Eight ways to get organised

If you can get those little things in life under control, it’s amazing how the big things will follow, writes Kath Stathers

How often do you find yourself running around trying to find a birthday present an hour before the party starts? Or discovering you’ve paid over the odds for an insurance renewal because you forgot to shop around first? It’s these little things that can sometimes make you feel that you haven’t got a handle on life.

“When you don’t feel in control, everything feels in disarray,” explains life coach Elizabeth Juffs. “So organisation gives you that sense of taking charge of your own life.” Here are our eight tips to put you back in the driving seat for 2017.

1. Tidy for 15 minutes a day

A quarter of an hour spent sorting through what’s in your in-tray or wardrobe can make all the difference to tasks such as these feeling overwhelming. “Focus on why you want things to be tidy – because it helps you think or gives you a sense of space – and it will help you to achieve it,” says Juffs.

2. Pay in advance for exercise

Physical activity can be tricky to fit in, but if you pay for lessons in advance, you’ll find you work harder to make the time. Enhanced fitness improves your mental health and gives you more energy to tackle each day.

3. Be in control of passwords

Technology figures in everyone’s life, but how you stay in control of it will differ from person to person. “Find a process that works for you,” says Juffs. That could be using an app that remembers all your passwords, or it could mean writing them down on a piece of paper that is taped under a drawer. Whatever your strategy, knowing you can retrieve passwords saves a great deal of stress.

4. Have a family diary

If you live in a household where conflicting plans can be a problem, have a central diary and a rule that if something’s not on the calendar, it’s not a fixture. Keep a blank page next to the calendar to write down the ‘weekend bucket list’ so when there is some free time, you have plenty of ideas for how to enjoy it.

5. One in, one out

If life feels cluttered, you probably have too much stuff. Make space for new things coming into the house by getting rid of old – one in, one out. This works for most shopping, but especially clothes.

6. Three things a day

Don’t write an endless to-do list. “Have goal thresholds,” advises Juffs. “Make time for three things you know you will achieve, rather than having a whole list of things you couldn’t hope to accomplish in a month, let alone a day.”

7. Everything in its place

If possessions have a place to go, they’re more likely to make it back there and you won’t spend hours hunting for the Sellotape, as you will know it’s in your stationery drawer. Combine this with the first suggestion in the list – tidy for 15 minutes a day – and you’ll be sorted.

8. Set phone reminders for planning ahead

Spend an hour one evening setting up a phone (or diary) reminder for everything from renewing insurance to sending your aunt’s birthday card. Don’t set them for the day, but a week in advance so you can do the research and buy the card. That way, you won’t be running around at the last minute – well, not without a reminder first.