Organized people rule the world. Can you imagine a successful leader, CEO or a millionaire who is not organized? Well yes, they can be not organized but then they hire organized people to succeed. Either way, being organized will never make your life worse, only better. Unless, of course, you take it to extreme like Monica in Friends.
But before we talk about ways of being more organized, let’s establish what being organized means. To me, being organized means being more prepared for the future because of pre-planning and action taken prior to event occuring.
For example, organized people come on time. Why? Because they anticipated being late so they took action prior to event (commuting) by researching bus schedule, printing it and posting on the fridge. Or they have downloaded the right app and learned to use it, and reviewed a bus schedule a day before to plan better. Or maybe they did the same thing with their GPS and made sure their car has gas before the day. Either way, the planning was done and action occurred before the situation.
Let’s look at another example. Better organized people also more prepared to host parties (but does not mean they are more fun :)) or welcome unexpected guests or to make dinner every day of the week. Again, they anticipated the need to have food so they researched, created a meal plan, went to the store to get groceries for the week, maybe even prepared some of the groceries (e.g., by cutting veggies or defrosting the meat).
How about more complex examples like succeeding at work? This is where being organized really makes a difference. For example, in any given day something happens where unplanned and unexpected task is thrown at me to deal with, on top of all other things I am expected to continue doing. Does it cause anxiety? Of course it does sometimes, I am just a human. But things like this did cause more anxiety if I was not organized.
Below are some ways to be more organized. Some may not be ground breaking but when they add up, they do make a difference.
Ways to be more organized at home
- A good start would be cleaning up. I am not talking about basic clean floors and dust removal. I am talking about all the drawers. Yes, we are going to get there. This is where you can find not just all your ‘lost and found’, but all the extra batteries, forgotten photos and maybe even the shoes you forgot you got. The first step for being more organized is having a complete control over your space. You need to know what you have and where it is located. In good days it can help you deal with problems and in exceptional circumstances it can save your life (for example, fire, burglary, etc.)
- Clean up your closet. Organize items by grouping them – for example, you can keep all your casual clothes in one place and all your ‘going out’ or ‘work’ clothes in another. I have a different drawer for my ‘home’ clothes, sweaters, pants/jeans/shorts/skirts, t-shirts/shirts, socks, underwear, etc. It makes it easier and faster to dress up and to pack.
- Once you go through all your drawers, eliminate the things you no longer need. It can be clothing that no longer your size or needs repairs, it can be the gifts you received that you did not like and other items. All things you do not like or use don’t just take space, they also take your energy away. You will notice once you take out all the garbage that it is easier to breathe.
- Find 15 minutes every day to clean up. You won’t believe how fast items accumulate in certain areas like hallway, kitchen, coffee table, bathrooms… Addressing it every day will make you feel better the next day when you walk into your space.
- Grouping things makes it easier to find similar things. For example, in the kitchen, putting all sauces together and keeping all baking supplies in one drawer makes it easier to find things when you start cooking or baking.
- Use calendars and notebooks. This one applies to all areas if you are trying to be organized. I know, we all have calendars on our phones, emails, etc. But seeing a calendar constantly rather than only if you click on it makes a big difference. First of all, it is easier to navigate and remember dates if you see a calendar on the wall and not on your computer/phone. I obviously use calendars everywhere, but seeing a monthly calendar on the wall next to my desk helps me plan better. My life is so busy that I often forget what day it is unless I click on the outlook calendar to see. It gets way easier if the calendar is already there. Plus, you can write all the key dates and see how much time you have until the next ‘event’. This is incredibly useful if you have children and they attend different clubs, sections or events.
Ways to be more organized at work
- I have two dedicated notebooks for work only. One is more like an agenda, it has a calendar and I write to-dos or key things to do for every day. I keep it always open and I look at it every time I have a minute to see what item I can check-off from the list. The second notebook I use to write notes. I write notes on every meeting I go to, even when I am not required or expected to write meeting notes. This helps me remember what was discussed, what was decided and what is expected of me to do after the meeting. I used to think that only admins have to write meeting notes (after all, I have master’s degree, blah blah). However, I noticed very quickly that project managers, managers and directors that are successful also do that because it helps them to stay on top and do not rely on their admins to understand what meeting they are in and what is happening. Also, a person that controls communication controls the world (this is my Aries nature to find everything about power and control attractive). Our memory can be edited and we can doubt ourselves about events that occurred in the past if someone else who is more confident says that things that were decided were different from what we remember – in many cases we can agree with them. This is a nice way of me to say that sometimes people at work do lie. Having your own record of events helps you avoid traps like this.
- Being prepared. It means spending few minutes before every meeting to understand what it is about, why it is happening/status up to date and what I am expected to contribute. This also helps with confidence levels. I currently lead 3 ministry-wide activities (strategy, operational planning and risk management) and 3 projects (2 of which are ministry-wide), and I have meetings every hour from 9am to 5pm. So in my case, it really makes a difference. I remember coming to an event when I was an intern. The event was to connect managers with interns so the interns can learn about the workplace. I was the only one from 20 people who showed up with a notebook and a pen and had my questions written down. Being organized helps you to stand out and management sees organized people like life-savers. Because managers that do trust their staff rely on them significantly.
- Take breaks, have snacks and water (within reach) and have quick ‘anti-stressors’. This is my organized side meeting my ‘sane’ side. For ‘anti-stressors’ I have a whole set of essential oils that do everything from reducing stress to addressing a headache, I have bracelets with special crystals (Black Tourmaline; Aquamarine; Blue Lace Agate), and salts that help to deal with immediate stress (Khali phos). I also have everything for temperature control – fan, heater. Luckily I am working from home for now but most of these things (except for heater) is portable.
Ways to be more organized when traveling
- Before I tell you how I stay organized I will tell you how we(me+my husband) travel. We do not go to all-inclusives (so it is harder to plan for) and our ideal trip involves going to Europe (no tour guides!) and exploring the countries and cities (and landscapes) we have never been to by ourselves.
- When we decide where to go and book air plane ticket, almost immediately we book places to stay. We typically use booking.com. As we develop our itinerary and decide how long we will spend in what city, we login into the site and find places to stay and book them right away. To make it easier, think about the criteria you want to apply for your place to stay. For example, we like being in downtown/centre, having a kitchen (makes it easy to be self-sufficient), bathroom (apparently many places have ‘shared bathroom’. Something to pay attention at. Another criteria aside from cleanliness and reviews is having a parking spot if we are renting a car. I also pay attention at what is included and read description of what is in the room when packing. Sadly, this is based on experience – I was used to good hotels where towels and shampoos are included and did not bother checking when we went to Switzerland. When we stayed in the small ‘hotel’ in the small mountain village, there was no soap or shampoo. I, of course, did not bring much with me. Another place where we stayed later did not have towels or water. You appreciate simple things when they no longer there!
- The next step is decided on the mode of transportation. We research if taking a car or public transportation is easier and then we book it right away too. It sounds simple and yet I heard stories how my in-laws would travel to a town without booking a place to stay. I guess they felt spontaneous. Their trip fell on a big holiday when everyone was travelling to this city for a historic parade and all places were booked and placed that were not booked costed way more than they usually do. So this is definitely something I would not recommend to do.
- We also research and plan what we are going to do in each city. Some cities have performances, concerts and events at the time of the visit and pre-booking makes it easier not to miss things. Also, some attractions need to be booked months in advance. For example, Statue of Liberty in New York – it is booked for months in advance!
- When packing, I learned from experience not to over pack. Some good things to include: in addition to basics like clothes, soaps, toothbrushes, it might be helpful to invest in a towel that does not take a lot of space, charger that works with different power outlets at different voltages, health supplies (e.g., allergy pills, polysporin, band-aids, tylenol, etc.), tissues, notebook, pen, print-outs of confirmed events/tickets including for transportation. We also print itinerary with dates and addresses for each hotel and booking confirmations along with our transportation schedule including names of subways/bus numbers and so forth. Sometimes you end up with your phone not charged or no internet so having things printed old school can really help!
This post is a part 1. In part 2 (to be posted later), you will also find the following:
Ways to be more organized when hosting/preparing for an event
Ways to be more organized with your self-development
Ways to be more organized with your health
Ways to be more organized with your relationships
Ways to be more organized with your money
Stay tuned for more posts!