I used to think some really weird things about what it means to be “organized”. I’m a person (like many) who had to learn the skill of organization, and keep on learning it everyday. I envied people who could remember to bring things with them in the morning, or be able to find their keys without frantically tearing the house apart. Guess what? It’s not that those people were any smarter than me, they just had ways of making sure that things got done. So, I worked on ways to make sure that the important stuff was taken care of. Here’s a few tips and things I’ve use along the way, and hopefully they will help you too!
- Capture it somehow. Check out this article by productivity guru, David Allen. He talks about taking your thoughts (action items, reminders, whatever) and capturing them somehow. This can be a PDA, notepad, list or whatever you use to keep track of things you do or need to do. Writing it down or capturing your thoughts will greatly increase the chances you will get them done. Especially if you….
- Use a system. This is really important, and doesn’t have to be complicated. What’s a system? The “system” I am referring to means a way of doing things that helps create a workflow, habit or consistency. An example of a system would be to pack up your briefcase or purse the night before you go to work. Include the things you’ll need for the next day. You can breathe a sigh of relief just by knowing what you need will be there when you need it. Another example: put your keys in the same place everyday. You’ll know where they are, and it’s a great habit to get into. Systems are the gateway to habits!
- Use what works for you. Some people like paper planners and some people like PDA’s. Know yourself and what works for you. Be open to change, but working with tools that are a natural fit for you will really help your productivity, and increase your chances of being organized. Start with something simple, and stick with it for a while. It takes time to develop good habits, and sometimes the habit of using the tool is really what matters.
- Don’t get crazy. Rome wasn’t built in a day – yep, it’s a tired cliche, but I’m using it anyway! It takes time to get organized, so don’t be hard on yourself. Make one change at a time. Take small steps. One thing will lead to another, so don’t be overwhelmed at the big picture.
- Listen to your inner wisdom. Use your instincts and look inside yourself to determine what you will do next. Knowing yourself is part of the process of personal organization. You’ll discover who you are if you really dig in, one item at a time.
It doesn’t matter how you arrive at being organized, because ultimately it’s up to how you operate. Remember, making your life better is what is important. Be sure you are going in the direction you want to go in, and craft your environment and activities around your intentions.