With spring around the corner, the days are getting longer but for many of us it still feels like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to tackle everything that needs doing. Staying organized is a major struggle for most busy people, but you don’t have to do a full “Marie Kondo” on your life to make daily tasks more attainable. There are a number of small habits and choices we can incorporate into our lives that will save you more than a few headaches in the long run. Here are a few practices of highly organized people that you can start following today.
If you don’t use it, lose it. Whether it’s your office or your home, it’s impossible to stay on top of what is important if it’s buried beneath nonessentials. Be sure to declutter regularly for easier access to the things you actually need, and to create a neat and tidy environment for work or relaxation. The rule of thumb for decluttering is to donate or discard anything you haven’t used in a year, or that you wouldn’t buy now if you saw it on a shelf. Feeling sentimental? Take a photo of the item in question before saying farewell, that way you’ll still have a piece of it for your memory, but you can free up the space for easier organizing.
Write things down. It only takes a second to add an important task to a list, or put a note on your calendar, but the fallout of not remembering will likely cost you a lot more time and stress. Putting it down on paper or as a digital reminder frees up your mind for more important tasks and ensures it won’t let an important to-do fall to the wayside. Take some time to input birthdays, holidays, vacations, appointments, and any one-time or reoccurring maintenance into a format that will remind you when it’s time to tackle the item in question (and in the meantime, use that freed up mental space to do other things).
Make time for the little things, before they turn into big things. Anyone who does a fair amount of cooking knows it’s always easier to clean as you go instead of waiting until you have an enormous pile of dishes at the end, and this applies to most things in life. It’s generally more convenient to schedule 15-20 minutes of your time each day towards whatever your “pile-up” task tends to be (checking email, sorting laundry, returning voice mails, etc.) rather than waiting until the end of the week and having to spend a couple of hours taking on what may then be a mountain of work. Doing a little bit of something each day can keep things feeling manageable, and less out of control.
Finally, organized people value their time by asking for help and delegating responsibilities. You know what you’re good at, and generally, the things we aren’t skilled at are what tend to pile up and create clutter in our lives. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time. If you find yourself exhausted at the end of each weekend from maintaining the yard then it’s time for a landscaper, and the same goes for your business — if you’re wracking your brain for marketing or social media ideas, the price to pay for a coordinator or freelancer may be well-worth it so you can focus on what it is you do best.
You don’t need to be an organization guru to live a more organized life. The small changes you make, and the work you put in to create and maintain these practical habits allow you significantly more free time than what you’d save by not doing them at all. With organization comes stability, confidence, and peace; you’ll thank yourself tomorrow for the work you do today!
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