Getting organized is often at the top of the list when it comes to making a change in your life. Most people feel like their life could be more organized and therefore more productive and less stressful. And it’s true that when you’re organized, you do get more done and you do feel more in control of your space and time. The following ten strategies will help you get more organized at home, at work, and in your personal life.
#1 Purge and Pare Down
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get organized is that they go out and shop for storage containers and solutions first. The first step to any organization process should be to sort through your belongings and purge. Get rid of what you don’t use, don’t need, and what is broken or damaged. Your closet is the easiest example. Instead of buying more shoe racks or another closet shelving system, clean out your closet. Get rid of the clothing that doesn’t fit, is damaged, or that you never wear.
#2 Create a Place for Everything
Once you’ve pared down your belongings, then you can begin to invest in storage solutions. Choose a logical place for everything. Many people have the habit of putting their belongings in a closet or cupboard. As long as it is out of sight, they feel organized. A better solution is to create logical storage systems. For example, you might keep all your cleaning supplies in one carryall that you can tote from room to room. Or you might keep cleaning supplies for each room in that room.
#3 Create Systems for Repeatable Tasks
Systems are step-by-step processes that you can use to simplify repeatable tasks. For example, you might create a system for sorting your mail. When you get the mail you immediately open the important mail, file the mail to read later, and shred the mail that needs to be disposed of. Other systems might include cleaning, planning, cooking and preparing meals, and caring for pets. Make a list of the tasks that you repeat every day. Create routines for these tasks.
#4 Invest in Backup Software & Storage
Back up your files online and offline. Pictures, finances, recipes, and more are stored on your computer. Invest in a backup system. You might use a cloud storage system. You can also back up your computer to an external hard drive. Back on at least weekly, more if your life is on your computer and you can’t risk losing data.
#5 Use Financial/Accounting Software
Finances are often one of the most disorganized areas that people complain about. The solution is simple. Find an accounting or bookkeeping software or application that works for your needs. Get one that is both on your computer and your mobile device. Look for a system that allows you to budget, pay off debt, save money, plan for taxes, and know at a glance how much you have in your bank account.
#6 Use a Calendar or Planning System
This sounds like a no brainer but so many people don’t use a calendar that supports them to succeed. There are many different systems and tools to choose from. Like your accounting software, it’s often easiest if you find a system that you can use both on your computer and on your phone. It can be something simple, and free, like Google Calendar, or you might prefer something with more features like Evernote.
#7 Make A List of Your SMART Goals
Writing down your goals makes them more permanent. So, grab a notebook or that calendar or planning system that you’ve chosen and make a list of your goals. What specifically do you want to accomplish? When do you want to accomplish it by? Why do you want to accomplish it? What is your motivation? How will your life change and improve?
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Once you’ve identified your goals, take some time to break them down into smaller pieces that you can manage. Add those pieces and their deadlines to your planner and get to work.
#8 Clean and Organize 15 Minutes Daily
Dedicate 15 – 20 minutes a day straightening your home. You might do it at the end of the day, after dinner and before you sit down on the couch for television. Integrating this daily habit into your life ensures that your home stays clean and welcoming. And, doing this at the end of every day means that you wake up to a clean home. It starts the day off right.
You might also dedicate the last ten minutes of the workday to cleaning off your desk. Then, when you come in the next day, your environment will support you to succeed.
#9 Establish Daily Priorities
Look at your goals and your calendar each day. Identify two to three tasks that you want to accomplish, above all else. These are the tasks that you’ll focus on and tackle first. Establishing daily priorities helps you organize your day, your time, and it makes you more productive. Look to prioritize tasks that have the biggest impact on your success.
#10 Focus on One Project at a Time
Many people believe that they are fully capable of multitasking. Unfortunately, this is a myth. The human brain cannot multitask. It cannot do two or more things at once. Instead, your attention is divided. You might be able to bounce back and forth between several tasks so that it seems like you’re multitasking.
However, each time you shift focus you lose a bit of time and productivity. If you want to get more done and actually be more organized, focus on one project at a time. Your attention won’t be divided, you’ll have better results, and you won’t feel as overwhelmed.
Where do you start? Start your organization process with the area of your life or home that feels the most out of control. It might be your schedule, your refrigerator, or your finances. Whatever feels like the most frightening thing to tackle is probably where you should start because it’ll have the biggest impact on your life. And once you get that big mess organized, everything else might feel easier to take care of.