This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The first step to becoming efficient and more productive in life is to get organised. This five-point plan, by Marcia Gracia, will help you confront misguided thinking that says you can’t. What is holding you back from getting organised? Most likey you! Here are five common obstacles, and what you can do about them. 1 I’d rather do something else Let’s face it. We’d all rather be doing something fun, right? If given a choice between organising files and watching a favourite TV program, it’s pretty clear what most people would choose. One way to overcome this obstacle is to schedule your organising projects for first thing in the morning. Do your project for an hour or so, and be done with it. Once it’s out of the way, your day will be free to do things you really enjoy. Another way to combat this mind-set is to make something you love to do dependent upon the completion of your organising project. For instance, don’t allow yourself to read a magazine or newspaper until you’ve done the laundry or washed the car, which you’d promised yourself you’d do today. 2 all-or-nothing You may be reluctant to start an organising project because you only like to start things that you know you can finish in one session. Waiting until you can do the whole thing‚ often ends up in nothing getting done. It is better to start something and progress a little, than to not start something and to not progress at all. Often organising a project that doesn’t get started, makes the project seem worse over time. If it’s difficult for you to leave a project unfinished, your best bet is to give yourself smaller projects that you can complete in less time. For example, you may want to organise your desk, but you know it’s going to take you a few hours, and you can’t seem to find a few open hours in your schedule. Organising the entire desk might be too large of a goal. But, if you say to yourself that you’re going to clear off the papers from the top of the desk today, empty out the top drawer tomorrow, organise the supply drawer the next day, and so on, now you’ve given yourself projects that can be started—
and completed—within short bursts of time, thus satisfying your all-ornothing tendency. 3 broad goals and priorities Just making the statement I have to get organised is too broad. It often results in an overwhelming I don’t know where to start feeling. It’s important to define exactly what you want to organise. Rather than saying you want to get organised, make a list of the specific things you’d like to organise, such as your wardrobe, or your filing cabinet at work, or your schedule. Next, prioritise your list. The tasks closest to the top should be those currently causing you the most stress. Once you prioritise your list, choose one or two of those tasks to work on. You really have to focus in order to complete something. Once these few tasks are completed, you can then move on to the next few. Once you choose your one or two tasks, break them down into smaller minigoals. If you’d like to organise your pantry, you may break it down into top shelf, middle shelf and lower shelf. Tackle tasks that can be completed easily, in small brackets of time. 4 a sense of attachment Sometimes it’s really difficult to part with things because you may feel a sense of attachment. Perhaps you’re a sentimental person. Every item you own reminds you of something else—a family member who passed away, something an old friend gave you, a sweater from your mum, the first stuffed animal your significant other gave you. Or, you may be a thrifty person, and feel you may be able to use something some day. Perhaps you’re saving it just in case it comes back in style, or if you decide to have another child, or if you decide to pick up that hobby again in the future. Whatever the reason for your sense of attachment, having such attachments can result in piles upon piles of clutter. If it begins to stress you out, it’s time to let go of some of your stuff. You don’t have to get rid of everything, but it is important to determine what things are truly important to you and what things are just taking up space. Getting organised is about making decisions. Choose a clutter spot to tackle. Pick up two items at a time. Try to put one of those items in a keep pile, and the other in a do-not-keep pile. Sometimes you’ll want to keep both, and sometimes you won’t want to keep either. But, try to keep this system going. Keep picking up two items at a time and making this decision until you’ve decluttered by a minimum of 50 per cent. In other words, you should have the same amount of items in the “keep” pile, as you do in the “do-not-keep” pile. If you don’t like to toss, then give away or donate instead. Knowing that someone else is making good use of something that was just catching dust in your home or office may help to relieve some tension. 5 fear of failure
One of the main reasons for not starting an organising project is fear of failure. You may feel that since you haven’t been able to get organised, you never will. Or you may feel that even if you do manage to get it organised, you might not be able to maintain it. First, a positive attitude is essential to getting and staying organised. The best attitude is a can-do‚ attitude. Believe in yourself. You can do it! Second, any task or project you progress on, no matter how little the progression, is a success! Enjoy your successes and reward yourself for them. myths of being organised 1. BEING organised MEANS BEING NEAT. While you can certainly be neat and organised, the two should never be confused. While you might have neat piles or boxes in a straight line, you may still not be able to find a single thing when you need it. Being organised means using a structured system that allows you to do or find everything you need, without frustration, chaos or stress. 2. TO BE organised is TO BE CLEAN. Once again, while you can be both organised and clean, the two shouldn’t be confused. Cleaning means you’re removing dirt, grime and otherwise preparing a sanitary surface. But, you can have the cleanest home or office and still be disorganised and inefficient. 3. TO BE organised MEANS TO SCHEDULE EVERY MINUTE. While thoughtfully scheduling appointments, projects and jobs is recommended, you do not have to schedule every moment of your day to be organised. Scheduling is the fine art of packing every day just full enough of the most useful activities. Never overload it. Your schedule should always allow you time for spontaneity. 4 ONLY CERTAIN TYPES OF PEOPLE CAN BE organised. While a small percentage of people don’t have the ability to be organised, such as someone with an illness, most people can be. Being disorganised isn’t a disease; it’s a decision. If you really want to be organised, there are systems to help you. Once you know these systems and apply them, you’ll be organised. 5. BEING organised TAKES a LOT OF TIME AND EFFORT. The truth is, it takes less of both to be organised. Disorganisation and its associated inefficiency takes more time, and ensures that huge obstacles are directly in the path of getting things done. Getting and staying organised isn’t rocket science. 6. EVERYONE I KNOW IS organised, EXCEPT ME. Being organised is both an outer and inner trait. Unless you really know a person well, you really can’t come to this conclusion. For example, someone may have a neat home, but is never on time. Another may have an organised home, but his office filing system is chaotic. There are many people in need of organisation, even if it doesn’t show.
7. Organised PEOPLE HAVE NO FUN. On the contrary, the people who are organised are saving time and getting the best out of life. They are getting things done. They’re achieving their goals. They’re not wasting time searching for lost items, or redoing things or missing appointments. They’re finding the time they need to do the things they love, and to spend time with the people they care about. get organised the DAY before So much to do; so little time. Don’t you hate to leave home or work knowing there’s still much undone? Follow this one simple strategy to see if it makes a difference to your day. Just before the end of the day, work out what you will start on first in the morning. Create a list in a note to yourself. This lets you take stock of what you’ve accomplished, giving you a feeling of completion and the satisfaction of a job well done. Psychologically, it lets you know you are finishing your work for the day and are ready to move on to other activities. Without this psychological break, your mind could continue thinking about office issues well into the evening (“Did I remember to spellcheck that document?” “What did I call the document?”). Whatever you haven’t done today should be on a list To Do on the next. It makes it easier to get straight into work when you get to work the following day. You won’t waste time wondering what task you should start with. When you do the above you subconsciously set your mind to work helping you organise your approach to the next day’s tasks. So don’t hesitate; begin organising yourself at the end of the day. You will be doing yourself and your work obligations a service!—Sheila O’Connor
How to Get Organised How many times have you torn up the house looking for that one important item, or been paralyzed by the avalanche in your inbox, or spent far too many mornings in a dead sprint to get out of the house on time? Things that are left undone can be your own undoing -- adding stress and wasting precious time. Organizing is the act of giving yourself more time and peace of mind.
Getting started Step1 Try to understand the role in your life played by all those accumulated belongings. Many people hang on to belongings for comfort and security, and to remind them of who they have been and who they want to become. Paring down, however, doesn't have to be a painful process. Organizing takes whatever works best for you and makes it the norm rather than the exception. Step2 Read 16 Set Goals. Then take an inventory of everything that's not working in your life, big or small. Is it pawing through your closet each morning for something to wear, or dreading planning dinner every night? Do you wish you had more time to work out, travel or write a book (see 496 Write the Great American Novel)? Now list everything that would make you feel better: Having bills paid on time (see 229 Simplify Bill Paying). Spending more time with your family. Being able to actually park your car in the garage. This inventory will reveal where your energy and time are needed and clarify your values. The urge to purge Step1 Choose an area from your inventory that needs help. Whether it's your overflowing office, your crammed closet or your bureau, roll up your sleeves. Step2
Start small to avoid getting overwhelmed. If you don't have a entire day or weekend to devote to the project, carve out 20-minute chunks. Tackle the junk drawer during halftime. Take on the medicine chest while you're supervising baths (see 43 Organize the Medicine Cabinet). Setting a realistic time frame is key to getting stuff done. Step3 Pull out everything from your target area and sort it into four piles: items to keep, items to sell or give away, items to fix and items to toss. Use boxes or large garbage bags to manage your piles, and keep one box to fill with items that belong elsewhere. Step4 Put the misplaced items where they belong or in a temporary place. Take your discards to the garbage can and recycling bin.Put your sell or donate box in the car (see 12 Get Rid of What You Don't Want). Now look through what you're keeping. Set aside anything that needs repairs, with a deadline of three months or so until they are too are sold or donated. Step5 Make purging a routine. Of all the organizing principles, it's the most difficult, yet it yields the most visible results. If you have trouble letting something go, box it up for a year. If you still haven't needed it, you'll be more ready to toss it. Keeping it together Step1 Start creating new organizing systems by analyzing how you use and store your stuff (see 128 Store Anything). Some organizers call it being "motion minded." Hang a bucket filled with sponges, rags, soap and wax in the garage. Keep the coffeemaker next to the sink for water, and store coffee, filters and cups nearby. Pay attention to how often you use things as well. Place frequently needed items at eye level and at the front of shelves; put less frequently used items at the back, or on high or low shelves. Step2 Ask yourself how a particular task or area could be made more efficient, and continue to refine your systems until you're happy with the result. Whatever you try, make it simple. Anything else sets you up for failure. Step3
Purchase containers that fit the task. Clear, stackable, sturdy, airand watertight containers offer security, access and visibility. Step4 Label containers, folders, boxes and files clearly so everyone in the family knows where things go, and you can quickly identify contents. Unlabeled CDs, videotapes, folders or boxes are a guaranteed time waster. See 57 Live Better Through Labeling. Step5 Be conscious about acquiring new stuff. Before you purchasesomething, make sure you have a place for it. Better yet, purchase something new only if you get rid of something old. Buy only what you'll really use--even if it's a good deal or on sale.Say no to castoffs from friends and family. When in doubt, live without. See 15 Live With Less. Step6 Recognize that you can't do it alone all the time--that's part of being organized. Get help from relatives, friends or professionals if you can't keep up with routine chores; you aren't good at doing what needs to be done; you don't know how to do something and have no time to learn; or you recently went through a major life event such as a family death, divorce, job loss or change or a move. If you're too overwhelmed to even start, call in the cavalry (see 5 Hire a Professional Organizer).
Tips & Warnings
Break the big jobs down into manageable tasks and tackle one room or area at a time to minimize disruption. Be ruthless when you purge. For each item, ask: "Do I love this? Do I really need it? Can someone else use it?" If you haven't worn it, used it or needed it in a year, get rid of it. If you can replace something easily, trash it. If you have many similar items, keep one and pitch the rest. Are you one of those people who keeps empty boxes for a possible future move or mailing? There's no shortage of cardboard boxes if you should ever need them. Break them down and set them out for recycling. Having trouble parting with certain stuff? Gather items into categories such as those in step 3. When you look at them all together, you'll wonder why you kept them to begin with. Tape cassettes, laser disc players, old computers and cell phones are just taking up space.
Before you head out to buy new containers to stash your stuff, measure what's going in them first to make sure everything fits.
13. How to get organised As you are your own boss, you are the only person responsible for not only ensuring you deal with the day-to-day admin but also that you are compliant with all regulations. To ensure as much of your working week is
spent on projects you can bill clients for, the admin side will need to be completed as efficiently as possible. As you get going and your hard work pays off, you should hopefully see your workload increasing - and with that the admin that inevitably comes with it. This can be overwhelming unless you have a system in place to simplify procedures and to remind you automatically when to chase people. Much as it's tempting to 'file' paperwork to one side until another day, this inevitably will see you with cashflow problems where you submitted a client invoice late and that client takes several weeks to pay because you haven't chased it or you lose favour with suppliers for being a slack payer. It could even cost you money if you are consistently late filing VAT returns for instance. Devise a system from the outset that caters for all your diary and contact management needs. Whether it's online or a tick boxes on a job bag that progress from brief, quote sent/accepted, schedule agreed, client invoiced, date to chase etc - so long as it works for you to keep track of your business in a timely manner. Start now before you get going - if you don't, your competitors will. Databases Ultimately an online system will allow you to add notes with greater flexibility so that you can easily refer back to previous conversations before making a call. Some have reminder systems built in to nudge you when it's time to chase an invoice or call a prospect. Better still use the database to accurately log each project, its value and the amount of time you spend servicing that client so that you can qualify your most profitable clients and therefore dedicate more time culturing those clients. If you keep contacts on a database you will need to comply with the Data Protection Act. Outlook If you currently use Outlook Express you may consider upgrading to Outlook which has additional facilities to organise your working day with a calendar and address book and task list. Time Management Have a list of activities that have to be carried out everyday - back ups, checking email etc to ensure that these are done. Write another list of things that need to be done at any one time, 'nasties' or the tough jobs that have to be done at the top and the lesser evils towards the bottom. The theory is that the guilt of staring at the tough jobs too long spurs you on to complete them so that the nicer tasks towards the end are a relative pleasure. It's also good to physically tick off tasks accomplished. Set time limits for everything that you do - to ensure you complete a project within a quoted for time and to reign in time spent which can't be billed.
Classic examples are researching online where you end up surfing sites you hadn't intended to drift on to! Take regular quick breaks from your work to refresh your thoughts. Reward yourself if you complete tasks ahead of the time you set (or feel free to punish yourself if you don't!) If you are having an unproductive afternoon and project time allows, go for a walk or take the afternoon off to shake off the creative block. Set clear lines of distinction between home and office. If you work at home set aside a separate work area so that you mentally leave work at the end of the day. When you leave the office, leave the office - do something that you associate with switching off. If you work from home so there is no 'drive time', read the paper, take the dog out etc. Invest in a separate business line to that room so that you only answer work/family calls at the appropriate times to avoid unwanted distractions. Review your longer term business progress regularly. Put days in the diary throughout the year to review your thoughts and refocus to ensure your time is still being spent wisely.