We all experience stressful and chaotic times in our lives. Whether it’s fussy babies or crazy corporate schedules, inefficiencies and disorganization can create situations that lead to failures or a desire to give up or neglect the important things in life. In addition to this, a hectic lifestyle can also lead to significant health issues if left unmitigated for too long. This is why effective life management is so important. This is especially true with the demands of today’s modern society. With that said, here are six easy ways that you can reduce disorganization and complete tasks more efficiently in your life.
How many of you wake up each morning and get ready for work or school in a different manner each day? I’m guessing that most of you actually have a morning routine that you’ve developed over time. Logically, having a routine enables you to know exactly how much time you need to get ready in the morning and it makes preparing for the day an almost automatic task. By extending your ability to establish routines to other tasks in your life you will see significant benefits. For example, I have routines for doing almost everything in my life. This allows me to complete those tasks efficiently enabling me to get more things done with less time. This also makes multi-tasking easier and gives me more free time to do things that I actually enjoy.
Here are some examples of some simple routines that can help make your life easier:
- Start with simple things like placing your keys and wallet in the same location when you get home from work or an outing. If you do this consistently you will never lose these items again!
- Drive to work using the same route while paying attention to daily traffic patterns. Use your awareness of traffic patterns to find ways to shorten your drive or reduce your levels of stress.
- Do laundry or household chores every week on the same day. Designate a time to do these things and do them consistently. It’s much easier and faster to clean something with only a week or two of accumulated dirt as opposed to months.
- Designate a certain time of the week to pay bills and update your financial information.
- Develop a bed-time routine that starts at the same time every night.
Planning ahead obviously goes a long way toward leading an efficient and low stress life. However, more often than not people living in chaos simply forget to take time out of their day to plan for what lies ahead. We all know the importance of planning and how much time, money, and effort it can really save, and yet, many people still don’t do it. I am a planner by nature. I try to plan everything with the goal of reducing or eliminating future surprises. My wife makes fun of me sometimes because she says that I try and plan out our entire life’s path. In a way she is right, but I always leave some room for spontaneity (as long as it’s in the plan!). Seriously though, making a plan will save you lots of headaches as well as money and time.
If you have never planned anything before, it can be challenging to get started. First, you have to start small. Start with something simple like deciding what clothes you are going to wear to work before you go to sleep. In this case, all that is required here is for you to make a conscience effort to select your outfit before you go to bed. This only takes a few moments to do before you fall asleep and can be easily added to your nightly routine. Here are some examples of small planning efforts that can reap big rewards in your life:
- Prepare and freeze meals ahead of the busy week
- Make a grocery list before going shopping. Better yet, organize the list such that the items are in the order that you encounter them in the store. This will ensure that you don’t back track and only need to head down each aisle once.
- Have family planning sessions to discuss chores, sports schedules, and weekend plans, etcetera
- Plan your route to a new destination using mapping software such as Google maps. Don’t rely on GPS alone. Review the directions and make adjustments as needed. Know the route you are going before you leave the house.
After you have mastered simple things, you can start expanding your efforts to include vacation planning, financial planning, and career planning.
Use Technology to Sync Your life
Technology is great isn’t it? When used properly, technology can be used to simplify your life and make things more efficient. Before the wide use of smart phones I remember keeping a master calendar and a to-do list at home on my personal computer. Every morning I had to check the calendar and task list and transfer it to a piece of paper. At the end of the day I would usually sit down and review these again in preparation for the next day and to mark off the things that I completed on that day. This was often an arduous task. Today, programs like Evernote and Google’s free suite of productivity software make syncing your life very quick and easy. These days it’s often so easy to stay organized and on task that you could even get your kids in on it!
But you have to be careful of technology. Often times the devices that we believe are making us more efficient actually drag us down. In fact, you will want to avoid these five perils of technology if you ever hope to reduce your stress and improve your productivity.
Here are some tips to help keep technology from taking over your life:
- Set your devices to update automatically. Nothing is more annoying than having to do a bunch of updates when you are in a hurry and need to check your calendar or send yourself a task reminder.
- Choose devices that promote the most functionality for your money. These days tablets are becoming very popular. However, it’s my personal opinion that laptops are still much better for productivity and getting work done. Before making that big purchase take time to think about what you are going to use it for.
- Don’t overuse technology. When the battery dies or your child smears peanut butter on your phone you need to be able to adapt and overcome the situation.
- Frequently backup your devices. Better yet, use a cloud service to store all of your working documents and then sync this across all of your devices.
- If technology has taken over your life, check out this article for additional advice: Overcoming the Woes of Technology: Roadblocks to Success in Today’s Society
Getting organized is almost a no-brainer. An organized life usually equates to an organized mind which results in a much lower level of stress. You’ll also get things done quicker and with less mistakes. Getting organized is more than just making sure that there is a place for everything and that everything is in its place. It means using a logical and standardized system to store and organize things in your home that makes them accessible and convenient to use. After all if you can’t find those gold earrings, will you ever wear them? Getting organized does take some time to accomplish, however, the results are well worth the effort. You’ll also find that it takes much less effort to maintain an organized home than it does to constantly be searching for missing things.
Here are some simple tips to help you get organized:
- Start small. If you are putting off organizing your home because it’s overwhelming, then you need to start small and work towards a goal. You could even develop and implement an organization plan. Organize one room at a time or pick one thing to focus on at a time.
- Use colors, numbers, letters, etc to create a logical system to file and organize items.
- De-clutter your house. Purge items that you haven’t used in years or that no longer serve their original purpose.
Develop a Trusted Network of Friends & Family
One great thing about being human is enjoying our ability to be social and having a trusted network of close friends & family. We are social beings and should use this trait to our advantage. When you circle yourself with lots of close friends, this can improve the efficiency in your life. Not only can friends help you out when you are in need, they can offer different perspectives on issues impacting your life. Having another set of eyes available to look at a problem and to work out a solution is a great way to decrease stress in your life. The saying “two heads are better than one” definitely holds true here.
Friends offer a great support system that can enable you to get things done faster, more efficiently, and at a lower cost. However, you must be careful about who you choose to have in your life. As we have learned, toxic or negative people may actually do you more harm than good.
Get Some Exercise
Exercising regularly (and eating right) will significantly improve your ability to live a low stress life. Not only does exercise punch stress in the face, it can actually help prevent it in the first place. Not only that, you’ll sleep better and have more energy to get things done. Exercise also improves your cognitive abilities as well making those difficult or complex tasks seem that much easier. Personally, I love getting in a great work out. The benefits are almost limitless. Here are a couple of tips to help you get your exercise in:
- Use your lunch break to get in a quick work out. Thirty minutes is plenty of time to feel the burn and fill your stomach.
- Don’t have thirty minutes to exercise? Even just 10 minutes of walking increases the blood flow to your brain, reduces stress, and gives you the boost that you need to continue with your day.
- Even if you’re not a fan of physical fitness, you can still get your heart racing simply by doing everyday things with more intensity and vigor. For example, instead of walking to the mailbox do a quick jog or a fast walk instead.