By Paul Gallipeau. Originally published on August 19th, 2011. Edited on September 24th, 2013 and fixed links on February 11, 2014.
“Let all of your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.” – Benjamin Franklin
Order is a Virtue
An orderly lifestyle is conducive to living a long, healthy, and enjoyable life. An ordered life is an organized life. We can order our time, our thoughts and our belongings. By living an ordered life, we avoid wasting our time searching for things or doing unimportant tasks. We reduce stress, avoid distractions, and improve our health both physically and mentally.
Do not rely on your memory to recall scheduled events. Use some sort of calendar or planner to record and organize your work, activities, appointments, and so on. Google Calendar is a good free tool for tech lovers and you can set it up to send you reminders in text message or email form. A simple wall calendar, desk calendar, or planner can accomplish the job as well if you work in primarily one area. Personally, I record my schedule in Google Calendar because it’s with me all the time and I’m often out of the office. Make sure your choice fits your lifestyle and workday.
Use your calendar to track deadlines, dates that bills must be paid, birthdays, etc. You’ll rarely, if ever, forget any appointment or event again once you form the habit of using a calendar.
We must schedule time to do our work, chores, household tasks, and leisure time. The schedule doesn’t have to be set in stone, if you feel like working when you’ve scheduled leisure, switch the two. Do not eliminate one for the other unless necessary. This is where resolution comes into play. Some people, like James Maa, have every hour of their day scheduled and others, like myself, are somewhere in the middle. As long as your calendar isn’t blank, you’re on the right track. If you hired someone to help you accomplish your life goals and that person spent 4 hours a day watching Jersey Shore, you’d probably fire that person. We must make sure that we do not live like those we would fire.
“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
More Resources on Time Management:
- LifeHack.org – 20 Quick Tips for Better Time Management
- ZenHabits.net – How to Be More Effective With Your Time
- StevePavlina.com – Time Management
- Ramit Sethi – Time management: How an MIT postdoc writes 3 books, a PhD defense, and 6+ peer-reviewed papers – and finishes by 5:30pm
Managing Our Thoughts
Notes, To-Dos, and GTD
It is impossible for us to remember everything so do not bother trying. What we can do, however, is keep a record of everything of importance or interest so that we can have access to that information when needed. Always carry a writing utensil and something to write on you so that you can jot down your ideas, thoughts, and other bits of information through out your day. A phone or tablet works too if you prefer. You can use these to jot down names and information about people you meet, important dates, books or movies you want to check out. Write anything. For paper lovers, there’s the Bullet Journal and for tech lovers you can’t beat Evernote and The Secret Weapon
Keeping an idea journal is a useful tool for when you are seeking inspiration, whether it be at work or while pursuing a hobby. An idea journal is a simple list of ideas you have thought of along with any necessary details or sketches. I write or draw some of mine in my Moleskine (affiliate link) and others in Evernote. I upload photos of my Moleskine musings to keep them in Evernote too.
Keeping a personal journal is a way to become immortal. Brett and Kate McKay (from the ArtOfManliness.com) have an amazing article on journaling and they have done a far better job than I ever could. Read it here.
I keep my personal journal and my idea journal separate so that I don’t disclose anything private when sharing my ideas and also for the ease of finding ideas without having to skip through as many entries. I actually keep everything in Evernote now. I still physically write sometimes, but that gets photographed into Evernote too. Seriously, check out The Secret Weapon if you’re into tech.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth
More Resources on Thought Management:
- Tim Ferris – How to Take Notes Like an Alpha Geek
- ArtOfManliness.com – The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook
- How to Take Notes Like Thomas Edison
- 5 Tips for Digital Note Taking
- 6 Steps to Effective Note Taking
Organizing our Belongings
Messes are distracting. Disorganization induces stress. We must avoid this mental and physical chaos by keeping our belongings neat and orderly. Do this by any means necessary; throw things away, donate stuff, get some totes and labels then fill up a closet, whatever it takes.
You know that feeling you get when you’ve just cleaned your desk and you sit down to work feeling excited and empowered? Make that feeling the norm by keeping your desk clean. This goes for every room and every thing. I’m in the process of selling everything I don’t want on eBay and you can do the same with just a little effort.
For the paper clutter we get, we need to develop a system to handle it and assess what action, if any, needs to be taken. Then have a process to file it digitally or physically. The way we can have an input system and and output system so that all those annoying papers stay off our desks.
“Getting your house in order and reducing the confusion gives you more control over your life. Personal organization some how releases or frees you to operate more effectively.” – Larry King
Featured Image Credit: Super*Junk