Being organized seems like an elusive goal. When do you know if you’ve reached this state of bliss?
For some of us, being organized feels like a moving target. We’re almost there, we think, then something changes and we’ve slid back down onto the mire.
Honestly, I have not arrived at some final destination known as being organized. I know I could always be more organized than I am. Sometimes I am organized. Sometimes I am not.
But rather than making that judgment based on how I feel or on what others say, I’ve learned to look toward specific areas and practices when I feel like I’m sliding or needing to up my game.
These are the three areas I always audit first when I think I’m losing my grip. More often than I care to admit, an honest audit simply reveals that I’m a fallible human rather than a humming machine, and there’s nothing wrong with my tools, systems, or set-ups: the only problem is when I stop looking at them.
Here’s where to look:
Keep an organized calendar
Your calendar is your most important organizational tool. It must contain every time-bound obligation and commitment we’ve made. It must be kept up-to-date daily.
And then we have to look at it. Regularly. Twice a day, at least.
At least once a week, we also must look ahead on the calendar – at least a month out – to see what’s on the horizon that we need to prepare for. Whether it’s a birthday, a meeting, a vacation, or a holiday, we need to know about it earlier than the week of if we want to be calm, collected, and prepared – which is the essence of being organized.
Keep an organized daily to-do list
Keeping an organized, accurate calendar is one way to quell the mental distraction and subliminal stress of keeping track of life in your head. Commitments are written down, and I review them regularly enough that I don’t have to fear forgetting.
Keeping an organized to-do list is another way to do the same thing: kill the stress and distraction that flies under the radar because we think it’s just life. It’s not life; it’s trying to keep track of life in our heads.
Use paper (or Evernote) instead.
Then use your mind for thinking and problem-solving instead of tracking, fretting, and reminding.
Running to do lists are something most people do in one form or another. What organized people do is have a home for those tasks. Whether they get a text with a task, jot a note on an envelope, or scribble something on their hand, they won’t keep the task reminder in that original place – it will find its home within the system where it can be reviewed, remembered, and realized.
Keep an organized note system
In addition to keeping commitments and tasks outside of our heads and on paper (or in digital bytes), we need a way to keep other random bits of information outside our heads where we can find it when we need it without worrying over it in our minds.
You might keep a binder or a box, but I prefer Evernote because information is better with a search bar.
Yes, Evernote seems scary and intimidating at first because it’s basically a blank canvas without any art lessons. Think of it rather as an empty filing cabinet. You add both the files as well as the tabs and labels.
Information does you no good if you can’t find it when you need it. That is why I keep information where I can find it with a quick search.
Information does you harm if you have to keep rehashing and rehearsing it mentally because you’re afraid you’ll lose it. Put it in a home – outside your memory – so you can be focused and calm.
Want help? Download my free Evernote set-up guide and I’ll walk you step-by-step through getting Evernote installed, organized, and useful in your daily life: