Do you ever finish watching a movie or reading a book where the main character gets reborn after a messy breakup, job, or even life? And when I say messy, boy I mean it.
Scenes of cluttered closets, sinks filled with dirty spoons and cups, dog hair on the couch, girl in a messy bun half-assing her Uni essay on a topic she knows nothing about at the last minute. Yeah, MESSY! But somehow, Hollywood magic hits her mental state as she meets a painfully average-looking guy named Jack and gets her shit together. The power of true love, or whatever Hugh Grant preaches in every damn movie. As the audience, we just end up with all the serotonin and motivation but zero answers on how to actually make that 180. Zero.
I just finished watching The Baby of Bridget Jones, which inspired this blog…And a bit of a distaste towards Hugh Grant.
And a little FYI, no one is born with exceptional organizational skills. They are taught, practiced, and mastered, so no need to put yourself down for things you are yet to learn. How to be more organized at work and how to stay organized at work doesn’t just fall from trees, you know.
1. No more Notes Apps, start writing shit down!
There’s something so therapeutic about a simple pen and paper. Channeling thoughts onto pieces of paper through imaginative strokes and lines of letters sometimes feels like tension release from the mind, through the hand, and onto the paper.
No keyboard or screen can really compare, as this is the best way on how to organize your daily routine.
Writing is a much slower process, which gives your brain more time and space to digest and dissect your thoughts, rather than just imitate a copy and paste technique. Furthermore, there comes an even broader possibility to create more ideas on top of the ones you already have. And this isn’t just a romanticized idea to get you to purchase a nice notebook. This is backed up by excessive research.
“A series of randomized trials have shown that when college students use computers or tablets during lectures, they learn less and earn worse grades.” – directly taken from a Harvard study.
When you type on your phone or laptop, your brain doesn’t engage with the text as much as it would by writing. A more substantial conceptual perception of what you’re trying to get across is at stake when you ditch the old and get on with the new. And although typing wins at practicality, nothing can exercise your brain more than traditional writing.
So you might ask, what does this have to do with being more organized in life, or teenage organization? Isn’t the center of good organization practicality? And if so, isn’t it just better to use my phone? No, not really.
Good organization and management don’t start with the space around you, but rather with the space within you. Organizing and addressing your thoughts, feelings, and doubts should be prioritized before anything else. You can’t lead a clean life with a messy mind. There’s just no sustainability.
And this little notebook doesn’t have to be a diary or a bullet journal; it could just present a visual depiction of what goes on in your head before it reaches surface reality. Keep track of your negative thoughts, reasons for procrastination, even dreams. It can give you a strong base to build and organize your daily life on top of.
2. Have healthy daily To-Do Lists
Speaking of writing, can I just mention how underrated daily To-Do lists are?! These little guys are like an antidote to procrastination we all sometimes experience, even on a daily level. Plus they are great for when you’re at school, especially for high school organisation. And although we all sometimes need 15 minutes to just breathe and stare into the ceiling, shit still needs to get done!
But don’t be fooled by the serious tone of these To-Do lists; not all of them have to strictly mean business. Sometimes, you just need a reminder to sit down and do what you love. For example, today I had quite a bit on my plate; both work and personal life-related. So, here was my “How to organize your workday” To-Do list:
- Take your vitamins;
- Finish this blog;
- Get studying done by 6 PM; (very organized student)
- Take the cat to the vet;
- Grocery run (you’re out of milk, idiot);
- 15 min exercise;
- Call mom and grandma;
- Study break: finish your daily quests on WoW;
- Read your book before bed;
And although it seems like much, it really isn’t. Have a little check box next to every task and please remember to take breaks. I too am guilty of just going at my tasks like a maniac before completely burning out. Not on this particular Sunday, as this one is very chill; but it’s so important to take it easy every now and then.
3. Set doable goals
When I was a kid, I used to hate setting goals. We were taught in school and by our parents to always have a goal in mind before we give our time and energy to something. My mom always used to say: “Setting goals is like always having a compass for where you’re going in life! That’s how you prevent getting lost.”
And I’d say, yeah, that seems very smart, but I hate thinking so much ahead. I hate thinking as if there’s always a tomorrow because maybe there just isn’t. I liked the freedom of putting energy into whatever the hell I wanted, with no specific goal or agenda in mind. It felt so weightless.
Other than this being a tad too pessimistic of thought for a child, this was also a very unhealthy way of thinking. In so many ways. This way of thinking and looking at life can spiral and create a chain thought pattern of ideals that just make life a living hell. And if you live life with this uncertainty, that everything just might disappear in a matter of seconds, you won’t ever give yourself a chance to be happy; in any way possible.
The same goes for being a tad unrealistic with your goals; a lot can only go a few ways. And one of them just might be a wrong turn. Overachievers often get cut short; and sometimes, it isn’t even their fault, life just has other plans.
To put things into perspective, there are two ways to live life with this uncertainty:
- Nothing really matters, so what’s the point of doing anything?
- Nothing really matters, so I’ll make something matter to me.
The ladder would be the obviously healthier choice. So in the name of the Swedish word “Lagom”, something not too much or too little, but just right; how do we find this middle ground when setting goals?
It’s a simple equation, truly:
Your honest capability and skill set + your timetable = a healthy, doable goal.
You can make weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals; but personally, I would still keep the distant ones in the drawer as rough sketches, as you truly never know what will happen.
4. Keep your space clean and tidy
Another step heavily inspired by my mother: “If there’s a mess in your house, there’s a mess in your head!” And she couldn’t be more right. So you want to know how to clean and organize your house in one day?
It’s very hard to keep your duties and thoughts on track when everything around you is so out of place. From your kitchen, all the way to the bedroom, how you choose to harmonize your living space will be a direct reflection of your mind.
Now, you don’t have to turn into a clean freak in order to get stuff done; taking things to extremes never really helped anyone. But why not start with having a home for every object in your house.
Return things where they belong after you are done with them; write down basic daily chores like doing the dishes, taking out the trash, and vacuuming on your daily To-Do list, and check them off one by one. Invest in your home, it truly is your sanctuary.
After you’re done tidying up, right before you sit down to finish those reports, homework, or studying, light a candle, put some relaxing ambient playlist in the background and work away. To put it more poetically, give your head a clean plate before serving the main course.
5. Prioritize good sleep and diet
Motivation, or lack thereof, could make or break your day. It’s not a constant existential state of being, but rather an energy that flows like the tide; it comes and goes. To keep it for as long as possible, good sleep and diet help tremendously. Seriously, they are so underrated.
8-9 hours of sleep is essential believe it or not; waking up earlier is essential too! Your body and mind are heavily influenced when you switch up days and nights, it makes it harder to function, let alone get motivated properly. Additionally, above anything else, have a good and big breakfast, filled with protein and fats, not carbs. It sets you off with a lot of energy for the day.
Swap that soda with a tall glass of lemonade or tea; pick bananas over candy on most days. One big glass of water after you wake up and before you go to sleep should be a daily too; try not to leave your system dehydrated. Try to add a few exercise sessions throughout the week too! Not only are they very healthy for the heart and body, but also for the mind. They decrease stress and anxiety and give you a better quality of sleep.
Lastly, take your damn vitamins every day, especially vitamin D during the colder days of the year when the Sun doesn’t visit us as much.
6. Make room for mistakes
Possibly the most important part of becoming more organized in life is accepting the fact that not everything can always be organized. Not everything can always be planned and thoroughly thought out; the universe just doesn’t function that way.
It’s okay to be glued to the couch on lazy days; it’s okay to stay in bed until noon sometimes too. You’re just like everybody else: you try on most days and deserve to rest and recharge on others. Nothing bad about that.
Every now and then, ditch notebooks and lists, and give yourself the lazy day you so deserve. It’s an essential and fun part of life too.