What does that even mean?
I think it means different things to different people.
I am a woman, a mother, a wife, a doctor, a daughter, a sister among other things. I have a type A personality. I am the queen of multitasking. Above it all, I am not that unique. What I have just described, probably describes a lot of you too! Let me tell you how I organize my life, and hopefully that relates to you as well.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Something to “write”. This thing has to be accessible everywhere. I use my Apple devices that syncs to each other. You do not need fancy apps to do this, just use basic notes. I think a lot when I drive. So I use Siri to dictate my thoughts into my notes. You can also use pen and paper, but you may end up having multiple lists everywhere.
- Discipline. That’s all that is. And a dash of type A personality. Do it now. Procrastination has an avalanche effect — your problems get bigger.
It makes you feel more in control, more productive, more efficient and less stressed. It frees up time you would otherwise be spending doing mundane tasks over and over again, forgetting things and making mistakes.
Now. This is a lifelong skill. As with any skill, practice makes perfect.
- Checklists. Keep building on them as you go. How many times have you brainstormed what you need for travel? How many times have you compiled a grocery list? Repetitive task is a brain drain. Here are the checklists you should have:
- To do list. Always bubble up items with the most urgency to the top of your list.
- Travel packing list. And unpacking list at hotels, especially if you have young children.
- Grocery list. Do an inventory check every week and just fill in the quantity.
- Things you need before you leave the house (especially useful if you have kids).
- Things you need to do before you go to bed.
- If you move around fairly frequently, have a moving to do list.
- Quarterly or yearly to do list. This list is for things like replace filters, clean the windows, cut my son’s toenails (not kidding, they grow slow) etc.
- Be a minimalist. Keep only things that are truly useful, THROW away anything unnecessary. Better yet, do not acquire things unless you really NEED it. I use the “net zero” theory: if I bring in one item, another must go out. The less things you have, the less time you spend cleaning or organizing. Go through your cabinets, wardrobe and storage bins quarterly for maintenance.
- Take notes on anything important that you read. Never do the same thing twice. When you need to jog your memory in the future, would you rather read your own bullet point notes? Or the 20 articles you had to research?
- Use ONE calendar, preferably one that syncs to all your other devices. Write.down.every.event. Do not rely on your memory. Set alerts before any events.
- Everything has a place. Your keys are always in that drawer by the front door. Your phone is always next to the key. Your paperwork is in that bin. If you have to, label bins and containers.
- Folders. Use it physically in your home for documents. Label it. Use it in your email. Use it on your computer as well to organize your files.
- Speaking of emails, I use my inbox as a “sorting bin”. Emails either get deleted or moved to a folder. (After I took care of whatever tasks).
- Write down all your financial information (banks, credit cards, retirement accounts) in one document. You do not have to write down passwords, may be just the hint.
- Scan necessary receipts with your phone. And store them in appropriate folders on you computer. Then you do not have to keep crumpled receipts, or lose them or have faded receipts that you cannot read.
- Tax season. My husband spent 2 weeks combing through his receipts and bank statements to find his expenses; I spent 5 minutes. Why? I have a folder called “tax” on my computer and dump all my scanned receipts and bank statements into it throughout the year.
- Clean as you go and (your mother was right) put things back where it belongs. That way, you do not ever have to clean up a very dirty and disorganized home. Never let dishes pile up, (for Pete’s sake) make your bed, put dirty laundry into laundry basket etc.
- Do not multitask. Ugh! Easier said than done. But do finish one task before moving on to the next. I get motivated when I get to cross off items from my to do list. If everything is half done, my to do list will be just as long, and that drives me bonkers.
- Automate as many things as possible. Credit card payment, rent, when to start your vacuum etc. It saves a lot of unnecessary brain power.
- Audiobooks. It actually makes me “read” more, because I “read” while in the gym, driving, waiting in line. Also, I do not need storage place for books.
- Papers. I hate them. The trees probably hate them too. Go paperless whenever possible. Never bring junk mail, take out menus, flyers, brochures and pamphlets into the house. If you are so inclined, take pictures of the pages that interest you and then toss them.
- Track and trend your money.
- Organize your morning routine, as it sets the tone for the whole day. Meal prep during the weekends. Lay out yours and your kids (including husband) clothes. Pack your gym essentials. Check the weather. Make sure there is coffee in the coffee machine, ready to go. Whatever you can prepare the night before to make your morning easier, do it.
It takes a long time and a fair amount of effort before you can truly say you are an organized person. Namaste! And good luck!