Do you ever go by your day wondering what am I forgetting? Or sometimes your brain is telling you, “I should be doing something right now.” It gets annoying like a fly buzzing in your house that just won’t die. When you feel something just isn’t right, you are probably not wrong and we have all experienced this at some point in our lives. Rather than being productive, you begin to think every waking second on “What do I do next?”. This feeling or problem can be avoided.
Everyone has challenges they need to face, but knowing when you are tackling those challenges makes it so much easier not just for you but everyone around you (Think about finishing a project and the recipient gets it earlier than expected). Challenges are tasks. And yes tasks are challenging because they require effort. We humans don’t particularly like effort unless it’s fun, but that’s another story.
Being organized is an art and a skill anyone can learn through practice, and just like art everyone has their style.
Free up time because time is money
“Good organizational skills can free up much-needed minutes every day for you to spend on more important tasks.” Many believe the importance of organization doesn’t seem as important as doing the actual work, many believe organizing is a time-waster.
Look at all the books written about organization, they are about 200 pages each! That is a lot of information about organization, we seem to think it is just too much work to get organized and rather do the work. They underestimate the power of being organized.
Here’s a question, would you want to spend the next 100 years forgetting, losing, and even hating your work… no right? Not only me but many others will tell you that you are 10 times more efficient when organized. Let us go through an example:
Let’s say you have a week until a project is due. Being like the good person you are, you promise quality. You started, then stop since you need a break and have other tasks. You then leave the project open and kinda forget. The last day comes by, and you realize your sin. Your mind is saying crap, and you either bury your guilt and stay up all night or go to sleep either traumatized or regretful.
Let’s say you stayed up to do the project but “Finding yourself overwhelmed can also affect thinking, especially, in my experience, with creative people.”
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”
Now knowing that organization will bring back more time in your life is a pretty compelling reason on its own, but there’s more than just time.
Organization clears your mind in a positive way
Fact: “No two physical objects can occupy the same space at the same time.”
Organization is like good bacteria. You ingest it and it helps with functions in your stomach and other places. It keeps you in check and eats all the gunk out of your system, in this case, mind. Having great organization skills will clear your mind in a positive way, you won’t forget your dad’s birthday don’t worry. But having a system of organizing could allow you to just put you dad’s birthday on it and you will never forget it. This way that task is out of your mind.
It is not only the big tasks that clog up the mind, it is the small ones too.
I know this seems like a small example but logging all the small tasks somewhere else quite literally takes it out of your mind. That could be a thousand thoughts wrapped up into one little neat package with dates on it.
What are some tools I can use to organize my small tasks? I am glad you asked because there are a bunch. So much in fact that I won’t cover all of them, but I will cover my favorites.
A Calendar (you can use online)
Yes, a calendar is very old. In fact, the first calendar was made in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII introduced his Gregorian calendar. That’s off topic, but calendars are old, but they are useful and simple and that will get by. Believe it or not but introducing more complicated stuff into your life is the worst thing I can do to help you, my job here is to help you get organized not fly a rocket. The benefits of a calendar:
- You can put any small task on it. The most important thing is to get those appointments and phone calls out of your head.
- Calendars have a nice dashboard. You can see a month ahead, or as many months depending on how well you prepared.
- They are cheap
- You can get one at office depot, walmart, amazon, etc.
- $10 to $20 for normal calendars
- It is not the cloud. You cannot access your calendar everywhere unless you are that guy who brings his calendar around.
- It is old technology. Yes it is old but effective, if you don’t like it check out more methods if you scroll down.
Let’s talk about the big tasks, like the projects and big deadlines you have. The ones that give you nightmares. You have to track those too. Getting it out of your head will get rid of those nightmares. Unless you want your mind to be cluttered with bad thoughts.
First, let’s go through how do I possibly keep all my stuff organized, and that’s is a good question with a good answer. There are many online programs designed for this, how they work is:
- You add a task
- You give it a name
- You give it a due date
- Describe it
- Give a priority level
- Maybe an image or a reference
- After that, the only thing that limits you is the program you use
- Some programs allow you to upload files
- Take notes and make a checklist
Really important! Use “Time blocking”
This is the standard typical calendar looks like for majority of people:
Most of us use our calendars all wrong: we don’t schedule work; we schedule interruptions. Meetings get scheduled. Phone calls get scheduled. Doctor appointments get scheduled. You know what often doesn’t get scheduled? Real work. All those other things are distractions.
So, why time blocking is important?
There is a technique out there that is very effective, and I use it. It is called time-blocking. Time-blocking is a method of tracking your upcoming deadlines. Instead of writing it on a calendar or to do list you track it via blocks on a calendar.
These blocks are varying in height depending on the time you need to spend on them.
Let’s assume you have to deliver a speech about the effectiveness of toothpaste to a bunch of dentists. You need to prepare, have your facts and opinions, graphs, whatever. You plan to practice on Wednesday for 2 hours between 6 and 8 pm. All you do is plop that task into a time-block app and presto you have a time-block, on Wednesday, 6 through 8 pm. To do lists don’t have this kind of feature, either online or paper.
“At its core, time blocking is just scheduling your to-do list against your calendar. You block off the time you’ll be working on a specific thing ahead of time, and then during that time, you work on the thing… For such a simple concept, it’s a massively useful productivity tool”
This way you can see all your tasks at hand and essentially plan your whole day! Now you will rarely be sitting on your couch looking at your clock and wonder, “what do I have to do today?”. It is very easy and effective, and Google Calendar has this feature (and It’s free).
Time-blocking technique in action…
The app that has this feature and more
BubblesPlanner is an app that connects your to-do list and time-block calendar all-in-one app.
The problem is that many to-do lists don’t have this time-block feature, and it can be a grudge to sit down and copy everything from your list to time-block calendar every time. Who wants to waste time right? That is why I recommend this new app that is practically already out. It offers the best of both worlds and more. What’s cool is that rather than following the conventional to do list, it has a really unique interface.
This app tracks all your projects and deadlines in bubbles with varying color and size. (The size is importance and color is subject) You then put those bubbles(tasks) on the built-in time-block calendar, now you have a visual to do list and a time-block calendar all-in-one app. I found this app to be really unique and new, and feel that it deserves a shout out.
Productivity is all about time management.
Simply use task panel on the right side to grad required task and drop it into the calendar to block the time to work on it. Repeat with multiple time blocks until you complete the task. This approach called – “time-blocking” to do deep work.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy.
We went through the importance of organization, and how it can free up your time for those extra relax hours. Being organized declutter your mind from all your tasks (phone calls, appointments, projects, etc.), by tracking it all in a calendar. When you do clear your mind, it will feel like an emotional weight is lifted off your shoulders. Keeping a to-do list for those big projects and deadlines. I cannot recommend one app because everyone is different, the simple folks could get by a simple calendar and list, while the “techies” can use the web applications. Finally, the method of time-blocking is by far the best way to be organized.
Organization is a skill and an art, and once mastered your life will change.