Have you ever noticed that when you are disorganized life seems more chaotic and stressful? This experience often makes it difficult to know what to focus on or tackle first in an effort to regain a sense of calm and control. It’s frustrating to be late for work because you forgot an early meeting or to have to dig through a pile of papers to find the forms for a doctor appointment at the time you should be leaving the house. When I am disorganized, I find myself feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and off balance. The only way I can feel more settled and ready to face my day is by taming the Beast of Disorganization.
Here are two reasons why being organized helps you feel better:
It frees up time. Time is a very precious resource that can never be renewed. When you organize your mind and your physical surroundings you will be better equipped to identify what needs to get done and create a system to help you complete tasks efficiently. Having your life organized also helps to eliminate worry, frustration, and confusion. The time you save by being organized provides greater opportunity for engaging in the activities you enjoy most.
It decreases stress. Although you can never eliminate all stress from your daily life, good organization habits increases efficiency making the process of task completion much less difficult. It frees your mind to prioritize, avoid distractions, and make good decisions more quickly. The time you spend getting organized will more than make up for the emotional resources you will expend trying to manage chaos.
Most of us are not born organized, but we learn by observation and experience and then cultivate our own habits to keep life in order. If you grew up in a chaotic environment or if you have struggled with staying organized in the past, I want you to ditch the belief that you are just a “disorganized person” and there’s no hope for improvement. If you apply the following three strategies, they will help you start integrating healthy habits into your life, which will save you time and reduce your stress:
Write Things Down. Trying to hold all your ideas, responsibilities and plans in your mind will not help you stay organized. The more you are trying to remember, the more likely it is that your brain will file some things away for “later” or delete them altogether. This a recipe for forgetfulness or the sinking feeling that you “dropped the ball”, which can trigger a sense of failure and discouragement. The key is to write down grocery lists, work tasks, important appointments, special events, etc. This doesn’t involve jotting down cryptic notes on random scraps of paper that can easily get lost! Whether you use your phone, computer, calendar, or planner, choose one primary location for storing your information and be consistent.
Do a Brain Dump. When you try to store and remember everything in your brain, you will likely have trouble shutting off your thoughts in order to relax or sleep at night. I have found that by engaging in a daily “Brain Dump” exercise each night I’m able to free my mind from the unnecessary burden of remembering what needs to be done. What to-do items didn’t get done today? What projects need attention? Who has a birthday coming up? If I don’t want these important commitments and responsibilities to rob me of a good night sleep I “dump” them onto my calendar or list so I can rest easy, knowing the Beast of Disorganization won’t lose them overnight.
The Brain Dump method can also be used first thing in the morning. As you write out your list of things you want to remember and accomplish for that day, prioritize them into Must-Do and Want-To-Do items. This will help you identify the order in which you will complete them and will provide motivation to get those things done in order to have time for the more enjoyable things you want to do.
Don’t procrastinate. It’s funny how the simplest tasks, like calling to make a doctor’s appointment or schedule a service, can be put off for days or even weeks because it feels like it will take too long. We tell ourselves, “I will do it later.” Though it may not be at the forefront of your mind, it is taking up space in your mind and creating stress. The longer you wait to do something, the more difficult it will be and the more it will weigh on you. If you want to experience less stress, get organized now! Taking a few minutes to list and prioritize your daily tasks, events and appointments and then knocking them out will lift unnecessary emotional weight and pressure.
So, to tame the Beast of Disorganization, write down everything you need or want to do, tackle each item in order of priority, and commit to follow through and get it done! When you apply these steps to organization over time you will allow yourself to experience a much greater level of life satisfaction.
Live, Work and Relate Well!