If you are having trouble getting organized, the first thing you should do is acknowledge your organizational style. Then find a way to work within that truth.
Which organization type are you?
• Neatnic — You put everything away out of sight, however the term neat can be questioned.
• Piles Galore — You put everything out where everyone can see it, usually in piles all over the place.
• The Containerizer — You put everything into baskets or other containers so that they look neat but yet out of sight.
If you happen to be extremely neat, filing away paperwork before you process it, this is a very dangerous system. If possible, instead of stuffing it all out of sight (and out of mind), seek to process each piece of paper before you file it away. This is really the only way to prevent you from forgetting about what needs to be done. You can tell yourself that you’re going to remember something, but more than likely you won’t. That’s why someone invented Evernote, Calendars and the Filofax.
Over the years you’ve tricked your brain to thinking you’re doing a lot of work because you file it all away. On the outside everything looks dandy. But, take a closer look and you’re a mess. Because if you have not processed each piece of paper to determine what actions need to be taken, put actions in your schedule, and so forth, you’re not really accomplishing anything but stuffing things out of sight and out of mind.
This type of thing will catch up with you eventually and show up in work not done, reports not completed, and the inability to find what you’ve hidden away. Use a pin board, or a computerized system like Evernote to post messages and items that you need to remember easily. Truly process paper before filing.
If you often leave everything out then you need to create a system using your natural organizational methods to your advantage. Instead of just throwing piles right on your desk, create a labeling system using standing files, trays or bins. Label each tray: “Needs Processed” for things you must enter into the computer. “To Be Filed” for things that need to go in the filing system. Label each bin or tray with the action you need to take on the papers. Then create a schedule in which you will accomplish those tasks.
Set aside a specific time each day, week or month (depending on the importance of each) to process each tray or bin. As you clear each bin, file the items away as needed or throw away as needed. This way, you only touch each piece of paper coming out of each tray or bin once. If you set up a schedule to deal with all the paper, you’ll not only feel more accomplished, but you will also actually be more accomplished.
Need to provide management with a monthly expense report? You’ll easily just print it out because you’ve been entering your expenses each day as they occurred. Easy peasy. In addition, if it makes you feel better to see things out around you, you can also use a pin board, or a program like Evernote to keep important “to-do’s” and information at your fingertips.
If you put things away in containers, you may find that it will be a lot easier for you to get your disorganization under control. Simply label your baskets as in the example of trays or bins above, which are labeled with the action that needs to be done on those items. Then set up a schedule to deal with and clear the baskets over the course of time.
This organizational style will also benefit greatly from using technology to keep things organized and at your fingertips. Programs like Evernote work very well to keep track of information rather than saving pieces of paper all over the place. Evernote helps you capture so many ideas and things. What’s more, they are stored in an organized manner so that you can find it easily using your PC or mobile device.
Finally, follow these tips to help you stay organized at home or work:
1. Purge Often — One sure way to get more organized is to get rid of things. You can get rid of a lot of pieces of paper by processing them appropriately, photographing them and storing in the computer with Evernote, or just throwing unneeded things away.
2. KISS — Keep it simple sweetie is something everyone should remember. If you make things too complicated, you’re not going to do them. That’s why you want to look at what your current organization style is, and work with what you already have.
3. Be Creative — Get outside of your own head and think of new ways to keep your life organized. Learn software such as Evernote, use containers outside of their intended use, and use your imagination to create organization.
4. Clean Up Every Day — Use baskets to help you transport things to their “home”, but don’t keep the things in the basket for weeks at a time. Clear your desk off before going home after finishing your work.
5. Keep a Calendar — Writing things down is the best way to ensure that you get things done. You can use paper and a pin board, or you can use a program like Evernote, or even Google Calendar. However you choose to keep your calendar, this is the one thing that will help you the most.
6. Forgive Yourself — No one is perfect, mistakes will happen, backsliding will happen, and your organization might get off track. Just stay aware.
Whether at home, at work, or inside your car, all these organizational tips will help you not only get organized but also help eliminate procrastination. If your world is more orderly, and you can see at a glance what needs to be done, by looking at your schedule, you’ll lose the desire to put “it” off until tomorrow.
Whoops! Interruptions, Emergencies & Distractions
No matter how good your plan is, you might find that after a few weeks you slide back into old habits. Or, perhaps something threw you off your schedule, such as illness or another emergency. However it happens, you find yourself back into your old habits of disorganization and procrastination.
• You Have Choices — Remember that you’re not without choices in your life. You can choose to let the interruption cause you to fall off the cliff or you can grab control and start from now climbing your way back up the mountain.
• Be Honest With Yourself — Look into yourself about what has caused you to lose your focus. Are you overly tired, are you eating right, is something else wrong causing you to go back to your old ways of procrastination and disorganization?
• Start Small — Tackle one small thing to get it reorganized. It’s especially important to go back and reorganize the things you’ve already organized that have gotten off track. Don’t tackle anything new until you’ve at least gotten back to where you were.
• Go Back to Your Calendar — The easiest place to start is your calendar. If you’ve been writing things in it, even the minutia, then you should have a place to start right there in today’s date. If not, start writing in your calendar again.
• Let Go — Don’t beat yourself up about falling off the path. The important thing is that you’re trying to better yourself and let go of procrastination and disorganization. Remember: Baby steps will get you there just as well as leaps and bounds.
• Do What Works — If you’ve discovered a way to do something that works, stick to it. No reason to rewrite the story, or reinvent the wheel. If it works, it works; stick to it. However, be mindful that you’re not letting disorganization and procrastination be what works. Because, it doesn’t really work; it’s an illusion.
Take heart that you’ve noticed and realize that you can get control once again simply because you’ve accepted that you need to. Even if all you do is start with something small like organizing your purse, filling in your to-do calendar, or cleaning off your desk at work. The fact is, starting is half the battle.