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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 May 21, 2019

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

Creativity also emphasizes values.

“The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

1. Cultivate Focus

In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

How to cultivate focus?

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Take a 20 Minute Walk

Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

2. Build a Structure

When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

How to build a structure?

Create a Morning Routine

Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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3. Find Motivation

There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

How to find motivation?

Connect to Your “Why”

Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

How to become an expert?

Make a Mastery Training Plan

Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

3. Review your progress

Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

“a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

How to create a conducive environment?

Add or Subtract Stimuli

Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

The Bottom Line

Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

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