Organizing stuff is something I really love doing. I have a checklist and spreadsheet for almost everything, which you can say is probably my identifier. I have a long list of friends, even bosses who would swear by me being organized and detail-oriented. It may be good and bad at the same time, especially because I have my own way of doing things and some people may not understand that.
Nonetheless, it’s seriously satisfying for me when I create spreadsheets for someone else. So when my friend personally asked me how to stay organized, I immediately thought about writing it down.
Choose a Good Productivity Planner
Every December, we all have this tradition of hunting for the best productivity planner in town—I’m guilty of collecting Starbucks stickers in exchange for the annual planner.
I know some people who join the journal and planner craze but end up not touching those poor notebooks after a month or so. Here are my two cents: updating your planner should be in your daily routine. Be sure to find one that will actually keep you writing every single day just to jot down your appointments and tasks.
I used to buy two planners every year (one main planner, and one small planner that I can use on the go), but this year I’m only using one main planner, then one guided journal and a diary.
Why so many? Because I use my planner to write down my general plans, then I use my bullet journal to keep track of my recurring tasks. Diary is basically where I record what happened.
Think of it like this: a diary is my past, a bullet journal is my present, and a planner is my future. It sounds like a lot of work but this is how I stay organized. If you want to try my routine, read more about my journaling tips.
Categorize, Then Prioritize
Our time is divided into different aspects of our lives every day—it may be personal, work, family, and so on. Sometimes, it’s even more complicated especially if you have multiple home-based jobs. The question is, which one should be your priority A or B? Learn how to rank your tasks based on their importance and urgency.
Obviously, your time revolves around work if you have a day job, but you should keep your personal matters in mind as well, like meeting friends, working out, making grocery shopping lists, paying the bills, and sleeping, among others. Having a day job shouldn’t equate to zero social life.
This will also help you work in advance (or multi-task) if it happens that you finish your tasks early. Don’t get me wrong, I also cram every now and then, but it really stresses me out when I have to work during the last minute and hand over crappy work.
I really can’t stress this enough—to-do checklists are a must-have, no matter how old you are. I started using it in high school and have never dropped the habit since. It makes my life way easier because I can remember everything I have to do. Plus, there’s this simple pleasure every time you tick something off your list!
To-do lists are all over stationery shops and bookstores but you can also personalize one by starting a bullet journal.
If you’re more of a digital person, iOS has a built-in Reminders checklist. I use it as a backup for my actual checklist—it’s especially helpful for travelers. You may also check App Store or Google Play for other productivity apps.
Learn the Power of Spreadsheets
My workmates call me the Spreadsheet girl because I use it to organize, well, almost everything. I make sure to put all the headers and subheaders up until the most detailed information.
It’s entirely up to your strategy on what to put in your spreadsheet, but I usually add the task and status, as well as some notes or details to remember.
To give you an idea, here’s an example of what my spreadsheet typically looks like:
I like using the dropdown feature for every column! Simply highlight the whole column (except for the header row) > right-click and select Data Validation > choose List of Items under the Criteria, and voila! You can list what you want to add to your dropdown.
I like filtering it so that I can immediately see what I have to write, what’s done, in progress, etc. To filter, simply highlight a full row (either your first or second row), then click the Filter button from your toolbar. Like so:
If you click the Filter button (inverted triangle), it will show something like this, depending on the values/list of items that you added to your column. You can now start to check or uncheck some items to filter your results.
I don’t know about you, but I feel suffocated every time I see a crowded table (unless I’m really that busy to clean). Empty your working space as much as possible so that you won’t have to go through your stuff just to look for that piece of paper—this is also an effective studying tip if you’re a student.
Categorize your documents. Organize your computer folders. Clear everything out once you’re sure you won’t need them the next day or so. And please, PLEASE, make sure to mark all your emails as read.
For those of you who are not so good with decluttering, I suggest you watch the new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
Lessen Screen Time
I’ve been living a grounded life without social media for quite some time now. It has helped me prioritize more important things in life, and I’ve never felt this free since social media took all of our hours.
If you don’t feel like deactivating like me, then at least lessen your screen time. You can hide your gadgets while working on something so you won’t be distracted.
Ultimately, I guess what keeps me organized is the fact that I have a system for everything. A system is kind of like your routine, especially when something unexpected comes up, so you don’t have to panic not knowing what to do.
I hope my list will help you boost your productivity. If I missed anything or you have tips to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!