As busy as we are with work, school, family, and friends, trying to stay organized and get everything done each day can seem like a lot. Tasks and commitments pile up until we have so much on our plates that it can just seem like too much. Getting organized can help reduce stress and boost productivity by making it easier to see when things need to be done and how much we have to do, but it can also be intimidating.
Here are some tips for staying organized and getting more done each day:
- Get a planner – and use it! Whether it’s a paper planner, a more traditional calendar, or an app on your phone or computer, a planner is so helpful for staying on top of your to-do list and using your time effectively. When you actually write down the tasks you need to accomplish each day it’s easier to see how to divide up your time to get it all done. A planner is also helpful in looking at the future – if you can see in advance that you have a big project coming up, you can start earlier and be less stressed than if you don’t realize it until a few days before the deadline!
- Don’t try to do too much. We all want to get involved, and sometimes it can be hard not to immediately agree when someone asks for our help on a project, but it’s important to know when to say no in order to focus on the commitments we already have. Trying to do too much is a quick way to become overwhelmed, even with a planner to help keep track of everything, so spend some time figuring out which commitments are the most urgent and really think about whether or not you have the time to add another one before agreeing to take on something new.
- Use to-do lists. Isn’t it so satisfying to be able to check something off the list of tasks you need to finish? Using to-do lists, whether on paper or electronically, can be really motivating if you’re the type of person who likes being able to cross off the things you’ve accomplished each day and being able to see immediately everything you still have left to do. If you have a lot on your plate, to-do lists are also a great way to divide up tasks to avoid getting overwhelmed – a smaller to do list for each day rather than one big to-do list for the whole week is less stressful and easier to finish, giving you a big boost in motivation!
- Set manageable goals. Breaking up large tasks into smaller tasks can help you see how much you are getting done, and makes those large tasks less overwhelming. A big paper isn’t as scary when you break it into sections and only try to write one section at a time, rather than attempting to finish the whole thing in one sitting. Making sure your tasks are manageable is also important – trying to finish too much in one day just leads to more stress, which means you’re less likely to get everything done.
- Manage time well. Procrastination is something we’re all guilty of, and we all know that it really decreases our productivity. Managing time well and avoiding procrastination is key if you want to be more productive. Try figuring out your most productive time of day – if you’re most alert during a specific time, that’s a great time to knock a few items off your to-do list! Giving yourself scheduled breaks while working – say, working for twenty-five minutes and then taking a five minute break – can also help you avoid procrastination and keep from getting too stressed.
Organization is such an important part of keeping track of what you need to do and getting it all done, and getting and staying organized doesn’t have to be hard!