7 Tips for Better Self-Organization
The art of self-organization may come with age. However, we may just need to realize that our inner chaos easily transfers onto things and activities that we do.
Without self-organization, it is harder to concentrate, and we let ourselves be easily distracted by the slightest stimulus with our efficiency decreasing rapidly. We talked to Nikola Šraibová, a long-time coach and mentor, about how to take control and easily master your own organization.
Waste of time and energy
I have never been too messy, but it used to happen sometimes that I would leave a tea mug here, misplace an important document there, or I would just not feel like tidying up my desk.
However, I strongly felt that when I returned to the area in the morning, I immediately felt drained of energy. Subconsciously, I knew it would take a while to organize it and I would lose a lot of time that I wanted to spend doing something completely different.
The minimalism period and Marie Kondo
Then came a period, when I became interested in minimalism and, of course, tidying up - according to Marie Kondo, of course, how else - I can honestly say that those few golden pieces of advice helped me quite a lot. Both with organizing my closet as well as my entire apartment. When we moved, I sorted out about 8 bags of things that were no longer of use, either I had not used them for a long time, or they brought me no joy. You know what I am talking about: the skirt that has been sitting in the closet untouched for two years, or souvenirs from travels that had accumulated in such quantities that I was not able to keep up with dusting all the Buddha statues of various shapes.
Benefits of self-organization
It is probably clear to everyone that the main benefits of being able to deal with clutter include greater productivity, efficiency, and better performance. This is due to the fact that they come with a sense of control which is an important part of us being able to cope with everyday stress. This all contributes to greater resilience and an overall feeling of wellbeing.
I know from experience that good self-organization leads to better thinking and concentration. It is easier to make decisions because your head is clear and therefore you have easy access to the right information. One could say that you can rely on your intuition to a greater extent. Some of my clients like to call it the “flow” where energy flows freely, and it makes you feel freer.
Success at work also has a lot to do with how others see you. If you are regularly late for meetings, fail to meet your duties adequately and you feel like you do not have your role under control sufficiently, your reputation - and thus your chance of career advancement - is at a great risk.
However, if you prove that you are someone who can handle workload well and others can rely on you helping to ensure a smoother running of a team or the entire company, your competencies and value will be clear to everyone.
Absence of a system is exhausting
When I ask my clients what they often miss at work, they tell me that they miss a system - i.e. having a certain process that they can trust and rely on. As strange as it may seem, we can improvise to a certain extent but if you do it too often, you will find out over time that it is rather exhausting, and you wish you had more certainty and control. Our brains like to know what is going to happen. That means that if we have a system or follow a certain strategy, we will get faster to where we need to go.
You may not feel 100% organized every minute of every day but you will definitely feel more organized by creating the right organizational habits and establishing a daily routine.
How to get organized
Personally, I think that slightly different systems may work for different people but there are certain steps that I can recommend because they have worked for me or my clients in one way or another. Please consider them recommendations and do not hesitate to look for your own system that will help you feel better.
1. Identify habits that work against you. What costs you energy and yet you do it?
At the beginning, it is a good idea to map out the current situation. What and how you do and how it makes you feel. You may find out that there are a few toxic activities that waste your precious time and energy. Make an overview of the activities that tend to take your energy in the long run. You may find out that you spend more time than necessary on social media, that you meet with people who are not worth your time, that you are destroying your body with 12-hour work days that have been ruining your life for quite some time. Examine yourself.
2. Use your working memory as little as possible - automate
If you don't plan, then you're wasting time. You don't have to map out all your activities but try to focus on the essential ones. The ones that help you maintain order and organization.
- Did you know that your day will be better if you exercise and have a good breakfast in the morning?
- Did you know that you will work better if your desk is tidy?
- Did you know that you will have more energy if you go to bed at 10 p.m. instead of midnight?
Prioritize activities that bring you long-term benefits. As soon as you start following a system that brings you energy and peace of mind, your brain will be happy to stick to it. It is important to persevere and keep repeating it until the brain creates stronger pathways that are more automatic.
3. Keep a diary
Keeping a diary regularly is an activity that I recommend to all my clients. If you want to make sense of yourself and see through your emotions, make regular entries describing your thoughts and feelings. This gives you a better insight and knowledge of yourself and your responses to various situations.
Also, try a mind map that may help you plan better. Personally, I prefer a mind map if I know that I have a difficult week ahead of me and need to navigate better in my activities.
4. Do a proper cleaning
Clean as you go on your desk and in wardrobes and cabinets. That means that you put things back to where they belong as you walk through a room. If something is in your way or causes negative emotions - throw it away or give it to someone who will appreciate it.
5. Eat, drink and move
Yes, I will just not leave this one alone. If you do not eat, your brain misses the precious glucose, and you cannot think anymore. Do not ignore thirst and the need for movement. You don't necessarily have to run, but try to at least take a brisk walk and get some fresh air every day. Over time, you may decide to run a little and you may even feel like breaking a sweat. This is motivation in the form of endorphins that put you in a better mood. And that is well worth it, don’t you think?
6. Do not ignore rest
Sometimes, a simple rest will do you the most good. For some, this means taking a power nap, for others it is a slow walk in the woods. I enjoy drinking some green tea while looking out of the window. Find your favorite way of resting and make sure to find time for it every day. Even if you think you don’t need it, just a short break may help you regain the necessary energy for the rest of the day.
You know internally what is best for you. Try to listen to your mind and body for a bit and allow yourself the good stuff.
7. Know WHY
As Simon Sinek says - Start with WHY. This simple question will save you a lot of time and energy. If you don’t know why you should do a specific task, you will get lost sooner or later and there will be chaos in your thoughts and your daily work. This results in stress and a bad mood.
Answer some important questions to yourself, such as:
- Why are systems and planning important to me?
- Why should I find more time for myself?
- Why is “this” activity so important to me?
- Why do I work where I work?
- Why do I stay in contact with these people?
You may find out that you are wasting time somewhere where you no longer want or need to be. Under the cover of everyday stress, we sometimes ignore important details and stay in a spot that is familiar to us and where we know what to expect but it may not be beneficial to us in the long run anymore.
As we begin to pay more attention to ourselves, we will start noticing activities and behaviors that fill our days. You may be surprised what all you can eliminate from your life to be able to breathe better.
Author: In addition to the Soulmio project, Nikola Šraibová works as a coach and mentor. She helps people cope with difficult situations that are part of their daily lives whether this entails relationships with our loved ones, challenging communication at work or a lack of trust in ourselves.