Ever wonder if maybe you were out sick the day your class learned how to get organized? Or maybe you figure that organized people were born that way and you’re just going to have to muddle through chaos for the rest of your life.
The fact is that anyone can learn to get organized by watching what other people do and then imitating them. I guarantee that if you regularly act like an organized person, you will soon become one over time. The key is to catch yourself in what I call a “disorganizing” habit and ask yourself: What would an organized person do?
To get you started down the path to a simpler life, here are nine habits of organized people that you can make your own through daily practice.
Don’t just put things down; put them away
The next time you start to set something down, stop. and ask yourself: Is this where it belongs? It only takes a few moments to put something away versus hours to put away the piles that otherwise accumulate.
Question every “thing”
It’s easier to get organized—and stay organized—when you have less stuff. Consider how each item serves you. Aim to surround yourself with only those things you love and use. Let go of the rest.
Get in the habit of doing routine things in a routine way. When you enter your home, for example, where do you put your coat or purse? To create a new habit like making your bed every morning, do it right after something you always do like brushing your teeth.
Map out your day
Determine your top three most important things to do each day. Then schedule blocks of time to complete each one. Take advantage of free apps such as Wunderlist or Any.do to keep track of your master to-do list.
Build in buffer time
Leave some buffer time between activities (say 30 minutes) to accommodate unexpected delays such as weather, mechanical problems or traffic jams.
Are you always scrambling at the last minute to hit deadlines? Whether you’re packing for a move or hosting a party, plan to have as much as possible done as early as possible. Do at least one thing every day that moves you closer to getting everything done on time.
Just as driving too fast can result in an accident, hurrying through projects and tasks can sometimes result in costly mistakes. Avoid do-overs and unnecessary expense by slowing down.
It’s possible to manage multiple projects and tasks—just not all at the same time. Give your full attention to the task at hand, whether it’s driving, preparing dinner or having a phone conversation.
Know when to say no
When your calendar is already full, saying yes to another task, project or event often means saying “no” to something you really wanted to do. If you find it difficult to say no, simply ask if you can think about it. It will be easier to say no later. Try it.