• Michael Weinberg

7 Tools to Stay Organized

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

There are so many responsibilities to keep track of throughout the day and an equal number of distractions to keep you from carrying them out. If you aren’t monitoring your deadlines, tasks, and stress levels, you will not be working to the best of your ability, and ultimately your work will suffer. With a little effort and discipline, here are some tools that can help you stay organized.

1) Write down EVERYTHING

Use a whiteboard, notebook, daily planner, calendar, sticky notes, etc.

Not only does this help you to visually see what you need to do, but it is a good way to ingrain all the tasks in your head, so as to better remember to do them. This tip also applies to ideas or questions that you may have, whether they are for school, work, or even personal projects. Chances are, you will forget your ideas and questions by the time it would be useful if you haven’t written them down.

2) Break up your duties throughout the week so you won’t be overwhelmed

Estimate the amount of time it takes you to complete each task and then break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks throughout the day, week, or month ー whatever works best for you. Use the first tip about writing to help you create deadlines for these individual tasks, having them on a planner or whiteboard, or even sticky notes on your desk.

3) Stick to your own deadlines

After you break up your duties and assign a deadline for each piece, stick with them! Also, try to set your deadlines a day or two before the actual time that it needs to be completed. If you pretend that you have less time to finish something, you will most likely finish that task early or on time. Pressure can be an excellent motivator, and you will have more time to do more difficult projects, becoming more organized overall.

4) Set reminders on your phone or computer

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a quick notification alert. Sometimes there isn’t another way to remember to do a task than by taking a minute to title a reminder into your phone’s calendar. Setting a few alerts to remind you (with time to spare) is important for staying punctual and keeping your schedule organized.

Phone reminders are helpful for time-sensitive tasks, like remembering to post on a client’s social media on a specific day of the week, as Spark It does.

5) Take consistent notes:

  • In meetings with potential clients, with current clients, with coworkers

  • When carrying out any type of research

  • In class

This will help to keep the information you gain to stay fresh and at the front of your mind, ready for retrieval. When you are forced to translate a large amount of information into digestible bullet points, your brain is more likely to remember that information later on.

Furthermore, if you need to refer back to what was said in a meeting, your notes will most likely be able to help you, saving you from bothering your coworkers or classmates.

6) Eliminate clutter

Keep items in a fixed spot so that ideally you always know where they are. The saying goes “a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind,” so it’s best to take some time to make a home for the objects crowding your desk, office, or wherever you usually work. After using those items, return them back to their rightful spot. The idea is to maximize the workspace while still having your supplies and documents accessible.

Get rid of things you haven’t used in a reasonable amount of time. There are certain items that everyone knows they just won’t use again or anytime soon. You can put these items in separate storage away from your desk, give them away, or discard them. The idea is just, again, to minimize unnecessary clutter.

Organize papers by purpose (eg. notes, ideas, printouts, etc.). If you have stacks of unrelated documents lying all over your desk and office, it can be frustrating to find the one paper you need in the future. It may be time-consuming, but establishing a system for organizing your papers by what they are for and also by date will greatly assist you in the search for the missing document.

7) Do whatever you need to do to relax after accumulating stress

Tell yourself you’ll do “X” amount of work before taking a break.

You don’t have to be so formulaic about taking breaks, meaning you don’t have to have an exactly 10-minute break every hour. But it is helpful for organizing your thoughts to take small breaks once you feel you’ve been working for a while or are starting to get overwhelmed. Breaks can take the form of a nap, a short walk outside, watching an episode of a show, having a snack, talking to a friend, or even just resting your eyes from the computer screen. Too much stress without a regular break will leave your mind in disarray, which results in lower productivity overall.

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