We’re all looking for ways in which we can become more productive, more efficient and less stressed. In the hustle and bustle of getting things done, however, we can sometimes neglect the simple importance of organisation. With so many things on our plate, we often let order and organisation in our life take a lower priority, when in fact, it’s at our busiest that we benefit from organisation the most.
When our world is organised, we remove not only physical but also mental clutter. This allows us to invest our energy in what’s truly important in our day.
Fortunately, the keys to better organisation are fairly simple – they really just come down to having good strategies and habits! Here are three strategies to help you declutter and re-organise, so you can fly out of the door in the morning and start your day with a clear head.
1. Create systems
For some people, creating systems for things in our life is very intuitive. For others, however, it’s something that needs to be consciously practised and learned. If you sit on the latter end of that spectrum, creating systems is the very first step on your list to become more organised. With a clear and logical system for where everything goes, you can save yourself a huge amount of stress, time and effort.
As an example of this, imagine a closet with eight drawers. Trying to find an item of clothing in that closet going to take you eight times as long without a system than if you know exactly where to find it.
Creating systems is also crucial in preventing you from losing important items. If you habitually put your car keys or handbag in the same place when you get home from work each day, all you need to do when you get up in the morning is head to that spot, grab it and go. Compare that with rushing around trying to retrace your steps while the clock is ticking – the benefits of having systems for organising your things become pretty clear.
2. Clean up and re-organise before you start anything new
This is a great tip, as it recognises that when we’re ‘in the zone’ – or highly focused on something – thinking we need to clean up as we work can break our flow. So, while 'organising as we go' for certain tasks might be unrealistic, it’s definitely useful to apply the rule to clean up and re-organise before we begin something new.
Clearing up between tasks prevents things from getting out of control, meaning it should only take a few minutes to re-shuffle and get yourself ready for your next task. Using your breaks between tasks to clean up and re-organise can have other benefits too. For one, it allows you to start a new task on a clean slate, with a de-cluttered desk and everything you need available.
If it’s the end of the day, it means you can begin work the following day already organised for what lies ahead. And if you’re consolidating between tasks throughout the day, this gives you a chance to order your thoughts, brainstorm and plan. It gives you a mental break. In fact, research suggests that after de-cluttering and organising we feel happier, less stressed and more energised. So, as an added plus, you also give yourself a mental boost for your next undertaking!
3. Generate your own personal ‘brain dump’ and use it
This is a great idea because the ‘brainstorming’ nature of this suggestion suits those who don’t have everything naturally organised in their head. With this concept, set aside time to scribble down everything that you need to get done or have organised for the week ahead. This doesn’t need to be in any particular order – as the name suggests, it’s really just an unloading of all the chaos going on in your brain.
Once you’ve got it all down, you can then start to organise things a bit better. Section off tasks into a to-do list, group items that can be done together, or break larger assignments into a series of action points. Whatever works for you in turning everything in your head into something coherent that you can refer to throughout the week!
One suggestion is to use the ‘Eisenhower Principle’. In a 1954 speech, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower said:
“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
This ‘Eisenhower Principle’ is said to be how he organised his workload and priorities.
The Urgent-Important matrix is a great tool to prioritise your tasks visually on their scale of urgency and importance. At the heart of the matrix are these two questions: Is this task important? Is this task urgent?
Top of your list for action are those in quadrant one: Urgent + Important,
followed by Not urgent but Important.
The third priority are points you classify as Urgent but Not important
and the ‘time wasters’ are Not urgent or Important!
No matter what tool or strategy you use, in formulating your newly organised ‘brain dump’, make sure you don’t let your hard work go to waste and put it somewhere useful. It could be on your phone or on your fridge, so long as you have a quick reference point to help keep you on track!
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