Overwhelmed? Under-supported? Feel like you run out of time to do the things you need to do each and every day? You’re not alone. To preserve your sanity–or at least to minimize the craziness–try tackling one of the tips below every week, or month. (Don’t, after all, get overwhelmed by a list of things to help get organized!)
1. Write it all down
It may seem like a trick as old as time, but making lists is by far the easiest way to keep on top of things. Whether you’ve got a colour-coded day planner or a simple pen and paper, a to-do list can be one of the most powerful tools you have. It doesn’t stop with lists, though! Planning your outfits, your meals, your shopping trips, and more can give you a sense of direction that will put a halt on any procrastination.
A cluttered home or workspace leads to a cluttered mind, so purge your environment of all non-essentials. Try giving yourself a week to clear out your house by doing just one room a day. It can be hard to throw things out, but use this as a rule of thumb: If it’s broken, doesn’t fit, or you haven’t used in the last calendar year, it’s time to let it go.
3. Do what you can the night before
Start the day stress-free by getting organized the night before. Lay out the clothes you want to wear, put your keys and purse where you can find them, make lunches, and perhaps even prep breakfast. It’s helpful to give kids a refresher on the morning routine before they start up classes, and maybe even run a few test mornings to help them ease into the school year.
4. Get ready on the go
Even with the night-before preparation, sometimes it’s impossible to beat the morning rush. Keep an emergency kit in the car so that you can freshen up on the go. Stock some deodorant, something to eat like a granola bar, a hair brush, extra hair ties and barrettes, and anything else that may come in handy.
5. Make space
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but having a designated work area in your home or dorm is a huge help when it comes to focusing. The ideal work space should be comfortable, well lit, clean, and free of distractions. Treat your desk as an office and use it for work only. Whether you’re studying for a big test or working from home, be sure to take short breaks every so often, moving away from the work space and taking a walk around the room to clear your head.
6. Ditch the multi-tasking
You may think you’ve got multi-tasking mastered, but it may be hurting your productivity more than you know. Studies show that multitasking not only increases the amount of errors that you make, but it also takes you longer to actually complete the tasks. Dedicate yourself to one task before moving on to the next and avoid anything that may steal your attention.
7. Set your own deadlines
Everyone has dealt with deadlines in one way or another, from turning in your homework on time to getting that big presentation ready for your meeting, but making deadlines for yourself is an easy way to break down your work and keep focused. If you’ve got a big paper due in a week, then set deadlines for when you’ll have each step done. It makes you hold yourself accountable, gives you time to focus on each aspect of your work, and avoids those last minute scrambles.