How the Unorganized Organize

How to stay organized

Organization is not one of my natural abilities. Except for sorting laundry, it’s an area of my personal and professional life where I’ll always need a little help.

Personally, I just bought a Rubbermaid® closet system that, according to the picture, will allow me to seamlessly collate every piece of my wardrobe (we’ll see). Professionally, I just started using a new tool called CoSchedule to help organize Proof’s editorial calendar, which has already saved steps and worked wonders for our busy group.

Here’s the thing, some people were born to color-coordinate their assets and revel in weekend trips to The Container Store®. I just don’t fall into that category, but I do recognize that mess leads to stress. Here’s my very basic action plan for jumping on the “structured” bandwagon:

  • Organize your thoughts first. Before you hit the pavement in the morning, take a few moments and think about your overarching goals for the day (regardless of how many meetings you have or how many interruptions you anticipate). Include personal milestones as well. As silly (and perhaps unappealing) as it sounds, work-life and home-life can actually balance one another when you create a general plan for them.  Dinner at 6? That means I can’t waste any time from 8-5.
  • Clean up your mess. Whether it’s in your house, your car, or your desk, tidy up your space and let that freedom energize your day. My mom used to tell me that making up my bed would set the tone for the rest of the day. It took me almost 25 years to recognize she was right.
  • Learn to use a calendar…efficiently. This might be a given for most, but I skipped the printed planner years and avoided Google calendars for as long as possible. Now I work in an environment where it’s essential to plan out most hours of my day. Plus, there are tons of calendar apps to choose from – pick your poison.
  • Collaborate. My coworker left town this week and we took some time to go over where we were in current projects. Guess what? I missed a few things. All of the tools and scheduled blocks of time won’t guarantee you all-star organization status. Connect with others (especially if you work on a team) to gain perspective around prioritizing your to-do list.

I won’t be alphabetizing my pantry any time soon, but I will be collecting my thoughts each morning, doing some light cleaning, checking my calendar, and communicating with my colleagues to make the most out of, not only my time, but my clients’ time, my coworkers’ time, and my family’s time. I may not love to organize, but I hate being wasteful – especially with time.

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