Tackling organizational basics

Organizational Zen is about knowing the work you want to do, and then getting it done. You don’t have to organize the world. You just want to start and finish the good work that’s bubbling up inside you.

On the road to Organizational Zen, make sure you’ve got a handle on these organizational basics.

  1. Take care of yourself. If you don’t feel well, aren’t eating right, aren’t getting enough sleep, or are feeling generally stressed out, guess what? It’s going to be very hard for you to get organized. Being organized takes focus and energy. If you haven’t already done so, make health your #1 organizational priority.

2. Be clear about what you’re doing. Before you start a project, meeting, or even a conversation, think about why you’re doing it. Is this something you want to do? Is it something you think other people want you to do? Or are you doing it out of habit? No matter what you’re working on, it helps to have a picture in your mind of what you want before you start. When your intent is clear, it’s easier to focus, to be present, and to get the most of whatever it is you’re working on.

3. Know your habits. Most of what we do is a series of habits. Knowing what makes you tick, what you like, and what motivates you is vital if you’re trying to change behaviors. If you’ve never thought about what you do by habit, observe yourself for a week or so. What do you eat every day? What do you do for exercise? What do you work on? How much do you sleep? Tracking what you do in a planner helps you find patterns to your life. And it gives you a great idea of where you are before you head off in a new direction.

4. Declutter. We have a lot of stuff in our lives – in our houses, on our desks, in our cars, and on our minds. Doing a clean up of your space is a remarkably helpful way to clear your mind. Decluttering helps you be decisive. It’s freeing. It makes you focus and appreciate what you choose to keep. Decluttering your space actually helps declutter your mind. And while a messy task, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end which is nice in a world filled with crazy.

5. Use one calendar to keep track of deadlines and events. You may feel like you can remember a lot, but it’s easier on your brain when you write things down. Using one calendar is important because it gives you one place to put everything. Everything you’re planning goes on your calendar in pencil. If something changes, erase it, don’t cross it out. Set deadlines for big projects with mini-deadlines to get there. And check your calendar as a daily habit. When you write on your calendar, you’re making a commitment to yourself to get your work done.

6. Use a planner. A planner is the guts behind your calendar. Your calendar holds the big picture; your planner holds the details. Unlike a to-do list, a planner lets you write tasks for today, plan stuff for tomorrow, or delay thinking about something for a week or even a month from now. When do you want to get it done? That’s where it goes in your planner. A planner’s also a great place to track things you’re waiting for from other people or things that’re being shipped to you. And it’s the perfect spot to track habits you’re trying to change.

7. Set priorities. Think about priorities as you plan out your month, week, and tomorrow. Where do you have financial deadlines? Where have you made commitments to others? Who is expecting to hear back from you? What are your personal priorities? What would you like to get done before your time runs out here on Earth? Those last two are BIG priorities. Don’t work randomly or let your day be driven by calls or email; have a plan in place to take care of your top priorities first.

Check out these gorgeous basics behind a magnificent work of stained glass at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Cheers!

organizational basics

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