When you’re looking to achieve a specific goal, you may believe that’s all you should be focused on. However, much like everything in life, your success is based on one big cycle. You are an interconnected being. If things are way out of balance on one side, you can’t expect things to work out on the other side. In order to find success and achieve your goals, you must learn how to organize your life.
You may have heard the phrase “a cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind”. Don’t worry if that idea makes you nervous. Research has since shown that a cluttered work desk, for example, can be a sign of high intelligence and creativity. Each person works differently and feels comfortable in different environments. So, don’t fret if you’re more of a free-spirited person. We’re here to assist you in organizing your life in productive ways through the mind, body, and spirit. Your clutter is safe with us.
How to Organize Your Life
The first thing we believe you should focus on is your mind. As you’ll see later, this connects to the physical things around you; but right now, we’re going to talk just about what’s in your head.
Disorganized thoughts can lead to many negative side effects including anxiety, worry, fear, and stress. We’re often so busy or distracted by other things that what’s on our mind can get quickly lost. Then valuable time is spent trying to remember what it was. Or, even worse, the thought won’t leave your head and it causes mountains of stress and anxiety. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to work on organizing your mind.
Write Things Down
When we say to write things down, we mean actually write them. A study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology showed that actually putting pen to paper led to better recall. Jotting down quick notes about your thoughts, things to do, or even your dreams can lead to reduced anxiety, stress, and improved mood.
Tip: Carry a small notebook and pen with you when you’re out or keep one by your desk. Write down any thoughts or worries that come to mind. If something is floating around in your head such as, “I need to remember to do laundry today”. Quickly jot down ‘get laundry done’ in your notebook. Not only is it scientifically proven to help you remember but it will also get the idea out of your head. This can help reduce the anxiety of having something repeat over and over in your mind when you are worried about getting it done.
Instead of a small notebook, you could also get a weekly planner. Most planners have a notes section in the back where you can jot down your thoughts and ideas. Then, you can place items with deadlines into the actual calendar portion of the planner. If you don’t like the idea of carrying around a bulky planner with you, keep the notebook instead. Then at night, or when you have time, transfer any important details over into your planner so you don’t forget.
This is another step focused on clearing and organizing your mind. Unlike the previous suggestion for writing things down, journaling doesn’t require you to put pen to paper. You can write in your journal however you feel comfortable. Some people like an old fashion diary type journal to write things down in. While others prefer a journal online or even just a document to type into and save.
Whichever method you choose, journaling can be important for your mental health. Dr. James W. Pennebaker, head of the psychology department at the University of Texas, has conducted extensive research on the health benefits of journaling. In one of his first studies, Dr. Pennebaker asked 46 healthy college students to write about either personally traumatic life events or trivial topics for 15 minutes on four consecutive days. For six months following the experiment, students who wrote about traumatic events visited the campus health center less often, and used a pain reliever less frequently, than those who wrote about inconsequential matters.
When you write about an experience and express your emotions about it, it can help. Studies show this type of writing helps people to organize their thoughts and give meaning to their experiences. Try to take time at least three times a week, if not more, to write down your experiences and how you’re feeling.
Make a Schedule
As humans, we thrive on a schedule, even if we hate to admit it. There are some people who love to schedule things down to the minute. Others may hate to be confined or restricted in a box. The good news is, scheduling your tasks can be as involved or as hands-off as you’d like. The idea of how to organize your life to achieve your goals is all about what fits you and your personality type.
If you’re a person who likes schedules and writing times and dates down, use a planner. Start with the first day of the week and think about all of the regular things you need to do. If you have to take the kids to school each morning, then pencil that in. Laundry needs to be done on Tuesday and Thursday? Write that down, too. The idea is, when you see your daily tasks in front of you and how long they take, you’re better able to organize your time.
If you’re a person who doesn’t like to live on a schedule or you’ve tried in the past and it just doesn’t work for you, try this method instead. With people who don’t like to make a schedule, the most common complaint they have is ‘I forgot to laundry today’. To remedy this, make a catchy phrase for the task. You can even give it a little melody and sing it to yourself. This will get the task and day stuck in your head. Think of phrases like ‘taco Tuesday’ or ‘freaky Friday’. You just remember them, right?
If you like to start a load of laundry during lunchtime, sing something to yourself like ‘it’s laundry lunchtime, it’s laundry lunchtime’. The repetition and melody will make it easier to remember. If you do it enough, your mind will actually start to remember the melody around the right time each day. Washing your dog on Saturday? Think of something like ‘sudsy Saturday’. If you use these little key phrases enough, you can actually use your brain as a planner with no need to write it down.
Have a Place for Everything
As we’ve learned, clutter isn’t always a bad thing. Some people think better and even perform better with clutter around them. Oftentimes, what looks like clutter to others can actually make perfect sense to the one who sits in the middle of it. This brings us to our final tip, have a place for everything. This doesn’t mean you need to have a tidy work or home area.
If you work better without clutter, then start to clear things out and clean them up. Make piles for things you want, things you use, and things you don’t use. Notice there are essentially two ‘keep’ piles. The idea here is that you need to be able to separate what you want from what you actually use. Focus on one small area at a time, such as a desk or closet. Separate the items into piles. Donate the items you don’t use. Keep the items you do use. Then have a true heart to heart with yourself about the items you just want. It’s okay to keep them but parting with even a few would be great progress.
If you work better with clutter or it just doesn’t bother you, then work on organizing what you use frequently. Your cell phone is always on a table in a certain spot or in a basket when not busing used. When you’re done using a pen you put it back in a container with the other pens and pencils. The idea here is, everything has its place. When you can’t find something you’re looking for, it not only wastes time but also stresses you out and can make you feel angry. Cut all of these negative emotions out and save time by know exactly where the item you need is at.
Adapt and Use What Works for You
We hope we’ve helped you with these tips on how to organize your life to achieve your goals. While everyone is different, we truly hope these beginning steps can help each and everyone of you. The main thing to remember is it’s okay to not be like everyone else. Not every organization tip will apply to everyone. Adapt and use what works for you. Work on organizing your mind, thoughts, and emotions first, and then everything else will begin to slowly fall into place.