Organization 101

In case you haven’t noticed, you have a lot of crap to keep up with. Paying bills, projects your boss has assigned you, getting your oil changed, spending time with your wife and kids. . . The list keeps going and can seem overwhelming. But it’s all stuff you’ve got to do because they’ll turn your cable off if you don’t pay the bill, you’ll get fired if you forget the project, you’ll have to have your engine rebuilt if you don’t change the oil and your feel so guilty about how little time you spend with your kids that you curl in the fetal position any time you hear “Cats in the Cradle”.

Your list of stuff to do might be long but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. You just need to get organized. And it’s not even not all that hard to do. In fact you can get your crap together in a weekend with these simple steps:

Write It Down

This is hand downs the best stress reliever. Especially when you get to be an old-fart like me. Writing down EVERYTHING takes away the stress of worrying about forgetting stuff.

A couple of tips on how to do this:
Sign up for Evernote! The best thing to happen to organization since the pencil. I capture everything in Evernote (3100 notes and counting).

  • I don’t keep paper owner’s manuals anymore. Instead I download the pdf and put it in Evernote.
  • I keep the model number for the water filter on my fridge evernote.
  • Every year I put the goals for that year in Evernote.

BONUS TIP-I download every note to both my iphone and laptop so I don’t have to worry about being online plus it’s another backup.

Paper is better for retention. Study after study has proven your retention rate is over 70% greater if you physically write something down than if you typed the information. I’ve used every notebook available. Moleskine, Field Notes, you name it, I’ve tried but I always cycle back to good a old fashioned, spiral bound notebook. Don’t get sidetracked trying to find the perfect notebook because that’s just another form of procrastination. It doesn’t matter what you use, just write it down.

Schedule Everything

Schedules keep you from panicking. Ever woke up in the middle of night, drenched in sweat because you realized your anniversary was last week? Enough said.

Schedules also prevent you from overbooking yourself. There’s not much more embarrassing and more unprofessional than realizing you told two different people you’d have lunch with them at the same time.

Sign up for google calendar and then put in birthdays, anniversaries, due dates for bills, along with appointments and deadlines.

Make sure you set a reminder in google calendar for the day BEFORE an event is due.

Eat the Frog

You’ll never get organized until you stop procrastinating. A great way to break the habit is to eat the frog. What I mean is, find the most distasteful item on your schedule and do it first. You’ll be amazed how much better your day will go when the frog isn’t still hanging over your head at 4pm.

Give Everything a Home

Ever thought about how much time you waste looking for your keys, wallet, or phone? That’s why everything needs a home. Even if it’s just a bowl beside the door where you put your keys, wallet and sunglasses when you walk in.

Keep Only What You Need

This is an ongoing project for me. I get rid of clothes that don’t fit or I haven’t worn in more than a year, old books I’m never going to read again, and generally anything I don’t use any more. Why? Having more stuff means there’s more stuff to organize.

If all of this feels like too much to remember, just copy and paste this and make it the lock screen on your phone.

If you take it out, put it back.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If you open it, close it.
If you take it off, hang it up