I adore the first few weeks of January. That magical time when my blog traffic spikes with Googling visitors newly resolved to “get organized” in the new year. That makes me so happy. You know how I love talking to-do lists, productivity and Moleskine. So, without further ado, here are my top tips to help you get and stay organized in 2012:
Keep one to-do list: you only have one brain, which frets over everything from that memo you need to write, to the dentist appointment you keep forgetting to make and the day care check you that OMG-YOU-MUST-MAIL-TODAY. Your brain doesn’t keep separate “work” and “personal” to-do lists, so why do you? Consolidate all of those calendars, post-its, napkins and lists into ONE. Then, prioritize the lot. This works; trust me. My to-do list of choice is Good To Do. That said, you may be like my husband and find a paper to-do list more productive. Whatever floats your boat. Just use ONE.
Clear your inbox(es): this one always gets me the crazy-eye. But I’m serious. Your inbox is not a filing cabinet; it is not a to-do list. Watch this video or read this book. Then, take a deep breath and start taking action, delegating, filing or deleting! This one is super-empowering, though it does take a while if your inbox has 5,500 emails in it. One great way to keep the clutter from returning is to unsubscribe from all that junk email you get each day; feels so good!
Write it down: you know how you wake up in the middle of the night, freaking out over something you forgot to do that day? Some email you forgot to send? The dog’s medication you forgot to give him? Keep a notebook beside your bed. When you wake up fretting, write it down. Then, go back to sleep. You can’t do anything about it at 3:35 a.m. anyway–without looking like a crazy person. I keep a notebook in my purse, too. And for a while, when I was really stressed with work and personal stuff, I kept a notebook by the shower! Hey, we do what we need to do. When you wake up/get back to your desk/dry off, you’ll then transfer those random thoughts and to-dos to your ONE LIST. See how this works!
Create a file system: you don’t have to go 100% David Allen with your files, but you do need a system for work and home. I use colored file folders and keep two cabinets: one in my office; one in my home closet. Every project and meaningful task gets a folder. This keeps my desk clear of clutter, while enabling me to hoard relevant notes, business cards plans, receipts, agendas, etc. When the project/task is done, the folder gets filed away.
Use an RSS reader: point all those blogs, news sites, job postings, friend’s baby pictures, critics’ Tweets, Google Alerts and time wasters to ONE PLACE. I use Google Reader. But there are many others out there. This way, my inbox is free of “alert” clutter and I don’t have to spend time surfing the Internet to get caught up on news, tech, gossip and flickr feeds. This technique may or may not work for you. Some folks find an RSS reader more trouble than it’s worth, but it works for me!
What organizational tools do you swear by? Share your suggestions in the comments!