Self-Care Sunday: Organized Life, Organized Mind
Getting organized can be a real pain, but it doesn’t have to be.
Organization helps us feel more in control when our schedules have gone a bit haywire or become too loaded with responsibility and devoid of free time. In fact, having too much to do can actually increase procrastination and laziness - sometimes there’s so much on your plate, you don’t even know where to start.
Your schedule and your life require some amount of structure and stability to run smoothly, but it’s not always clear how to go about introducing these elements when you’re stressed, spread thin and struggling.
Create Your Schedule
When do you sit down to go over your schedule for the week? Monday morning? Many people feel that this is the ideal time for planning the week ahead because it allows you to relax into your weekend and spend time without your responsibilities at the forefront of your mind. Sounds great, right?
This kind of thinking is the beginning of procrastination - it sets our internal clock back and encourages us to put things off. Tackling your weekly schedule on Monday morning takes precious time away from what should be the kick-butt beginning of your week.
Monday should be a day that you can immerse yourself into the week ahead and really wrap your head around your responsibilities. Try getting your planner out for an hour each Sunday night, going over the week ahead. It might seem like you’re cutting into relaxation time, but you’ll actually be able to sink into the deep feelings of calm tranquility when you know you’re taking care of things. The added time on Monday morning will allow you to step into your weekly routine with more energy and ease.
Arrange Your Priorities
Another tricky aspect to time organization is prioritizing your responsibilities. Should I run to the grocery store before or after I get the oil changed in my car? I have two deadlines on the same day this week, which project should I tackle first? The first thing to remember here is to try not to get overwhelmed.
As you know, certain tasks require more of your energy and focus than others- writing a brief for work is certainly more exhausting than folding the laundry. And everyone approached difficult tasks differently. Some people prefer to get them out of the way immediately, but this isn’t always possible with a full schedule. Try scheduling an hour or two of time each day to sit with your more time-consuming and time-sensitive projects.
This could be after your morning routine or after your lunch break- either way, just make sure to allow yourself a certain amount of time each day to approach your larger chores. This way, you have the opportunity to begin working on them well before they are due, and you can relax in the knowledge that you are working toward the goal of completion while also taking care of your other duties.
It feels better, psychologically, to complete tasks earlier than necessary. For this reason, it is a good idea to begin the week taking on the heavier activities, allowing for extra time near the end of your work week.
Dance to the Beat of Your Own Drum
Some folks believe that certain activities should be completed at certain times- exercise before breakfast, work before play. There are certain benefits to organizing your schedule in such a manner, but this kind of organization can ignore your own personal style and sense of accomplishment.
For instance, some people prefer to get their work finished before heading to the gym, some prefer working out first thing in the morning, and others can’t get to the gym until late at night due to their work schedules. And for fitness trainers and yoga instructors, there is no need to schedule extra exercise at all. The point is, we are all unique individuals with unique patterns, habits, and methods of success.
If you excel by giving yourself 30 minutes each morning to read your favorite book or listen to your favorite podcast, by all means, add that to your schedule. Some people simply can’t jump into the work day without doing something to center themselves or relax their senses. You want to aim for being the most efficient, successful version of yourself that there is, not blindly following someone else’s process.
Everyone needs time to play, to do something that is just for them, throughout the day - whether it’s watching funny videos, listening to music or catching up on the news. If you feel more comfortable splitting your time for play up during the day, there is nothing wrong with that. Just be sure to move on once the time is up and get focused on the next task at hand.
Ask the Experts
Sometimes, we need more help than we realize to get organized, especially if you’re a creative person. Creativity and organization are not known to go hand-in-hand, hence the popular turn of phrase to describe a charming mess: “Creative Chaos.” For those of us for whom organization and scheduling simply do not come naturally, there are myriad excellent resources that have been created by the experts of organization.
Laura Vanderkam is one such Queen of Coordination, and her books can help even the messiest individuals clean up their act. Her books, like Off the Clock and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast are fabulous resources for the reluctant procrastinator.
You Can Do This!
Self-care isn’t always comfortable, fun, and easy. The most important thing to remember is that you are capable, strong and smart enough to take on every project and task in your life. All you need is a plan for organization, a strong schedule, and if you need a little help along the way, that’s fantastic too. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re clearly committed to creating and maintaining a schedule that works for you and allows you to be the best you can be. Your motivation and determination are the perfect stepping stones for creative organization that will make you more productive than ever.
Give yourself a pat on the back for taking the first steps toward organizing your schedule and your life!
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