If you have ever missed an appointment, forgotten to pick the kids up from soccer practice, or lost a sticky note with an important phone number on it, this is your year to get organized. There is no better time than now to recommit ourselves to bringing some order to the chaos that is our modern lives.
Admitting that your memory is not as good as you think it is is the first step down the road that will eventually lead to a more organized, more productive you. Below is a discussion of a few of the Do and Do Nots of personal organization - they are tried and tested, so do yourself a favor and trust me on the Do Nots. Try all of the Dos until you find the best system that works for you, then stick with it.
Do NOT write things on your hands. This system may have worked well in high school when you had a relatively blank calendar of events to remember. However, in the adult world you will lose a lot of respect if you have phone numbers tattooed all over the back of your hand.
Do write it down. The best way to remember something is to write it down precisely so that you will not have to remember it. You can write that meeting time and place down on a blank calendar, record a phone number straight into your phone or rolodex, or keep a notebook where you record all of your assignments and tasks. The most important thing to remember when trying to get your life organized is to write it down!
Do NOT rely too heavily on sticky notes. Despite the modern technological innovations that gave us mobile phones, hand-held computers, and high-speed internet, science has still failed to provide us with sticky notes that actually stick. Besides, they are too easily lost and tend to clutter up workspace. They are great for taking temporary notes from phone calls or quick conversations, but any important information should be transferred to your blank calendar or planner.
Do find a system that works for you. There are plenty of options out there for people looking for an organizational system to help them get control of their lives. Because I spend the majority of my time in my office, I find that simply printing a blank calendar that I can keep close by works well. Others use traditional day planners or PDAs to keep track of appointments and to-do lists. Software is available that enables you to keep track of everything on your computer - something that is especially handy for students or professionals who have a lot to keep track of and who have to spend their time constantly on the go. If you try one system and it does not seem to work for you, try another option until you find one that does.
Do NOT expect others to keep track of your schedule for you. At the end of the day, you are responsible for what you did and did not get done. Take responsibility for the time you have and get the most out of it. Watch others who seem to be good at staying organized and try to do what they do. Take the initiative to follow the guidelines in this article and get organized.
Do make getting organized a priority. It is not easy, but it is definitely worth it. Most people are already so busy that they barely have time to eat during the day. Ironically, spending more time organizing and thinking about your day will save time in the end. And natural laws of entropy dictate that you are going to have to put in a little energy to bring order to your days. With so many other things demanding your attention, making your calendar a priority will mean it actually gets done, rather than just another unchecked item on your daily to-do list.
Do NOT give up. Getting organized is a habit, and like any other good habit it is going to take time to become a permanent part of your life. You may do great one week and completely lose it the next. Just regroup and recommit yourself each Monday morning to take your calendar by the reins and make the most of each day. We all have 24 hours each day to do all that is required of us - getting organized will determine in large part how much we are able to get done each day.