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Getting Organized Effectively in 9 Easy Steps

Getting Organized Effectively in 9 Easy Steps

Organization can be tough.

Heck, just getting by is tough, let alone trying to organize the frenzy of daily life. Consider some of the things that most of us deal with every day. We have:

  • Jobs to go to
  • Groceries to buy
  • Clothes to wash
  • Kids to pick up
  • Meetings to attend

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, I’m betting you can add several things to this list yourself. But even though life can be hectic, it doesn’t mean you have to live a complicated and random lifestyle. You can makes sense of your busy world, and all you’ve got to do is keep reading.

You aren’t organized enough

Let’s face it, getting organized isn’t exactly easy for some of us. In fact, you might be under the impression that organizing your life is impossible. Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re dead wrong about that thought.

You never learned how get organized

They don’t exactly teach you how to be organized in school, you’ve just to got to be lucky and/or hope that your parents show you the ropes. But even then, organization requires that you’re exposed to it. And to top it all off, you need those tips in actionable form. All of these things combined makes organization a crapshoot for a lot of people.

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The 9 tips you need to get organized

Luckily for you, the tips and tools you need to get organized can be found right here. No need to go crazy trying them all out, just pick one that works for you and give it a go. Once you master one tip, move to the next. It’s a simple strategy that’ll work for even the most unorganized person out there.

1. Establish a good morning and night-time ritual

Organization is nothing more than a series of good habits, so the first step in achieving organization is in creating order.

If you don’t already, establish rituals that both start and end your days. Initially you’re going to want to add one or two things only, things that’ll be easy to stick with.

For instance, each morning shouldn’t be a rush to make it to work on time. A good morning routine affords you the time to ease into the day ahead of you, so start by waking up about 2-3 minutes earlier everyday until you can have some “me” time each morning. All you need is 20-30 minutes to yourself each morning, and you can use that time to enjoy some coffee, meditate, exercise or whatever you want. This’ll prime your mind and body for the busy day ahead of you.

As bedtime approaches, you want to start doing things to help unwind you from the day. You could have a relaxing bath or shower, read a book, have some chamomile tea, and several other things. Just pick one or two and start doing them every night. Eventually the habits will stick and you’ll start associating the habits with relaxation and sleep.

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2. Create actionable goals

Having actionable goals helps prevent your day from being taken over by random intrusions. They help keep your focus on what’s important by giving you tangible actions to focus on, but they only work if they’re easily actionable.

For example, don’t choose the goal to lose weight. Instead, choose to eat one apple per day. Don’t choose to be more productive, choose to work on a personal project for at least 5 minutes per day.

Remember, organization is simply a series of good habits. If you can keep adding good habits to your daily routine, then organization is the natural result of it.

3. Use a calendar

A calendar is the best friend to an organized person, but only if they’re used properly.

First, keep your calendar where you can easily see and access it. If it’s electronic, then keep it open or keep its icon somewhere you can click easily. If it’s a paper calendar, keep it on your desk or near a doorway you always walk by.

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Second, don’t rely on memory when it comes to due dates and tasks. Immediately add them to your calendar without hesitation.

Finally, don’t fill every time slot you have available with tasks. This will kill your flexibility, making it harder to adjust on the fly and ultimately giving more work when you need to change things.

4. Use a 5-item (or less) task list

Task lists are great when it comes to organization, but only if used correctly. The correct way to use them is limit tasks to 5 or fewer per day. This forces you to pick only the most important tasks, and ensures that you actually complete your task list every day.

5. Prioritize the important

Following up on the last tip, don’t give equal time and attention to every task. If a task is more important, put it higher on your task list. If it isn’t, then move it down. Organized people always focus on the important duties; that way they aren’t distracted by low-level tasks.

6. Delegate tasks

Organized people are smart about what they do and don’t do. Don’t try to take on the whole world; give some duties to others if you can. Ask your boyfriend to pick up the groceries. Tell your kid to take care of the dishes. Get your wife to drop off a package at the post office.

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It’s not about ordering people around, it’s about fairly distributing work to those you’re involved with. People won’t hate or disrespect you if you’re delegating in a fair manner.

7. Clean up your workspace

A messy workspace is no good if you want to be more organized, as it’ll just take you longer to start working and you’ll be looking for work material when it should just be in the right place all the time. Take the time clean up your workspace and spend about a minute every day organizing it as well. It really doesn’t take much clear it up, as long as you do it regularly.

8. Keep everything in one place

If you keep everything in the same place, you can easily find it later. It’s common sense really, but it needs to be common habit as well. Whenever you use something, take the time to put it back where you found it. Otherwise, you’re going to quickly build a messy and unorganized environment for yourself.

9. Throw out one thing per day

Most of use have too much junk, plain and simple. However, this can be offset with a little daily removal done. I’m sure if you look around your place you can find at least one thing to throw out. Don’t hesitate, just scan your place, grab the junk and drop it in the trash.

Over to you! Do you have any other tips for getting organized? What are they? Please leave a comment below with your answer because I’d love to hear them :)

Featured photo credit: M&Ms Sorted by Color/Mr.TinDC via flickr.com

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Ericson Ay Mires

Ericson is a writer who shares about work and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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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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