Are you chronically late? Always losing your keys? Find yourself missing appointments and double booking others?
A reliable organizational system is the Holy Grail of every adult’s life…yet it often seems to elude us as we frantically pursue our goals and responsibilities.
While attempting to organize your life might seem like a huge time sink at first, the benefits in the long run will vastly outweigh the initial costs.
So, if you’re looking to organize your life, here’s 9 excellent habits to adopt now.
1. Keep Horizontal Surfaces Clean
While we love and identify with our material possessions, many of which are deeply meaningful as well as useful, there is a strong correlation between our things and our mental well-being.
A study entitled The dark side of home: Assessing possession ‘clutter’ on subjective well-being found that: “Possession clutter has a strong negative impact on psychological home and perceived well-being.”
In plain English, it causes anxiety, depression and overwhelm.
The easiest fix is to keep horizontal surfaces clear.
Remove possessions from:
- Counter tops
- Dining room tables
- Coffee tables
This gives your brain the environmental “all clear” signal, and allows you to attend to tasks calmly and serenely.
Related: 10 Depression Coping SkillsKeeping surfaces clean and clear allows you to attend to tasks calmly and serenelyClick To Tweet
2. Perform a Seasonal Purge
It’s widely agreed that we have too many possessions!
This contributes to clutter and overwhelm.
Once each season, go through your home and get rid of possessions you’re no longer using.
Not only does this clear up space, it makes it less likely you’ll bring in new items, because you don’t want to mess with the serenity of clear spaces.
Plus, it makes it easier to organize what you do have!
3. Create a Place for Everything
The French term mise en place, or “everything in its place,” is actually a culinary idea.
It refers to the practice of chefs to wash, clean, chop and arrange ingredients and tools before beginning to make a dish.
Most importantly, chefs follow the same system each time, with every item in the same place, so they don’t have to hunt when it comes time to use that particular item.
It’s easy to see how mise en place can be transferred to your home.
Organization is rooted in your ability to quickly and efficiently find and do something when you want to.
If everything in your home, car, purse or backpack is always in the same place – and returned to that place as soon as you’re finished with it – you’ll never be stymied by a missing possession.Organization is rooted in your ability to quickly & efficiently find and do something when you wantClick To Tweet
4. Practice a Routine Tidy Up To Organize Your Life
Letting clutter and mess to build is a route to madness.
If you clean as you go along, you will find life to be cleaner and easier to manage.
Create a tidy-up system in which you take 10-20 minutes every day to put everything in its place.
This should be easier once you institute mise en place, and can happen at any time that’s convenient for you: early in the morning, after kids go to bed and so on.
5. Keep Large Chunks of Time Free for Deep Work
Keeping your time clear is also very important.
What we might call “temporal clutter,” or a jumble of duties and activities scattered across the day, can also lead to jaw-clenching anxiety.
Try to keep a few mornings or afternoons a week completely clear to really dig into bigger projects.
At home, this might mean grouping appointments or errands so you leave free spaces in the schedule.
At work, it could mean closing the door and letting subordinates know this is your “deep work” time.Try grouping appointments and errands so you leave free spaces in your scheduleClick To Tweet
6. Maintain Only ONE Planner or Scheduling System
In an attempt to be organized, many people have multiple platforms on which they jot down information.
This “whatever’s convenient at the time” approach might ensure you record everything…but it in no way guarantees you can find it when the time comes.
Instead of maintaining a Google calendar, iCal, paper planner, notes app and – occasionally – your hand, decide on one avenue, then stick to it. (Not your hand, though.)
7. Maintain ONE System for Notes
Of course, you won’t have access to your calendar everywhere you go.
For instance, it’s unlikely you take a paper planner to the grocery store.
And if you maintain a digital calendar – like most these days – that can be tough on camping trips, getaways or those little moments when wifi isn’t handy.
So you need a system for jotting notes before you can transfer them to your scheduling tool.
Again, use one system, so that when you return to your calendar, you only have to refer to that one platform: a small journal or the notes app on your phone, for example.
8. Keep Reliable Backups to Better Organize Your Life
Backups are critical, because they guarantee that you can restore your information if the worst happens.
However, there are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a backup.
Many people choose a cloud service, which duplicates all your information in a digital environment.
So, even if you lose all your devices in one fell swoop, you can get your files back: pictures, text documents, music and so on.
Note: most cloud backup plans don’t include applications and settings.
That means if you lose your laptop, for instance, you can restore all of the files, but will have to reconfigure the new device to your liking and reinstall any applications … which can be troublesome if you lose product keys, etc.
Use a removable hard drive, but don’t make the mistake of keeping this in the same place as your computer.
Having both at home doesn’t do much if your house burns down or gets flooded.
So keep removable hard drives somewhere else: at your office, for instance.
Don’t keep it in the car…it could get stolen!
9. Practice the One-Minute Rule
The “One-Minute Rule,” popularized by happiness guru Gretchen Rubin, states that any task taking less than one minute should be done right away.
Whether it’s transferring an appointment to your calendar, opening a bill or rinsing a glass, if it’s one minute or less, complete it immediately.Practice the 'One-Minute Rule': Perform any task taking less than one minute right awayClick To Tweet
Knowing what you need to do organize your life and doing it are two different things.
Be gentle with yourself when you first start adopting these habits.
They won’t come all at once, and that’s okay.
Try to implement them one by one, starting wherever in this list makes most sense to you.
If you’re diligent, you will find life more pleasant, more peaceful and more orderly than ever before.
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