Anthropy aside, people are not naturally disorganized. Removing the chaos from our lives is a matter of small steps that build lasting behaviors.
The essential organizational skills to help you categorize, organize, and declutter your life- space can be easily applied to all areas of life.
In time, as you rely on your new organizational habits more and more, you’ll be amazed how much of your precious life can be spared by just being a more organized person.
Steps to be more organized:
1. Create a to do list for the whole week
If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’re probably pressed by obligations: job, personal life, social life, etc. Sometimes or not-to-do lists should be way longer that our to-do lists, but still they are crucial for productivity.
Learn how to clasterize different tasks and keep separate lists for different aspects of life. All of your lists should be arranged with top priority errands at the top and least pressing or time-bound tasks at the bottom.
Make one list of top priority stuff (master list) with all the long-term to-do's (clean out garage, sign up for language classes). Next make a high-impact tasks (HIT) list - things to be done this day (finish report/assignment, etc.)
Always use simple actionable language and log the time for all tasks.
2. Get your sleep schedule
Having the sleep schedule and sticking to it helps to avoid insomnia and nervousness, in total it makes your sleep and rest much better, improves mood and motivation.
First rule is to avoid alcohol or caffeine at least 4 hours prior to bed. Have some light reading (stay away from the news and video games) before sleep. Establish your bedtime and go to sleep at the same time every day.
Come up with your own bedtime routines (stretching before bed, meditating, listening to calming music, etc.) and make sure your bedroom is cooled, ventilated and dark.
3. Make your bed
Don’t underestimate this simple habit. SEALs are taught to make their bed perfect, and if it ain’t, they run 10 miles as a reminder that a good start is half the race. It brings some permanence in the chaos of life.
Initiate your own good-day-start habit and make your bed nice and neat.
4. Use to do list
It boosts your confidence and helps you to prioritize and delegate tasks while creating an accountability.
Don’t mix your urgent errands and long-term goals. Do it like this: start with the most important and most urgent tasks, then the most urgent but less important, important but not urgent, and close it up with the least important and least urgent errands.
5. Prioritize 3 most important tasks for the day
Draw 4 columns using the scheme from the previous advice (most important, most urgent, least important, least urgent) and assess all the tasks. Then schedule the most urgent and important tasks first thing for tomorrow.
To make more progress with it, write down all the steps needed to get it done.
6. Prepare clothes for tomorrow
Paradox of Choices is a well known phenomenon of our age. Having too many choices actually makes us more miserable and increases stress. That’s why so many successful people resort to tricks like not having to choose what to wear the following day. Barack Obama wears only grey suits, while Zuckerberg wears the same outfit because there’s literally no time to waste on small choices like this.
You can set all your outfits and assign each for a day in a week. Iron all of it and place it on hangers, and stop wasting mental energy and time.
7. Buy a "well-being" plant
Research says that observing plants lowers your levels of cortisol ("stress" hormone). Make house planting your hobby. Let this plant be your pal.
Associate its health with your own well-being. Nourish it. Just the fact that you’re responsible for the well-being of other life will make you feel better and help with self-organization. Plus the release of endorphins and aroma. Win-win.
8. Use Productivity Apps
These are your tiny helpers indispensable for scheduling, rescheduling, and reminding you of all the important stuff. And since smartphones are now part of our lives, why not use it to be less distracted and more organized for a change?:)
There are dozens of great apps to help you do. Read the Best To Do List Apps to find out their pros and cons and what each app is best for.
9. Do the most difficult task first
Research shows that judges tend to carry out more strict sentences later in the day. The reason is that same Paradox of Choices. That’s why high achievers share the same habit of getting up early and doing the most important thing first.
Your IQ, mood, and willpower is stronger earlier in the morning. Use it to tackle the most difficult tasks and you’ll boost your productivity by thousands.
Go check with your to do list and identify the most pressing errand for tomorrow. Before going to bed, visualize yourself engaged in the tasks, step by step.
10. Do the home maintenance
Most of your basic home maintenance isn’t hard and is required only once a month or so. Still, it can potentially save you a lot of trouble, money, and even your life or your loved ones.
Make a small home maintenance schedule: clean kitchen sink disposal weekly, check HVAC filters once every 3 months (especially if you have allergies); check if your fire extinguisher is optimally placed and doesn't have any signs of tear and wear; check batteries in your smoke detectors; check the water heater's relief valve annually to keep it clean from corrosion.
11. Get rid of unnecessary things
Decluttering is the most powerful tool in being more organized. It’s also a way to earn extra cash.
There are many online groups and garage sales opportunities to earn extra cash while getting rid of unnecessary stuff. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be using your old laptops or phones again, or wearing that old jacket. Remember, there’s always someone who really needs it. Be generous, give your old clothes and stuff for charity or sell it, and save money for strategic purchases.
12. Do short meditations throughout the day
Tons of studies on meditation point that it enhances your focus, mood, cardiovascular health and social intelligence.
A habit of taking regular breaks for meditation and deep relaxation might just be what you need to stay calm and more organized during the day.
13. Create your training schedule
Exercising is the best way to improve health, decrease stress, and boost creativity and motivation. What’s more, you can transform your training into a challenge and further boost your motivation to accomplish more.
Assess your level of fitness by logging the load you performed this week (distances you ran, reps of exercises you did, weights you used, etc.) and set a goal to increase the overall load by 10-15%. If you feel good and fully recovered after the next week (able to perform the same amount of training load) increase it again by no more than 10%. Have an active recovery week once every 4 consecutive weeks of load (do mild stretching and cardio).
14. Get a diet diary
Diet log serves many purposes, from helping you being better with your food choices, cutting down on junk food, and being more organized with meals.
Make sure you’re honest with yourself and write down all the food you consume during the day. Log the amount (in cups, ounces, etc.) and specify the time. People usually forget to count calories that come from condiments, sauces, and beverages (and alcohol) and tend to misinterpret their overall intake. Make sure you’re honest about this too.
15. Buy necessary equipment for training
See it like a pledge or an investment that enables you to be committed to your sport goals. What sport goals? Read on.
16. Set your 3, 6 and 12 months sport goals
Goals are the best organizational tool there is. Top athletes always have their goal before them. This helps them to train no matter what and always achieve more. The more ambitious the goals the better.
Imagine what you can accomplish in 3, 6, and 12 months from now (run your first 20k, do your first muscle up, participate in triathlon challenge). Write it don’t and make a step by step plan to these goals. Set realistic milestones for yourself always log your training loads to check if your progress is going up.
17. Create Your Goal Vision Board
Visualization is a powerful technique adopted by many successful individuals. If you can imagine achieving something, you can have it. The more you visualize it, the more real it becomes in your mind, the quicker will you get it. The trick is to eradicate ALL the self-doubts and negative self-talk.
“Lay out” your most ambitious goals before yourself. Write them down and place them on the timeline. Don’t specify the time when you want it, just what you want to achieve after what. Now, collect images/photos related or depicting these goals and place them on the timeline. Add the photos of yourself among them to associate them with yourself more. Act like you already have it all.
Sometimes, life can give us something far more valuable that we initially wanted. Remember to be grateful for what you already have.
There’s no silver lining to this, but the more actions toward self-organization you make, the more little steps you take, the more self disciplined you’ll become. In time, this will create a cascade effect and you’ll feel more and more inclined to live more organized.
Remember to praise yourself more and reflect on the progress you’ve made so far. Be grateful for the present moment and always wear your pretty smile:)