Let’s be honest. Life is busy, and everyone has a million browsers open at all times, just trying to keep track of everything we have to get done.
I get asked often, “How do you stay so organized?”, “How do you make sure your day is efficient?”, “How do you keep up with everyone’s important days and have time to hand-write notes to celebrate us?”.
Ive always been an organized person, with paper planners and calendars in my purse, drawer dividers in all rooms and closets, multiple alarms set for important tasks or reminders to leave for a meeting, post-it notes everywhere reminding of birthday gifts to send, and so on. It’s a lot.
You know what is also a lot? The fear that I will forget to do something or forget to be somewhere, it can make person crazy. For years, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to add items to a running list on my phone. Ive set multiple daily alarms reminding me of my to-do list and what I need to accomplish that day. Ive sent late-night/ early-morning emails that I swear cant wait until morning (in case I forget by then).
Does anyone else feel as insane as all of this feels to me? Is this all of our lives until the end of time?
No! It doesn’t have to be. The sane part of me can’t think this is our only option! Yes, multiple people are depending on you daily, and the list of things to get done never seems to go away, but I have to believe there’s a way to still maintain sanity
So I’ve started adjusted things. I’ve changed my daily routine, how it starts and how it ends. I’ve changed the way I stay organized. I’ve started using better tools to keep my day efficient and productive. I’ve adopted technology to help me communicate better with my team (and let’s get real, my husband and friends). Through trial and error, I’ve compiled a final list of my five best hacks for getting and staying organized.
- Make a list as the last thing you do every day. Not rocket science, right? The last thing I do every day is review my day that day and look forward to my calendar the next day. This allows me to list anything I didn’t get done that day, and also what I need to get done the following day. It helps my brain to turn off from work and enter in to “off” mode MUCH easier, and keeps those middle-of-the-night wake-up to-do lists at bay.
- Adopt technology. I have a confession. I. Love. Paper. Post-it notes, planners, wall calendars. All the things. When my schedule would change, I would have to cross things out – literally – and move them to a different time slot, my post-it notes would fall down or I wouldn’t see them behind other post-it notes. No one knew my schedule, my to-do list was all over the place. Then we switched to Outlook calendars and note-taking platforms like Evernote, other which sync with phones, computers, iWatches, and everyone can share and see. Life. Changing. Seems simple and like common sense, but if you love paper and physically writing things down, it’s HUGE adjustment, but one that has simplified my life and keeps me on task and appointments organized. My two favorite apps for note taking and organizing: Evernote and OneNote
- Implement time blocking. You know the old phrase, “You control your day or your day can control you”. Well, folks, it’s true. How many times do you have the perfect day laid out, and then emergency after emergency comes up, and your day is quickly turned upside down? It was controlling my life and my day, and that’s unacceptable. My daily calendar now consists of 30-minute to one-hour blocks of time that I do not allow to be interrupted. There are also blocks of time allocated for phone calls, emails, clients, etc. It has helped enormously with staying on task, and making sure Im giving my focus to the items that are important on my list, and not just what’s important to others.
- Don’t let things pile up. This includes things AND tasks. I know when my space doesn’t feel neat and clean, I cant work as efficiently. It’s distracting, overwhelms me and makes me feel like I have more on my plate than I really do. I also know there are certain weekly tasks that aren’t my favorite, and I tend to push those aside as long as humanly possible. Keeping my office, vehicle, work bag, and purse organized and neat keeps me focused, giving me the attention I need to focus on those tasks I find less exciting. The longer I let unenjoyable tasks pile up, the more likely I am to ignore them, leading to even more dread. I try and knock them out one-by-one so the dread goes away and I feel even more accomplished when I get to move on to items I enjoy doing more.
- Stick to the system that works best for you. Identify the weak spots and areas that cause you the most anxiety, and tackle those first. For me, I needed a system that helped me feel more on top of my day, and rest easier at night. For you, it may be something different. My systems may not be your best option, but if your system works for you, adopt it, and really make it work. Constantly switching systems and tools can lead to even more disorganization and confusion, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do.
You can do this! Getting organized for some people seems impossible, but I promise one day at a time, it is possible and your efficiency and ability to handle more will make it all worth it!