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4 Ways to Better Living Through Organization

4 Ways to Better Living Through Organization

Getting organized is tough. I should know after two years of moving around in grad school. A lot of the time, I would get home from class at around eight or nine o’clock at night. Not having eaten anything since lunch, I usually elected to just toss my things (notebooks for class, papers to be graded, and handouts from talks that I’d been to) all over my living room and call it a day.

I’m sure many of you are in similar situations. Sure, getting organized is nice and your parents always made you clean your room, but who has time for that now? Well here’s the truth: you don’t have enough time to get organized because you aren’t organized!

Health and Organization

As it seems to be with everything that’s difficult, living an organized lifestyle can improve your health. Psychologists are saying that being organized can have a ton of health benefits. Basically, it’s like this: organizing your life creates less stress and a less-stressed mind is a healthy mind. When we organize, we reduce stress by identifying the areas of our lives that are out of balance, we increase our productivity, and we gain more control over our lives, rather than just feeling like we’re along for the ride.

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If that’s not enough, there’s some evidence that just getting organized itself has therapeutic qualities.

That’s the why, but, as they say, knowing is only half the battle. Here are some great tips on how to get organized.

1. Organize Responsibly

Although not quite an organization tip in its own right, this is still hugely important. Too often, it’s tempting to just throw every loose item in the trash and call it a day. Do not do this! Your junk can still do some good for someone else. If you’re not quite sure what to do with your clutter, here’s a great guide on how to declutter and do good.

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Not only does decluttering responsibly help others, it also helps you. By dividing up your organization projects into specific domains (e.g. today’s an old clothing day, today’s a recyclable paper day…) you can start to manage your workload like an organizing pro!

2. Plan a Major Offensive on Your Clutter

While you’re no General Eisenhower and your home is likely not a beach in France, you can still benefit from planning a major attack. If you’re like me, then your clutter isn’t likely to budge without a serious decluttering effort. One great way to do this is to join in on the annual spring cleaning fun, but really any time that you can sit down, seriously evaluate what needs to be done, make a plan to get organized, and execute it is great. And just like the Allied powers, you don’t have to do all of that at once.

3. Develop Tools to Stay Organized

Take comfort if you’re totally disorganized — it might not be entirely your fault. After all, it’s difficult to keep things straight when they naturally want to spread out into a completely mess. In order to get organized and really stay organized, you need infrastructure in place to support your endeavor.

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Don’t worry, though. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Something as simple as a set of bins can set you straight. If you want to feel like a pro, try investing in a set of small lockers. Set a particular task or domain to a region of lockers and then get more specific for individual ones. For example, I teach music lessons and that involves me going back and forth between a lot of sheet music. I could set up a locker for early student method books, one for Classical era pieces, for Romantic sonatas, and so on. If you’re poor like me, then don’t worry. You can get old lockers at a discount if you’re thrifty.

4. Get Rid of Big Items

We’ve all got them — heavy pieces of junk that we can’t seem to get rid of. For some of us, it’s an old fridge that stopped working last summer, a collection of old televisions from the ‘90s, or a cheap department store dresser that has since turned into a heap of particle board plans. For my parents, it was a second washer and dryer set that just sort of… existed in the laundry room for about a decade.

Whatever’s holding you down, don’t be afraid to get some help to get it taken care of. Not every decluttering project is one that you have to tackle all by yourself.

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These are some of my tips for following the science and getting healthy through organization. Let me know how your decluttering projects go!

Featured photo credit: freestock.org via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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