For those struggling to get organized, here is a compilation of great tips that a wide variety of different people have sent to us. Read through these in their entirety and you should find at least 1 or 2 tips that will help you or give you some food for thought:
- Use tracking apps (link)
- Write your thoughts down (link)
- Schedule dedicated time for the small things that you never have time to do (link)
- Acknowledge your problem areas (link)
- Don’t touch anything twice (link)
- Customize your to-do list with an important/urgency add-on (link)
- Think in terms of how long something takes, instead of how much you dislike doing it (link)
- Give everything a home (link)
- Make a “launch pad” (a space where you make a quick stop before leaving home) (link)
- Get rid of things in your schedule that are unnecessary (link, link)
- Consider time-batching your schedule (link)
- There are certain activities you can multitask (link)
- Pick your biggest project of the day (link)
- Use voice reminders on your phone (link)
- Pick out things that are important to you and you only (such as exercising and showering), and get them done first thing in the morning (link)
- Keep a journal (link)
- Add good descriptions to file names on your computer for easier searching (link)
- Make your bed as soon as you wake up (link)
- Schedule regular breaks (link)
Use Tracking Apps: One of the best practical tips to be more organized is to be aware of what things waste your time. So, by using tracking apps you can determine the needed time for each activity you do within your typical day; work, scrolling your Facebook account, checking your mailbox, and even your sleeping. Once you know all of that, you'll be surprised by the wasted time on some unnecessary activities, Facebook for example. From here you can easily determine how much time to spend on each activity and be more serious to stick to that time to be more organized.
--Gerardo Juarez, Sheepbuy
I currently employ 6 people, thus staying organized is everything to me. My own biggest problem with the amount of work and chores I have to do is constantly feeling OVERWHELMED.
The best way to stop feeling overwhelmed is to write down the thoughts that pop into your mind. My mother once told me: If it's on a piece of paper, it won't get lost.
It helps me to stay more focused and in control. I'm no longer afraid that something won't get done! At the end, feeling overwhelmed kills productivity!
As for the rest of your life, get a partner who'll be happy to share the chores with you! 4 hands are always better than 2.
--Karo Tries, craftsyhacks.com
I think that the key is to schedule dedicated time for all the small things that we never have the time to do. It can be a simple rule such as half an hour before dinner.
I have an un-dated journal. Every evening, before I go to bed, I plan the next day. I plan every detail of my day. Every little task goes in there, including when and what will I eat. I include preparation time for meetings as well. It is important to give enough time for each task. I keep todo lists only until I write them in the journal. I usually plan my time, so that every hour I take a small break from work. During those breaks, I look at the journal to see which phone calls/emails/etc I planned to do on this break. I find it very helpful. It makes me more productive, and I don't postpone errands continually until they are forgotten.
For important things that I do not want to miss for any reason in the world, I set reminders on my phone. Both email and notifications. Sometimes I set it for the day before too, but usually, just a couple of hours ahead and again 10 minutes before.
--Yael Porat, greathomelife
I juggle a lot of balls in my life so I need to be really organized. The first step at becoming organized is taking a look at your life and writing down the areas where you need to be more efficient. Acknowledging problem areas will help you to address the issues and find solutions.
Not only should you keep a to-do list at work but also at home. Keeping track of what needs to be done and ticking off completed tasks will keep you on track and organized. The more you follow the list the more organized you will become by forming new habits.
Looking at expenditure and taking control of your finances is a great way to get organized. Create a budget and stick to it. By good financial organization, it's easier to save and to manage household projects and grocery shopping.
--Ajmal Dar, Moccasin Guru
My number one tip for becoming more organized is not to touch anything twice. It means that if I touch something, I have to act on it and not put anything on hold. If I opened an email, I would deal with it immediately or keep it marked as unread. The same applies to phone calls. If I am unable to reply, I delegate it or delete it, if it is not important.
When it comes to emails, we tend to check our mailboxes throughout the day and respond immediately. It creates a problem because we start to believe that everything is urgent. However, many so-called urgent emails or actions have little or no impact on our bigger goals.
I start my day by delegating things and then dealing with the most dreaded tasks and free up my time to work on the stuff that excites me.
--David Morneau, inBeat.Agency
To be more organized, you should customize your to-do list with an importance/urgency add-on. It might seem obvious, but simply having a list of tasks is not enough. My advice is to use Eisenhower’s urgent and important principle to structure priorities and workload. Take your to-do list and assign your activities to one of the four categories: Important and urgent, Important but not urgent, Not important but urgent, Not important and not urgent.
Do the important and urgent tasks first. Do you have many duties that are urgent but not important? Maybe there is a way to delegate some of them or reschedule? Take the time to prioritize your work and follow the strategies to keep yourself focused.
This framework supported my colleagues and me in transforming busyness into effective and efficient task management. It’s worth giving it a try!
--Ho Lin, LiveCareer
My #1 tip for being more organized is to think of keeping things tidy in terms of how long a task actually takes vs how much you dislike the task, which causes procrastination.
Example: Emptying/loading dishwasher.
Who hasn't had a load of clean dishes in the dishwasher that simply sit there for days. Instead of putting them up, so you can start reloading, you are using the clean dishes as needed, while the newly dirty dishes stack up in the sink.
In the meantime, your kitchen feels completely unorganized and space is at a premium.
Try to think of each job in time spent. When you start unloading/reloading dishwasher, time the job. Most likely, you can do it in under 5-7minutes! When you start looking at staying organized in small time increments, it's not so overwhelming.
Everyone has small bits of time they can use to get big jobs done!
--Patti Tucker, Oh, Mrs. Tucker!
Give everything a home. Keeping your life organized means keeping your things in their proper places. Make easy-to-access storage spaces for things you use all the time, and don’t let your storage spaces get cluttered. Be creative about finding places for things. In addition, as a BIG NO: never label a storage space as “miscellaneous!”
As an experiment, choose one place in your home that you can reorganize. If there are scattered items, then group them together. Once you’ve sorted everything, find or make a “home” for similar items, label the “homes,” and put them in the proper places.
For example, the Apple remote and TV remote should go in an easily accessible place, but the rarely used toolkit could be stored out of sight in your garage.
--Daniel Carter, Zippy Electrics
Prep the Launch Pad
Much like laying out your clothes, prepping your ‘launch pad’ is going to make you feel really good about getting out the door quickly the next morning.
Your ‘launch pad’ is that spot that you make a quick stop to before heading out. This could be your foyer, entryway etc. To avoid running around in the morning looking for your umbrella or keys, make it a habit to prep these things in your ‘launch pad’ so you can just grab them in the morning and head out the door.
--James Bullard, Sound Fro
Building conscious walking activity into my daily routine is absolutely fundamental to my productivity. It’s easy to get caught up working from the same room all day which can have a negative impact as the environment goes stale over the course of time.
I’ve found that by transitioning from taking conference calls in my office to scheduling walking meetings when possible I’ve been able to leverage walks as an opportunity to change my environment, stay energised and productive throughout the day.
My strategy is quite simple. I book an hour and a half each evening in my calendar for calls and will schedule a new walking route each time. Of course, not every evening will I have calls to take for the whole time period. It’s a really simple strategy but extremely easy to action and implement if you stick to it.
--Luke Haslett, iakoe
My top tip involves pruning the things in your schedule that are unnecessary. Just like your brain prunes out information it doesn't need while you sleep, I believe it's important to take 15-30 minutes a day and prune your schedule. There are plenty of items on our agenda that we prioritize and overthink when ultimately they can be cut out or moved to another day with little to no consequence.
To figure out what can be removed, I tend to ask myself two questions: First, can I keep or remove this item without compromising my values? And, is this item going to get me closer to where I want to be in life? If my values allow me to keep it, and it gets me closer to my goals, I'll let it stay on my schedule. If I answer no to either of those, I'll reevaluate that item and consider removing it to clear up space in my day. It's much easier to stay organized with 20 things on your to-do list than 30, which is why this has been an invaluable tool for me to use.
--Spencer Yeomans, Untamed Space
I have noticed people struggling with staying organized and sticking to a schedule while working from home. Time is moving so fast right now because there is little differentiation. For me it is very beneficial to time batch my schedule. It helps to eliminate the frequency of distraction. Setting aside a few hours of my morning to strictly focus on creative or analytical tasks that are urgent allows me to use my energized brain to the best of its capability. Once I have gotten the most important tasks out of the way and my focus is no longer as sharp, I move onto meetings and calls. With this set schedule, everyone on my team is aware of where I'm at in my day which helps with efficiency and communication. This method allows me to stay organized not only physically but mentally.
--Jon Zacharias, The Search Guy
One unconventional tip that has helped my stay very organized is to try as much as possible to multitask. There are so many activities which we carry out separately that can actually be done together.
Multitasking is an effective way of creating time out of a busy schedule in order to stay organized.
Many people believe that multitasking causes one or more of the tasks to suffer. However, this only happens when the wrong activities are paired together. Some great multitasking examples are drawing up your schedule for the next day while commuting back from work, having a business meeting over dinner, catching up with a friend during lunch break, going through the news during bathroom time in the morning, etc.
--Jane Flanagan, Tacuna Systems
The best tip I can share is to pick your biggest project of the day.
Let’s say you have two or three projects that require more time and effort than others. Be realistic: you won’t be able to finish all of them in one day. In fact, you may get distracted trying to do a little bit of everything and not really completing anything.
So, pick just one and give it your best. You’ll be interrupted by lots of micro-tasks, but if you stay focused on your biggest one, you’ll have a higher chance accomplishing it.
--Liviu Tanase, ZeroBounce
My tip for staying organized while at home and on the move is to use voice reminders on my phone. When I`m not at home so I can't write something down, or when I just don't feel like writing, I record my own voice to create notes and reminders. When a reminder is due, the voice will play.
I find this the best solution to stay organized, as sometimes I can record my thoughts and creative ideas for a project right on the spot. This helps me stay organized and store my ideas in a more structured fashion. With constant voice reminders on my phone to guide me through the day, it's almost impossible to forget something important.
It also saves me a lot of time compared to the traditional pen and paper, which has always been my preferred method before smartphones came along. If you travel a lot, recording can be an easy and simple way to make sure you don't miss any flights or important meetings. Sometimes, when I`m driving, exercising, or showering I remember something important, then I`ll just record myself and easily access it later.
--Stefan Smulders, Expandi
My most successful way of being organized is to pick the things that are VERY important to me but not essential to the survival of my family or business and do them first thing in the morning. In my case, those things are exercising and taking a shower. Both are important to me, but if I do not get them out of the way first thing and if I start getting into business matters instead, they will hang over my head and take energy away from what is even more important, all day long. If I do get them out of the way first thing I will have this sense of freedom and ease to create what I need to create that day, and being organized just falls into place at that point.
--Dagmar Spichale, dagmarspichale.com
I have always committed myself to have a routine during the mornings. At the start of the day, I do journaling to keep my ideas, thoughts and goals organized. Once you’ve written down these things, your brain works on a higher level of thinking. It records the most important tasks that you need to achieve within a given timeline. Thus, it keeps you more organized by categorizing what needs to be done and prioritized. With this, your brain finds ways to make each goal and ideas turn into reality. Likewise, this kind of habit will instill a particular routine within yourself that will cultivate discipline. It will be a part of your daily grind that will keep you more grounded, focused and productive every day.
--James Pearson, Eventuring
Take full advantage of the search capabilities of all your online systems. You don’t have to focus on setting up a detailed, organized filing system if you make use of good descriptive names for your files. Be them images, MS Office documents, software files; whatever. Good descriptions include the subject matter, date, originator, category... whatever you can include in a file name description. Then, when you need to find a file, just make use of your computer’s file search system. Key in whatever details you can on the file you're searching for. Hit 'Search', then you’ll be amazed at how quickly the file comes up! This strategy ensures instant organization.
--Richard Henderson, Home Business Podcast
Make your bed as soon as you wake up. Before checking your phone for current news or information or do anything else, lay your bed. Make sure it is well laid without any creases.
This put you in the right mindset for the rest of your day. If the first thing you do every day is a proactive activity towards organization, it is easier to carry on the rest of the day being proactive; doing one thing at a time with an organized mindset.
--John Linden, mirrorcoop.com
Not-to-do-lists: eliminate unnecessary things from routine:
Our essential work does not stay on track because of adding the burden of unnecessary stuff. So, preparing to-do-lists would be helpful unless you come out of these speed breakers. Just like you make the to-do list, create a “not-to-do” list as well. It would let you know where you waste your time mostly. After identifying these nonproductive habits, it would be easier to eliminate them. However, it is like an addiction. So, it is next to impossible to leave them all at once. Your mind would not accept it. You have to take baby steps, just like spending 2-3 hours daily scrolling social media posts, then reducing it to 1.5 hours. Still, you could save nearly half an hour, which could be used in organizing other things.
--Heloise Blaure, HomeKitchenland
Schedule regular breaks
Managing your mental health at work is key to getting organized and avoid burnout.
You need short breaks to give your brain some time to relax or else you are going to feel burn out and your productivity would be ruined.
For best results, try to give yourself a break in the morning and one in the afternoon and that could be about 15 minutes each. Take a cup of coffee, go for a short walk, change up your environment by light music– whatever works best for you and helps you feel refreshed when you get back.
--Albert Griesmayr, Scribando