During the pandemic, one of my obsessions was to organize my home. Being stuck there for a long time, I’d run out of things to do and began figuring out ways to make my space look like it’s straight out of a The Home Edit episode.
Not only did that give me a house where I finally knew where everything was, but it also cleaned up my mindset.
In fact, what I’ve come to realize is that organization isn’t just about tidying up your space. It’s about streamlining your life for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Which then primes you for success!
The most highly organized people in the world weren’t born that way. They’ve got certain habits to manage chaos and prime them for success in every area of life.
So, are you ready to leave the chaos behind and level up your organizational skills? Let’s find out what these habits are.
1) Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
We all have a ton of things to do, but let’s be real – not all tasks are created equal. Highly organized people understand this better than anyone.
They have a knack for sifting through the noise and zeroing in on what really matters. Instead of juggling a million things at once and feeling overwhelmed, they prioritize their tasks based on importance and deadlines.
So how do you get started on this?
First, make a list of all the tasks you have on hand, be it for work, home, or personal development.
Then, categorize them: what needs immediate attention, what can wait, and what can be delegated or dropped altogether.
Visual aids might also help. Use tools like the Eisenhower Box, which divides tasks into four categories:
- Urgent and important
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Neither urgent nor important
A system like this can help you decide where your focus should be. This simple act of prioritizing can be a game-changer in how effectively you manage your time and reduce stress.
2) Break big tasks into smaller steps
So, you’ve got your priorities all lined up, right? And you’re all set to go….
Except that your tasks are massive. Daunting. So much so that you’re tempted to crawl back into bed and procrastinate the hell out of your day. I’ve been there and yes, the temptation is real.
How do highly organized people tackle humongous challenges? Well, pretty much like eating a cookie. Bite by bite.
They break down intimidating tasks into smaller ones. Into more concrete steps that look much more achievable.
This strategy makes it easier to focus and staves off those feelings of being overwhelmed.
It then becomes easier to slot these smaller tasks into your already prioritized to-do list.
3) Master the art of time-blocking
Now that you’ve prioritized and broken down your tasks, the next step is to allocate time to get them done – also known as time-blocking. It’s what highly organized people do once they’ve done their to-do lists.
As a freelance writer, this habit has done wonders for me. With writing and editing assignments to manage, clients to collaborate with, research to be done, I need to be mindful of how I distribute my time.
What I do is to break my day into specific blocks of time and assign a task (or a group of related tasks) to each block.
Doing this dovetails perfectly with prioritizing. Think of it as setting ‘appointments’ with your tasks.
These set periods eliminate the guesswork of when each task will be done and give you a sense of accountability (at least, that’s how it is for me).
The result? A more organized life and a clearer path to success.
4) Declutter regularly
Aside from prioritizing tasks and time-blocking your day, let’s not forget about your physical space.
Highly organized people make it a habit to declutter regularly. They understand that a tidy environment sets the stage for productivity and focus.
Studies show that when you remove physical clutter, you also clear mental space, making it easier to stick to your priorities and time blocks.
The best part? Decluttering doesn’t have to be a marathon session. Mesh it into your daily or weekly routine, even if it’s just spending five minutes at the end of the day tidying your desk.
5) Learn how to say “no”
We don’t normally think of the word “no” as an organizational tool, but it absolutely is.
Because it helps you preserve your time and energy, which is the ultimate goal of organization.
I used to be a serial people-pleaser. Saying “yes” to everyone and everything was my default.
But over time, I noticed something – I was often exhausted, but with not much to show for it. Overcommitting merely led to a chaotic schedule and burned me out.
These days, the “new me” – the highly organized me – is very mindful of when to say no. I’m much more protective of my time and energy – after all, I need them if I want to reach my goals.
So, pause and consider saying “no” to favors and invites you don’t really want to do or attend. It can save you so much time and stress and give you back control over your own life.
6) Learn to delegate and collaborate
If saying “no” is the first step in preserving your finite resources, then delegation is the logical next step. Highly organized people know they can’t — and shouldn’t — do everything themselves.
This is another area I struggled with in the past. I have a perfectionist streak, so it’s hard for me to let go sometimes. I preferred doing things myself, so I could make sure they were done right.
Does that sound a little arrogant? Maybe. And I paid dearly for it.
I took on more than I was capable of doing within a reasonable time, all because I didn’t know how to delegate.
Don’t make that same mistake. Consider who can help you with the tasks that may not require your personal touch. Team up with others, be it family members, co-workers, or friends, to get things done more efficiently.
7) Use technology to your advantage
If technology’s not your strong suit, this might convince you to level up your tech skills – tools that streamline your work.
That’s why the most organized people tend to be tech-savvy and get onboard new tools right away. They see its benefits for automating tasks to make life much easier.
Here are some apps and tools to help move along your process:
- Task managers: Apps like Todoist or Asana help keep your tasks organized and synced across all devices.
- Calendar apps: Synchronize tools like Google Calendar or Outlook with other aspects of your life and make time blocking even more seamless.
- Note-taking apps: Evernote or Notion can be your digital notebooks, keeping all your important information, from meeting notes to grocery lists, in one accessible place.
- Communication tools: Slack or Microsoft Teams can streamline your work communications and keep them separate from your personal messages.
If you ask me, that’s some next-level organization. Makes it easier for you to succeed, doesn’t it?
8) Stick to a routine
Of course, we can’t talk about organized living without including a bit about routine.
You see, routines are the backbone of organization. Highly organized people often have set routines for different parts of their day – morning, work, and even bedtime.
I myself am a creature of habit. I have a routine that keeps me going even on days when I’m not feeling motivated to work.
Having a routine can bring consistency to your life and make it easier to stick to your priorities, especially when life gets chaotic.
That said, just make sure you don’t get too set in your ways. Leave some room for spontaneity to mix it up every now and then.
That way, you don’t start living on autopilot, which can set you back in terms of success.
This brings me to my next point…
9) Unwind and relax!
Finally, believe it or not, even the most organized people understand the value of doing…nothing.
That’s right, taking time to unwind and relax is actually a strategic move for maintaining high levels of organization and productivity.
After all the prioritizing, time-blocking, and task-managing, your brain deserves a break to recharge.
Don’t buy into the myth that sleep is for the weak. Or that rest is a luxury you can’t afford if you want to succeed.
In reality, periods of rest and relaxation are vital for maintaining peak performance. Even machines need downtime for maintenance, and the human brain is no different.
Take Richard Branson, for example. The CEO of Virgin Group is certainly successful, but he has an organizational trick that stands out from the rest – combine work and play.
He’s even been known for kitesurfing in the middle of the workday!
So, in between those tightly scheduled time blocks and never-ending tasks, don’t forget to pencil in some ‘you time.’ Hit your reset button so you can tackle your to-do list with renewed energy.