by Joan Findley-Perls
I am not naturally an organized person. I wasn't taught organization at a young age and I spent my youth fighting a tide of disorganization. I was almost always late for appointments and events, I turned in homework late more often than on time and I missed out on opportunities because of my seeming inability to get and stay organized. As a young mother, I was never able to get on top of the mess created by family life. I paid my bills late and my bank account got overdrawn on a regular basis. Getting ready for school and work in the mornings was not a happy experience. I wouldn't be able to find the kids shoes, my purse or car keys. The blouse I thought I would wear needing ironing because it was in my "to be ironed" pile and frequently either one of my kids or I would end up in tears. Really, it was a waking nightmare.
I have alway felt that I can do anything once I set my mind to it, so finally, I decided to learn how to get organized. I read everything I could find on organizing methods and I started to implement some of those methods in my home office. I cleared out things that I didn't use or that belonged in another room. I cleaned and painted and got some stylish organizing items for my desktop for pens, paperclips and paperwork. Then I put up shelves and created a place for everything and I put everything in its place. When I was done it looked like something out of a magazine!
"There!" I thought, "Now I'm organized!" Unfortunately, that didn't last. Within a week, there were piles of paperwork on my desk, along with cups of cold coffee, kids artwork and unopened mail, both for my business and for my household. No problem! I had a place for everything so I put everything in its place. Once again my office looked pretty good, except for the unopened mail and a couple of piles of paper. Over the next couple of weeks it deteriorated again but worse this time. Getting it back in shape was a fairly major task. I repeated this cycle of going from extreme organization to chaos and then, with a herculean effort, back again. I had also gotten organized in other rooms of my house and the same problem was occurring in all of them.
I was failing and I felt pretty bad about myself. I was in danger of giving up and resigning myself to a life of unwanted chaos. What I didn't know is that staying organized is born of frequent regular good habits and not a once-in-a-while thing. After yet more reading and research I began forming daily habits to stay organized. I started small with a couple of new habits until they were easy and routine and then I would add another until I was keeping my home and office neat and tidy with seemingly little effort. I felt so good about the new me and I start doing things I had never before had the time or energy for. It has had a huge impact on my life!
I present some daily habits for three different parts of your day; Morning routine to do at home, day time routine to do at work or as part of your household management and an evening routine to do after dinner and before bed.
I believe that your morning routine should be easy and short so that you can get out the door and get started on your day quickly and easily. That said, I do believe these two items are very important to getting off to a good start.
1. Make your Bed
I know, I know! It sounds cliché, but it's a small thing that make a big impact. Studies have shown that a higher percentage of people who make their beds are happy than people who don't. There is the chicken and egg question but I put the theory to the test on myself, formerly being a non-bed-maker. What I found was when I walk into my bedroom and the bed is unmade, it feels like the room is a chore and I'm a bit anxious. But when I walk into my bedroom with a made bed, it feels like the room is my sanctuary and I get a feeling of serenity and calm.
Scientific studies have also shown that making your bed everyday and having an organized
environment can positively impact our mental state. In 2014 Admiral William McRaven gave an inspiring commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin in which I spoke eloquently about making your bed every day:
You can watch the whole inspiring speech here.
2. Clean Up After Your Breakfast
Whatever your morning routine, whether you just drink coffee or cook a full on breakfast, clean up your dishes and wipe down the counters. When you come into your kitchen at the end of a work day, you won't have to clean up a mess and are more likely to enjoy preparing dinner.
The following habits are helpful whether you are at work or just managing your life.
1. Review your Calendar
The advantage to having a calendar is the you plan your time and then you can put the planning out of your thoughts to free your mind for more creative or important tasks. Checking your calendar at the start of your day will help you keep a mental image of your day to come and help keep you on track.
2. Review your To Do List
This may be something you keep in your calendar or separately. Having one will have a several beneficial effects; It will help you prioritize, it will keep you on task throughout the day and as new tasks come up, you can add them to the list immediately and don't have to rely on your memory. As you check items off of your list it will give you a sense of accomplishment. It's important to occasionally look back and see how much you've gotten done.
3. Open and Address E-mail/mail
Open your e-mail and mail at a scheduled time every day. Open each piece of email and mail, discard the junk and answer/address every item that isn't junk. You will never miss an important piece of mail or information and will never have to spend chunks of time catching-up on neglected missives. Scheduling it at the same time every day will make it easier to keep you from checking your mail frequently throughout the day and getting side tracked when you should be doing other things.
4. Put everything in its place
Toward the end of your work day clean up your work area and put everything away. This will give you a clean slate on which to start your day tomorrow.
5. Plan the day for tomorrow
Sit down with your calendar and to-do list and plot out your schedule for tomorrow. This will help you let go of work at the end of the ay and change gears so that you can enjoy your evening.
These are tasks to bring your day to a peaceful close and to help the following day begin with ease.
1. Put away and lay out your clothes
Some people like to change out of their work clothes when they get home, some wait until after dinner or when they go to bed to change. Whatever your timing, take the time to hang up the clothes that you will wear again, put dirty clothes into the laundry and set out your clothes for tomorrow. This will make tomorrow morning go more smoothly. When you wake up you won't have to think about what to wear and your room will already be tidy.
2. Do the Dishes
Make sure the dishes get cleaned up after dinner and after evening snacks. This is part of putting your day to bed and not leave any mess to be dealt with in the morning. Dirty dishes in the sink when you wake up in the morning are like a hang-over, and a really bad way to start the day.
3. Put everything in its place
Before you go to bed go around your home, pick up and put everything in its place. This is another way to button up your day and not leave anything from today to deal with tomorrow. This allows you to start each day with a clean, fresh slate.
I would love to hear what you think of these ideas and let me know if you implement them, how it works out for you. Please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!