I have spent a lot of time reading articles about becoming more organised. Having found many of them to be a list of simple quick fixes that don’t acknowledge how different our lives can be. I decided to try and understand the principles behind much of this advice.
These principles apply whether you are a busy parent, entrepreneur, business person or employee.
While these tips won’t turn you into an organisational guru overnight. They will guide through creating a more organised life that fits how you want to live.
1/ Think forward
I have read so many guides and suggestions around organising that are just about having clear outs, filing, sorting etc. There is a place for spending time on this but unless you look forward and have systems in place then all your hard work will quickly come undone.
Put a system in place for dealing with what to do with bills, letters, photos, emails and then once that is working decide whether to have that clear out!
2/ Schedule everything
How many times have you thought to yourself, “I’ll just to that task from my to-do list when I get a chance…”?
Then a lot of other tasks get in the way.
If you schedule tasks rather than just put them on a to-do list then they are more likely to get done. Instead of having all day to get to that email you have been putting off writing, you only have the next hour!
An easy way to schedule is to split your day into conveniently sized blocks and add tasks to each block. The number of tasks will depend on the length of time that the tasks will take but also the number of disturbances there are likely to be.
3/ Feel organised
Does a tidy desk help you feel organised?
Or an inbox with no unread emails?
Try and identify the key things that give you a sense of being organised. For instance, I am alright with a messy desk, and as long as I am aware of which emails may need actions then I am ok with having unread emails. If the floor in the living room, which is where my desk is, is messy then I don’t feel at all organised.
The more organised I feel the more organised I become. Identifying those key areas which need to be organised then this will have a knock-on effect, especially if other areas of your life are reducing your feelings of control.
4/ Manage your Mood
Your mood at the start of the day has a massive impact on the rest of the day. A calm start to the day will increase your feelings of control and hence how organised and productive you feel.
I know how difficult this can be for anyone who is busy. It has only been recently that I have been able to get up most mornings without one of my children waking up too. If you do manage to find 5/10 minutes in the morning, think carefully how you spend them, do some breathing exercise or meditation.
Have a picture that represents one of your goals on the back of a well-used kitchen cupboard. Each time you open it you take 5 breathes focusing on your goal. A small action, even a very short moment of calm is better than none at all. So, find time for those 5 breathes and make a habit of it.
5/ Form Habits
Or specifically, micro-habits which take minimal effort to complete. Now doesn’t that sound like something you could easily do?
When I wanted to start doing more exercise I committed to doing 1 sun salutation daily. It was easy to find the time to do it. Most of the time I managed to do more.
So the first step to making a new habit is committing to a very small change.
Update: part 2 has now been published and can be found here