January 22, 2020
Do you feel like you never have enough free time? That you might be missing out on opportunities? Undoubtedly, it’s because of a lack of organisation in your life.
Some people make it look easy, juggling work, a side hustle, the gym, a glittering social media presence and a healthy social life without ever breaking a sweat.
Most of us, though, struggle with organisation at some point. And it’s only becoming more of a problem with the rise of portfolio careers, digital nomads, start up entrepreneurs and neverending online work hours.
Being ‘disorganised’ can mean a number of things. No matter the problem in your current system of organisation, it can probably be solved by creating a solid routine for yourself and, over time, adapting that routine for new situations.
The truth is, there’s no quick fix to becoming organised. It might sound boring, but getting organised is about doing lots of small things and getting a schedule in place to do them.
A hook for your keys and bag, a stand for your shoes, a charger on your desk for your phone. It’s important that your things have a place. Put things back in the same place every time you come home, and you’ll always know where they are!
This will avoid mental load in having to retrace your steps to find things or wondering where you should put things. By making things have their specific place you reduce the cognitive load – freeing you to focus on things that matter and thus be more productive. What’s more, there’s nothing less motivating and confidence-building that aimlessly placing your keys in the fridge while you stand there wondering why you’re in the kitchen.
Think about items as totems – objects that each time you use them, you consciously associate a thought to. Associate the place with the item. Each time you use it, consciously think where this item belongs. Things will be organised in no time.
No, not your things, your self. It’s just important for you to be in the right place as it is for your things (see point 1). Everything you do should have an area, or if space is tight, maybe a side of the table or a specific chair. This way, you will be primed for work not play during work time, your creative juices will start flowing when it’s time to write or do crafts, and you won’t muddle things up.
This one is simple. When you have a little time, get ready for when you don’t. Lay out your clothes, pack your lunch, check the weather and put out an umbrella, a scarf or suncream.
No matter how much you try, unexpected pressures on your time will always creep up. By utilising the spare time you do have more efficiently, you can take the required time to plan and prepare. This will reduce stress when the heat is on, and because you have adequately prepared, you’ll be in a far better place to make decisions from.
In 2020 there are loads of habit and productivity apps that you can use to help you holistically prepare – mentally, physically, and organisationally.
If you’re working, or really doing anything except relaxing, be sure to get up, shower, brush your teeth, and dress just like you would if you’re going to work. Well, you might not want a full suit and tie or heels in the house, but try for smart-casual at least.
Many studies show that the clothes you wear can affect your mental and physical performance. This encompasses numerous areas such as increasing your abstract thinking and creativity, helping negotiate for higher compensation, and how other people rate your competence.
The best way to become more organised is to write yourself a schedule for your average day. It doesn’t have to be excessively detailed at first. The initial habit you want to create is just the habit of sticking to a schedule. For example, the morning could be as follows.
7.20 – alarm
7.30 – get up
7.30 – 8.00 – exercise
8.00 – shower
8.30 – coffee and breakfast
9.00 – 11.00 – work
11.00 – 12.00 – errands
In this plan, ‘work’ and ‘errands’ can be whatever needs doing, but having set times for things will force you to begin the planning process and encourage you to fill the given chunk of time effectively. You can even schedule in breaks.
As you move forward in creating positive new habits, you can add in more plans which will interact with your schedule. For instance, you might have a 10k training plan which details what ‘exercise’ means for you or a meal plan which fills in what ‘breakfast’ means.
This might sound daunting, but actually doing the planning won’t take long at all. You can probably take a single Sunday afternoon a month, or an hour every Sunday, to sit down with a cup of tea and work your plans out.
You don’t need to get a whiteboard or go overboard. All the plans can be plugged into that schedule, and there are plenty of productivity apps available that will store it for you, along with shopping lists and to do lists.
Author of several time management and productivity books including the hugely influential Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, Laura Vanderkam had the following advice for us:
On Fridays, I make myself a short, 3-category list of priorities for the upcoming week: career, relationships, self. The upside of making a 3-category list is that it’s really hard to leave a category blank! So that right there nudges me to have a more balanced life. I list my priorities and then figure out roughly when I plan to tackle them. It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.
To get more ideas you can check out what 20 productivity experts told us were the tools they couldn’t live without in 2020.
It is widely accepted that goals for change should be both specific and reasonable. There should also be a reason for that change.
What does this mean? Being specific means that you should pinpoint exactly the change you want to make. So, instead of ‘I’m going to become organised’, you might say, ‘Next week I’m going to follow this plan for my mornings’. Not only is the latter more specific, it is also more reasonable. It isn’t as big a change as ‘becoming more organised’, and it relates to actual, recordable, quantifiable action.
Having a reason for your change is also important. You can refer back to this when you begin to doubt the worth of your project, or when you go a little off the rails. And, when all’s said and done, you get to measure how well you have done partially by what you have got in return for your hard work.
If you want to be more organised so you can spend more time with your children, you can look at what a good weekend you just had with them. If it’s to get more clients, you can congratulate yourself on all those new commissions or contacts.
No matter how well you plan, though, and how strictly you follow expert advice, it is important to remember that making changes is hard. ObjektivApp gives you the best chance using the best evidence based techniques from behavioural science.
Whether you’re using apps or learning to keep yourself organised the old fashioned way, remember a few basic rules. Put things in their place, dress for the occasion, make plans while you have free time, and delineate your work and play areas. By forming going habits around planning you’ll start to feel like you have more free time.
Soon, all those opportunities that you previously missed out because of a lack of organisation will become attainable. Good luck becoming the envy of everyone you know.