When it comes to being organized do you fall into the ‘write a list for everything’ camp? Or are you more of a ‘wing it and see how it goes’ kind of person?
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, chances are if you’re here, you want to be more organized, and you’re feeling like what you’re doing now isn’t quite working for you.
Here’s the thing about being organized that so many people don’t talk about and don’t realise:
Being organized is a habit.
Which can be frustrating because sometimes habits are hard to form (and old habits are hard to break). But it’s also fantastic because you can look at the habits of organized people and start implementing them in your life.
With adding in new organization habits and trying to be more organized, the trick is to just add one thing at a time. Don’t go try and overhaul your entire day and change every little thing about what you do. That will just make you frustrated in the long run and your new super organizational habits won’t stick.
Instead, just pick one (or maybe two smaller things) off this list of habits of organized people and start implementing them into your days. Then, when you feel like these new habits are fully part of your life, then add another one or two and keep repeating until you’re happy with how organized you are.
Here are the habits of organized people that you can start adding into your day:
1 – Have A System For Keeping Notes
How many times have you come up with a brilliant idea, or had something you knew you needed to do, so you wrote it down… and then… gone.
If you have a system for keeping your notes, this will help you be far more organized each day, will help you keep track of important tasks, and can help you keep your creativity flowing.
Whether you use a pen and paper system and have note pads, notebooks, or sticky notes, or if you’d prefer something digital such as note taking apps like Evernote or Google Keep, as long as you have a system that works for you, that’s all that really matters.
Be sure to take the next step with your note taking and add categories or dates that items need to be actioned by in order to be extra organized.
2 – Make The Most Of Your Calendar
Regardless of whether you use a physical calendar, a diary, or a digital calendar, chances are you’re not making the absolute most of it (I’m always learning new things to add and get the most out of my calendar too!).
You might think of your calendar as a place to put reminders of bills that need to be paid, or to keep track of your kids extra curricular activities, and to schedule in appointments and catch-ups, but what about all of the other things you could add to it too?
Add reminders to your calendar for things you need to check in with your friends about (pregnant friend going for her ultrasound – add a reminder to check in with her). Add birthdays, to do lists, tasks, household cleaning chores on repeat (such as monthly tasks repeated on the same day each month so you have a reminder to do them again).
There are so many things you can add to your calendar to help you be more productive, start looking at what you do each day and see if it is something you could add to your calendar in the future to help you be more organized.
3 – Know How To Write A Productive To-Do List
There’s a to do list… and then there’s a productive to do list.
A to do list consists of a whole bunch of tasks, written down like a brain dump with no real plan or prioritising system and usually makes you feel like crap when you don’t tick everything off.
A productive to do list consists of 3 main tasks that absolutely must be completed that day – your top priorities. Then can have other tasks that are grouped together to help you get the most out of your day.
Is your to do list making you feel like you’re achieving things and being organized, or is it making you feel even more overwhelmed?
4 – Create Daily Routines
Daily routines are a saviour when it comes to being more organized in your day and can be a massive game changer if you’re not quite sure where to start with feeling more in control of your day.
There’s a difference between schedules and routines.
A daily schedule is where everything is done to a set time – such as you get up at 6am, workout done by 6:45am, breakfast done by 7:15am, kids breakfasts done by 7:45am, dressed and ready by 8:15am, out the door by 8:20am.
However a routine is when you have the same tasks done in the same order, and are grouped into different blocks.
For example, your morning routine might look like wake up, workout, coffee, breakfast with kids, get dressed, tidy kitchen. Then your night time routine might be kids play outside while cooking dinner, eat dinner, have showers/baths, pyjamas on, read a story, into bed.
The best thing about routines is that they can be repeated at whatever time suits you that day and therefore regardless of whether it’s a weekday or weekend, work day or day at home, the routine is the same (and most kids thrive with routines).
Routines also work for those who struggle to stick to schedules but want to be able to still have some structure and order to their day. Some days it takes me 30 min to work out, other days it takes an hour, and some days I just don’t do it at all. Same goes for cooking and eating dinner. We couldn’t schedule it at a set time because there are so many variables to our day, but we can keep the routine of dinner, bath/shower, pyjamas etc.
5 – Build Your Day Around Your Most Important Tasks
If you were to get a phone call right now saying that you had a massive water leak in your home, that would immediately become the most important task for you today.
You would shift your day around to make sure that your water leak was fixed and that it was taken care of. You wouldn’t put it on your to do list for tomorrow, you wouldn’t procrastinate by spending time scrolling through social media, it would be your number one.
Treat your most important tasks (your top 3 from your to do list) the same way and build your day around them. This way you will get done what needs to get done and you’ll feel like you’ve achieved more in your day because of it.
6 – Work Towards Your Goals Every Day
What are your goals? What are you currently working towards?
Our goals aren’t achieved by doing big huge tasks but rather by completing small tasks often. Every day. Working towards something big one step at a time.
The reason we don’t achieve our goals is because we either a) don’t set them b) don’t work on them or; c) don’t know how to work on them.
Set your goal, work out what needs to be done to achieve it, then work on it. Every single day. Even if it’s the smallest task. 7 small tasks in one week is a lot further towards your goal than 0 tasks.
7 – Keep The Clutter At Bay
I am a huge advocate for decluttering and it’s not just for the physical benefits of less clutter and more space. The mental and mindset benefits are incredible too.
Keeping clutter at bay helps you cope with overwhelm and can in turn make you more productive and organized.
When we are overwhelmed, it’s difficult to get out of that funk. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed or have tasks that need to be done and I don’t know where to start, the first thing I will do is clear the clutter.
It makes the world of difference and can help you feel far more organized in your day.
8 – Focus On The Positives
I have never met an organized and successful person who had an overwhelmingly negative mindset.
Think about it…
Negative people start so many sentences with ‘I can’t’, they create excuses for why something isn’t possible and palm off the blame for why something didn’t happen or couldn’t happen.
They are exhausting to be around and once you realise how negative they are, they are incredibly frustrating. They focus so much on why things can’t happen instead of finding ways to make them happen.
Perhaps it’s as simple as ‘I don’t have the time to do that’ or making excuses as to why someone else can be organized (they have help, they don’t work, they have *insert whatever excuse here*).
The words we use matter and have so much power to them.
If there is something on your list or if there is something someone has asked of you and you ‘don’t have the time’ rather than saying negative words like ‘don’t’ rephrase it to say ‘that is not a priority for me right now’. Or if you’re talking to someone else and need to let them know you ‘don’t have the time’ you can rephrase it to ‘I have some priority tasks I need to complete first and they will take me x amount of time to complete. Can I schedule some time in for you after that?’
This puts more focus on the control you do have over your time and what you choose to fill your time with, rather than focusing on negative such as ‘I can’t’ or ‘I don’t’.
Give it a go and see how different you feel when using more positive words.
9 – Help Out Your Future Self
I often palm tasks off to my future self that don’t require my focus at the present time and will usually say ‘that a tasks for future me’. But in the same breath, I also try to help out ‘future me’ as much as I possibly can, when I can.
Ask yourself – what can you do today that future you is going to be so grateful for.
One of the tasks I try and get done each night is packing the school lunches ready for the next day. It seems like such a simple thing, but future me, morning me, is so darn grateful when we are getting ready for the day that this simple task is already done.
Other tasks can be things like organizing your outfit for the next day, putting on a load of washing first thing in the morning (or last thing at night so it’s ready to hang in the morning), a quick tidy of the kitchen so it’s clean and fresh in the morning.
Each night I ask myself the same question – what can I do now to help future me? And I’m always grateful for it.
10 – Don’t Procrastinate Decisions
How easy is it to overcomplicate a decision? You think about it, then think about it some more. Then you say you want to sleep on it, because somehow you think tomorrow you’ll be able to make a better decision. But that just puts off what should be done today, to tomorrow, and adds to your tomorrow list.
Organized people understand that not everything needs to be perfect, sometimes ‘done’ is good enough’. A decision made is better than one still pending. A step forward or even a step to the side is better than staying in the same place.
Action is better than inaction.
The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins is a great way to approach decision making. “The 5 Second Rule is a way to outsmart your brain by changing hesitation into ACTION.”
Challenge yourself to make decisions within 5 seconds and just move forward with your day.
11 – Understand The Need To Put Yourself First
Above all else, you should put yourself first. Yes, above ALL else. Why? Because you cannot pour from an empty cup, you cannot give if you don’t have anything left to give, you cannot care for others if you don’t first care for yourself.
As women it’s the oppositive of what we’ve been conditioned to do for years – we have been taught that we should put everyone (and sometimes everything) else before ourselves. That we are the ones that give our all and when there’s nothing left we are supposed to keep giving.
But it’s destroying us, and when it comes to being organized, it leaves us falling short.
Schedule time for yourself. Yes, schedule it. Like you would any appointment. And make it a priority.
I’m not talking day spa level of self care (but if that’s what you want to do then by all means go for it).
I’m talking 10 minutes each morning to drink your coffee while it’s still hot (ahhh, bliss), or 20 minutes for a yoga session or a walk, or half an hour to watch the latest episode of (insert favourite TV show here) or a weekly catch up with a gilfriend, or hiring a babysitter so you can go to your local cafe by yourself and read a book.
Whatever it is that fills your cup, do it. Schedule it and make it happen.
You’ll be amazed at how much more orgaized you can be when you have more in your cup to give.
These daily habits all add up to leading a more organized life and even just one or two of them can make a huge difference to how your ogranize your day. Choose whichever ones resonate with you the most and work on creating these habits to help you be more organized each day.