An Organized Mindset Is Many a Times the Single Difference Between the Unsuccessful and the Successful.
We all know that person we call Mr. or Ms. Organized. Somebody who meets all their deadlines without ever seeming stressed — often even a couple of days before the work’s even due. They appear to be effortlessly successful. Wouldn’t we all love to be like them. Well, guess what. If we focus on just a few habits, we can.
That’s right. Follow a few simple steps — and then turn them into habits. And you’ll see it isn’t that hard. And that pretty soon, Mr. or Ms Organized can be you.
The top talent of organized people is to save time when they can. Why not switch to the video version of this article and save some for yourself?
With that out of the way, let’s hail towards today’s article.
Set up Routines — and Follow Them
When you’ve got emails to answer, bills to pay, friendships to keep up, your home life and health to look after — and on top of those, all your work-related tasks — staying on top of it all can be a tall order.
So how do organized people do it? They have a well thought out routine to help them.
That routine starts in the morning — getting up in good time to get washed, dressed and have breakfast, and then start work according to schedule. And it may have slots in the day for checking those emails that pile up, and anything else you need to take regular care of, without interrupting time set aside for your main work tasks. As well as time to rest and recharge your batteries in the evening.
The great thing is, once you’ve got a routine going, you just follow it — almost like you’re on autopilot. And it takes care of itself.
Have a to-Do List Ready at the Start of Every Day
Organized people know exactly what they want to achieve on any given day. That’s because it’s on their do-do-list. Having a list of tasks you’ve prioritized, and can tick off one by one once they’re done gives you focus. And a way of knowing the day’s been successful.
You can keep it on your phone or laptop. You can use one of many apps that help you do this. Or you can do it the old-fashioned way and put it on a pen and paper.
And really organized people stay well ahead of the game and know what tasks are lined up a day or two in advance. And they have an idea of how the coming days and even weeks are shaping up, so they can plan ahead.
Prioritize and Do First Things First
So, you’re about to put your to-do-list together. The question is — how do you decide what goes on it? Organized people know what’s most important and put that on the top of their list. And they don’t procrastinate. They just get on and do it.
And here’s another tip for how to prioritize. If you’ve got a few equally important jobs to get done, do the one you least like first. Whether it’s calling that difficult customer; doing those boring accounts; or cleaning the bathroom; get the worst job out the way first. Once you’ve done that, the rest of the day gets easier, and you’re already on top of things.
Don’t Let Things Pile Up
Disorganized people let tasks build up, until there’s such a huge pile of them they just can’t manage them anymore.
So don’t let things pile up in the first place. That means those hundred emails you haven’t replied to or even read. It means that list of half-done and long overdue tasks. That list of jobs applications you wanted to send, but missed the deadline for. And that pile of dirty dishes in your sink.
How are organized people so good at not letting it all build up? Well, if you’ve been paying attention, you might have figured it out — because we’ve already told you. They either have a slot for it in their routine, like the slot we mentioned for checking emails. Or the moment they see things are starting to build up, they take early action, and put it on their to-do-list.
A weak focus will load your pile of “to-dos” with more tasks everyday. Here are 15 Ways To Build FOCUS and always stand ahead of your responsibilities.
Go for Simple Solutions
There’s a well-known acronym that’s used in business, design, and other fields too. KISS — keep it simple, stupid. Don’t use a complicated solution when a simple one will do just fine.
Don’t put fifty slides in a PowerPoint when you can get all the information across in just three. And don’t take an hour to do it when you could manage it in five minutes. Don’t spend a hundred dollars when you could have spent ten. And don’t schedule a meeting when it could have been an email.
If you’re looking for tips on how to cut out the complications, and get things done in the simplest, most effective way possible, we recommend you read the Four-Hour Work Week. In it, Timothy Ferriss explains how he managed to cut out all the crap so he could run a successful business, only putting in — you guessed it — four hours a week.
And you can even cut out the complication of taking a trip to your bookstore to find a copy. We’ve made it as easy as possible for you Aluxers — with some help from our friends at Audible. You can download the audiobook, just by clicking on alux.com/freebook. Even better — if it’s your first purchase from Audible, you’ll get it free. If that isn’t keeping things simple, we don’t know what is.
Nobody has a perfect memory. And the best of us will forget to make that call back at 2:15 when we have other things on. The difference is, organized people know they don’t have perfect memories. That’s why they set alarms and reminders.
Just like making your to-do-list, how you do it doesn’t matter. It could be anything from an alarm on your phone, to old-fashioned post-it notes on your desk, or on the fridge. Just remember, next time you promise somebody you’ll call them at 12:15 sharp — make a note of it and put it somewhere you’ll see it.
Put Everything Where It Belongs
There’s an old saying – ‘have a place for everything and everything in its place’. That’s something organized swear by — even if they don’t use those exact words.
Whether it’s a place for your socks in the closet, a place for your power tools in the garage, or a folder on your desktop or on the cloud where you put that document you’ve been working on — everything has a place. That way you’ll be able to find it when you need it. You’ll also know where to put it back when you’re finished with it, and don’t leave it out cluttering the place up. And remember — clutter’s bad. It doesn’t just make you waste time looking for stuff — research shows that having lots of clutter also makes you more stressed and less productive.
For more ideas on how to stop things piling up, and to avoid clutter, check out our video ’15 Ways to Declutter Your Life’.
Keep All the Essentials Handy
So, those power tools we just mentioned that you only use twice a year — they have their special place at the back of a cupboard in the garage, well out of sight. What about the things you need on a regular basis? They should always be handy — so you don’t waste time going into the back of that closet five times a day.
If that’s pen and paper, keep them nearby at all times. If you’re going out and think your phone might run out of battery, take your charger with you.
In fact, this is an easy way to spot someone who’s disorganized. They’re the one who’s always asking to borrow a pen and paper, or a mobile charger. And the person who always has a charger on them — yep, that’s the organized one.
Do Regular Maintenance
In other words, don’t wait for the problem to happen before you put in the effort to fix it.
Don’t wait for your computer to crash every five minutes before you get it checked. Don’t wait ‘til your clothes are shabby and worn out until you go clothes shopping. And the same goes for your health and health check-ups. Don’t wait ‘til you get a serious health problem to start taking care of your health.
What it comes down to, is that organized people anticipate potential problems. It’s why they get their computer checked — and going back to the last point it’s also why they remember to take their phone charger with them.
Cut Out the Everyday Decisions That Waste Time
This is something to work on if you always find yourself wasting time figuring out where to go or what to get for lunch. Have a meal plan in place, so you don’t need to waste all that time. And you’ll save money on food too.
Another example of cutting out those time-wasting decisions is what Mark Zuckerberg does with his wardrobe. He only wears black t-shirts, so he doesn’t have to think about what to wear in the morning — but you probably don’t need to go to that extreme.
The point is, anything you feel you’re always wasting time on making pointless decisions — figure out a system to solve them quicker.
Get Good at Estimating How Long Tasks Will Take
This is something a lot of people are bad at. When they’re late for the five hundredth time, it’s like a red sign hanging round them, telling the world how disorganized they are.
We’re talking about your colleague who always says they’ll get the job done on Monday – but three days later it still hasn’t arrived. Or that friend who always says they’ll be there in ten minutes. But half an hour later they’re still nowhere in sight.
Organized people make realistic estimates of how long things will take them. That’s how they meet their deadlines. If it isn’t your strong point, it’s something you can improve without that much effort. Any time you set yourself a job to do, take a moment to think how long it took you last time you did something similar. Be realistic — and even give yourself a little room for error.
This way you’ll deliver on time. Even better, you’ll get a reputation for being reliable, and won’t find yourself behind schedule all the time.
Don’t Leave Tasks Half Done
Here’s another reason disorganized people always end up with a backlog of tasks. They’ve actually started a lot of them. But they either gave up halfway through or put them off for another day.
Organized people have the drive to get through the job until it’s done. They finish work with the satisfaction of knowing it’s a job well done. And the peace of mind that comes with ticking off a load of boxes and having a clear to-do-list.
Filter Out the Unimportant Stuff
This is something we need to be good at when we’re constantly getting bombarded by messages, calls and all kinds of notifications.
Disorganized people are more likely to get sidetracked by every notification that comes in — regardless of how important and urgent it is. And ten after they got distracted by their devices, there’s a good chance they’ll still be on them scrolling Facebook.
Organized people get unimportant or non-urgent notifications too. They just resist the urge to get sidetracked. If it’s important but can wait until later, they make a note to deal with it then.
That’s because they know how important it is to stay on task. And when they’re on task, they can block out the stuff that doesn’t matter right now.
Know How to De-Stress
No matter how good we are at focusing, we all need to take breaks. Regularly. They help us recharge our batteries, see the bigger picture after we’ve been down grappling with the details, and allow us to refocus. Organized people know how to do this — but they also know how not to let the break go on for too long.
And something else organized people often do — they set themselves rewards for getting the task done. That could be a break. It could be spoiling themselves with their favourite food or a movie. Having a reward lined up motivates you to get your tasks finished. And remember what we said about not leaving tasks half done? If there’s a reward waiting for you at the end — that will give you the extra push to get it done and dusted.
Have an Optimistic Mindset
Organized people tend to have an optimistic, can-do attitude. It’s what makes them know they can get things done. It gives them that get-up-and-go to tackle problems head-on
And that kind of positive thinking doesn’t have to be something you’re born with. It can be a choice. And the best thing — it’s self-reinforcing. When you feel positive, and believe you can do things, that mindset helps you succeed in doing them. And once you succeed, you’ll believe in yourself that bit more— and it reinforces your positive thinking. So trust yourself that you can do it — and have that optimistic mindset.
Question. Which traits do you think are the most important for being well-organized? Do let us know in the comments below. We are always interested to learn from what Aluxers have to say.