Organized genius? Is that too much to ask for this year? Many people complain that they’d be so much more productive if they just were able to be more organized. If you’ve struggled with being organized in the past, this is for you. Here are five areas to choose from to get your year off to a fantastic organized start. Choose one and stay focused on that area until completed. Then move on to another.
Organize Your Mind
With all of the stress in our lives, it can be easy to lose our mindfulness. What do I mean by ‘mindfulness’? Mindfulness is the ability to become an observer of your thoughts and feelings. How many times do you achieve THAT during a workday? Probably not many.
- To organize your mind, it’s vital to set some standard practices to relax your mind. Even exercises to notice your breathing or taking deep breaths several times a day is enough to exercise your mind in an alternative way. Check out an app like 10 Percent Happier for easy ways to set up short breaks of mindfulness in your day.
- We can also give our minds a break by eliminating our desire to multi-task and stay focused on one thing at a time instead. Make a list, or write it down if you’re afraid you’ll forget something so you can let it go and focus on the current task at hand.
- One other idea to keep your mind organized: set a routine of exercise. You don’t have to run marathons or join a zoomba class, but find something that you can do at least several times a week that removes you from your work or family obligations and allows you to experience a different environment for a while. It’s another way to rest your cognitive brain.
Organize Your Time
We all get the same 24 hours in every day. Those who accomplish more done don’t have more time. They manage their time better. Good time management requires firm boundaries that specify how you allocate your time. For example, you may always hold 12-1 pm as a sacred time for lunch or exercise and refuse meetings during that time. There is a saying in coaching:
‘Strong, clear boundaries give strong, clear results. Weak, ambiguous boundaries give weak, ambiguous results.’
Choose your boundaries carefully.
- Blocking time on your calendar each day or during the week allows you to be brutally protective of your schedule. Whether you choose to secure the first hour of each day for planning or Friday afternoons for project work, you can take some control.
- A big time waster is a meeting without an agenda, purpose, or any idea of your role in it. Set a boundary to reject those meetings unless those insufficiencies are corrected. If you cannot mandate it, then meet with the organizer to kindly make these suggestions to optimize everyone’s time. Additionally, when you set a meeting, make it for 45 minutes rather than a full hour. We tend to fill the time allotted, even if we can complete the work in a shorter time period.
- Many people organize their time by putting out fires. However, waiting for everything to be a 911 emergency prevents the critical work from making it on your to-do list. Find a way to prioritize your work so your time will naturally flow to what’s most crucial and urgent.
- Once you have more control of your time, you’ll want to keep it that way. Set aside time during your week to stay organized. Whether it’s 10 minutes to file paper, categorize e-mail, or clean your desk, you’ll develop a tone of organization and control for the coming week.
Organize Your Environment
When we see disorder and chaos, it sends and reinforces a message that our life is disorderly and chaotic. No one wants that. If, instead, we find ways to organize our surroundings to make them look neat, purposeful, pleasant, and orderly, our lives are simplified.
- Choose one area at a time to organize and work on that area until you’ve completed it to your satisfaction. This process doesn’t mean you have to complete six months of filing hours on end with no interruptions until finished. It means you set aside time each day for organizing, and you continue to focus on that filing every day until it’s finished. Then you can tackle another area of your environment as desired.
- If you still deal with paper, as I do, put every piece in its’ place. It doesn’t take long to utilize file folders, include the pieces of paper that fit the defined category, and place the folder in a drawer for easy future reference. Touch a piece of paper only once and take the extra 10 seconds to put it away.
- Decluttering your home and workspace can also do wonders for your mental Outlook. Eliminate what you don’t need or anything that doesn’t bring you joy.
Organize Your Communications
E-mail appears to be a kind of competition in some organizations. Whoever had the most e-mails was the most important. Is it instead, whoever has the most e-mails is the most unorganized?
- The first thing to do to be more organized is to unsubscribe from everything that either doesn’t contribute value or you haven’t looked at in the last six months. You can also set some rules in your platform (like Outlook) to send specified senders to junk. This process will clean up your mailbox and eliminate these distractions. You’ll no longer have the most e-mails in your box!
- Organizing your inbox is an additional necessity. Use folders proactively and move e-mails as you have completed any actions associated, or replied as needed. I have quite an extensive list of folders in my Outlook inbox, and I review them at the start of every year to clear out what’s no longer worth keeping.
- Another communication distraction includes the pop-ups, bells, dings, and swishes of instant messages, e-mails, and calls. To stay organized and focused on what you’re currently doing, turn these off. Check your e-mail at designated times of the day, so you’re not making every message a 911 call. If you reply immediately every time, you are conditioning others to expect that from you always.
Organize Your Breaks
We can’t work like robots. We’re human beings, and we have human needs during every workday.
- Take breaks from your computer screen frequently. The recommendation is 5-10 minutes for every hour of computer work.
- While you’re at it, you might as well get up and take a quick walk or switch to a standing position in this time frame as well.
- Neck rotations, ankle circles, and shoulder shrugs can also help break up the monotonous body positions we’ve all assumed in front of our screens.
Choose one of these areas and work on getting super organized before you attack another. You’ll have everything running smoothly before you know it, and you can focus on your leadership, communications, and other ways to show your value to the organization!
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Lynn Zettler is an Executive and Leadership Coach specializing in helping to create amazing leaders with excellent communication skills, exemplary accountability cultures, and impactful strategic plans.
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