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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

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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