Disorganization is costly. Whether you’re at home or in the office, it’s stressful to be always looking for something. Organized people don’t have that stress.
Studies have found that reducing clutter eliminates 40 percent of housework in the average home. The average office employee spends over an hour each day looking for things. Nearly one-in-four adults (23 percent) say they’re late paying their bills just because they lose them.
The good news? You don’t have to be another statistic. You can become much more organized by following these six tactics of well organized people.
1. They have morning and evening rituals.
Morning and evening rituals keep you from stumbling around mindlessly throughout the day. As a result, you’ll be more productive and successful. The daily rituals that organized folks practice include:
Waking up before everyone else to prepare their day without being pulled into a million different directions.
Not checking their phone immediately to avoid getting lost in emails and social media.
Doing something they enjoy, such as reading a book or meditating, to clear their minds. They only do this for around ten minutes though.
Completing tasks in the same order. For example, they brush their teeth, then take a shower. Casey Osmundson on PrettyOrganized.com advises, “The more you practice completing a task, the less you’ll have to consciously think about each step. What once seemed like a challenge will soon feel more like second nature.”
Identifying three things for a successful day. “Organized people think through their days,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. “They determine the three things that would make them feel like the day was a success. They then figure out to schedule those things throughout the day.”
Setting realistic learning goals. They just add one thing at a time. They also limit the number of tasks that need to be completed.
Preparing the night before. Regardless if it’s lunch, their wardrobe or a presentation, planning out their day the night before prevents scuttling around.
Tweaking their to-do-lists. To-do-lists are started the night before and are adjusted in the morning if new priorities developed overnight.
They “eat the frog.” They complete the task that they don’t want to do first thing in morning. This allows them to have a productive day since it’s not weighing them down.
– De-clutter. Before leaving for work they make sure the house is clean so they can come home and relax. They also tidy up their their workplace at the end of the day. Doing so ensures that they won’t waste time looking for misplaced items.
2. They clear their brain.
“Shift the burden of organizing from our brains to the external world,” writes Daniel J. Levitin. “Writing them down gets them out of your head. This clears your brain of the clutter that is interfering with being able to focus on.”
Organized individuals keep to-do-lists, for example, in one spot so they won’t forget anything. They don’t spread their lists across notepads, post-its or tablet. As an added perk, this also reduces anxiety.
Once everything has been written down on a list, you want divide it into 4 categories. According “Getting Things Done,” these categories are: “Do it, Delegate it, Defer it, and Drop it.”
This works because it deactivates “rehearsal loops.”
Letvin explains that when there’s important items — like a to-do item on our mind we’re afraid we’ll forget it. “So our brain rehearses it, tossing it around and around in circles in what are called the rehearsal loop. This is a network of brain regions that ties together the frontal cortex.”
“The problem is that it works too well, keeping items in rehearsal until we attend to them. Writing them down gives both implicit and explicit permission to the rehearsal loop to let them go. The the brain can relax its neural circuits so that we can focus on something else.”
Research shows that when things are left unfinished we worry. The solution? Write everything down.
Related: The Number 1 Rule to Get Things Done
3. They downsize.
Why spend the time and energy organizing possessions that you no longer need or want? Organized individuals set aside the time to periodically purge. Tossing clothing that no longer fits you or notes from completed tasks prevents clutter from building up over.
But, this isn’t just a one-time occurrence. Organized individuals constantly evaluate their belongings. If it’s no longer working for them they ditch it. This avoids marathon purging sessions since they de-clutter in small doses.
4. They make use of tools, technology and furniture.
Anything from kitchen timers, time tracking tools, apps like Evernote and multipurpose furniture are used by those who are organized. They use these items for reminders, to visualize time more effectively and remain on-track.
For example, Evernote and other timesaving tools can keep thoughts and information in one location. Bookshelves can be used to zone out rooms while creating a dedicated place for your belongings.
5. They aren’t bogged down by perfectionism.
“There is a common misperception that all organized people are perfectionists,” writes Nicole Anzia. “Most organized people realize they can’t possibly do everything perfectly and get everything done. They prioritize tasks and learn where and how to take shortcuts and how to complete tasks quickly.”
“They don’t get mired in projects that will be impossible to finish on time. In other words, they don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.”
6. They maintain.
Maintenance is required, says Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers. “You don’t go to the gym, get in shape, then cancel your membership,” she says. “Being organized is the same.”
Organized individuals spend the time daily to put things back in their dedicated places. They also do tasks like archiving emails or filing papers.
“They don’t drop things in a random pile ‘just for now’– it’s always now,” says Zaslow. “It may cost you a couple minutes now but it will ultimately be a major time-saver.”