Do you feel extremely unorganized? Do you feel like you never know where anything is like you’re having to search for that remote in the couch again? Are you constantly having people follow up with you on why you haven’t finished certain tasks or answered an email that was sent to you three weeks ago? Is the dust on that ceiling fan an inch thick or more like mine is right now? If so, then I am hoping the below tips might help the both of us.
Since I have worked in the accounting field for years and am self-diagnosed as somewhere in-between a Type A personality, defined as competitive, ambitious, impatient, aggressive, and fast talking (McLeod, 2017) and a Type B personality, defined as relaxed and non-competitive (McLeod, 2017), I pride myself quite a bit in my most of the time ability to organize things, tasks and processes.
Due to the more “relaxed” part of my Type B behavior (McLeod, 2017), I do tend to take a little while sometimes to get started on deciding how to best organize things, often due to getting distracted very easily by looking at my phone to check the stats of my blog or design a room on the app called Design Home or sometimes to go exercise instead, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing by the way. Those might be other forms of my self-diagnosed, googled illnesses such as ADD or OCD, but anyway, I believe those illnesses or rather personality types, might just have an advantage for me and that is how to keep things organized, whether it be my closet, email, or life in general.
Before we start though, I have been in such a busy, distracted, and overwhelmed place in my life here lately, so this article is also an attempt to remind myself of what I need to do to get back on track with organization in my life. There are times in life though where any one of us can get so overloaded that it is not humanly possible to even think beyond the immediate fire that needs to be put out, but, with that being said, I would like to share a few of my own personal very simple tips for staying organized in the midst of careers, school, families and more. I know that a lot of you already do these things and more, but it does truly amaze me at how many people don’t.
Spend 5-10 minutes each day planning the 3-5 most important things you need to accomplish the next day.
Spend a few extra minutes each day near the end of the day to determine the most important priorities to accomplish the following day. Even though it may seem as if you just simply do not have another 5 minutes in your day, it is very important that you find that time. Living randomly day to day may sound very free-spirited and desirable but in the long run, it will only hurt you. Not that I am saying you can’t ever have a day to just do random things, like not setting an alarm clock, or even getting out of bed for that matter, but just advising that it will work much better in your favor for accomplishing life goals if you spend a few minutes writing down the few most important things you want to accomplish the next day of your life.
Create a home for everything.
That home isn’t your dining room table, your nightstand, or your car. That home needs to be a basket for the animals/kid’s toys, a cute decorative tray sitting on your foyer table or something hanging in your kitchen to put the incoming mail until you get to it a week later or whenever. Just don’t put it down on the first available surface you come across when entering your home or office. Also, when you are finished with anything, go ahead, and place it back in its home, throw it away or recycle it. Just do something with it so that you don’t have to ever touch or think about it again.
Do not multitask.
Employers, please do not hate me as I know this piece of advice is the total opposite of what most of you say that you want in a good employee. I just don’t agree with it and neither do a lot of experts (Bradberry, 2014). Our brains are not made to multitask, and multitasking makes us less productive than if we would just focus on one thing at a time. That means not clicking on your email every 3 seconds when one pops up. Stay focused on the task at hand. You can check the email when you are finished or at a good stopping point. If the email is truly that urgent, then I am sure the sender will either call you or walk over to your desk to talk to you about it. This can also apply to our personal lives where we are looking at our phone while watching a movie or spending time with family. In my opinion and experience, you cannot be that engaged in the task at hand if you are doing anything else at the same time. I know it is very difficult thing to do with all our pressing responsibilities but please just try focusing on one thing at a time for a while to see if you feel a little more relaxed. I promise that you will.
Clear your email inbox out every day.
I am amazed at how many people leave emails sitting in their inbox forever. They never create folders or trash them. Do one or the other after reading each email. If answering the email will take longer than the amount of time you have right now, flag it but don’t just leave it sitting there until next month or the next year. I personally looked at an inbox today that had emails dating back for at least a couple of years if not more. How would you ever remember which ones you needed to do something with if you keep them all in the inbox? Move them out of the inbox, somehow, somewhere else.
Create a one or two-week meal plan with all ingredients in a premade shopping list. If you are an extremely busy person like me, this will eliminate you having to spend so much time thinking about what to feed the family or yourself every day. Sure…it will take a little bit of extra effort up front but most of us tend to be creatures of habit so just make a list of your favorite and easiest meals. It will surely become a habit before you know it.
Simplify your wardrobe.
If you are like me, you might like to go on random shopping trips where you buy random pieces of clothing, just because they are on sale or it looks cute. But then a year or two later, you realize that shirt, pair of pants or scarf has been hanging there all that time with the tag still on it…all because you didn’t have anything to really go with it. Don’t do that to yourself or your wallet…just a huge waste of money and time spent looking at it, thinking about it or not fitting into it. If you haven’t worn something in two years, it is time to either buy something to go with it, sell it or donate it. Don’t let it just overwhelm your closet space. And the next time you go shopping without a true purpose in mind, please make sure that you go ahead and buy an entire outfit or don’t buy that piece at all, especially if you have nothing else in your closet to go with it.
Make a list of household chores and spread them out through the week.
I used to spend almost an entire weekend cleaning my house. That was very depressing after I had worked a job all week long and truly wanted to spend my weekend relaxing or doing something fun. I find that it is easiest to make a list of weekly chores and spend a little time each day doing something instead of an entire weekend doing them all. This also works for monthly, seasonal, or yearly things like cleaning baseboards, ceiling fans, blinds, etc.
I know there are many more organization tips out there but, if you are as busy as me, it becomes overwhelming to read a very extensive list or implement it, so I find that just trying to follow these few simple tips above, it does seem to make life a lot easier whether at work, home or school. Underwhelm and organize your self today for a more stress-free life!
Bradberry, T. (2014, October 8). Multitasking Damages Your Brain And Career, New Studies Suggest. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2014/10/08/multitasking-damages-your-brain-and-career-new-studies-suggest/#3490027856ee
McLeod, S. (2017). Type A personality. Retrieved from Simply Psychology: https://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html