- Organize your thoughts
- Realize the power of routine
- Manage your meals
- Manage your finances
- Make time for yourself
- Track your progress
Let’s picture this- Your alarm clock betrayed you this morning and you’re running late. There is a forgotten chair in a corner of your room, piled with clothes. You are frantically searching for a pair of trousers that are probably hidden somewhere in that pile. Now you’re not only stressed because of hurrying and you’re also late to work. To add to that, now you’re not feeling confident because you had no time to iron your trousers or gather your thoughts before heading into work. Life can feel increasingly stressful because of situations like these. Sometimes, getting organized is not the problem, but “staying organized” is.
Life is simpler when we are organized. There is lesser confusion, lesser wasted time, or missed opportunities. Just having things organized around us helps our minds process things efficiently and opens the space for deep thinking and solving bigger problems.
There is no ‘one-rule-fits-all’ when it comes to organization. Our personalities and daily lives play a big role in setting the standard for an organized life. Some of us might need more help in organizing finances, while some of us struggle with organizing our workday better. Be it work or relationships, organization (or lack thereof) affects all areas of our lives, like the example above.
It is important to remember that organized people are seldom born, but always, built with habits. No one knows how to be organized right off the bat, and it is nothing to feel guilty about. Even organized people sometimes get a little lax and need a boost. If you’ve clicked on this article, you have already taken the first step to an organized life, so pat yourself on the back for that.
Let’s dive into the top 7 things you could start doing today, to get more organized in all aspects of life.
There are many reasons why we are unable to get even simple things sorted in life. Some of them are out of our control, however, all of them are approachable with a positive state of mind.
Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed by the realities of life, that simpler issues feel like heavy lifts. For instance, missing an alarm could make us frazzled in the morning- rushing through the door, forgetting car keys, skipping a signal, blanking out during conversations. The good news is – we’re not alone in this. We’ve all experienced this at some point. To solve this, start focusing on your thoughts in crazy situations like these. Are you feeling overly anxious? Do you feel out of control when things don’t go as planned? What makes you feel better then?
Just like we organize our physical surroundings, it is also equally important to take some time out to organize our thoughts- after all, our thoughts manifest themselves into our realities.
Organizing is a lifestyle. All of us work towards inculcating better habits every day – quitting smoking, working out every day, or eating healthy. In the same way, we need to practice organizing our mental space. For instance, when waking up after a missed alarm, instead of rushing through, try taking in a few deep breaths. Make a mental checklist of all the tasks you need to get done before heading out – packing a lunch, carrying important files, eating breakfast. You would not magically be on time, but this small change will make you feel calmer and in control of the situation. You would work faster & better, too, knowing exactly what needs to be done and when – win-win! When tackling things that feel overwhelming, practice taking a few minutes just to plan your actions. Like Benjamin Franklin said- “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
If you’re exploring solutions for an organized life, you’ve probably heard of ‘compartmentalizing your thoughts’. Simply put, this is a technique of dealing with conflicting thoughts concurrently. Often connoted with being a ‘coping mechanism to shut off painful situations’ compartmentalizing is, in fact, an effective tool to organize your mental chatter. It can prove beneficial for those who are constantly battling between (and feeling overwhelmed) their emotions. The process demands focus & willpower to create barriers between your conflicting emotions and teaches you how to stop dwelling on things that might be making you spiral. Here’s a great guide on how to learn to compartmentalize your thoughts.
“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out”.
Whatever be the reason, not all of us have the willpower to follow a routine. Some of us find it dull, while others find it too tedious. But if followed well, a routine is a great way to 10x your productivity and lead an organized life.
Like the point above, having a structure to your day is a sure way to get yourself more organized. Contrary to popular belief, a routine gives you energy and time to be spontaneous, while setting you up for success. By programming your day and organizing your tasks, you will discover the power of “practice makes perfect”. It will improve your efficiency (no longer wasted hours deciding which tasks to finish first), improve your work-life balance, create solid habits (yes, you can work out every day), and free up mental bandwidth to explore other areas of life that you might be unaware of. Make time to plan your day ahead- just a few minutes before you wrap up for the day would also do.
Another important point to keep in mind is to observe and embrace your natural inclinations and then create a structure using those. For example, if you’re a night owl, make sure that your routine doesn’t demand waking up at 6 AM. This would ensure that you stick to the routine longer because it feels natural and least resistant. Here’s a motivating article on how some of the most successful people built themselves using the power of routine, to get you going.
The majority of us turn to our messy cupboards to feel organized. Needless to say, it is difficult to feel in control when your surroundings are not. Here are a few golden rules to declutter your home/workspace:
Organize your home:
- Find a place for everything: For example, having an assigned space for leaving your keys everyday will spare you those 10 dreadful minutes of frenzy every morning. Having separate folders for work and personal documents will reduce stress when you need them in a hurry. Label and store stuff that you need least so you never have to rely on memory to look stuff up.
- Avoid procrastinating: This is easier said than done, we know, but just powering through that moment of laziness can save you hours of cleanup later. Put away groceries as soon as you get home from the market; clean and put away the griddle as soon as you’re done making pancakes; or file the bills in their folders before you lose them in that junk drawer we pretend doesn’t exist; and spending a few minutes before bed just tidying the house to wake up to a neater, organized home.
- Give away stuff you don’t need: A 30-minute audit of your clothes, toys etc. will help you discover items you no longer need. It would also help you arrange things that you do need, more efficiently. Declutter periodically and donate/ upcycle or recycle things you no longer need. Also, when making purchase decisions, try and think objectively to not get swayed and to buy only what you absolutely need.
- Organize your digital life:
- We all live fast, interconnected lives in the digital world. We are unaware of the digital clutter that unseeingly makes us feel overburdened.
- Just like spring cleaning your home, block time to clean out your inbox. Unsubscribe to info that you don’t need. Every weekend, give yourself time to pencil in the upcoming week’s tasks and meetings. This helps you picture your week so you’re not caught unprepared and gives you a head start on the week ahead.
- Clean and sort out your calendar, archive old tasks, delete junk files. Put up a new desktop wallpaper to make it feel fresh. ;)
You can’t reach for success if you’re constantly thinking about your next meal! By creating a meal plan, you assure that your meals are pre-planned, you list and shop for groceries efficiently each week, and that your diet is not reliant on the nearby pizza chain. Even having a few components of your meal ready (like boiled veggies, marinated proteins, etc.) can streamline the meals, keep you healthier, and the only thing you “take away” is the stress of working on an empty stomach.
If your finances are unorganized, it could mean that you have low visibility on your savings or income, you’re overspending without knowing, and you’re relying on monthly paychecks to stay afloat. Having clarity on your finances is key to leading an organized life. However, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to manage finances effectively. If that’s the case, investing in a good money management app or tools like Mint can be the first step to an organized financial life. Keep track of your checking or savings accounts routinely, log your expenditures, set up bill payment reminders. Set up auto-payments for necessary expenses to avoid last-minute hassles.
We get so caught up with our daily lives that we start accepting the chaos around us. We become a part of the frenzy, rarely pausing to check ourselves. Every now and then, learn to prioritize yourself. This could mean learning to say no sometimes or experiencing FOMO. But in the longer run, this would make you a better friend/ relative/ partner. Carve out and block time for yourself each week – you don’t have to do anything productive if you don’t wish to, just do what makes you feel rejuvenated.
All positive lifestyle changes are reinforced if we regularly track our progress. Staying organized takes effort, so it is important to monitor your progress. Each week, go over your checklists, identify which tasks required low, medium, hard effort. Was waking up on time easier? Did tidying up requires a lot of willpower? Identifying loopholes that throw you off is the only way to guarantee that you stay on track. Delegate tasks to your family rather than taking care of everything on your own.
Join groups that practice organization- The Association of Professional Coordinators started a custom in 2005 to celebrate the January of every year as the month of organization. They celebrate this month, called the “Get Organized Month” by making small changes in their day-to-day life to get themselves more organized. Experiment with different patterns and structures to find out the one that suits you best. Change is never easy, so don’t forget to appreciate how far you’ve come.
As we get closer to holidays and the new year, life can seem a bit crazy (good crazy, yes, but crazy). Things can seem overwhelming with work and family- wrapping up the year-end tasks, celebrations with near and dear ones, anticipating the new year, etc. Don’t forget to prioritize your wellbeing, and continue practicing organization tips to your everyday life. It is a long, evolving practice that is key to rediscovering yourself and living a good life.