Fourteen-year-old me would laugh at the idea of ever passing on advice about how to get organised.
I was the classic teenager, hoarding mementoes from cinema trips, concerts, swing tags from Topshop and Miss Selfridge, and aside from my very neglected school diary that I only had because they gave us them each year, wasn’t very on top of things until long after I left Uni and the school system.
But being thrown into the Real World, holding down a job, writing a blog, having plans with friends, booking in gym classes, eventually running my own business, wanting to marathon Making A Murderer without interruption, etc. (I could go on, but you get the gist: we’re all doing things) meant I quickly needed to navigate a way in which I could set myself up for success. I don’t like wasting time, though I do enjoy procrastinating, so I became a classic multi-tasker, spreading myself thinly on too many tasks each day. Heck, I’d even attempt to read books while watching a TV series!
It seems fairly straightforward, but the best way to get organised is to make time to do so. Set aside a chunk of time that you will devote to getting sh!t done.
If you’re anything like me, you struggle to focus on just one thing but over the weeks, it’ll become second nature to sit down at your dining table/desk/windowsill and get your ducks in a row. And soon after that, you’ll find you have more time than ever to play with!
Take a look in your iCal, paper diary or whatever ‘organisation’ system you currently use. I prefer to bullet journal.
Where are the gaps? And what do you really use them for? Are you popping Netflix on for 2 hours, 5 times a week? Are you giving yourself some time to relax but actually end up reading emails and getting odds and ends done? Label all of these.
I know I personally was giving myself plenty of time to ‘read/Netflix/relax/do my nails/deep condition my hair’ but I wasn’t defining any of them, which actually meant I had no time at all.
I’d start off by reading for 5 minutes, get distracted and decide to watch 2 minutes of yet-another-Friends-episode, before thinking, ‘hey, I need to food shop tomorrow, what’s in the fridge?’. Before I knew it, my free time was up and I hadn’t managed to do anything properly, just a little of a lot.
Lists on lists
I utilise to-do lists in several ways. First, a master to-do list where I brain dump everything I need and want to do in a week. This ends up looking a bit nuts and includes all of the little things, including ‘wrap presents’ and ‘sort through skincare cabinet’. Write it all on there.
Next, siphon it out. Take your weekly planner — digital or analog — and start moving the tasks out between the days and cross them off the master list as you go. Ideally, you don’t want more than 4 or 5 items on a day. Can’t fit it in? Leave it on the master list. This will become your ‘added’ list, a bonus if you manage to tick everything off your main days. I find this method of minimising tasks really helps to tackle overwhelm, and I usually manage to get to the extra items anyway.
I also make lists for my groceries (I add everything from my meal plan onto it, then go to the kitchen and tick things off, before taking the list to the supermarket), which helps to ease the guilt of not having food in and reducing the pre-dinner manic supermarket dash.
Do it as you go!
While I appreciate that many of you reading this post are possibly in a state of complete disorganisation, my main tip is to get on top of your organisation (remember it takes 21 days to form a habit!) and then continue as you mean to go on.
Once you’re on top of your diarising tactics and have gotten into a routine of sitting down with a diary, planning meetings/gym classes and sessions/meals with friends, it’s satisfying to keep the cogs turning and the momentum going. I love nothing more than my Sunday afternoon planning sessions. And don’t feel guilty about taking 5-10 minutes out in your day (working or otherwise) to just get on top of your diary and to-do list.