There are two types of people in the world – the organised, and the not-quite-so-organised. Organised people don’t have better memories, or more hours in the day, but the good news is that they have a skill set that the rest of us can learn. Here are my top ten ways to start getting more organised – which you can start today!
1. Write it down
Grab a pen and paper, and write down everything you need to do. Everything. Today, next week, this month. In the words of productivity guru Dave Allen * “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them”! Worrying about things you need to do is wasted energy, so write it all down and you are already half way to getting organised.
You’ve mastered the to-do list, but a daily priority list is where the real magic happens. Each day, decide on your priorities and list three manageable tasks. Break large projects into bitesize, achievable activities. By focusing your time and energy in this way, you can say goodbye to overwhelm. You’ll be ticking those to-dos off your list in no time.
Write down appointments as soon as they are made. Before you leave the salon, make your next appointment and pop it in your diary. Diarise plans with friends as soon as they are made, so you don’t double book yourself. Take time at the beginning of each month to review birthdays, deadlines and appointments – and add them to your to-do list for action.
4. Learn to say “No”
Coco Chanel famously taught us that when it comes to accessories, a woman should always look in the mirror before leaving the house and remove one piece. It’s the same with commitments. Review your diary and to-do list each week and cancel or delegate one thing. Nothing is more important than a bit of self care and “me time”.
You don’t have to everything yourself, so learn to recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and delegate accordingly. There are plenty of services available to help save your precious time. Maid services for cleaning, laundries, online supermarkets, dog walkers, party planners, virtual assistants… and professional declutters and organisers (*waves*)… the list is endless. Look at your regular tasks, work out how much your own time is worth and compare. What tasks on your to-do list could you outsource?
6. Schedule routine tasks
Set time for your regular errands and responsibilities. Menu plan and shop for your groceries at the same time each week. Fill your car with petrol on the way home from work each Thursday. Pop a load of laundry in the machine each morning when you wake up, and hang it up before you leave the house. Regular routines become habits, which save you time and energy. And you’ll never run out of petrol again.
You’ve heard it all before, but it really is much easier to keep organised if you have less stuff. Donate or recycle items that you don’t love (that don’t “spark joy”, in the words of tidying guru Marie Kondo*), until you are left with only the items that you treasure.
8. Dress for success
We feel good when we look good, and when we feel good we are more productive. Yet how many times have you scanned your wardrobe in despair, running late, declaring that you “have nothing to wear”? Imagine how it would feel to open your closet to find only clothes that make you look your best. Ruthlessly purge your closet, getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit or doesn’t suit you. Then plan for a capsule wardrobe that you can use as a basis to update with a few on-trend pieces each season. Start thinking about quality, rather than quantity.
9. A place for everything and everything in its place
It’s hard to lose things if you always return them to their proper place after use. Get into the habit of returning items to their home as soon as you have finished with them. It takes seconds, and you’ll be grateful when your keys and purse are ready and waiting for you by the door. A more organised start in the morning will lead to a more organised day ahead.
10. Weekly preparation
A few minutes of preparation will help you to run the week, and avoid the out of control feeling of the week running you. Each weekend, take 30 minutes to check your diary and to-do list. Choose your outfits for the week (and make sure they’re clean/ironed), menu plan and confirm appointments. By taking the guesswork out of each day, you will set yourself up for success.
I originally wrote this article for the UAE’s Aquarius magazine. A version featured in the November 2016 edition as “Keep it Simple, Stupid: Easy ways to organise everything”
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