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5 Organizing Tips from Ben Franklin

5 Organizing Tips from Ben Franklin

1. Make a Daily Routine

“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”

Benjamin Franklin is often known for creating the lightning rod, inventing the bifocals, editing the first Almanac, and helping to found the United States of America. Franklin is considered to have been a polymath, or having been knowledgeable in many things. Truly, no average person can create such an extensive list of inventions, projects, and hobbies as Franklin did. However, if Franklin could somehow find the time to conquer the many tasks he had, then surely we can find a way to better manage our very own daily routines.

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The first key to organizing is to organize our time. Write down your daily routine. Here is an example of Ben Franklin’s routine. This is pretty basic, but it is one of the most important things you can do to manage your time. Seeing your daily routine on paper puts the day into perspective. We can separate our work time from our downtime and feel in control of what we are going to do.

2. Check Your Routine

Once you’ve put your routine down on paper, make sure to check it everyday. Ideally, looking at your schedule each morning helps to put the day in perspective. Overtime, you may change your routine, but it will happen naturally.

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If we let it, life can get in the way. But by writing down our routine, checking it for a minute or two each day, and continuing this habit, we can eventually find a way to not let life get in the way.

3. Write Down 13 Things to Organize

The average person has at least 13 things (often many more) that they can organize. This could be anything from your entire living room to the glove compartment in your car to your iTunes collection. Make a list of the 13 most important things that you should organize.

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Why 13?

Besides scheduling, Benjamin Franklin was also very productive. He decided that instead of working on all of his traits at the same time, he would work on one each week. By doing this, we can give our complete energy (and not just the physical energy to organize, but the mental energy to think about what were organizing) to one thing. It isn’t helpful for us to be thinking about several projects while we are also trying to work on just one project. 13 is also 25% of 52, or one quarter of a year. Which means we can create a cycle.

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4. Organize One Thing a Week

Start with organizing just one thing. Write down in your daily routine that you will devote some time each day to organizing that one thing. If it’s the living room that you want to organize, then break the room into sections and organize it day by day.

Focus on implementing a system for that one thing. If during that week you work on not only organizing, but developing a system to keep the place organized, then you shouldn’t have to worry about it as much as time progresses. A week is a perfect amount of time to organize something. It is a long enough time to organize something well and not feel stressed about it. It is also short enough to make organizing new things interesting. Organizing things week to week might actually start to become, should I dare say, fun!

5. Repeat

Once you reach the thirteenth item on the list, start again at the first one. If you make notes while you organize, then you can look back to see how much has changed since you organized 13 weeks ago. The notes will also help you to see what you could work on to make keeping the place better organized.

This process of organizing the things in your life is simple and slow. The things in your life that need order do not organize themselves and they can’t be organized overnight. It takes patience. It’s also no use in becoming overwhelmed by how much there is to organize. Take your time and work on one thing at a time. And don’t take it from me, but from the Founding Father, Ben Franklin.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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