Life can be so hectic and messy nowadays, that it quickly can turn into a total chaos if we don’t put some efforts to organize it and make things easier in the long run. This realization took me some time because, before I entered the workforce and “became an adult”, I had never quite understood why this idea of getting organized and productive has been such a hot topic amongst the working adults.
I used to think that it is not that hard but the hectic nature of adulthood quickly put my organization and productivity skills to test. And I can tell you, this is crazy different from, say college or university because it requires a different kind of thinking, more strategic one, which can help you stay on top of your tasks and have control over your day. At the same time, there is no universal formula for how to be more organized and productive in life and you will have to experiment with different things until you figure out what works best for you.
But once you take control of your to-do list, your goals, your productivity, I promise, you will feel unstoppable! This is what works for me and I am constantly working to get better at my productivity and accomplishing what is needed to get stuff done. If clutter impacts your energy and productivity, get some inspiration and ideas on what you need to do more to create a clean looking and organized space.
How to be more organized and productive?
Practical Ways to Organize Your Life and Be More Productive
For instance, the way I organize my life now has changed a lot from when I first started the journey to a more productive and efficient lifestyle. Initially, I was a mess, overloaded with new responsibilities, a demanding full-time job, the university and a few additional professional courses I was juggling between, which were keeping me constantly busy and taking all of my time and energy.
As probably most of the people, I was caught in the trap of believing that being productive means working as fast as we can on as many things as we can, every second of the day. I wanted to learn fast, I wanted to grow faster and, somehow, I was afraid that if I slow down and set some time to revise and organize, I will kill my “productivity”.
At the same time, I felt like I was ridiculously busy, but at the end of each day, I didn’t feel accomplished. Can you smell the burnout, friends? I badly needed some order.
It was that period of my life when I realized that the people who get the most done aren’t those who are the busiest and the most overloaded, but those who have adapted their life to some good productivity habits and methods, which help them to stay calm, less stressed and in control.
The good news is that the organized people are not born organized. They cultivate those good habits and methods that work for them. So even if you think you are a very disorganized person, there is hope for you.
You can learn to be organized – from planning things and keeping track on progress, to ditching the unnecessary and organizing the things that matter to you. As long as you are willing to learn and actually put a system in place to keep you in check, you can become an organized person.
In fact, over the past couple of years, I discovered that there are many tools you can use to stay organized and productive. And I’ve tested and learned about different ways that work for me for getting truly in control of my tasks and my days instead of just being busy.
Through this entire process, I’ve made some real changes in my routine and tried different tactics and I can say I have significantly improved my efficiency while I have reduced my stress. In other words, I’ve created for myself systems that help me to work smarter, not harder and to be more efficient with my time.
Right now, at this stage, I feel more organized, productive, and in control of my life and my work, and I highly recommend you to start making changes in your life and explore different tactics that can help you feel in control. If you need some inspiration, here is what has worked for me so far:
How to be more organized, motivated and efficient. The start.
♦Visualize Your Ideal Organized Lifestyle
The guru of organization, Marie Kondo, stresses on the importance to visualize a picture of your ideal and organized lifestyle in order to achieve more order in your days. This makes a lot of sense to me because, after all, how can you achieve productivity and order if you don’t have an idea what exactly you are aiming for.
That’s why my first suggestion on how to start is to paint a picture of yourself in your mind about the areas of your life that you want to take control of and try to visualize how it feels and how it looks to organize them. If you like drawing, sketch your picture.
If you prefer writing, then describe it in your journal or notebook. It even helps to cut out photos from magazines or click pics from the internet to create your vision board. I, personally, find this method very helpful because, when you imagine your ideal lifestyle, this helps you a lot to clarify why you want to organize and identify how you want your days to look like.
Visualizing is a process, which can be a huge turning point in a person’s life, so start with it and let it be your guide to your goal.
♦Set Achievable Organization And Productivity Goals And Share Them Publicly.
Setting goals you can actually achieve is the key to success and motivation. For instance, if you’ve always been bad with keeping things organized, it may not be realistic to say you’ll have sorted your entire apartment in one day. Tidying your room, however, may well be achievable.
Sometimes, those small steps and changes can help you get inspired and get meaningful results. And one thing that can keep you motivated to make important changes and work towards getting organized is to share your goals with friends and close people that will keep you accountable about your progress.
I, personally, started with asking a friend of mine to keep a track on my work progress during the week in order to help me finish my tasks on time. This trick can really increase the chance of successfully sticking to your new organization habits.
♦Set A Date To Get Organized By
Get a calendar involved in the journey to getting more organized and productive in your life. There are certain dates throughout the year, which may actually help you in a psychological way to make a change and get organized.
For instance, I use the changing seasons and the holidays to make a mental marker for myself to spend time organizing my stuff. I usually change my winter wardrobe on the first day of spring and create my next capsule for the season. Before New Year approaches, I set aside some 3-4 hours to clean up my desk and my computer, get rid of old files and make space for my next year plans and work. It is just so satisfying to go into a new month or a new season with organized space and mind!
Effective ways to organize your life and be more productive. (Tested)
I used to struggle with organization, and it wasn’t until I tried these several ways to organize my life and be more productive that I felt in control of my work and my days.
Clean up your living space. There is nothing that gives me more anxiety than disorganized living space. Therefore, I have found some quick and easy ways to put my stuff in place and tidy up without losing too much time.
- Clean up your work space. Here are some great methods that I use to keep my work space organized and to stay productive.
- Clean up your mind. Here I speak about the therapeutic effect of keeping a diary and how liberating can it be to write things down and free your mind.
- A place for everything and everything in its place. Searching for misplaced items annoys me, takes time and can be stressful. Therefore, I have designated place for everything so that when I need it, I know exactly where to find it. In this post, you can find tons of tips, ideas and smart hacks on how to find space for your things, such as the 15 Minute Pick Up tactic and a solution to the “I can’t find my keys” problem.
Find time for the things that you love
When we lack organization, very often we can’t find time for the things that we actually love and want to do. Joyful activities like doing sports, practicing yoga, listening to music, reading (or listening to) a book, or having a morning breakfast routine can get lost in the shuffle if we don’t organize our time and our daily tasks.
And at the end of the day, we may end up feeling very unfulfilled and even unhappy if we don’t include at least one thing that we love doing. That’s why, making time in your schedule for what really matters to you is important and I have found that waking up early has helped me a lot to find those special few hours of the day, that I can dedicate to myself.
Organized and productive people go to bed each night, knowing what they’ll do the next day. They plan their days the night before and get their priorities set so that once the day starts, they’re less likely to get distracted by those little “urgent” things that pop up and get in the way of their real goals. Here are some tools and planners that I use to help me be more productive and organized during my days.
Write things down
Writing notes is an excellent way not only to get organized but to help your memory. I usually write every idea or thought that comes to me so I can keep my mind clear. It also helps me to process it later. Another reason this one is a great habit is that it allows you to capture inspiration when it comes.
Remember those nice, leather-bound planners which you can fill with a to-do list, color-coded by priority? Those might seem a bit old fashioned to some of you now, but no one can deny that they are effective. It is just that when you consolidate everything into one list, you always know where to look, and can have it with you everywhere and anytime, even when there is no Wi-Fi.
I know a friend of mine, who uses a simple wall calendar (or you can use even Google Calendar) to put her To Do lists on specific days instead of creating a list. You may find this much more effective than a separate To Do lists because it’s more in-your-face and concrete. For instance, the moment you realized you need to do something, just write the item directly on the day. When a day is over and there are things you didn’t complete, just drag them onto the next day.
Another helpful suggestion I can give is to keep a family calendar for all of your family members. This thing can sit on the wall and you can use it to consult every evening to make sure all of your family members are ready for the next day. It is priceless for keeping track of doctor appointments, shift schedules, kids classes, and service calls.
So, whether you use a calendar, a planner, a notebook, or your phone, I highly recommend you to get in the habit of writing everything down. You’ll thank me later. Keep in mind, though, that online calendars and apps really do only work well with solid internet access, which may be an issue in some places.
A major part of being organized includes knowing exactly where your money is spent. That’s why one of the first things I did when I started my journey to becoming more organized and productive is I’ve developed a system for myself for tracking my costs and income.
Knowing where all of your money goes helps you to quickly identify where you can cut back in the case of an emergency or unexpected expense. If you don’t know where to start you can just grab that nice planner notebook and start writing down your expenses or get a money management app like Quicken or Mint to record your monthly bills and document your spending. Want to do more to improve your finances? Check out some: better money habits.
When you purchase something new, get rid of something old
Okay, this can be a hard one, especially for people who love collecting things and can’t part with their belongings. However, here is a convincing argument for the importance of the “one-in, one-out” method. Inevitably we are going to acquire new things — clothing, gifts, gadgets, souvenirs, furniture, etc. — throughout the year and it’s very easy to forget what we have accumulated.
This, in turn, can create a lot of clutter. Therefore, we really need to make a conscious effort to deal with it and organize our space. So, what I do is, I try to set a day when I can go through my items and put them into piles like “keep”, “toss” and “donate” in order to liberate from what I’ve accumulated.
Make use of technology
There is an ongoing debate about how technology can extend the work day and, sometimes, can make things even more complicated by taking over our lives. While that may be true, technology can also make us more productive and organized if we use it to help us instead of distracting us.
Whether it’s creating important reminders on your mobile, setting up an email filter to keep our inbox organized, or using apps like Evernote to store and track information we need, technology isn’t always bad and if used properly, it can save a lot of time and efforts.
Protect your attention
One of the most important things you need to do to be more organized and productive is to learn to protect your attention and to avoid brain overload. There is a whole load of distractions all around us and we constantly get interrupted or switch tasks. And, honestly, I hate being interrupted when I focus on something.
Not only it takes me much more time to get back to where I was, but that can lead to an unhealthy brain overload, exhaustion, and burnout at the end of the day. So, if you are like me, think about how to protect your best-attention-time so you can peacefully work on the tasks that require the most focus and concentration. For instance, put your mobile to mute, close your email inbox, put some relaxing musing as a background, go somewhere quiet, or get some noise cancelling headphones.
Organize healthy food lists
Okay, we’ve all been there – we have those moments when we are head-down busy, and by the time we look up, it’s way past lunchtime. So, without any prepared healthy meal around, we end up either going without it or grabbing a quick snack like a donut or a bag of chips. Both are really bad ideas, though, because those foods will give you some quick energy boost for about 20 minutes (at the price of loads of sugar, carbs, and fats), but after that, your focus will drop like a rock.
Skipping meals, on the other hand, not only affects your concentration, productivity, and problem-solving skills, but it also can put your body in extreme stress. And nope, it won’t help you lose weight but it may end you with unpleasant gastroenterological problems.
A little organization and planning from your side, however, can help you make better food choices and give your body what it needs to function properly and to reward you with tons of energy, focus, and productivity. Here are also some very helpful meal planning tips on that.
Create a Weekend Bucket List
Have you found yourself stuck in boring weekends where you wonder what to do? Well, I have discovered that keeping a list of ideas and activities that I want to do in my free time helps me easily escape those boring days and do something enjoyable. For instance, I keep a list of movies I want to watch. I also like to sit back and relax while listening to audiobooks and podcasts. This way I can give some rest to my eyes and learn something new or have a good laugh with a funny book.
Understand psychological triggers
Organized people make use of some smart psychological triggers, which help them keep things on track. With this in mind, I’ve started using some simple, yet effective mind markers to stay organized during my days. For instance, I use color coding for my schedule and write the different tasks with my multicolor pen that I always keep in handy. I also listen to music to enhance my creativity, read motivational quotes, set alarms and timers with specific ring tones to keep track on my time for different tasks and give myself small rewards for accomplishments.
Don’t kill spontaneity and leave some time for fun and relaxation
You don’t need to be totally robotic about every aspect of your life. Don’t kill spontaneity with constant plans, schedules, and timetables. Even though I’ve learned that things like meetings with friends, family occasions, date nights and daily exercises may need to be planned, I still vote for going with the flow when you feel like.
After all, I’ve realized that I will never be productive and organized if I am miserable and lonely inside the order that’ I’ve created. So, make sure you leave some time unplanned and have spontaneous fun like going for a walk, catching with a friend or anything you feel like.
As a conclusion, I would like to remind you that you can’t completely organize your life and that is okay. The journey to becoming more organized, productive and efficient is a never-ending process that requires baby steps and patience. If you are determined and put it to your mind, though, you will surely see some results and will achieve balance in some aspects of your life. Besides, a few minutes of preparation and planning could make a huge difference in how far you will go.
A Little Note & Thanks
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