While a messy environment can be quite a turnoff, what can literally turn you off (as in shut you down) is what Organize Your Life principle #2 helps. Before the big reveal, see if you can relate to one of the following:
- Staying awake at night running through the things you’ve got to do – and the things you’re probably forgetting to do
- Missing important deadlines – or cramming at the last minute to meet those deadlines
- Rushing around yet feeling constantly behind
- Wishing to live more in the moment, but in reality, barely making it through the moments
If you can identify with any – or like many of us, ALL! – then the following this principle WILL help:
Organize Your Life principle #2: Do WHAT you need to to WHEN you need to do it.
Pay special attention to the words in ALL CAPS:
WHAT: What are you spending time on? Are you getting the most important things done?
WHEN: Are you getting things done at the optimal time? Or are you having to rush through, pay double, make excuses?
Want to make this work for you? Follow these three (or 3.5) steps:
STEP 1: Get a complete picture of all you have on your plate
Set aside an hour or so of uninterrupted time and gather together everything you have on your plate. (And if you can’t find the time, you really need to do!) Look at:
- existing to-do lists
- things you’re keeping in your head (from errands to phone calls)
- emails & paper (this may take a bit longer depending on how long they’ve been neglected!)
Working with a complete picture makes prioritizing not only easier, but more effective.
For those of you feeling even more overwhelmed, I’ve added in Step 1.5 just for you!
STEP 1.5: At this point if you find yourself thinking, “No wonder I’m overwhelmed. I can’t possibly do all of this -ON TOP of my day-to-day responsibilities!” Cut back on your to-do’s by doing as much of the following as possible:
And in the future: Before adding anything to your calendar or to do list, get in the habit of thinking through – Is it a priority? Do I really want to do? Can it be done in an easier way?
STEP 2: Figure out the best “home” for each
Remember the fork analogy in my last post Organize Your Life Principle 1: HOME: for everything? Think of setting up homes for these categories in the same way:
- Special days (i.e., birthdays)
- Specific to-dos (that come from emails, requests, whatever)
- Recurring to-dos (i.e., paying bills, writing a blog post)
- Papers containing to-do’s (I have use a basket in my kitchen to hold this stuff until I’m ready to go through)
Once you’ve established homes, begin adding to-do’s (etc) in.
NOTE: The best way for YOU varies: paper or virtual – detailed or super simple – visually appealing or simply functional. And feel free to mix and match. For example, I have my appointments in a digital calendar, but love a month-at-a-glance paper calendar for managing key project timelines.
STEP 3: Create a system for maintaining + tweak when needed
Once you’ve established the best places to hold your to-do’s, think of how you’ll maintain it. For example, you may want to immediately add appointments into calendar, but handle paperwork during a weekly home office catch up time.
IMPORTANT! If we aren’t consistent, our minds will still try to hold onto those to-do’s – which turns into mind clutter. Not pretty. Not to mention, it cancels out what we’re trying to do here. So, if you find that things are still falling through the cracks, take a look at what’s going on. Then, tweak to make better suit your needs.
TAKE ACTION NOW! Set aside time now (or schedule in your calendar) to do Steps 1, 2 & 3. And don’t get too caught up in making it ideal. It’s a work in progress. I know this sounds like a lot, but once you get it going I guarantee you’ll feel much more in control.
And that stuff we can’t control? Truly being able to let go of (as best we can) those uncontrollable things … well that’s another powerful, time-saving, mind-clearing strategy. And maybe another down-the-road post!
COMING NEXT: My final – and personal favorite! – Organize Your Life concept