The ability to get organized and stay organized is priceless. Not only does it allow a person to clear their head and begin to focus, it also allows for the dedicated, thoughtful achievement of personal goals in a much quicker fashion. Unfortunately, what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for others. Therefore, this article will discuss several tactics, all of which I have personally used.
In order to ease into this discussion, we will begin with the easiest, most common practice. If you are going to spend your free time getting things done, you need to know when you are free. Get a calendar! For some people, putting a calendar on the refrigerator with a dry-erase pen works well. The downfall here is you can only save one month at a time and you need to erase the entire calendar each month and fill everything in, again.
Another option for a calendar is found on most cell phones. Cell phone calendars allow you to put in events on particular days and it will remind you when something is scheduled that day. The downside is that some phone calendars take time to enter events and it is difficult to look at several days at a time.
For me, I have set up a calendar account online. This allows me to save any event, regardless of how far ahead it is. In addition, all of my events are saved permanently, so I can always go back and look at what I did at what time. Another benefit to the online calendar is it allows for recurring events, so you don’t have to take the time to re-enter the same information each week, month, or year.
When I started using an online calendar, I noticed two problems. First, I didn’t look at it every day, so I would sometimes miss things. I thought about it and the answer was simple. I made my calendar my homepage, so every time I opened my web browser, I saw what my schedule was. The second problem I noticed was that I sometimes forgot to add events. Again, I sat down and thought it through. To combat this problem, I came up with two solutions. The first was a pocket notebook, which will now be discussed, and the second was the development of “Sunday tasks,” which will be discussed towards the end of this article.
The idea behind the pocket notebook is that you always have something with you to write down appointments as they arise. In addition to this, the notebook is there for those times when you suddenly remember a task that needs to be completed.
This notebook can take several different forms, whichever one works best for you. Some people use a PDA, some simply use their cell phone, and some (such as me) use a tiny notepad and pen. The PDA has its own advantages and disadvantages. It offers several different features to make it easy to organize, such as a to-do-list and a calendar with its own reminders. The downside is that it can take time to enter events and tasks, as well as eliminate them and it is difficult to view everything at once. Additionally, it costs extra money and is another piece of equipment to carry around with you.
As for the cell phone, this, too, has its own advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that most people carry their phones with them everywhere and use them frequently. For me, the disadvantages were similar to those listed when I discussed the phone calendar: it takes time to enter events and it is difficult to look at several days at a time.
I think that the actual pocket notebook works best. It fits in your back pocket and whenever something arises that I need to remember later, I simply pull out the notebook, quickly write it down, and put it away. The downside to this is that you have to remember to carry it with you and it can get pretty beat up.
The last step I use to remain organized is a list of “Sunday tasks”. As implied by the name, these tasks are completed every Sunday, with the goal of wrapping up all the loose ends from last week and starting fresh with the new week. Although everyone should make their own list designed to meet their own needs, here are a few examples from my list: Review all finances, update my calendar and my to-do list from my pocket notebook, clear out my inbox, organize my favorites list and my desktop, list the tasks for the week, and organize my work area. The first time you complete this list it may take a while, but if you keep up with it every week it can be completed in less than an hour and is very helpful for the week ahead.
There are many ways to organize your life. The trick is to find what works best for you. Once you have created the foundation of your plan, you can build off of it and tweak it as you see fit. Remember to keep up with your plan and stay motivated. Good luck!