How to "Get Organized"

Disorganized, messy room, clutter

There are many different philosophies, strategies, and tools out there to help you get organized in both your professional and personal life. Many people have likely tried one or more of them, with varying degrees of success. Maybe you tried the Marie Kondo approach to decluttering but after a few hours realized you didn’t want to get rid of all your stuff after all. Maybe you tried a to-do list app that a friend recommended, but found it was too tedious and stopped using it after a week. Or maybe your manager set up a Dropbox system for your team, but never took time to explain how it was set up and how it should be used, so no one ever uses it.

The problem is, there are many different ways to “be organized,” and the word “organized” means different things to different people. In order to identify the “right” approach, you need ask yourself some questions to figure out what problem you are trying to solve and define your short and long-term goals are for whatever organization system you put in place.

So here’s what you can do. Take a few minutes, grab a pen and paper, and ask yourself the following 3 questions.

  1. What is it that needs organizing? Is it a physical space, like a room, desk, or file cabinet? Is it your calendar and scheduling system? Is it a time-management issue? The most specific you can be, the better.
  2. For each mess names in question 1, what does “being organized” look like? How would your life be different if you could organize that one aspect? What would or wouldn’t you need to do anymore?  
  3. What is keeping you from achieving your vision question 2? What’s holding you back, or standing in your way?

When you start to actually think through these answers and write them down, the solution often presents itself. You’ll start to see small steps you can take to move from here to there. The answers to these questions will help narrow down what organizational techniques would work for you, and what tools would be most effective.