There have been requests coming in for tips on being organized and efficient. With the summer half-way over and people getting organized for back to school and last minute summer projects, I figured this is the appropriate time for this topic.
Some of us are born with a knack for organization. Give us a task, a party, a holiday to organize, and we will have a plan, a shopping list and a day-to-day to do list ready within minutes. It is not only easy and natural for us, it is FUN!
However, we are not all born with the same gifts and talents, and not everyone knows or loves organizing. So here are some tips to help you through a task that requires top organizational skills.
1. Hire someone who is good at it. :) I know this could have been last on this list – a failsafe – but it wants to be first. And here is why: if we are not good at something, we can try to adopt new skills, or we can focus on what we are good at and outsource the other stuff! Do what you love and what you are great at and what is FUN for you! Leave the unfun for someone else who it is fun for! Just saying…
2. Budget your time. Get a monthly planner if you don’t already have one, and chunk your time. To do this, start by making a list of what you need to get done in a certain time period. Start with daily, weekly, and then monthly goals. (ie Daily: feed kids, grocery shopping, play outdoors as a family, organize laundry room. Weekly: what needs to be done by the end of the week? Set a goal, and write it down. Monthly: what do you want to accomplish by the end of the month? Five fun outings with the kids, one Me Time Special (mani/pedi/massage/alone time), 4 date nights with hubby, get kids’ backpacks in order and ready for school.) Then stick to it. Sometimes going with the flow is necessary and a quick change of plans is called for. Just try to stick with the overall goals. Didn’t get something done today? Don’t sweat it. Just make room in your plan for it another day.
3. Don’t overschedule. This one is crucial for avoiding anxiety. Some of us who tend toward the over-achiever side of things like to make a full list. Problem with that: setting unrealistic or very high expectations is good for one thing – overstress. Unless you are lazy or undermotivated and this is what gets you going, avoid setting yourself up for failure. Build a reasonable schedule, with plenty of spare time and down time mixed in. Life is bound to throw in some unexpected surprises – leaving blank spaces in your calendar allow for them to come up without disrupting your whole schedule. [And for you high achievers who are thinking, “Well, what if nothing comes up and the kids are playing nicely and I wind up with this free time?” Gulp – free time!! Terrible! :) Guess what? You have two choices, and choose wisely based on how you are feeling and the flow of the day: you can either sit back and enjoy that free time (pick up that book you wanted to start reading 4 months ago :), pour yourself a cup of coffee, call a friend to catch up, sit with your kids) or keep a spare time project list! Choose something that is on your list for later on that week or month, or an extra bonus project item, and get to it!]
4. Make a plan. Look at the overall picture. Whether it is to plan a party, get schoolbooks in order, plan a wedding, or get organized about your schedule at home, always start with a plan. Sit down and think about what needs to get accomplished. Again, make a list. Brain dump. Everything you can think of that needs to get done to accomplish this goal goes down on paper. Then, you sort according to time priority. What needs to get done first, second, third, etc. Then, if possible, see what you can delegate. Assign the task to someone, and write down their initials next to the task. Now go back to step two and put it all in your organizer. This brain dump is not to stress you out, it is to take the stress off of your brain for storing all this info, so you have it on paper where you can see clearly everything that needs to get done, and when. You now know your overall goal(s) and specific goals and can get to work without feeling like your brain is overloaded.
5. IMPORTANT NOTE: This note is so important that it has its own number. It is a trap for feeling like a failure, and since the whole point here is to de-stress you, I am making a point here to make this point. DO NOT LEAVE OUT THE “LITTLE” THINGS. When we make a to do list, or put something on a schedule, we sometimes leave out the lots of “little” stuff – the stuff we think is so routine and mundane it does not need to go on the list. I don’t know about you, but that fills up like half my day! So if you leave out put up laundry, put away groceries, make dinner, bathe kids, you are going to fill in your schedule and to do lists with all the other stuff, but then won’t get to half of it! Either make sure to put these items in your list/schedule, or leave blank space in your schedule for it. For instance, in the AM, leave 30 minutes for breakfast cleanup and to put in one load of laundry. Keep blank the hour before dinner and then until your kids are in bed for dinner prep, cleanup, bathing, and bedtime. Be realistic. Be generous with your time allotment. Don’t set yourself up for failure here. AVOID STRESS!!!
For all you organized-challenged people out there, I hope this helps. And if you are still feeling challenged, or stressed, check out my free Keys to Calmer Living ebook for more ways to de-stress and keep your life calm.
With love and serenity,
Get it done - with as little stress as possible!!
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