By: Catherine Chea.
I know first hand what it’s like not to be naturally organized. I do not like to think about the nitty-gritty details of daily life, nor do I consistently update a day planner and look at time by the minute.
My days can be spontaneous. Although this may seem like an exciting way to live, there are consequences for not being organized: like forgetting or losing things, not feeling motivated to do work (due to lack of planning or a chaotic work space), and driving everyone around you nuts.
The moral of this story is: being unorganized is unhealthy. It can prevent you from getting actual work done and can have a negative effect on your mental health.
If you’re not a naturally organized person who enjoys planning things…there is hope.
Just like working out, getting organized requires some dedication, motivation, and can be quite painful at times—but it’s worth the effort.
Here are some ways to get started:
1. Synchronize your devices with Google calendar
This is probably one of the best inventions that I could ask for, especially if you are often lazy and forgetful. Google Calendar can be synced with all your smart devices and answer these problems:
- Do you think you’ll forget an appointment or do you need to plan something way in advance? Not a problem. You will get a buzz from your phone or a popup on your computer screen to remind you when the time comes.
- Too lazy to write down details of an event? You can export events directly to your calendar when you register for an event online. Nowadays, plenty of online registration pages let you to do this. You can also create events by clicking on the underlined texts in your emails or phone messages—as Google recognizes dates, locations and times. It also recognizes shortcuts: if you click on a time slot and type in 9am breakfast at McDonalds, it creates the event for you with the specified time and location.
Doesn’t this sound too wonderful? That’s because it really is. Once you go Google, there’s no going back.
2. List your priorities on a daily spreadsheet
Okay… if you are using Google calendar, you might ask, “What’s the point of having a spreadsheet?” It sounds like a pain to maintain.
Well the thing is, a calendar can remind you of forthcoming events, but it might not be as effective when it comes to helping you manage your priorities on a day-to-day basis. This is where the spreadsheet comes in. It’s perfect for organizing your day. Having one also makes you feel more accomplished as you check off completed tasks on your list. You can also copy and paste things that you haven’t completed for the following day.
It doesn’t need to include a timetable. In fact, I find that setting a specific timeline is discouraging because you might not be able to make your own arbitrary deadline, accurately predict how long it takes to complete each task, or feel like doing things in a particular order.
I use one for work. Here’s how it looks like:
Before I started my job, I used a weekly planner that you can buy at Indigo and I found it quite helpful. Something like this:
Although, I think my spreadsheet is even better because I have a column for my hierarchy of priorities. I highly recommended to include this if you decide to use a different format.
3. Get rid of unwanted and redundant stuff
This is quite self explanatory so I don’t feel the need to elaborate on this. It is widely accepted that clutter is bad. Did you know that hoarding things could even be a mental issue? Clean out and remove things that you no longer value on a seasonal or monthly basis. Also, if your desktop is a mess, try to minimalize what’s on your screen by moving everything into folders, an external drive, or something else (like DesktopShelves).
4. Find creative expression in organizing things
Can creativity and organizing go hand in hand? Absolutely. Organizing doesn’t have to be stereotypically boring and routine. It can be a fun and spontaneous activity. Think of new ways to organize your space. Try something unique.
5. Get things done in chunks. Start with the basics.
You don’t have to finish everything all at once. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
For instance, if you’re writing an essay, just create an outline first. Or write out your rough notes and then polish it later.
If you need to organize your wardrobe, maybe start by taking clothes out of your closet and then sort them afterwards.
At least have a foundation set to make the next step easier. When you break your workload into chunks, you’ll feel less overwhelmed.
It doesn’t take an organized person to get organized
Is this an oxymoron? Anyways, the point of this article to explain that there are great ways to help you stay organized and get things done, even if you’re not a stickler to schedules and order—like myself.