While being a Hot Mess can mean many different things, being organized means being able to find things, not tripping over piles of laundry, and feeling less chaotic. It is a good thing to strive for, but it shouldn’t “own” you. Here are some simple ways I’ve found to get your act together and be less stressed on a daily basis.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Writing down and making mental note of your top 3 tasks to get done for the day will help everything else fall into place.
- Make an easy to-do list. Use tools like Toodledo to make mini checklists and always have it in the palm of your had through your mobile or tablet. Don’t worry about digging through your purse to find that scrunched up post-it note that you may have just shoved your gum into. We will get to purse organization on a different day.
- Keep a ubiquitous capture device. At work I use sticky notes, at home and on the go I use Evernote. It’s really nice just to get that idea or task out of your mind and onto something else where you know you can retrieve it later.
- Do one thing at a time. Multitasking is great most days, but it is best to finish what you start and get through as much as you can. It will make you feel like you accomplished more. If you’re anything like me, there are days when I felt busy all day, yet got nothing done. That is an example of a day full of interruptions and losing control of my time.
- Do it now. Don’t put things off. That will stress you out, girl! Get it done when it is fresh in your mind and then take that pen or stylus and check that bad boy off your list!
- Say no. You can do it! Set boundaries and don’t try to be the hero. Do what you know you can do and set boundaries for what you can’t.
- Use the recycling bin/trash basket. Organizing unnecessary items is wasted energy. It is amazing how much more in control I feel just by tossing out my trash, scribble posty’s and gum wrappers at the end of every work day.
- A (good) place for everything, and everything in its place. Get a trash can within arms reach of your desk, keep your post-it notes handy, get a pencil holder. Have fun with organization bins and containers in your home. Use organization as a way to showcase your personal style. Check out The Container Store for ideas. (OMG, I love that place).
- Put it away now. The single and most simple thing you can do to stay organized is to put whatever tool, item, clothing, bag, hairbrush etc., away immediately after using it. You will always know where everything is and you will never waste time looking for something.
- Keep a to-do list that syncs with your mobile phone (so you can add stuff as and when you remember it). And make sure every item has a due date. Both Toodledo and Evernote can sync to your phone.
- Change. It forces unimportant things into obsolescence. It brings down any method or idea that isn’t timeless. It brings up newer and more important things that you and others can’t resist anymore. Best of all: it’s an organizing tool that operates itself. You just have to embrace it.
- Take control of your time and priorities.
- Sort at the source. The mailbox is a perfect example. The only things that should enter your home are bills, letters and checks. Reading materials should go in your office or reading area.
- Color code. I’m a visual person, and I find that color-coding my lists and calendars minimizes the time I have to spend looking at them. This worked well when I was in school. I dumped every class syllabus into Outlook, and then color-coded every class period (blue for paper due, yellow for quiz, red for test, etc). It took awhile to set up, sure, but then for the rest of the semester I only had to glance at Outlook to get a very clear idea of what kind of week I was going to have.
- Write down, execute and clean up as you go.
- Bring back ups. Pen, notebook, tablet, computer, whatever! I always bring two ways to take notes just in case something loses power, breaks, runs out of ink or gets stolen by my unprepared co-worker.
- Have.. less.. stuff. Simplicity is key. You don’t need clutter. You don’t need a mess! Have what you need and constantly get rid of what you don’t use regularly. It is just “stuff” and has the potential to cause you stress.
- Delegate. Learn to trust people with critical tasks in all areas of your life. When you learn to effectively delegate tasks you actually find that it is easier to keep the stuff you can’t delegate better organized.
- Do what works for you. Whatever electronics or paper you use, make them work for YOU not the other way around. Does Outlook really have to stay checking your email every 5 minutes? REALLY? And, little Missy, do you have to be checking it every time it updates? Probably not. You’ll get a lot more done if you check it a few times per day.
Remember “You control your life.” What a beautiful life it is!