[This is PART TWO of my "Get your life in order" series. In case you missed the first one, you may want to start from the beginning!]
In the first post of this series I discussed holistic approaches to enhancing your relationships, leadership, goal-setting, and other simple ways to better your overall self. Once you’ve established a strong foundation and had a chance to re-evaluate your current status, you may be looking for some organizational tips to keep these ideas and commitments in order. The below tips are basic organizational practices that will help you alleviate stress and boost your focus.
- GENERAL ORGANIZATION (I know I’ve spoken a lot about this, but I cannot stress enough how important general organization and time-management is!)
- Calendar. Get one. Use it (yes, EVERY DAY). Link it to everything. The whole notion of keeping a schedule “in your head” is completely asinine; even if you don’t think so, everyone else probably does. How many times have you missed or shown up late to a meeting? That’s too many. If you’re looking for better ways to enhance your time-management, I know a ninja that can help – check out the Time Management Ninja blog here.
- Email. Sure, having an organized inbox is a no-brainer (right?), but those little things that annoy you about your email organization that you tolerate could be costing you valuable time and creating unneeded stress. Utilize filters, labels/folders, and priority settings (most email clients have them) and save yourself a load of trouble. Though most are incredibly useful and interesting, being a member of mailing lists can get to be a little much at times; coordinate your filters so that these emails skip your inbox and go right into their own folder. Respond promptly and try to keep your inbox clutter to a minimum (I strive to have less than 15 emails in my inbox at any given time if possible; I usually send/receive an average of 100+ emails per day!), prioritize and archive important emails that either need your attention or will be referenced later, don’t forget your signature! And remember, everyone appreciates email etiquette (from The Oatmeal).
- Mobile devices. Let me preface this portion of the post with this: I do not have a smart-phone (I know, I know I need one). BUT, whether you have a smart-phone or not, you most likely have a mobile device that is Wifi-capable or has the ability to download apps – these can be huge organizational tools! Download apps like Remember the Milk or Reminders, sync your calendar and email to your device and take care of urgent or simple items on the fly to save time later. Don’t let your mobile device become part of the problem – use it as a tool to increase your productivity and sky-rocket your connectedness.
- To-do lists. Make one and update it frequently (if you feel you need it or want to take your organization to the next level, try making a to-do list for each of your major commitments, organizations, jobs/projects, etc.!) – studies have shown that keeping a physical to-do list will make you more productive, procrastinate less, and feel better about your accomplishments. I LOVE to-do lists… it’s pretty serious, actually – I once lost my to-do list for a few days and, though liberating, it was very stressful (don’t worry, I found it and nobody died).
- Information. A broad topic, for sure, but how accessible is your important information? Do you have a filing cabinet with your important documents in them or do you have to call home in order to (hopefully) find them? Find a cheap filing cabinet from Craigslist or Freecycle (I found mine at a garage sale and refurbished it at a total cost of $14) and get rid of that clutter on your desk, under your bed, or anywhere else! Save yourself the hassle of remembering your flash-drive and important documents or information you use often like your resume, etc. by utilizing the online application Dropbox (it’s like a giant flash-drive in the sky – magic!) and create yourself a Master Information Kit via Google Docs!
The key to successful organization involves a
daily hourly battle against procrastination and the oh-so-attractive time-wasters that threaten your productivity. I cannot cover everything I would like to about breaking the cycle of procrastination here [more on this in a future post], but staying motivated isn’t easy and involves a strong sense of situational awareness (knowing what your goals are, the task at hand, time-sensitivity, and how best to minimize the influence of distractions).
There are many other ways to keep yourself organized and minimize situational stress, but if you know organization skills aren’t your strong-point I would recommend finding some organizationally-focused blogs or following some people on Twitter who tweet about organization, time-/stress-management, etc. to find what works for you.
Stay tuned for the next installation of “Get your life in order (Part 3)” on MONDAY. As always, post comments or reach out via Twitter (@Tarantino4me) to let me know how you liked this and other posts or tell me how these tips are working for you!