I recently took a vacation where I did nothing for seven days. I spent time relaxing by the pool, enjoying time with friends, and exploring a Caribbean island.
Wifi on the island was spotty and nonexistent at my Airbnb. Did my hosts do that on purpose, I wondered? So, there was no email checking or news about the real world.
I brought a journal and spent a few days writing down ideas,
thoughts, and observations. The atmosphere inspired a new fiction idea that I started outlining.
There was no word count tracking and minimal thought given to what’s next. That doesn’t mean I was without anxiety! I had more than a few panic moments thinking about the stuff I was letting slip—projects falling behind, unanswered emails, and books I could be writing.
Despite the lack of productivity, I needed this “do nothing” time. This was time to refill my creative well, and now that I’m back, it’s time to get organized.
After a break, how do we best get organized? When I was a kid, I obsessed about the furniture in my room. Every weekend, I rearranged everything, even large pieces like my bed, often by myself.
I guess I liked the variety, but the reshuffling also cleared my head. I’m still this way today—I’ll tidy the house or reorganize a cluttered junk drawer before I can feel settled.
Does this ever happen to you? Can you work in a messy space? I can, but not for very long. In a cluttered environment, I get overwhelmed. I’ll step back and clear my space so that I can get unstuck and move forward with my projects.
Here are 10 ways you can get organized starting today!
Think of each step as something you can do in 10 to 15-minute chunks. You can spend an afternoon working through everything on the list or tackle them bit by bit each day.
1. Super fast tidy session.
Go through your house starting from one end to the other and pick up anything that is not where it’s supposed to be. Think of it as a game and time yourself to see how fast you can get it done.
Don’t worry if things aren’t perfect. The point is to clear space and put things back where they belong so that you feel better mentally.
2. Organize a junk drawer.
We all have the crazy drawer where we throw all our bits of paper and accumulated oddball clutter. How long would it take you to open it and throw away at least 5 things? Two minutes?
3. Process your snail mail.
Take two to five minutes a day to open your postal mail and take action on it right away. Recycle, shred, toss, pay, or add the info to your calendar right then and there. Try to avoid creating a new pile that you have to deal with in future.
4. Clean up your computer desktop.
Often, I’ll download a bunch of documents throughout the week and dump them on my computer desktop to clean up later.
Inevitably, this leads to a junk-filled desktop that drives me bonkers! Taking five minutes to file or delete files is a simple solution to avoid this.
5. Process your notes.
As a writer, I’m always coming up with ideas and recording observations. I jot random notes on my phone, in notebooks, and on scraps of paper. I dedicate time to process the notes once a week. This takes about 15 or 20 minutes. Often, I’ll toss the ideas, but for good ones, I add them to an “ideas” list that I keep in a Google Doc.
Uuse the organizational tool of your choice—Word doc, spreadsheet, Evernote, OneNote, Trello, etc. The point is to do something with the notes and cut the clutter.
6. Declare email bankruptcy.
I try to stay on top of email, but there are occasions where so many pile up that I end up declaring email bankruptcy. To do this, scan your email for anything important—messages from friends/family or those that are time-sensitive—and action those.
But everything else must go. Select all and mark the emails as read, then archive them. If you missed something you need, you could always search for it.
7. Clear your office space.
Messy desk, messy mind, right? Maybe there are creative geniuses out there who thrive in a chaotic, paper-cluttered spot. For me and most of us, clutter leads to a feeling of overwhelm.
Take a few minutes to clear your desk, dust your computer, and get organized to tackle what’s truly important in your day.
8. Buy a robotic vacuum.
I hate dust. One of the best investments I’ve made is to buy a robot vacuum cleaner. There is a model available on Amazon that’s not as expensive as you’d think, and it does a great job.
I love the idea of automating non-value added tasks as much as possible. I can set the vacuum in my bedroom for example, and it will clean all the cobwebs under the bed. Yes! I love technology:-)
9. Start a weekly financial routine.
Every Saturday morning, I spend 20 minutes reviewing bank accounts, checking credit card transactions, reviewing income and sales numbers, and paying bills.
Financial concerns are important—you certainly don’t want to miss a bill payment. But have you considered that a weekly financial checkpoint can help you in your journey to achieve financial freedom? If you are an author, review your return on ads and your book sale performance. What can you tweak to try and get better results?
If you don’t carve out time to review your financials, you won’t be in control of them. It’s the less glamorous side of the entrepreneur journey because it takes us away from creative time. Administration is not our favorite thing, but having a routine will put you ahead of others when it comes to financial security.
10. Schedule a weekly organization session.
I’ll admit, I’ve struggled to conquer my organizational habits. I tend to get into the flow of a book or project and ignore everything else.
I’ll let emails and mail pile up; dishes pile up in the sink; the house is a wreck. And then, I’ll get to the point where I’m overwhelmed, and I need to follow all the steps above.
I challenge you (and myself) to build a routine where we organize ourselves little by little. A routine helps get the administration stuff done, so you can spend more time creating and thriving.
Let me know how it’s going for you! Leave a comment below.
I’m Courtney Kenney, author and book launch consultant. Like you, I’m on the author’s journey. My focus is to improve my craft, learn new marketing techniques, and sell more books as I grow my authorpreneur business. I want to share what I’ve learned to help you become a more productive and prosperous author.
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