Chances are, if you’re reading this post you did a Google search for: “organization” or “get organized” or “time management,” or something along those lines, right? You’re always looking for a solution or a quick fix to get your desk cleaned, your calendar organized and your life in some kind of balance.
I have to share that there is no magic bullet. There is no quick fix. There is no “one size fits all.” If you’ve ever attended a time management seminar you’ve likely found that the seminar leaders want everyone to follow the same steps… that just doesn’t work. My mind doesn’t work the way yours does and yours doesn’t think (or organize) the way mine does. This is not all gloom and doom though, you can get organized and learn to manage your goals and your time, you just need to find a way that fits with your personality and your lifestyle.
Here are a few things to consider when trying to get your day in order:
- If you have a “filing” system — whether paper or virtual — but you can’t find anything. Then your filing system is not working. It’s not intuitive. When you’re looking for a particular item or book or piece of paper what is the first thing that pops into your head when thinking of it? That may be the way you need to file it. If you find you vacillate between, “tax forms” or “bookeeping items” or the like, you may want to set up a filing system by month. Try a new way of filing and organizing and see if that helps you put your fingers on an item when you need it.
- Don’t let your day get away from you. The way I combat this is by writing a daily to-do list. Without that list, I find that I fritter the day away and then when 5 o’clock rolls around I haven’t completed anything other than poking around for recipes and organizational tips on Pinterest! If your to-do list is overwhelming, take a step back and think about what you truly need to accomplish that day, move other items to a different day. If you have a large project, “write a book” then you will want to break that down into manageable to-dos such as, “write an outline” or “determine the subtitle, ” or “name the chapters.”
- Write your to-dos all in one one notebook. I still use a physical notebook everyday to track my daily to-dos. I love that it is a visible reminder. I love that I can cross off items I’ve accomplished. I love that I can go back and track my progress on larger goals. In the past I had tried to use a different notebook for each client which meant I had numerous notebooks scattered across my desk and something inevitably was forgotten. I switched to a one notebook system and nothing gets lost.
- Set up your desk in “zones.” Don’t give into the habit of tossing stuff where there is an open, empty space and get into the habit of putting items you use daily close at hand, items you use weekly in a different zone and items you use monthly or rarely in drawers aka another zone entirely. You shouldn’t have to fumble around to find items you use daily, they should be filed neatly and close at hand — it is a time saver.
- Plan your downtime. I find if I don’t write down: take a walk, make lunch, go shopping, etc. that these tasks won’t get done and I will find myself spending the weekend playing catch up. Honestly you can’t “catch up” on good health habits. Build time into each hour to get up and move around. Do some stretches. Walk the dog. Get on a treadmill — your long-term health will thank you for it.
In order for any organizational system to work you need to ask yourself, “Why do I need to get organized?” If the answer is, “Because someone said I had to” then it’s likely that no system will work for you. If it’s because, “I want to regain control of my life and my time,” then your personal motivation will propel you toward success.
Where are you stuck in your daily organizing tasks?