Get Organized for More Time, More Health and More LIFE!
In today’s digital world of easy and rapid proliferation of anything and everything, the old rules for getting organized just aren’t as applicable.
Even those for whom organization comes easily, struggle to keep up with email, filing, and to do lists and all the myriad things demanding your time and attention. If you’re struggling to get organized in this era of information overload, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority.
Table of Contents
- Get Organized for More Time, More Health and More LIFE!
- Organized Environment… Organized Mind
- If You Think You Like and Thrive on Disorder…
- Turn a New Leaf
- Out with the Old Rules…
- Organizing Email and the Myth of Inbox Zero
- Looking for Things Wastes Valuable Time
- The Organized Creative
- Hyper Organized My Just Be Hyper
Cleaning and Organizing Increases Physical, Mental and Emotional Health
A 2010 studyhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19934011 found that women were more likely to be depressed and stressed, with accompanying higher cortisol levels, if their homes were cluttered or full of unfinished projects.
Ahem… creators! Sound familiar?
Conversely, women who were better organized described their homes as “restful” and “restorative”. Chances are that you didn’t need a study to tell you that you’ll feel happier when you get organized. However, more than that… living in a clean and organized environment keeps you healthier overall.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19934011
Audio Article – Get Organized for Greater Creativity:
NOTE: The audio articles aren’t always exactly the same as the print articles as we periodically update the written articles, and sometimes ad lib comments on the audio versions.
Organized Environment… Organized Mind
Many years ago, my husband, Coleman and I owned a closet organizing company as our first business together. We would go into people’s homes and install those cool drawer, shelf and hanging units that turned the old cluttered one-rod closets into an elegantly organized solution. Sometimes, we’d also be hired to help people organize their stuff.
A common theme was that the more order was brought to people’s environment, the more relaxed, peaceful and organized their state of mind. It became evident that there was a psychological correlation between overall emotional and mental well being and the order or clutter of their environment. Like a shower after a sweaty workout, or a hot day, cleaning up and organizing feels so good and relaxing overall.
A Princeton University study in 2011 (before we had as many distractions as today), revealed how clutter can make it more difficult to focus. Apparently, even if you’re unaware of the clutter in your environment, or your desktop, it can tax your peripheral awareness and deplete your mental resources.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167
When you simplify, you become more productive and happier. You open up space for your creativity to thrive.
~Brian Gardner, creative entrepreneur, website designer
If You Think You Like and Thrive on Disorder…
First, we need to clear up a common meme promulgated especially amongst creative communities. Many creatives say they work best when things are messy. Perhaps.
Ultimately, only you know what works best for you. Just be sure to be honest with yourself. Just don’t automatically perpetuate the common memes and utterances that you’ve always said without bringing them up for examination and determination as to whether it’s really true.
Most people who say they enjoy and thrive on messes, typically love a clean and organized environment… if they don’t have to be the one to clean it! ?
Probe your psyche for the myths you’ve been told, by yourself or others.
Expose them to the light of objective inquiry and they will lose their grip on you.
~LeAura Alderson, iCreateDaily.com®
Turn a New Leaf
If you sketch, you love the invitation of a fresh new page in your sketchbook to create something new. If you’re a writer, the blank page beckons your ideas and lures you to pen them to life. Journal fans, brush a hand over a new blank page, and enjoy neatly scribing thoughts with favorite pens.
Most writers love writing fresh ideas more than they love editing what’s already written. Same for painters. Easier to paint something new than to frame and hang a new painting. It’s the same with organization. To get organized is like exercise: the process of getting organized is like the process of exercising.
Most people don’t love to clean, organize or exercise. Yet everyone enjoys the results.
Getting organized is like exercising. You may not enjoy the process but the rewards are ever worth the effort.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily.com®
Out with the Old Rules…
In this period of proliferation, the old rules of organizing, filing and record keeping is not as relevant. Even the most obsessively organized person can find it hard to keep the old order in today’s digital age.
If you’re a baby boomer or older, perhaps you remember when we actually had time to organize. We had less stuff, less to keep up with, and more time.
Talk about OCD… I remember the days when we had hours to organize things. I actually used to TYPE our file folder labels for goodness sake! Today, I rarely keep papers unless it’s absolutely necessary, such as tax or business records.
Full disclosure… having lived in the same home for 30 years, we have years of clutter to clear. Now, we’re basically living in a start-up house, so our focus and priorities have shifted, which I touch on a bit more later. Bottom line, we’re steadily going through it, and even just one day of that—or one hour—makes a notable difference in how we feel.
Getting organized just feels better.
…in with the Newer Faster Ways to Get Organized
There’s such an abundance of info blasting our way each day that saving, bookmarking, filing and keeping for posterity or the ‘read someday”, is more a thing of the past. Today, it’s so easy to find what you’re looking for—or something like it—now through Google, that you no longer have to file and keep many of the things you want to remember.
It’s the same with education. The years of memorizing facts and storing them for future retrieval, is no longer necessary for most things when everyone has a supercomputer in their palm. This leaves more room in the brain for creativity, if… if we don’t clutter it with nonessentials.
Organizing and Recipes – Just Google it
Take recipes for example. We naturally have our favorite cookbooks. Our family’s main cookbook is a 4″ spiral bound notebook full of recipes we’ve printed out to keep. However, when we’re preparing to make something that requires a recipe, or to get ideas, it’s often so much easier to just Google it. It’s often faster and easier for us to Google a recipe to find our favorite—or a new favorite—than it is to thumb through our large overstuffed binder looking for it!
Minimalism isn’t about what you own, it’s about why you own it.
~Brian Gardner, creative entrepreneur, website designer
Organizing Email and the Myth of Inbox Zero
It’s the same with emails. In the first number of years of the existence of email, I created an organized filing cabinet of folders (called “mailboxes” in Mac). Each “mailbox” or master folder had corresponding subfolders where relevant. It was really easy to get everything neatly filed to “inbox zero”, by the end of each day.
Until it wasn’t.
If you’ve been doing email since the beginning of email time, you’ll remember that a clear “inbox” was normal, and each email that came in was eagerly read. Today, running multiple companies, I currently have 9 email accounts. One is the oldest, where all the junk mail and online orders go. The other is reserved just for friends and family, and the other seven are all business email accounts.
So… how do I organize it all? I don’t really. Instead I bulk file things. Remember the recipe scenario? Well, now, I find 98% or more of inbox things I’m looking for by the simple, ubiquitous and essential “search” window. If you can find 98% of what you need through the search function, then you don’t need to spend more than 2% of your time—if that—organizing!
Time Spent on Email
Remember, to get organized today is not about the neat perfection of the old. Today’s order is about accessibility. Thirty minutes a day is still 30 minutes of your time that you’ll never get back. And most people say they spend far more than 30 minutes a day on email.
Reports say that workers spend between 20-28% of their time on email, and an article in Forbes reported it as 2.5 hours a day. However, we could not find substantiating research to support these statistics. Further, the percentage of time on email at work varies by profession, work role and need, so isn’t a true indicator of productivity.
For some industries, email has replaced other work related time, such as meetings, administrate paperwork and phone calls. However, it’s safe to say that not all email is productive work time. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/the-social-economyhttps://www.forbes.com/sites/annabelacton/2017/07/13/innovators-challenge-how-to-stop-wasting-time-on-emails/#35acd8299788
You have to ask yourself whether this activity energizes or depletes you; adds value or detracts from the life you wish to live.
The clutter in your home doesn’t just make a mess, it creates distraction in your mind and stress in your life.
~Brian Gardner, creative entrepreneur, website designer
Email – Batch and Bulk it – 30 minute/day max
So I still have the original mailboxes, folders and subfolders because well, they’re already there, so there’s no point in wasting time changing any of that now. However, I rarely add new things to them.
Today, my email organizing is super simple:
BATCH ORGANIZE YOUR EMAIL INBOX
Daily – AM’s – 5-10 minutes:
- As junk mail comes in I immediately unsubscribe. And yes, junk mail still keeps coming in but this helps.
- Bad junk mails get bulk spammed.
- Emails that I don’t need but don’t want to unsubscribe, such as from companies I order from, get mass deleted.
- I flag things that are important, color coded by action. E.g.:
- Blue = Do
- Red = Urgent
- Orange = Read/learn
- Yellow = Reply, but not urgent
- Green = Health related info to read or save
- Purple = Family – things to save or share with family
- Gray = Research
- Emails that should be filed are filed in folders or bulk filed, (as outlined further below).
GET ORGANIZED — DIGITAL FILING SIMPLIFIED
There are approximately 20 folders that I definitely need to keep track of. I’m not going to count them, even for you, ?as that would waste time for a detail that’s not essential to either of us.
See how that decision was made to reduce time in an exact detail that ultimately doesn’t matter to either of us? And that process of delineation, I did take time to share because it may be something that helps you in organizing your thoughts and processes.
Getting organized in the new millennium means searching more, keeping and storing less.
Anyway, back to the 20 folders. The ones I continue to keep and to file are decided based on those which might be hard to search because of various names and search terms that could be hard to recall.
Some examples include Conferences & Education. Some companies operate under different names. E.g, a conference might be called a seminar or workshop, and to search “conference” may not bring up what you want. However, it may bring up all kinds of other messages that contain the word somewhere in the body, but which are entirely irrelevant. For us, all conferences are for gaining information and education, so ‘Education’ is combined with the Conferences folder.
I also keep folders for content which might be hard to find when searching. For example, if I receive an email on an educational program or conference, but I forget the name of it, I can more easily find it if it’s all filed in the Education folder.
Here’s an example of a handful of files I use regularly that might also be relevant to you. These are in approximate alphabetical order, excepting those used most often are at top and those used the least are at bottom, but that in between is in alphabetical order.
Top Ten Folders I Use
- Business – (I have subcategories here that won’t be relevant to you so not creating the sub-cat list here)
- Conferences & Education
- Events / Travel
- Income 2020 – (create a new one each year to simplify searches and bookkeeping, then archive the previous year)
- Expenses 2020 – (create a new one each year to simplify searches and bookkeeping, then archive the previous year)
- Health & Wellness – (health visits, treatments remedies and relevant articles go here)
- Archives-Inbox – (not alphabetical; placed at the end of my folders list)
- Archives-Sent Mail – (not alphabetical; placed at the end of my folders list)
NOTE: If your email system doesn’t include an ‘Archives’ function, you can create one bulk folder titled ‘Archives’ and place old folders there.
With the Income and Expenses folders, I no longer spend HOURS itemizing these into separate files. I—or my bookkeeper—can easily toggle by company name far faster than me creating multiple separate folders, and him opening and closing all of those multiple folders.
With bulk filing, I no longer spend HOURS itemizing email into multiple folders. I also find it’s actually easier to find things. The ‘Search’ function is your friend!
~LeAura Alderson, iCreateDaily.com®
Daily – PMs – 10-20 minutes
- Late afternoon, during my less creative brain period, I quickly scan through and handle anything requiring follow up actions based on the flags outlined above.
- In the evening or before bed, when I’m too tired to create something new or tackle hard tasks, I scan emails that are flagged. This is typically includes replies and also reading for research and learning time.
GET ORGANIZED: BULK FILING and ARCHIVE FOLDERS
Once a week or so – 10 minutes
- Inbox – whatever’s still in the inbox is dragged to “Archives-Inbox 2”
- Sent Mail – drag all sent messages into a folder titled: “Archives-Sent Mail 2”
- Spam & Trash –
- delete all spam
- delete all trash
- Inbox zero… for a few minutes 🙂
Then… if I need something I SEARCH IT!! It’s exceedingly rare to not find something I need when I search it.
Looking for Things Wastes Valuable Time
In my family, I’m the most organized one, and yet I’m far from perfect in that area, especially these past few years when I’m working 12/7 on business building. I’ve written more on that in this article. For now, suffice it to say that there’s a way to maintain order, even when you don’t have time to organize, and even if it isn’t your ideal state of ultimate order.
That said, it’s a fairly regular occurrence for one or other family member to spend time looking for something they’ve misplaced. Why? Because they didn’t put it away in the first place. It’s a lesson they’ve not yet owned.
They know it, they see it, they get frustrated by the frequency of needing to spend time looking for things, but the lesson of not losing them in the first place hasn’t yet been internalized.
Being disorganized, wastes time and time is a non-renewable resource.
Don’t waste your precious time looking for things misplaced. Even if you think you thrive on “creative chaos”, consider the value of consistency of placement. Even if we find what’s lost, we can never get back the time spent looking.
Stacks and piles of stuff slow us down and siphon energy and focus.
Three Steps to Changing Habits
To change any habit has to be a conscious decision, followed by daily practice.
- Decide and commit to it – the old way is simply no longer an option… it’s not part of you
- Change your mindset – get rid of all thoughts and language that keep you trapped in the old ways
- Do it daily – learn from those who know how to do what you’re seeking to learn
Even if you’re not naturally organized, you can absolutely adopt the habits of someone who is. And then you will become that.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily.com®
The one tool above all others that we use and recommend toward organizing your goals and thus your thinking, is the iCreateDaily 90 Day Goals Journal.
The Organized Creative
If you’re amongst those who thrive on chaos, you’ll be delighted to hear that sometimes being organized takes more time than it saves. Being organized is a balance or order without obsession. Don’t make order a big deal… rather simply make it a habit.
The Simplest Way to Begin to Establish Order?
- Look before you leave
- Pick up as you go
- Tackle one mess each day
1. Look before you leave. Before you leave where you are for where you’re going, look to see what needs to go with you to be put away.
2. Pick up as you go. Whenever you walk by any area of your home, pick up at least one thing lying around and put it back in its place.
3. Clean one old mess each day. I call them “piranha drawers”. It’s that drawer or closet or space where everything has been piled into and I’m afraid of what might ‘bite me” if I delve into it… old bills… old protein bars… long unanswered mail.
Set aside just 15 minutes to tackle just one “piranha drawer” per day… such as first thing in the morning, or before you sit down for your evening enjoyment. Just one per day for 15 minutes.
If the “one” takes longer, then tackle it over more than one day if needed. Often what happens is you’ll get into it and keep at it until it’s finished. Kudos!
By the end of the week, that’s seven things knocked off your list. Seven things more organized… 7 x more mental and emotional space!
If you’re interested in daily habits of successful people, there are some cool consistent creative themes in this article. What’s cool about them..? It’s the simple things that make a big difference!
Hyper Organized May Just Be Hyper
You can waste time by being obsessively compulsive (OCD) about being organized. If you’re innately organized down to the tiniest details, consider that—in the end—all that won’t matter a smidgen. For that matter, living in a bit of disorder won’t either.
What matters most is that you’re living the life you wish to live now, today, without delay, to the extent possible.
Get organized to add quality of life, not to be obsessed or overrun by either. Do not become slave to order or disorder. Your life is not about either of those.
A member of the iCreateDaily community commented that, “If I am dreading a job or just stressing about something, I would rather organize things all day instead of doing whatever the thing is. Or clean the litter box.”
So don’t let over organizing—or the messes—get in the way of your actually doing your creative work.
Order is to help you live a more productive creative life. If you find yourself spending more time organizing than doing the thing you’re organizing for, then step back, assess and reassess. Planning to write… planning to create… planning to live, is not the same as living.
Do not become slave to order or disorder.
We all have a deeper purpose and a deeper sense of self that isn’t measured against how much we do in a day.
~Leslie Davis, DharmaMama.com
Hello! I’m LeAura, owner and co-creator of iCreateDaily.com®. As an autodidactic philosopher, generalist, personal development advocate, entrepreneur, writer, editor, author, ideator, media publisher, and podcaster, I’m passionate about helping others achieve their best possible life! Our small family of entrepreneurs, writers, investors, educators and creators own and run websites around topics we enjoy, such as gardening, health and fitness, creativity and pets, with more to come.
While my greatest teacher is Life… my formal training includes certifications in mediation, fitness, and strategic intervention coaching, including marriage and family. Today, the synergy of creating websites, articles and podcasts, brings together all my favorite things: family, learning, growth, creating, connecting and contributing. To share these with you is a privilege, that serves my lifelong aspiration to help others.
My personal areas of creativity are in writing, masterminding, ideation, synthesis and bringing ideas to life through business and entrepreneurship, all with a pervasive spiritual foundation with a focus on elevating the lives of others.
Want to submit your photos, videos and/or article content for publication? We love to consider your contribution for publication! firstname.lastname@example.org