Philosophical question for you: are organizational habits formed by nature or nurture? Can someone be taught how to get out of bed without hitting the snooze button? Is there such a thing as not having to run for the bus because you’re behind?
I am a firm believer that these habits can be amended and replaced with strategies to help you make the most out of each day.
So, I’ve got some tips and tricks to help you make it happen.
Keep an Agenda or Lists
Writing things down is a physical way of saying to the universe, “Fck yeah I am going to do this!” Keep an agenda with daily and weekly reminders for things you need to get done. Or, keep lists active for different categories of items you need to accomplish. You can set it all up, plus reminders to your smartphone, on your Google Calendar.
There are also great apps for keeping track of the things you need to do as well. Check out Evernote, an organizational tool that also syncs all your devices so that you can have access from home, work, or the mosh pit at that punk show.
Pro tip: Just writing the things down won’t cut it (although it’s a good start). You have to actually look at your lists after, and then do the things. Make a habit of reviewing your calendar for the next day before you go to bed, and again when you’re getting your day started.
Keep Your Workspace De-Cluttered
Does your desktop look like a game of Jenga that is about to topple over? Don’t let it. Make different folders for the variety of subcategories you work with in order to keep things easy to find and maintain. The same goes for your e-mail inbox (dun dun dun), and your physical workspace. Things will run so much more smoothly if you don’t have 1,000 files in your way.
Set small goals to keep your organizational skills on track. What three things do you HAVE to accomplish today in order to feel the weight of the day off your shoulders? Write them down and the steps you need to take to get them done. Ask for help where you need it and move between tasks to keep your brain fresh.
Set Alarms and Reminders
Not a morning person? That’s ok, neither are most sane people. But you can practice your way to actually getting shit done in the early hours of the day. Entice yourself by waking up to a pre-programmed coffee maker ready and waiting with your morning brew. Set alarms throughout your day to keep your schedule structured and moving along. Don’t be guessing when your next meeting is—set a reminder an hour before so you can get a good seat near the donuts.
Prepare to Forget
Don’t assume you’re going to remember that thing you just promised to do, or that other thing you were supposed to go to on Saturday. Planners and lists help—but what if you forget to check them?
When you think of something critical that you have to remember, write yourself a note RIGHT AWAY and leave it someplace you can’t forget it. Wake up in the middle of the night and remember a thing you have to bring to work tomorrow? Put a note beside your bag. Worried you’re going to forget the errand you have to run tomorrow afternoon? Leave a note in your lunch.
Remember to prioritize and take breaks, not long “try every lip color at Sephora breaks”, just little refreshing ones, like a quick trip to the coffee shop. Reward yourself with a pat on the back after accomplishing tasks and always remember that in the long run, life will be more smooth sailing after getting shit done.
And always remember—you aren’t trying to change who you are (because you’re amazing). Disorganized people are often super smart—you probably kill it when it comes time for creativity and brainstorming. Building good organization habits will just help you channel your awesomeness in a more productive way.