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12 Ways To Be A Highly Effective Organizer

12 Ways To Be A Highly Effective Organizer

Are you looking to become more organized in your life?

Tired of seeing clutter and chaos at home and at the office?

Whether you’re looking to overhaul your schedule, find better ways of storing your belongings or are just interested in keeping your desk a little bit tidier, these 11 tips will help you become a more organized person.

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1. Create a to-do list.

To-do lists often get a bad rap as a collection of tasks that will never get done. Don’t believe the hype! To-do lists can be extremely helpful in getting your tasks organized. The key is to not fall into the trap of simply generating longer and longer lists of things you should do without taking action. Contain your list-making efforts by only writing down what must be done for a single day, versus a longer period of time, such as a week or month. Try keeping the number of items on your list in the range of 3-5 tasks or to-dos. Not only will your lists be shorter and easier to read; you’ll be able to complete the tasks you set out to accomplish!

2. Find places for things.

You can help keep your belongings in order by creating a place or “home” for items. When you create specific locations to keep or store items, you’ll know exactly where to place items when you are finished using them and will be able to easily locate items when you need them. Begin your organization efforts by finding a home for those particular items that seem to “float” about your home or office. This could be an everyday item such as your purse or bag when it is not in use, to a surplus of household paper goods purchased from a big box store, to finally finding an off-season home for your snowshoes.

3. Get rid of clutter.

Clutter comes in many different forms, from obvious trash, to items you don’t use any more, to things you currently use that are simply sitting in the wrong area of your home or office. Make a call to arms against clutter in your home or office by doing any or all of the following: disposing of any obvious trash and recycling materials, purging your space of items that are broken or no longer serve a function in your life, putting items back where they belong and processing papers, including postal mail, files and other administrative ephemera in your living or work space.

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4. Take care of small tasks right away.

Instead of sitting on small and easy-to-accomplish tasks, take care of them as soon as possible. The longer you wait to complete a task, the harder it will be to get the momentum to sit down and take care of the item. Plus, you often run the risk of forgetting about or not attending to the item in the first place! If a task that can be completed in less than three minutes comes your way, just take care of it. Put away that book back into the bookcase when you are finished using it, respond to the work email that requires a simple yes or no answer and call to make your RSVP to a party you’d like to attend. It really is just as easy as that.

5. Keep a schedule.

Do you follow or keep a regular routine or schedule? Keeping a schedule helps you to better organize and define your time. You can start a schedule in your computer’s calendar, use a tool such as Google Calendar, or use a good old-fashioned paper planner. Try planning out your regular work and meetings hours for starters, followed by your personal appointments, social activities, exercise sessions, household chores and more. Are you already well versed in your scheduling ways? Why not write up and plan out a specific schedule or plan of action for a project you’ve been meaning to finish?

6. Create small goals.

The benefit in creating small goals for yourself is that you can clearly see your efforts pay off in a relatively short amount of time. Do you want to be tidier at the office? You could make a daily goal to put away all your paper files at the end of the day or wash your coffee mug and place it back on your desk. At home you might work to keep a certain part of your kitchen counter clutter-free or decide to simply make your bed after you awake in the morning. The smallest of actions really do add up quickly over time, especially when it comes to keeping things tidy and in order.

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7. Set priorities.

Priorities are where you specifically want to focus your time and energy at a given point in time. Always rushing around and not being focused in your intent and actions can make you feel drained, tired—and you guessed it—disorganized. Take a moment to set some priorities for yourself. What are the top priorities in your life right here, right now at this very moment? You priorities can apply to both larger life goals as well as smaller every day tasks. What items come before all others? If things are looking a bit confusing, try creating a short list to compare items against one another.

8. Have a positive attitude.

Contrary to popular belief, a person doesn’t just become more organized overnight. It requires a lot of hard work, patience and diligence to get better at the skill of organization. Even people who are relatively well organized constantly create and/or find new ways of being organized! It’s all a learning process, and a positive attitude can work wonders. Be patient with yourself as you become more and more organized and don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s but your own. Work at the speed that is comfortable for you. Each step you take is a step in the right direction in your quest to become a more organized person.

9. Wisely use your time.

How do you use your time each and every day? Do you spend it working on things that don’t really matter to you and your goals, or do you spend too much of it only playing instead of working or vice versa? If you’re not sure as to how you spend your time on a regular basis, consider keeping a time log of all the different activities you do on any given day. Take a look at your notes and consider how you might readjust how you are spending your time. Trying to get that dream job application out the door this week? It might be time to log off of Google+ for a while and focus on the task at hand.

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10. Work with your personality.

Think being organized means having a filing system for your bills that goes from A to Z? This isn’t necessarily so. Organization comes in all different shapes and forms. You might like to file items from A to Z, while someone else likes to file items from Z to A, while still someone else likes to file their bills by their due dates. Refrain from thinking that one way of organizing something is the only way it can be done. The true test of organization is being able to find and make use of what you have on a regular basis.

11. Create a simple system.

Being organized often means having a system for doing regular or recurring work. Where might you be able to create or polish a system in your life? Consider all the different repetitive tasks you do on a regular basis. Think about how you might be able to create a system when you perform these regular tasks. For example, you could create a system to store, label and file items from your kitchen spices or create a system to store tax files in your desk drawer.

12. Save similar information in a single location.

If you were going to look for your friend’s phone number or mailing address, would you look in your time sheet program at work? Of course not! You’d probably look in the address book on your computer or phone. Part of being organized is having information readily available to you when you need it at the right place. Try keeping similar information in the same place or a centralized location. You could capture writing ideas in a single notebook, plans for an upcoming product launch in a productivity planning app or store new recipe ideas on a single board in Pinterest.

Which of the above items are you going to try out to become a more organized person? Leave a comment below.

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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