Ever spend what seems like forever looking for things? Constantly late for appointments? Desk in a muddle?
If you answered ‘no’ to these questions, you’re probably good at being organised.
Strong organisational skills can help improve productivity, time management and work/life balance, according to professional organiser Amanda Lecaude, which is great for business – and you!
But if you think these skills are limited to ‘born organisers’, think again. While some people are natural at being organised, others can learn to be, says Ms Lecaude, Vice President of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers and founder of Organising You. “I believe organising skills are learnable and can become habit.”
Being (dis)organised – what it means
Being organised is more than keeping papers in order or having a place for your house keys. It encompasses mental organisation, such as punctuality and time management, too.
“Many … only think of clutter as physical and forget that it affects you mentally.”
Some people are naturally better at mental organisation, others at physical, “or they can be aware of both in either a good or bad way”.
In fact, some people don’t need an orderly, mess-free desk to be organised, many creative people can be like this. “Organising is not about how a space looks … but how it functions.”
Indeed, organised people can have moments of disorder, but these people usually have systems in place to overcome the chaos. “For instance I often say to my clients that whilst I’m organised, even my desk gets messy from time to time but the difference is I have a system in place to pull it back when I have time. Whereas someone who isn’t lets it go and the pile just keeps getting higher and higher. Then, to find something usually involves a lot of time and effort and the cycle goes on resulting in a lot of wasted time.”
Often it can be a lack of time that the person finds themselves in a position of overwhelm and they often don’t know how and where to start. That is usually the time they seek help.”
Time to get organised?
People can be disorganised for a number of reasons, for example, busyness, laziness and life-changing events, including having a baby.
It’s important to differentiate general disorganisation from serious health issues such as hoarding, which is recognised as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. If you are experiencing mental health struggles, consider speaking to an appropriate health professional.
If, on the other hand, you’re after some simple ways to boost your organisational skills, consider this: “If you believe you are disorganised but want to change, it starts with one’s attitude, then practice like anything else in order to get better at a new skill,” says Ms Lecaude.
Some tips to get going:
- Write it down. If you’re a ‘list person’, use lists to keep track of your to-do items. It may help to clear the mind.
- Keep flat surfaces clear. For example, try allowing for five to 10 minutes at the start and end of each day to clear your desk space.
- Find a place for everything. Everything has a home.
- File don’t pile. This includes physical and electronic filing. Take five to 15 minutes every day to process mail, or file items.
- Purge and declutter regularly. Tax files don’t need to be kept for 20 years. Refer to the relevant statutory bodies for the duration files should be kept. Also, scan items and save them electronically to free up physical space.
- Set goals. Identify what you want to achieve and establish a plan to get there. Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) goals is a great option.
- Prioritise your goals. Order them in terms of daily, monthly or yearly, for example, and select a number you’d like to achieve in the allotted timeframe.
- In the office, don’t replicate excessively. For example, don’t store multiple copies of items in several places unnecessarily.
The benefits of a more organised life, include improved focus on goals and, in turn, greater productivity and efficiency. Some people may require additional support in the areas of time management and work/life balance, being organised can certainly help.
So what are you waiting for? Consider the benefits of a more organised life!