Some people seem to be naturally organised – their assignments are never late, their bedrooms are never a pigsty and they’ve always got a spare toothbrush on hand.
If that’s not you, here are some frameworks you can try out to install some order in your existence. It takes a bit of effort to get things under control, but once you’re in the habit of following these tips, you’ll be amazed at the benefits. (Umm, can I borrow that toothpaste? I have a brush, but…)
1. Write it down
Let’s start with the basics. Even if you have a great memory, it’s not as strong as ink on paper. For some reason, the act of writing something down makes it more likely to stick in your mind. So whether it’s the due date for an essay, what you need to buy at the shops or any other vital piece of information, scribble it down. Or, you know, type it into your phone’s notetaking app. Just make sure you check back on what you’ve written.
2. Everything in its place
If you’re always losing things, it’s time to give them a home. This is a trick lots of chefs use, because they have to be as organised and efficient as possible. Use labelled containers, a special bowl for your keys and phone, a basket for dirty clothes and so on. Get used to putting things in their home as you go, instead of chucking them wherever. (Yeah, I know. Easier said than done. It helps if you get in the habit of putting things away as soon as you’ve finished using them.)
3. Getting things done
As the name implies, this framework is all about ticking off to-do lists. Which means, of course, that you have to start writing to-do lists. If you’re always connected to your phone, there are apps like Wunderlist, for example, that make this easy. If you’re more analog, pen and paper works just as well (and can become a work of art, if you’re that way inclined).
Scene from Limitless (2011). You don’t need a fictional drug to get organised, just …
4. Fifteen minutes a day
Set a timer for 15 minutes in the future, then go nuts. Sort through piles of paper and throw out what you don’t need. Put your clothes away. Carry dirty plates and glasses out to the kitchen. Unsubscribe from those email lists that you never read anyway. Whatever it is, go hard until the alarm goes off. Do this once a day and you’ll start to see a difference in your environment.
5. Make time to slack off
When you’re disorganised, it’s easy to beat yourself up. As the things you should be doing pile up, it’s hard to enjoy a video game or TV show because they’re always at the back of your mind. So when you’re setting up a schedule for working on assignments or whatever else is looming, lock in some solid time for being lazy or browsing social media.
The Pomodoro Technique is one example of this – essentially you work hard for 25 minutes, have a five-minute break to do whatever, and repeat.