Do you hate how much time you waste every day hunting for misplaced items, looking at the same paperwork as yesterday, or jumping from one project to another without finishing any of them? Do you wish you could be more organized, but don't have the time or energy to do it?
Well, join the crowd. Never mind those neatness gurus who would have you engage in a monster project of re-examining every possession and activity in your life. That level of perfection is not necessary, and not very realistic for the vast majority of human beings.
What actually does work for most people is small adjustments in our behaviors. Little things like always placing your keys in the same special bowl until it becomes a habit you don't even have to think about.
Here are 5 small steps that will become giant leaps in your organizing journey.
1. Organize as you go.
Take a tip from professional chefs who constantly clean their workstation so that they can maintain maximum speed and efficiency. The instant you're finished using your comb or that client file, put it back in its rightful home. At the end of the day, you'll be free to enjoy your life with no big, messy pile to clean up.
2. Segregate your activities.
You'll never get anything done if you're interrupted by email every 5 or 10 minutes, or try to finish three projects at once. Designate specific "appointments" on your daily or weekly calendar for answering email, working on a specific project, paying bills, filing paperwork, etc.
3. Prioritize tasks every morning.
What really needs to get done today, and what can wait until tomorrow or next week? Put 3, and only 3, things at the top of your to-do list for the day. If you find you have time for more, great. If not, no guilt.
4. Manage tasks with an app.
Having multiple lists, reminders and notes scattered throughout your home and workplace just causes more confusion. Put everything in one system and you'll be able to plan your day at a glance. Top-ranked organizer apps include Wunderlist, Evernote, Todoist and Things3.
5. Have regular weed-out sessions.
Depending on how fast you fill up your organizers, you may need a session every month, or only once or twice a year. Stuff you no longer use just gets in your way and weighs on your mind. We're talking about everything from clothes you don't wear anymore to old paper or digital files. Anything you want to keep for sentimental reasons should go in the keepsake box, not stay cluttering up your current environment.
Once you get into these habits, you'll find yourself more in control, with more time to do things that are way more important — and fun — than organizing. Enjoy!