You’ve heard the saying “Fake it ’til you make it!” right? You start a new job or have to meet new people, so you act with and project an air of self-confidence even if you’re trembling with fear and nerves inside. People see you as a confident person, and pretty soon you start to feel some of what of they’re seeing. It’s not a magic fix, but each time we ‘fake it’ we get ourselves a step closer to ‘making it’. That same principle applies to organizing too. If you feel more organized you will eventually be more organized. Here are a few things you can do to feel more organized today.
Seven Ways to Feel More Organized Today!
It is amazing how much impact our mood and emotions have on our day to day lives. I know for myself, how I feel on the inside is quickly mirrored by what my home looks like around me. If I’m all over the place or overwhelmed with something, little things get forgotten. Yesterday’s clothes may end up strew across my bedroom floor, forgotten about in my haste to grab a few hours of sleep. Last night’s dishes might be sitting in the sink waiting their turn in the dishwasher because I forgot to make sure the boys did their chores after dinner. I know that pulling myself out of that overwhelmed state, even if it’s just for a moment, can help me turn it all around. Finding a way to trick my brain into thinking things are orderly and organized is often all I need to jump-start my motivation to get organized. I know I’m not the only one who feels scatter-brained and disorganized a lot of the time, so I thought I would share with you my tips for feeling more organized.
1. Write a To-Do List for Today
Grab a pen and some paper and write down a to-do list. Even if you’re more of a digital person, I strongly encourage you to use pen and paper for this step. Write To-Do and the date at the top of the page and then jot down everything you think you need to do today. Don’t think about it too much, just write down anything that comes to mind in terms of what you feel you need to do today. Some things might seem silly, but it’s important to write them down. As you’re jotting things down, if you know something is super important and must get done that day, put a star beside it if you want to.
The act of writing down your to-dos helps to get them out of your head. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, we all have a running to-do list taking up space in our head and even if we aren’t aware of it, it can cause us to feel more scattered or overwhelmed than need be. I don’t want you to look at the list as things you need to do. I want you to look at that list and see a plan for the day. A rough plan or draft if you prefer, but a plan!
2. Cross Items Off that List
Quick, grab a red pen! Look at your list with a critical eye. If you didn’t star any items when you wrote the list, I want to star some now. Just the ones that absolutely MUST be done, like pay the mortgage or go to the doctor’s. These starred items should be things that directly affect other people, or would have a very negative effect on you or family if they don’t get done.
Now, still using that red pen, cross off anything that you may have already done. Maybe I’m the odd-ball, but whenever I do this exercise I end up writing things down that I’ve already done. It’s amazing to see the things that stick in your head. Like ‘pack the boys lunch’, even though it’s afternoon and they are already at school. Their lunches are apparently something my brain worries over. Take a moment and appreciate that you have already crossed off some items. Doesn’t it feel good to know that you’re already accomplishing things today?
With those items crossed off, it’s now time to focus on what is left. I want you to start crossing off things you don’t really need to worry about, or things that are just a part of your routine, but somehow made it onto the list. I’ll use dinner for an example: You have cook dinner on your list, do you need to pull something out from the freezer? Go pull it out now and cross cook dinner off your list. Sure you still need to actually cook the meal, but are you really going to forget to cook dinner? Sometimes the items we write down don’t actually need to be on our list.
Take a look at what is left on your list. If there are more than seven items left, think about each task and ask yourself if it absolutely MUST be done today. If your answer is no, jot them down on a separate piece of paper and cross them off your list. You’ve now started tomorrow’s plan! Woo hoo, how awesome is that! The ideal number of items to have on a to-do list is seven or less. Seven seems to be a magical number. It’s large enough to feel like we’ve been productive, and small enough that we’re not overwhelmed by all we have to do. It’s also easier to remember seven things than it is to remember more, meaning we’re less likely to forget the items left on our list.
Throughout the day, whenever you’re feeling scattered or overwhelmed, or just need a reminder that you’re on track, take a look at this list and all those red lines that have crossed items off. Just seeing tasks crossed off a list is enough to make us feel like we’re on top of things. And if you want to boost that feeling, tackle one of those starred items!
3. Tidy Your Papers
You would be amazed at how this simple step can make you feel. Tidy the papers on your desk or work surface. I don’t mean sort, file and organize them, I just simply mean put them together in a neat pile. Seriously, that’s it! The act of clearing your work surface will make the whole area feel more pulled together, which in turn will make you feel more organzied. Yes, it is just an illusion, but this is not about being organized, it is simply about feeling more organized. Remember, ‘fake it ’til you make it’. If you have the time, or feel the desire to sort those papers, by all means go for it, but don’t make it the priority right now.
4. Sort Your Mail
Do you have a stack or pile of mail waiting to be sorted. Here’s a quick way to tackle it. If it’s junk toss in the recycle bin or better yet, shred it! Take the remaining pieces of mail and divide them into neat stacks per family member, and call it done. Yes, you do need to open, read and take action where needed with your mail, but for right this moment, enjoy the fact that it is organized and waiting for you when you have the time to deal with it. Remember that second list I mentioned in tip number 2? Jot down open, read and act on mail, to that second list. Now, not only have your sorted your mail, you’ve made a plan to deal with it. Doesn’t it feel awesome?
5. Basket Pick Up
Sometimes the daily ‘clutter’ in our lives can add to our feelings of being scattered and unorganized. A few years ago, when we lived in our tiny little house I discovered a trick that worked wonders for helping me feel more organized, and helping our home look more organized. Grab a laundry basket and start at one end of the home and work towards the other. (or pick a room or two if you have a large home) Anything that does not belong in that space goes into the basket. That’s it! Set the basket in a place you won’t forget about it and go take a slow walk through the rooms again and enjoy them without all the clutter. Don’t worry about putting all that stuff away right now. Make it game later on with your kids, and see who can put away the most things. Or use it to start a daily/weekly family challenge, to see who has the least amount of items in the basket that week.
6. Bus Your Kitchen
When you walk into most restaurants usually ( and hopefully) the tables are all clear and set nicely. Everything looks neat and orderly and just plain ole visually appealing. What you don’t see, is the dirty dishes in the kitchen piled into bus bins waiting to be sent through the dishwasher. Take a tip from the restaurant industry and bus your kitchen. Grab a bin, and neatly stack all the dirty dishes from your sink or counters into the bin. If you need to, scrape any food left on them into the garbage. Now take a rag and your favourite all-purpose cleaner and clean your counters and sink. That’s it, don’t worry about the dishes at the moment. Plan to either delegate the task of dealing with them to someone else, or empty the bin while dinner is cooking or if you have a free moment later on. For now, enjoy your tidy and refreshed kitchen and know you have plan for dealing with the rest later.
7. Put on Your Bra
When a friend of mine was a new mom we used to talk quite a bit about how hard it is to get stuff done when you have a new little baby to take care, or when you don’t actually have to get up and go anywhere. One day she was really trying to figure out why it was so hard for her, a naturally organized person, to get anything done. Then one week she called me up and she was all excited. She was getting things done, her days were much more productive, and no baby wasn’t sleeping through the night yet. When I asked her where she got the energy from she said “My bra!” Understandably I was a little confused, and wondering what sort of bra she was wearing, and ok, for a moment, I wondered where I could get me one of those. She figures it was all in her head, but for her, putting a bra on in the morning was a signal to her brain that it was ‘go’ time. And I think she’s right, it was all in her head. Years of working outside the home created an ingrained, subconscious connection between getting dressed and getting stuff done. She was telling me that the first thing she used to do when she got home from work was to get changed into something comfy. Another subconscious signal built up over time, this time signaling relaxation time. By choosing comfy yoga pants and a t-shirt (sans bra) over jeans and a blouse (with bra) she was sending herself mixed signals and her brain never really, fully acknowledged that it was ‘go’ time!
Maybe for you it might be something different. Fly Lady for example, suggests that you get dressed to shoes. Getting dressed isn’t enough in her opinion, you need to have shoes (preferably lace up ones) on to feel fully ready to tackle the day. Take a few minutes to think about what makes you feel productive, or makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe it’s wearing a great shirt, or putting on earings. Perhaps it’s something super simple like swiping on lip gloss or mascara. Maybe it’s taking a few extra minutes to do something with your hair other than throwing it up into a pony tail. Maybe you feel more organized and less scattered when you have music playing. Whatever that thing might be for you, go do it.
For me it’s opening the blinds and curtains, and on warm days throwing open the windows. I don’t know why, but being able to look out the windows and have fresh air circulating through the house makes me want to get stuff done. It’s something simple, but it makes a world of difference to how I feel, and that in turn makes me more productive.
These tips are not about being more organized, they are simply to help you FEEL more organized. Sometimes we need to feel something before we can take the steps to be something. That little pick-me-up to our mood, or boost to the confidence when we’re feeling low can be the seed from which big changes grow. Taking a little step here, a little step there will get us to our destination just fine. So if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, scattered and unorganized, just remember – Fake it ’til you make it! Or try some of the suggestions above to help you feel more in control. The rest will follow.