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Last Updated on May 8, 2019

How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

Really organized people are not born organized, they have to cultivate healthy habits, which then help them to stay organized.

So even if you think you are a very disorganized person, you can learn to be organized. From planning things, jotting things down, to ditching the unnecessary and organizing things that matter, you will become an organized person as long as you’re willing to learn and practice.

Here are the essential habits on how to organize your life:

1. Write Things Down

We all know someone that remembers every birthday and sends cards for every holiday. It’s not magic and they don’t use memorization. Trying to remember things will not help you to stay organized. You should try writing things down.

A pen and some paper is our way of remembering things externally, and it’s much more permanent. You can also use this powerful Digital Brain.

You will only further complicate your life by trying to contain important dates and reminders in your head. Write down everything: shopping lists for groceries, holiday gifts, home decor, and important dates like meetings and birthdays.

As an experiment, try writing down people’s names shortly after you meet them (when they’re not looking). I’ll bet you remember a lot more names that way.

2. Make Schedules and Deadlines

Organized people don’t waste time. They recognize that keeping things organized goes hand-in-hand with staying productive. They make and keep schedules for the day and week. They make deadlines and set goals. And most importantly, they and stick to them!

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Similarly, by living a cluttered lifestyle, you will not have the time or space to make your deadlines or achieve your goals.

As an experiment, look at your bucket list or make one. Write down the things you want to achieve this year or in your life. Then write down what you need to do to achieve them.

Life is short, make sure you’re doing what matters to you most. If you need a little help on that, here’s a wonderful guide: The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

3. Don’t Procrastinate

The longer you wait to do something, the more difficult it will be to get it done. If you want your life to be less stressful and less demanding, then organize as soon as you can. Putting in the effort to get things done as soon as possible will lift the weight off of you from doing it later.

As an experiment, think of one thing that you should organize in your life. Write it down. Then write down when you can do it and what you need to get it done. If you can get it done right now, then go do it!

If you want more tips to stop procrastination, check out this guide: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

4. Give Everything a Home

It’s easy to get lost if you don’t have a home. Keeping your life organized means keeping your things in their proper places. Organized people keep order by storing things properly and by labeling storage spaces.

Make easy-to-access storage spaces for things you use all the time, and don’t let your storage spaces get cluttered. Be creative about finding places for things. In addition, as a BIG NO: never label a storage space as “miscellaneous!”

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As an experiment, choose one place in your home that you can re-organize. If there are scattered items, then group them together. Once you’ve sorted everything, find or make a “home” for similar items, label the “homes,” and put them in the proper places.

For example, a cup holder for your pens and pencils should go in an easily accessible place, but the rarely used craft materials can be stored out of sight.

5. Declutter Regularly

Find time each week to organize. Highly organized people make sure they find time every week or more to organize their things. Stuff does not stay organized on its own; it needs to be reorganized continuously and consistently.

As an experiment, look at your schedule and find a time to organize, then do it.

Here’s a guide on how to declutter: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress

6. Keep Only What You Need

More stuff means more clutter. People who live organized lives only keep what they need and what they really really want. Having fewer things also means that you enjoy those things more and feel better about using everything you own, rather than letting half of what you own collect dust.

Have you ever felt like you don’t have the space to keep all the stuff you own? Instead of renting a storage unit or buying a larger home, get rid of some things.

As an experiment, write down the number of things you think you actually need. Then, write a list of all the things that you own. If the number of things you actually own exceeds your ideal need list, then it’s time to organize.

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Or try this One Question to Help You Successfully Declutter Anything.

7. Know Where to Discard Items

Do whatever you can to get rid of stuff. Less stuff means less clutter.

Donate to thrift stores. Sell on Craigslist or eBay. Take a trip to the recycling center. Set up a garage sale. Find a place to get rid of your things.

As an experiment, choose one space in your house to purge. Go through shelves, drawers and boxes. Everything you find that you don’t need, set aside. Make a pile of things to maybe keep, which you can go through later, and a pile of things to discard now. Then find a way to kick those things out the door immediately.

8. Stay Away from Bargains

You have removed the things you don’t need. Will you replace them when you see something on sale?

Instead of bargain shopping without planning ahead, write down down exactly what you need and buy only those items. Organized people do not give in to false advertising. Items on sale will only produce more clutter.

As an experiment, go to a shopping mall with no money. Just look at all the things on sale that you wish you could buy if you had brought your wallet or purse.

If you find nothing, then good for you. If you made a list, then keep that list somewhere and look at it a month from now. If you still want it, then it’s safe to buy.

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9. Delegate Responsibilities

A really organized life is not overfilled with responsibilities, meetings and deadlines. In fact, it has less because things that create stress have been slowly organized out.

As an experiment, look at your to-do list or make one. Go through the list and find one task that you can remove from your list or give to someone else. Now feel the stress of having to do it fall away.

If you want to delegate effectively, don’t miss out these important tips: The Careful Art of Delegation

10. Work Hard

Put in a little effort. Actually, put in a lot of effort when necessary.

Once you have delegated responsibilities and made a schedule, then you can organize what you have to do and when you can do it.

Staying organized is not all a breeze. It requires that you work hard with recognition that when you work harder, you can enjoy your clutter-free home life later.

Work harder when you feel like giving up today.

What’s more important is to remember what you work for is meaningful to you. And this is how you can stay motivated and happy every day: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

Learn from these organizational tips, make them your habits one by one. Slowly you’ll become a lot more organized and productive!

More Resources on Better Organization

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Zachary Domes

Zachary values simplicity and shares about lifestyle and organizing 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

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