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Easy Ways to Stay Organized in 2019

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their future” -F.M Alexander

Organization can seem like a chore to some people, but I have always seen it as a way to sort out my thoughts and keep my work on track. Here are some easy things I do to create the most organized work environment possible.

Create a to do list every morning, starting with the three most important things you need to get done. Write it out in a notebook or word document, don’t just try and remember it in your head. If you have large or challenging tasks that need to be accomplished, break them into smaller, more manageable ones. “Plan NCI 25th Anniversary party” is a scary feat, but “Schedule venue, book band, pick catering” is a lot less intimidating and can be scheduled out across my time-frame and keep the urge to procrastinate at bay. With this comes finding your work flow. Are Mondays and Tuesdays relatively slow, and then you're barely keeping your head above water come Thursday? Or do you usually have a big lull on Wednesday, but then are scrambling to tie up loose ends by Friday? When you have your work week written out in front of you, and you know all the deadlines for your projects, you can pencil (or type!) in where things fit better to keep your work week moving consistently.

Do not let tasks pile up. When you receive a task, plan it into your daily or weekly calendar right away so you know when you have time to complete it. This will also allow you to let the person on the receiving end know when you will be able to complete the task and have it back to them.  If it is something that will only take a few minutes, do It right away. According to Jamie Novak, author of 1,000 Best Quick and Easy Organizing, “If you can do a task in two minutes or less, you must do it right then.” Similarly, you do not want actual piles accumulating in front of you. Keep your work space clean.  Working from home means you may not have the most conventional work desk (we’ve all worked in bed at least once!). Setting up a space for yourself that can be easily kept clean and organized is a great way for your brain to stay on top of everything. After every task I complete, I like to take a few minutes to reorganize my space, clear up my computer tabs, and stretch out a little. And at the end of your work day spend five minutes wrapping up, putting away things you used during the day and pulling out items you’ll need for the next day.

Make sure everything has a home on both your computer and your desk space. Pens, papers, clips, business cards all need a home somewhere; if everything on our desk has a home, there'd be no reason to not put it back into its proper place. Have a cup for your pens, have sticky notes to jot down any thoughts you may forget, have trays to organize your papers and miscellaneous items (am I the only one that gets excited at the container store?) and don’t give yourself the option to start collecting clutter. Organize your computer desktop and inbox as well. It is easy to get distracted by all of the different things you need to do with new emails coming in, burying the old ones or your desktop filling with files and you just can’t seem to find the right one. Make folders separating different projects to make sure you stay on track and have everything where it needs to be. This can allow you to be in the mindset to complete one thing when you are in that folder, and another when you are in a second folder.

A good rule of thumb is to implement one new organization tip at a time. Pick one that you think will get you on track, master it, and then pick a second one to incorporate into your work. Changing everything all at once can make your life more chaotic than when you set out. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!

Kristen Pierce

Kristen Pierce