If compiling all of your tax documentation this year triggered the thought that you really should try to be more organized, then the following tips are for you. Constantly searching for things you have misplaced, missing important dates, and not feeling like you have control over your days can waste your time and increase your stress level.
The following tips will help you take manageable steps toward strengthening your organizational skills, helping you feel less overwhelmed in the process:
- Modify your mindset. While we often focus on the external tasks associated with becoming more organized, the first step you should take is to shift your mindset so you become committed to making changes that improve the way you function and how you manage your time and resources.
- Create structure that works for you. Many problems related to disorganization are actually caused by a lack of structure. If the thought of a schedule makes you uncomfortable, think about applying this concept only to those areas of your life that need it most, such as your morning routine and the parts of your workday where you tend to get distracted. Start by breaking down the time you want to manage more effectively into 15- or 30-minute increments for completing specific tasks.
- Identify your trouble zones. It’s likely that you are more organized in some areas of your life than others. Make a plan to tackle the places that give you the most trouble, such as your car or desk. Pick a specific day of the week or month to clean these areas and then use the “place for everything” mantra to keep them organized.
- Compartmentalize the clutter. If you regularly spend time searching for keys, documents, and other items, it can make you very frustrated. The remedy for this problem is simple, but it does take some effort: A) Create specific places for all of the things you use daily. B) Set up designated places for your phones and chargers, hooks to hang your keys, and baskets to hold kids’ and adults’ miscellaneous items.
- Technology can help. Digital tools can support you in your organization efforts and help you maintain the progress you make. Reducing or eliminating your paper trail by scanning and securely storing documents is just the beginning. For example, our firm offers you a convenient way to organize, exchange, and streamline key financial documents using a secure online portal on our website. There are also many smartphone apps you can use to create task lists and reminders to help you ensure that you know what needs to get done and that it fits into your newly implemented schedule.
The tips above offer a good starting point to become more organized, but it’s up to you to find the motivation and tools that fit your lifestyle and your long-term goals. Instead of trying to tackle all areas of your life at once, start with the areas that you can tackle relatively easily when you begin—such as organizing your desk or creating a place to hang your keys. Taking just a few small steps toward streamlining your routine will go a long way in helping you feel calmer and more in control.