Although being organized is commonly referred to as a personality trait, it is definitely a trait you can acquire regardless of your personality type. By developing a few habits, you can beat your own inclinations and get your house and car in order.
Looking around you, does that seem like too big of a job? No matter how disorganized you are right now, we could all use more organization in our daily life to become more productive, achieve our goals and make our time on Earth more enjoyable (and less stressful).
And it doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think it is...
Take a look at these 9 simple steps you can follow that will make you a more organized person.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to tackle these all at once. In fact, I recommend you don’t. Start with number one (I made this step really easy!) and once you’re ready to organize more, pick your favorite and start there. (Make sure you fit in #9 no matter how many of the others you do too.)
1. Know Why You Do It
Number one in everything. Be sure you know why you’re doing something.
If you surf the web looking to get organized in any regard, be it school, work, daily life… you’ll find that most articles tell you very similar things. Write stuff. Make lists. Set goals. Don’t procrastinate, etc. etc.
All these things are great. But if you don’t have a clear vision of why you want to do these things, you’ll end up breaking those habits when the rush of daily life gets to you.
Before you know it, you’ll be back online scanning through articles like these and implementing little measures in your routine, but never actually committing to the majority.
That’s what happens when you don’t know exactly what you want to do, or become, and why.
So step one is to ask yourself why you came here in the first place.
Perhaps you want to be a better parent. Perhaps you want to be better at your job, or you want to maximize your free time to pursue a side project…
It can be anything. Whatever it is, make sure you know it, own it and can easily go back to it any time you’re tempted to break the organized habits you want to preserve in your life.
2. Write Stuff Down
Yes, like “most articles” that I mentioned above, I’m going to tell you to write things. It sounds cliché, but it really is extremely helpful.
A very good article from lifehack.org said it best: “You will only further complicate your life by trying to contain important dates and reminders in your head.”
Instead of trying to memorize all the to-do lists, events groceries... just choose a method of writing things down. Carry a notebook around or use different apps on your phone depending on the piece of info (calendars for dates, notes for reminders, etc.).
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s not something you’ll lose very easily. As in, a nice notebook that’s difficult to misplace, or saving everything in the cloud as opposed to on a particular device.
3. Get A Calendar Or Planner And Use It
First things first when it comes to calendars and planners... get one you will actually use. Most email clients have one, and your smartphone certainly does too.
But if it helps you to have a tangible thing to write on and hang on your wall or keep on your desk, by all means do it soon!
Once you choose yours, be sure to record any dates you need to remember in it. From there, record events as soon as you agree to them. Whenever someone asks you for a meeting and you agree to a certain time and place, write it down!
There are two other things that your calendar or planner will be great for: creating your schedule and setting up deadlines.
Each one of these are great ways to be more organized. A schedule lets you prioritize which things go in every particular day so you can make sure you do a little of everything you want by the end of each week.
For some inspiration on schedules, you can check out this article about the routines of some of history’s most creative minds.
(Quick note: each of these people in the article knew exactly what they were pursuing and why. Even if it was just extreme curiosity.
Adding deadlines is simply a way of allocating time for each task and stopping yourself from procrastinating.
If you know that something is due at a certain time, even if it’s for yourself, you’ll stop postponing it until you simply don’t do it.
4. Make Time To Organize
By now you probably think that this is a lot to take in. You suddenly have to make time to create a schedule, set deadlines, read articles on organization…
That’s why it’s important to make time to organize the rest of your time. Allocate a moment, be it daily or weekly, to sit down and plan ahead.
An article from The Guardian called “How to be more organised at work” recommends closing each day with a 10-15 minute routine to end the day and set priorities for the next.
It also brings forth the concept of a “Weekly power hour”. That is a 60-90 minute appointment with yourself where you do some large-scale planning and review.
This is where you can ask yourself, “have the measures I’ve taken so far actually improved my organization skills? Am I less stressed? Am I closer to my goal?”
With this step I’m referring to both physical and intangible clutter.
Whatever it is that is cluttering up your life, impairing your ability to move freely... make time to clear it out.
As Forbes contributor Frances Booth puts it, “decide whether [clutter] relates to clearing physical objects (including files and papers) or whether it is about clearing tasks off a list. Then nominate one hour to start on the task.”
This is important because it will allow you to move on with other aspects of your life. Cross something off a list and you can set new goals. It will also stop occupying space in your head.
Something similar happens with physical items. If you clean out your closet, file cabinets, kitchen drawers, or even an entire room... everything will become more fluid.
On a busy morning, you’ll suddenly be able to find that shirt you suddenly decided to wear or that form you need.
6. Identify Hot Areas For Leaving The House
This step relates closely to the one above. Once you start decluttering, you may realize you want to begin with certain areas that are crucial for your daily routine.
For most people, these are the areas where they spend time just before leaving the house. We call them “hot areas”.
Your garage, the driveway, etc… if all of these are super organized and decluttered, chances are that each time you drive away or step out the door, you’ll leave prepared for what lies ahead.
You’ll stop misplacing items, forgetting things, or stop wasting time looking for them and leaving late again to face the traffic.
So make a map of your daily routine, identify the things you do right before leaving the house, and make sure those areas are nice and neat.
One of the best ways to do that is to get some organization tools like a portable organizer that you can keep in your garage and then carry to your car trunk or vice versa.
Keeping your essentials ready for every time you walk out the door can do wonders for making your day more productive and enjoyable.
7. Organize Your Car
Likewise, having an organized vehicle certainly helps.
If you commute to work or spend a lot of time in your car (from your home to work, then pick up the kids, then drive them to their activities, then go to the gym) this one’s certainly a must.
Unfortunately most vehicle manufacturer’s don’t spend too much time thinking about making their cars more organization friendly.
Granted, that would be hard since each person’s needs are different. So that’s why you have the one-size-fits-all solutions in most vehicles; a few cup holders, the glove compartment, possibly a center console, and usually that’s about it.
That’s where external solutions can come handy. There are many items like...
Wondering where you can get some of these fancy items that are durable and eco-friendly? There’s a reason we started Busy Life Products and designed all of these organizational products.
We were busy, our house and car were a mess… and we were just tired of it. But now, we have our hot spots and car organized, and life is much less stressful.
8. Automate Tasks
Now I’ll get a bit more technical and hands-on...
If you’ve ever sat down to write a schedule, you may have found that it’s easy to run out of hours in each day.
That’s why you should identify the most menial tasks and see if there’s any way of making them automatic.
The best example is paying your bills. Most banks today have the option to program monthly payments to a particular account or credit card.
Make time to see what among your monthly expenditures can be automated and find a way to do it. That way, you’ll stop spending time with them, or worrying if you’ve even made them.
You can also “automate” other aspects by taking care of an action all at once rather than doing it every day.
For example, say you take time to cook all or most of your weekly meals on a Sunday evening. Then the rest of the week you only have to heat each meal up instead of taking time to cook every day.
This is almost automatic and it can certainly be applied to other things in your life like choosing clothes for each day and gathering supplies for work.
And last but very definitely not least, make some time to meditate! With all these tips, recommendations and habits to implement, it can be easy to get stressed out about the prospect of trying to live a less-stressed life.
There’s a paradox for you, but it happens. So, as I said at the top... no matter which steps you wish to actually follow or how you chose to do it, make time to meditate.
It can be as little as 5 minutes a day and the benefits are undeniable. I end this article with this advice, because perhaps the single most important thing you need to become a more organized person is keeping a clear head and a conscious mind.
Meditation, even if it’s the basic practice of sitting down at the end of the day, closing your eyes and thinking about what you did throughout the day… can definitely place you in that state.
Keep On Keepin’ On
I hope these steps help you in achieving whatever it is you’re striving for when you decided you want to be more organized.
Achievable as it may be, remember that being organized is a personality trait. As such, it is not something you can instantly be by implementing these steps, but rather something that you become by making habits out of them.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, “personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures”. May you have lots of success with the gestures you’ve learned here then!