the main objective, not speed.
If this task seems to overwhelming to even begin, step back and make a plan of how you are going to approach it. The process I have used is to have a notebook to write down everything that I have. There are only 5 final outcomes for each of the items I inventory: keep, donate/sell, or recycle/trash. If I can’t determine at that moment what I am going to do with it, I keep 1 separate list to address again once everything is accounted for.
The objective is to become more organized and reduce clutter so I am also going to note where each item is going to go. Recycle and trash already have their bins so those are already taken care of. I will need a separate area for donate and sell – most often this is the garage. For items that I am going to keep I want to be as specific as possible as to where it will be when not in use. For example: fuzzy blue blanket – top left shelf in hall closet.
Now it is time to act. Do as much as you can each day – even if it is only to spend 2 minutes moving a lamp to your sell pile in the garage. If you can consistently do something every single day, you will eventually have a day that you will finish the task and have a plan to maintain the organization.
Tasks, Lists, Calendars, Planners
Do you have a consistent way that you keep track of things like agendas, birthdays, to do, wish or grocery lists? Or do you write an idea down on a napkin only to find it in your coat pocket the following winter eight months later?
If you are consistently late or just plain miss events that you wanted to attend but forgot about, it would benefit you greatly to implement a system that keeps you on top of things. I had a recurrent pattern of putting things off for so long that I would need to write out a list of things I needed to get done each week. This process typically took me about 2-3 hours to complete. What was especially frustrating was that most of the items were just carry-overs from the previous week. I was very familiar with what I needed to get done, and it got done, but there was no efficiency at all.
Even in the face of this frustration, I still didn’t see it as a problem because I took pride in the fact that I was always able to complete everything. The stress was continually building because most of the items would be pushed to the deadline and I was always rushing to complete. This did lead to some errors in my work and late payments of bills. This changed after I read one amazing book!
After I read this book and implemented the strategies that it discussed I have no stress adding up due to being unorganized. I now have a fail-proof way of keeping track of all of the information pertinent to my life. That book is called Getting Things Done, the art of stress-free productivity by David Allen. You can find it on Amazon in paperback, kindle or audio format here:
I actually borrowed the audiobook from my library and listened to it multiple times over a 3 week period. I drove a lot for my previous job and I listened to a lot of books, but usually only once. Audio wasn’t the best way for me to absorb this information but I think it sunk in after listening to it completely about 10 times.
If finding a way to increase your efficiency and boost your productivity is of interest to you, I can happily share that this book has helped me immensely in this area. I would suggest you read or listen to this and see if the method would work for you. It did take me over a year to really develop it as a habit and get to a point where it flows naturally with my life – which is because I still had a lot of other work to do on myself.
One of the facets of this system is to have all of your information in one location for physical items and another for digitial. I have a filing system in my office to manage any paperwork or other physical objects waiting to be sorted. For digital I use Evernote. It works quite well to organize separate personal and professional task lists. I use the reminder function often for each item as most have multiple steps to see through to completion. I can keep track of different ideas I want to follow up on. It is cloud based so I can access it from anywhere I can get internet.
Instead of spending 3 hours once a week to stay on top of my chaotic system, I now typically spend less than ten minutes each day maintaining the system in place. The greatest benefit I have found from it is having freed up the time to implement daily meditation, but that is a story for another day.