How to get organised, by someone who used to be chaotic!
Most people who have met me in recent years think that I am a super organised individual. Well, I have a secret.
I am a naturally chaotic person and I spent quite a few years learning how to get organised.
Whether you are similar to me, or whether you’re not so disorganised but simply lack the structure to get things rolling, I am going to teach you all of my little tricks and techniques so that you can get shit done too!
Time management, personal organisation, keeping a tidy home, remembering appointments, doing laundry, and pretty much anything else that require me to remember things or that involved having a grasp of linear tine; all of these things used to be my absolute downfall. Although it has not been quick wor
k, or without its lapses, I have really turned a corner in my life. So much so that I run my own coaching business and very rarely screw things up anymore, in fact I am actually as organised as people think. I also have a nice tidy home that is pleasing the eye, and I have nailed two thirds of the whole doing laundry thing (I will have completed life when I learn how to make myself actually put the clean, dry laundry away. If you have some kind of magic solution for this, seriously email me because I want to talk to you!).
I am telling you this because during my many life hours of exploring how-to-get-shit-done blogs, books and podcasts, I rarely come across tips from people who are openly from the chaos brigade. I was not looking for ‘how to be organised’ from the perspective of a naturally organised person who has colour coded and dated their journals since they were ten years old. I was googling ‘how to stop being messy’ and ‘how to remember things’. Sadly, I never found that resource, so I am hoping this post can go a little way to being that for you!
How to get shit done
1. Be honest with yourself
I believe a lot of my past downfall was the fact that I wasn’t able to be honest about my less strong skill areas such as timekeeping and remembering things. Growing up around two highly organised people who were not always very forgiving about my mess, I developed a lot of shame around the fact that I couldn’t be tidy. This naturally got in the way of me developing useful techniques to combat it; you can’t fix something until you acknowledge its existence, right?
Get super aware of what you can and cannot expect of yourself and put everything into a calendar or a list. Spend some time noticing what you are telling yourself about what you will and will not remember to do. Notice when you tell yourself you’should’ be able to remember something and remind yourself that there is no ‘should’. Set multiple alarms for each event. Set an alarm that tells you to look at your list. It is a game changer!
2. Know your rhythm
One of the key things for developing a good workflow is finding out how your energy is throughout the day and going with that. It is very easy to stick with the structures we have been taught in school and struggle against those routines, but you work for yourself, so you can work literally however you want! I have a client who feels more creative at night-time and gets their best work done into the evening but didn’t really allow themselves to work at that time because it’s not the conventional way of doing it.
Spend a week noticing what time of day has you feeling more engaged in your work and which times of day have you zoning out. Save your ‘golden time’ for your creative work and work that is the heart of your business. I like to call this your ‘A work.’
3. Minimise distractions
Try to find a way of minimising distractions. Silence your phone or put it in another room. I even use an app that locks me out and won’t let me back in until a certain amount of time has elapsed. If I want to get back in early, I have to actually pay real money to use it. You can whitelist apps and incoming calls. It’s called Off The Grid. Many people find that listening to an instrumental playlist, or even white noise helps! There are plenty of instrumental playlists on Spotify.
If you find that you keep getting up to ‘just quickly do’ domestic stuff and you can’t resist, allow yourself a set amount of time each hour. Set a timer.
4. Try pomodoro
The pomodoro technique is a really useful way of developing focus. You simply set a timer for 25 minutes and work consistently for that amount of time. Try not to stop until you’re done, however if you need to stop to do anything during the block, pause the timer until you are ready to start again. Do this four times with a 3-5 minute break in between, then take a longer 15-20 minute break at the end. Rinse and repeat. You can also optimise for your ideal length by slowly extending your focused block length until it feels good for you. Make sure you nail the shorter block before extending.
Try the pomodoro technique over a week and see if it improves your focus.
5. Seperate A work from B work
Separating your daily work into ‘A work’ and ‘B work’ is really useful for helping to prioritise your workflow and making sure your prime creative time or ‘golden time’ is filled with the most important stuff. A work is the heart and soul of your business and what makes your business what it is. If you are an illustrator who runs online courses and takes commissions, your A work would be client commissions, creating lessons and content for your course, creating your blog posts or podcast episodes – or whatever your leading content is. Anything that deserves you to show up fully in your creativity. Your B work would be email, creating Instagram posts, responding to clients, financial admin etc. B work is no less important or essential to the running of your business, but the A work is the stuff which allows your business to exist in the first place.
Make a list of the two headings and list all of your general work activities under each. Make sure you reserve your golden time for A work!
Rather than havin a to-do list that is worked through in an arbitrary way, prioritise the importance of the tasks and do them in order of impact. It is important to note the difference between important and urgent, and although urgency sometimes trumps importance, don’t let that always be the deciding factor. If we simply allow the urgency of a task to dictate how we prioritise, then those that shout loudest always get done first. The loudest ones are usually tasks that involve other people for example replying to email.
For each working session, decide whether you are going to be working on A work or B work and then prioritise your list of tasks. Pick the three most important ones and focus on getting those done.
Scheduling your working day sounds restrictive but in my experience it actually frees up time! Once you have prioritised your tasks and know what you are doing for the day, schedule everything in for specific blocks including your lunch break. Commit to only working on each thing for the blocks you set out and then moving on to the next task.
Get a physical diary or piece of paper and schedule out your working day. Keep it open in front of you so that you can check back and keep on track. Set alarms if it’s helpful!
I hope this post has been useful. If you would like to grab a copy of my workflow which helps to lay evverything out, prioritise and schedule then you can grab it below. Please comment with your own tips and tricks, and if you’re that laundry person pop over to my Insta and ping me a DM!