Whether you’re carting kids around from one field to the next, rushing from work to school and back to work again, or racing to multiple meetings a day, you’re always on the go and struggle to stay organized. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. To gain more control over your day and keep things in order, try incorporating these organizational tips into your day.
1. Get up 15 minutes earlier.
Starting your day right is critical. Don’t just hit the ground running. Take some time to clear your mind and prepare for the day.
2. Write out your to-do list.
Use the extra time in your morning to write down everything you need to do that day. Don’t worry about the order, just get it all down.
3. Prioritize the list.
Identify the three most important things and try to do them first, if possible. Consider putting things at the bottom of the list that can wait until tomorrow.
4. Keep your list with you at all times.
Keeping your to-do list on your smart phone is a great way to make it portable and accessible all day long. You can also use the calendar on your lap top or a good old fashioned hand written pocket calendar. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep it with you.
5. Write things down as they come up.
Whether it’s an appointment, another item for your to-do list, your son’s next soccer game, or your client’s next meeting, add it to your list as soon as it comes up. Don’t try to be a super hero and remember everything.
6. Make use of down-time to check your list.
Return to your list throughout the day to make sure you’re staying focused and organized. A great time to do this is while you’re waiting in line for coffee, in the pick-up line at your child’s school or while you’re on hold at work.
7. Expect the unexpected.
There will always be unexpected things that come up. When they do, keep your priorities in the front of your mind and remember that just because something seems urgent doesn’t mean it’s more important.
8. Keep essentials in one place.
You know the important things: your phone, wallet, keys, your newly acquired to-do list and calendar. Keep them all in one place, like your purse or a bag. Make it a habit to keep them all together so that when you’re in a rush, you can grab it quickly and know you have everything you need.
9. Keep your gym bag (or yoga tote) in your car.
If you’re going to the gym or yoga class or any other type of activity, keep a bag of the required gear in your car. That way you’ll be prepared, even if you don’t end up with time to run home first.
10. Use a portable file holder.
If you have tons of paperwork, files, or folders that you have to carry around for classes or meetings, stay organized by keeping it in one place with a portable file holder. Store it in your car so it’s easily accessible.
11. Always carry a phone charger.
The blinking red battery light is a nightmare for busy people. Alleviate the stress and avoid making extra trips by carrying a phone charger on you at all times (the same for your lap top chord). And don’t wait until it’s dead to charge it!
12. Plan ahead.
If you know you’ll have to go straight from work to the soccer field or from yoga to a meeting with your boss, have the appropriate change of clothes in your car or in your bag. Pack them the night before to avoid the extra stress of trying to remember everything in the morning.
13. Do an evening review.
Go over your calendar and to-do list at the end of the day, make adjustments for the morning and write down anything else that might have come up.
14. Put things back in their place.
If you went to the gym and now your gym bag is sitting in the living room, pack some fresh workout clothes and put it back in your car.
15. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You might be organized but you’re not a magician. No one can do it all and sometimes being organized means knowing when and what to delegate, so that you can stay focused on your priorities.
At the end of the day, go easy on yourself. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for getting organized. The most effective system is one that feels right for you and makes things easier, not more complicated. Forget what didn’t work. Take what did work for you today and do it again tomorrow.