Get yourself organized with 5 simple steps
I am constantly being asked by less organized friends how I am so organized. I don’t think I’m THAT organized, but I do manage my life pretty well.
I came up with this 5-step list I tell everyone to do, and I thought I’d share it here.
1. MAKE A HUGE TO DO LIST
Whatever you need to get done, is on your mind, appointments, whatever, WRITE IT ALL DOWN.
Grab a huge sheet of paper or just open some program and type it all down.
Don’t try and organize it, just offload it from your brain onto a piece of paper in a huge list so you have an idea of what you need to do.
Once it’s all off of your mind, take a breather.
2. PICK SOME TOOLS TO HELP YOU
I am a huge fan of apps and making lists on them, and the best one I have found is Things by Cultured Code.
If you’re old school, grab a pretty agenda like this one:
You can also try and use Google to your advantage, such as Google Tasks and Google Calendar, and even Google Documents (shared files with others such as keeping grocery lists you both update).
Another option is Evernote, which is more of a notebook or Microsoft OneNote option.
Whatever it is, you need one single central tool to help you keep yourself organized, be it with an app, paper or online, and you need to stick to it.
3. SORT YOUR TO DO ITEMS INTO WHATEVER MAKES SENSE TO YOU
Some options of how you can categorize items would be by:
Category: Home / Work / Personal / Family / Shopping
Action: Emails to send / Errands to run / Shopping / Appointments to Keep
Time Frame: Today / Tomorrow / Next Week / Next Month / Some Day
Urgency: Immediate / This Week / This Month / Some Day
I like to organize it with ToDo which lets me put dates to it that I re-adjust if I need to, and I do it by Category.
4. BREAK DOWN & DELEGATE TASKS
If you put a big task like: Clean Closet … you are NEVER going to get it done.
Instead, why don’t you make Clean Closet the main task, and break it down into subtasks like:
- Do laundry
- Sort through Tops into Keep / Tailor / Donate / Toss
- Sort through Bottoms into Keep / Tailor / Donate / Toss
- Donate items in bags to a non-profit (Goodwill, Salvation Army)
- Hang up all tops and bottoms
- Fold sweaters or hang them by underneath their armpits across the top of the hangers (less stress on them)
You have 6 days of work here, and you just need to know that it has to be broken down into manageable bite-sized chunks of things to do.
You can’t do that all in one day, so why not break it down?
If you have any tasks that are not that important that YOU specifically do them, then delegate them to someone else to help you out.
You don’t need to do everything yourself. Let your partner pick up the dry cleaning, or the groceries.
Start asking for help or you won’t get it!
5. DO WHAT YOU CAN ONLINE
Automate your bills
I actually hate this option because I’m a freak about making sure I check each bill before I automatically pay it just in case they make a mistake on the bill.
I order diapers online, and even food products. Not only is it cheaper, it comes right to my door and I don’t need to get in a car, wrangle a toddler, buy my items, wrangle my toddler again and drive home, then wrangle both toddler and goods up to the apartment.
Email or Call for info ahead of time
Instead of going there in-person, call and email for the information instead! No need to go to your bank, just talk to someone instead. They even have Chat options via the web these days which makes it even easier.
I do very similar tricks but picked up a few new ones here (or reminders!). One of favorite tools are the Things app (well aligned with the “Getting Things Done” methodology). It also includes the ability to create projects, which can break down into individual tasks and there are tags to assign context (for example, one context may be location – very handy for tasks that require driving somewhere or needing to be in the office vs. on the run, etc). I also use Trip It, Evernote and Slice regularly. I’d like to buy less online although it’s efficient as I always feel so guilty about the packaging and also the fuel (since everything comes by air to me in Hawaii). But the reality is being on Maui I can waste time looking for something only to find out it’s not available locally or it’s ridiculously marked up. I’m looking forward to being back in the city (1 more month!) where it will be much more convenient to buy locally.