Most of us struggle with getting organized and staying organized, especially with regard to our personal responsibilities. Organization is a bit subjective, of course, since what one person considers to be “organization” could make no sense to someone else. However, there are a few objective strategies you can implement to become (and remain) more organized in your daily life.
Rely on a Central Calendar
Your first priority should be relying on a central source of information. For most people, the best option is relying on a central calendar. You can get a free printable calendar online, so there’s no excuse not to have one.
Having a consolidated source of information will help you in a few ways. First, you’ll have an obvious location where you can write out new appointments and priorities. Second, you’ll always know where to look if you need to check something. Try to get your whole family using the same calendar if you can.
Next, work to declutter your home. A clutter-free home will be much easier to keep organized than one that’s full of disorganized, miscellaneous items. Additionally, the process of decluttering your home will force you to categorize items and make hard decisions; these skills will be valuable in helping you organize the other areas of your life.
Make this process easier by going room by room. Make piles of items based on whether you need them, don’t need them, or are unsure. Then, you can get rid of whatever you don’t need and put away whatever you want to keep.
Have a Place for Everything
Physical organization is much easier when there’s a designated place for everything—half of a famous proverb from the 17th Century. If there isn’t currently a designated spot for an object, consider creating one. For example, you should always put your car keys in the same place in your house; if you don’t have one, get a basket or a hanging hook where they can reside. Each drawer, cabinet, and closet in your house should have a specified function; use labels if you have to.
Create a Routine and Stick to It
You’ll be much more likely to stay organized if you have a set routine and stick to it. Each morning, you should follow the same sequence of events, such as exercising, showering, and making breakfast. The exact order doesn’t matter as much as your consistency.
This consistent pattern will make it much harder to forget the “staple” elements of your routine, and much easier to create time slots for unusual events.
Use Automatic Reminders
Human memory is fallible, and there’s no guarantee you’re going to check your calendar every day. If you want to stay organized despite this, make more use of automatic reminders. Set reminders whenever you schedule a new appointment or whenever you don’t want to forget something; they’ll keep you attentive and mindful.
Make Use of Colors
Many people find it easier to stay organized with color-coded systems. For example, you can flag emails as red if they’re urgent or blue if they’re low priority. You can also use different colored folders or files to keep your documents organized, and mark different kinds of events in your calendar with different colors.
Categorize, File, Record, and Capture Immediately
Whenever you get a new email, a new piece a mail, a new appointment, or any other new piece of information or object in your life, file it away immediately. If you employ a procrastination tactic, like setting your mail on the table or delaying marking up an email, you’re going to increase your chances of remaining disorganized. Take action immediately whenever possible; it usually only takes a minute.
Commit to “cleaning up” the areas of your life most prone to disorganization on a regular basis. For example, you can spend 10 minutes decluttering the house each day, or use your Fridays to reorganize your work priorities. These periodic reorganization periods can keep things from spiraling out of control.
Delegate What You Can
Finally, consider delegating more tasks and responsibilities. When you appoint someone trustworthy to handle the job, you no longer have to worry about organizing it. Depending on whether this is a professional or personal responsibility, you could delegate an item to an employee, an assistant, a partner, or even a child (in some cases).
If you can execute these strategies on a regular basis, you’ll subjectively feel more organized—and you’ll be far less likely to lose track of responsibilities like appointments, tasks, and projects. It’s very tough to change your habits, especially if you’re typically a “disorganized” person, but if you can follow these habits for just a few weeks consistently, it will be much easier to stay on the organized path.