Hi, my friends,
As you know, I’m a big fan of books that explain how our brain works, how we think and how to recognise our brain is playing tricks on us. We think we know something and yet we don’t, we remember moments that never happened and we are heavily influenced by the world that surrounds us. I find that fascinating, I hope that reading about it will help me make better decisions in the future.
The book I’m currently reading is called The Organized Mind
I think I mentioned it in another post as I’ve been reading it for a while now. It is quite a comprehensive book, it covers a b r o a d variety of topics and there’s also some statistics in it, which is what slows me down. It starts by approaching methods we could use to organise our lives, it talks about how to make informed decisions when it comes to medicine and it shares insights on how to run an organised business. At the moment, I’m not too concerned about my health as touch wood I’m mostly fine, but I found some nice ideas that I’m trying to apply in my everyday life to get things done.
The most useful advice in my case was this one: if something takes 2 minutes or less to be done, then just do it, don’t procrastinate. This way, we avoid ending up having a long list of little things to do that will take an hour of our precious time (that we could have spent differently). It is not easy to force myself to do things straight away but I’m really trying to follow this rule. If I get most of the little things done, I feel like I’m on top of my life, I’m more satisfied and I am in a better mood to plan the time that’s left.
My piano teacher used to say: if you practice playing the piano regularly, then you’ll slowly start to be organized in other aspects of your life as well. To me, getting small things done as I go is helping me develop a habit that pushes me to get the big tasks done as well. Once you get into that mindset that you have to do what you have to do and you do it, you start applying it to bigger projects as well. I’m not talking about writing a book in a week or climbing Mount Everest here, I’m just thinking of keeping the house tidy, clean the dishes after a meal, make a phone call, write an email, simple tasks.
Another tip I find very useful is to leave objects where you will need them. If I need to throw the garbage, I’ll leave it next to the hallway where I will stop to grab my jacket on my way out. I wanted to make sure I’d apply a clay mask this morning (as I’ve not done that in weeks) so I left it on the sink because I always go to the bathroom in the morning, but if I’d left it inside the cupboard I would have forgotten that again.
If I want to get something done, I have to write down a to-do list. The book suggests to carry around notecards, I’d rather write lists on my phone or in my diary (I keep one at work and one at home) because if I start taking cards with me, I know I’ll lose them. Before writing a to-do list, it’s better to do some research on the project you want to accomplish to make sure you don’t forget any steps. When I started planning my wedding, I spent time talking to friends and my sister M, reading blogs and Pinterest boards to get an understanding of all the single tasks I had to plan. I then wrote a to-do list divided in months that I’m more or less following and I’ve put that on my fridge so it serves a constant reminder. To me, it’s very important to write down the tasks I have to accomplish because it makes everything look less scary.
Last but not least, be smart at planning your time. You know better than anyone else when you are the most efficient: if that’s in the morning, at night or in the afternoon. My brain is worthless after work so I’d rather wake up earlier, get my blog posts done in the morning and use the nighttime to either go to the gym or to iron and clean the house. Bear in mind that the time you have is not going to magically triple because you have to carry out a project. The time you have is the time you already have so stop wasting it on one billion tasks, just focus on one at a time and get things done. Make sure you plan enough time for each activity: multitasking can only be detrimental.
To be fair, I think the hardest part is, to be honest with yourself and admit we are not going to master everything we wish to achieve. I would love to be able to speak another language fluently, learn how to use needle and thread properly, draw frequently, have a successful blog, vlog and read one book a week. The problem is that if I focus on all these projects, I will only be fairly good at each one of them. However, if I choose one and I dedicate all my time and energy to that single one, there are more chances I will eventually master it. Time and dedication are the two ingredients to success. Apparently, talent is only accountable for a very small percentage of it.
For more tips and research cases, I totally recommend reading the book The Organized Mind
Being organised is an art and I only started doing it when I felt I was starting to forget things and when I realised the years were going by and I still didn’t have a blog. At the beginning, I was afraid it would have been more difficult to be creative within limits, but that’s really not true. On the contrary, because most of what I have to remember is on a to-do list, I feel I can forget it and use more brain space to explore ideas freely.
What about you? How do you stay on top of everything, what’s your strategy?