Monday, January 16, 2012

Just Push the Organization Button

     These days, there’s an app for everything. “Lose It!” helps you track your calories. “Yelp” suggests nearby restaurants, and “RedLaser” lets you scan bar codes for price checks. But don’t you wish you could push a button to organize your life—from post-it notes that litter your PC, to losing the remote every night. Well, here’s some good news: you can change your evil ways. If you want to get a handle on to-do’s, commitments, objects, and schedules, below are my “best of” organizing tips to help mange your life.

But first, you have to get your head in the organization game.
  • Know that most mortals can effectively do only one thing at a time. 
  • Finish what you start. Beginning a project and walking away from it leaves clutter behind. 
  • Make use of the word “no.” Draw your boundaries – even if that means saying no to your friend’s home cooking party. 
  • Delegate when possible. From your daughter unpacking her backpack at night to your right-hand employee drafting the meeting agenda, let individuals step up to the plate. 

Tools and tactics to manage your life
  • Make lists daily, weekly, and monthly and check off as you go. 
  • Spend ten minutes at the end of the day clearing your desk and ten minutes in the morning planning your day. 
  • Get your home team on the same page. Use only one household calendar and color code it for multi-person schedules. 
  • Designate places for important things: a basket on the coffee table for the remote, hooks near the door leading to the garage for keys, shoe basket by the door for each household member. Put things back where they belong when you’re done with them. 
  • Use electronic tools that are user-friendly and can sync with your mobile phone. Google calendar, Springpad, and Evernote are some examples of brain-organizing applications. 
  • If you’re not a technophile, go retro. A legal pad and pen, 3x5 cards, and a daily planner are examples of timeless and simple organizational tools. 
  • File desk (home or office) materials into red, yellow, and blue plastic folders. Red means “do now,” yellow stands for “important but can wait,” and blue signifies “you’ve got time.” 
  • Post several weekly menus on the fridge and alternate the meals for easy planning and grocery shopping. 
  • Create a “future events” accordion file and fill with monthly birthday cards, directions to the baby shower, and vacation packing lists. Use the accordion file at work for topics for monthly team meetings, project teams, best practices, and creative ideas. 

     Look, our lives are filled with data input and output, doing more with less, and overbooked kids’ schedules. There’s no magic button—you have to do some trial-and-error until you find the tools that work for you.

By Anne Gill

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