5 Secrets to Getting (and Staying) Organized

Personal Organization

In my last post, I shared five things you’ll never see organized people do. I learned this from observing highly organized friends and colleagues–and the help of a productivity specialist, Lori Krolik, president of More Time for You. Lori taught me five secrets to getting and staying organized.

Lori opened up a Pandora’s box of organization for me when she shared the secret of making checklists. It helped get my work/travel life in order along with my personal life.

Here’s what she told me:

“Create checklists for the places you travel to, especially globally, when you might need special medicines or articles of clothing. For example, you might need Malaria medicine in certain humid, remote, climates. Or that easily packable down coat when traveling to cold weather. Pull the checklist out each time when you’re getting ready to go to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.”

It was a simple trick but it meant not having to think things through from the beginning each time. So, now that I have a pretty good system, I want to share these five secrets for getting and staying organized with you.

1. Create a plan.

First, prioritize what you need to organize. The way to do this is to hone in on what needs to be organized. Don’t be daunted. Think, what areas are the most disorganized? What areas are stressing you out and making it difficult for you to achieve certain tasks like scheduling meetings or fixing supper? Start that checklist and tackle one before moving onto the next.

2. Master the calendar.

My productivity guru, Lori, shared some important advice when it comes to scheduling meetings–be sure to use the notes section in your calendar. Don’t rely on your memory when it comes to recalling who is calling who, or what is on the agenda, or for me, what time zone the call is meant to take place. Auto-conversion doesn’t work sometimes, so she advised me to put all relevant times and time-zones manually in the body of the invitation.

3. Give everything a home.

Label makers can be a powerful weapon when it comes to getting organized. Pick one up, head to the Container Store and get a host of bins, boxes, and folders–then go crazy. Give everything in your life its designated place. If everything has a home, you’ll lessen your chances of losing anything. This goes for email, too. Create folders and send those emails “home.”

4. Get rid of junk regularly.

Spend time on a regular basis, whether it be every week or every month, to go through and de-clutter. Get rid of things you don’t need. A rule I have for clothes and personal items is, if I haven’t used it in a year, I bring it to Good Will or a consignment shop. Also, if I purchase something new, like a new sweater or pair of shoes, that means I must get rid of something. This also helps fight the clutter war.

5. Put things back where they belong.

Now that everything has a “home”, make sure it stays that way. Don’t use that flashlight and then stick it in a nearby cupboard. Take a moment and place it back in the neatly labeled container you got it from. That way when you need it next, you’ll know where to look.

Since I discovered these secrets of getting and staying organized in my life and my work, I’ve been much more productive while being less stressed. It seems contradictory but by investing a little bit of time into organizing every day, I’ve been able to have more time to do the things I want–and do them well.

 

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo: Pixabay

 

5 Habits Highly Organized People Don’t Have

highly-organized-people

Part of the secret to success for a global business consultant is to be organized. Different countries, multiple time zones, and a myriad of clients and cultures mean it can be pretty easy to get mixed up and miss important appointments. And, admittedly, I did so once in a while at the beginning of my career. But I have learned some of the things highly organized people don’t do, and, after some practice and some help, I have become a pro at balancing time zones and diverse cultures and climates. It’s been a game changer for me personally and professionally. It feels good to be organized and know that wherever I am in the world, things will run smoothly.

So, in the spirit of spring-cleaning, I’m doing a two-part post on the secrets of getting your life organized.

First, I want to share five things you’ll never see highly organized people do:

1. Highly organized people don’t wear pajamas all day.

There’s a trend among organized people. They start every morning the same way–no matter if they’re going to work or staying home. They get up, eat a good breakfast, shower, and get dressed. The act of getting ready for the day–no matter where it might take you–can change your perspective and help you be more productive. It’s the simple knowledge that you’re prepared for anything–inside or outside the house.

2. Highly organized people don’t rely on their memories.

Sure, we live in an age where pen and paper are becoming perceived as antiquated, but writing is a great way to remember things. Write out checklists, and savor the triumphant feeling you have when you get to mark things off. For important dates and errands, feel free to use your smartphone. But no matter what, write (or type) a to-do list somewhere. It does no good floating around in your head.

3. Highly organized people don’t procrastinate.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but procrastination only adds to stress–and disorganization. The longer you wait to do something, the harder it will be to get the task done (plus, you’ll likely do a worse job because of the pressure and time constraints). Getting things done as soon as you can nixes the feeling of having something hanging over your head. Try it! It can be liberating!

4. Highly organized people aren’t perfectionists.

Organized people have the image of being perfectionists, but the truth is, they aren’t. It’s just the illusion they’ve created because they have the space and time to do what’s essential well. If you feel like you must do everything perfectly, you’re not going to get anything done. So try to do the best you can for the most important stuff, and be OK with “good enough” for the others–or ask for help. This will help you combat procrastination and free up your time.

5. Highly organized people don’t take on too much.

One of the perks of being really organized is freedom from being stressed and overwhelmed. And freedom from being stressed and overwhelmed demands that you not have too much on your plate. Really organized people know how to delegate. If you find that your plate is overflowing, prioritize and consider dropping or delegating the less important tasks. It’s OK to cancel plans, so you have time to think. Or even just to breathe.

Start with these five actions, and you’re already on your way to getting yourself organized. In my next post, I’ll share the top five secrets of the highly organized.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Image: Pexels.com