Organization Made Easy!
Would you like to feel more organized? I have a pretty good system in place now that helps me feel on top of things…… most days! Before I get into the HOW you go about organizing your life, let me start with the WHY. You are a busy person – a doer and a goer I’m sure. So make-work projects, in the name of organization, are certainly not what you are all about. I know this because this is me too! I have found a few basic organizational habits that allow me to be more efficient at knocking off my responsibilities, therefore creating more time for open space in my life to fill with whatever it is that I choose.
Here are the five most important tools and habits that I follow religiously to ensure that I’m on top of my game!
1. Every week I coordinate my calendar with my to-do list and every day I assess the reasonableness of what I’m hoping to accomplish. In relation to maximizing the usefulness of your to-do list, I’m going to send you to another blog post that’s specifically going to explain the importance of having an automated to-do list. Read that blog and then come back to this one.
Now that you are feeling me when it comes to the benefits of automation for keeping yourself organized, I’m going to throw another layer at you. Each day you must assess the reasonableness of the tasks in your to-do list and the appointments/meetings in your calendar. I tend to do this before I start my day. I mean, I get up and focus on the real important stuff first, like walking my dog, drinking my warm lemon juice, writing in my journal and doing a bit of yoga…..but then I dive right into reviewing my calendar and to-do list for the day to make sure I haven’t set myself up for failure. If it appears that my list would be impossible to accomplish in one day, I do a task/appointment shuffle until I get back to a list that I think is more reasonable. Sometimes this shuffle is easy - Do I really need to stop for milk or can we get buy on what’s at home? Do I truly have to clean out the microwave, or could that wait until tomorrow? Sometimes this shuffling is not so easy and I have to decide if I’m going to bail on dinner with friends so I can be in a better position with my office workload that week or perhaps I need to reschedule that dentist appointment because a last minute meeting came up for me at the kids school. The shuffle comes down to priorities every single day, so I propose if you haven’t done any work lately on contemplating what your priorities are at this point in time, you should start there (or your daily shuffle could take you WAY too long). Want to start thinking about what’s most important to you? Head on over to the blog about Calming Chaos by Living Your Priorities and then come back here to finish up with the last 4 tips.
2. Multiple times a week I document and categorize my spending. If you really want to feel organized, you MUST have a good understanding of your financial situation. Nothing can make me feel more out of control than not knowing exactly where I stand financially. Can we cover off all of our expenses this month and still have back-up cash for emergencies? Do I have enough “fun” money from this paycheque to be able to pay for this pair of shoes without having to use credit? When are we going to have that line of credit paid off anyway??? Money woes can send you spinning and leave you feeling buried in financial burden, but I truly believe that having a firm understanding of where your money is going and that you are going to have enough lifts a huge weight! It doesn’t have to be about MORE, MORE, MORE – sometimes we have enough, but without any thought into how we spend it, we can feel completely out of control in this area.
To get started on a path of organized finances, start a simple tracking spread sheet (or even use a ledger book if you are more comfortable with that) that you can update based on transactions that go in and out of your bank account. Categorize the types of expenses in columns. Personal finance management can be as complicated or as simple as you make it. I talk more about tips specific to personal finances in the Money Matters section of the blog.
3. Weekly I post a meal plan on my fridge and add necessary groceries to follow it to my grocery list. Sure, a meal plan is the key to success when it comes to cleaner eating, but it’s also a super time saver! Who wants to get home at 5:30 or 6:00pm and have to thaw some meat to throw on the barbeque and run back and forth in and out of the house checking the steak and making a salad? Meat should be out and thawed from the night before and the salad should be prepared (a mini side note – I forced myself into the habit of not putting any groceries away after grocery shopping until they’ve been washed and chopped and ready to eat!). I know, neither of these tips are rocket science!! But the key truly is to force yourself to develop these habits by doing them week after week after week, until they are just second nature!
4. I follow a household cleaning schedule that includes daily tasks (e.g. dishes/laundry), weekly tasks (e.g. bathrooms, floors), monthly tasks (e.g. windows, closets), and annual tasks (e.g. light fixtures and appliance clean out). Obviously I have multiple tasks assigned to each category that are programmed to pop up in my to-do list according to their individual scheduled repetition – but the most important element of this tip for helping me to feel organized is that I know that everything will eventually get done so I can stop feeling like I should be doing this or should be doing that around my home when all I really want to do is pour a glass of wine and read my book for an hour before bed! Take a quick read of my blog on managing your “must-do’s” so you have more time for the “want-to-do’s”.
5. I utilize a weekly prioritized action list at the office to keep me super efficient. I want to be in and out of there with as much work accomplished as I possibly can in a day! Of course my task list is colour coded – red for “must do because the deadline is this week” and blue for “really want to get done this week so I can move on to new projects next week”. Sure there have been times where my blue tasks have been bumped by more fire fighting red type tasks and obviously there are times where longer days are required to get through everything that needs to be done, but the system allows me to be really clear on what needs to be done first and what should be worked on next. It keeps me moving forward and feeling really on top of things at the office. If you want more tips about how I manage my demanding career so that I can have maximum quality output in an amount of time that doesn’t include daily overtime, check out the section of the blog on Being a Superstar at the Office!
Five super simple elements of my formula for feeling organized! This is a quick blog post to give you some ideas of where you might want to start to focus if you are feeling overwhelmed and under water lately. Might I suggest however picking ONE of these areas that you’d like to focus on so you can regain your organized mojo and place your focus there until you have that area mastered. Make this whole organization thing far less overwhelming by breaking it down and chipping away at what you want to accomplish.
If you need more time to explore your own organizational style, I have a really great free, 4 week challenge to kick-start you and get you thinking about where you want to make some change. You can sign up for the challenge here and expect to receive all 12 challenge emails in your inbox over the course of the next four weeks.
Now, perhaps after that challenge you want more granular, specific step by step actions to help you in creating your own formula in a specific area…..then I’m going to direct you to my guidebooks that are available for purchase on a variety of topics. (You should know I can do granular, specific instructions well!) My biggest pet peeve is wanting to make a change and not receiving the exact steps that I should take to get me there. While my guidebooks were written to allow you to design a formula that will work for you, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to tell you exactly what to try and how to explore other ideas as a way to get you there. You will not be left wondering what in the heck you really should be doing to create your best formula for organization if you follow the actions steps in the guidebooks.
Well, that’s it for today folks! I hope you took something away from this post and have renewed motivation to swim back to the surface, get your head above water and then start kicking for the shore!