There’s no shame in being a disorganized person—especially if you’re actively taking steps to better manage your time. Some of us just aren’t able to keep our lives organized without external help—and that’s okay.
When deadlines creep up and you’re constantly stressed out because you feel like you don’t have enough time in the day, it’s time to reassess how you’re organizing your day. Here are five time management tips to help you get your life on track.
1. Learn to Recognize When You’re Being Disorganized and When You’re Just Busy
A bad habit disorganized people get into is thinking they’re not disorganized—they’re just busy. If you constantly feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day or you’re consistently missing deadlines, it’s possible that your lifestyle is what’s leading to your downfall.
The fact is you have the exact same amount of time in your day as everyone else—so why can’t you meet your goals the same way others can? Learning to recognize that your lifestyle isn’t as organized as it could be is the first step to better time management.
2. Work out Your Priorities
In most cases, disorganized people feel like they always have too much on their plate, when in reality they just need to prioritize what’s most important. It’s better to complete one or two important tasks in your day than to leave ten tasks half-finished.
To better manage your time, recognize your priorities and stick to working through them in order. You should always spend the most time and effort on your top priority; starting with the most difficult tasks first will make the rest seem much easier to tackle.
When at work, this time management method could mean asking your superiors what they would consider your most important task and start there. Eventually, you will learn to recognize which tasks are most important and which ones can wait until tomorrow.
3. Learn to Say No
When you have a dozen meetings and tasks on the go, any person will find it difficult to maintain an organized schedule. When this happens, you can say no to additional work.
This can be an especially difficult tip for those professionals looking to advance in their careers—but it will be worth it in the end. Saying no to attending a meeting that can really be summarized in an email means more time for you to work on your top priorities. The quality of your work will start to shine through when you aren’t constantly stretching yourself thin.
4. Start Every Day by Looking at Your Calendar
Taking the time to sit down every day and look at your calendar can be the best thing you do to improve your time management. Don’t rely on your alarm to alert you ten minutes ahead of the important meeting—take initiative by checking ahead of time and planning your schedule.
You’ll feel much more prepared to tackle the day and you’ll find it much easier to stay organized when you know what’s coming ahead of time.
5. What Works for You Won’t Work for Everyone
If you’re a chronically disorganized person, there’s a chance the organized people in your life have tried to sell you on keeping a daily planner or using some other trick they swear by.
Not every organizational trick is going to work for everyone. If you find yourself buying a daily planner every year and it ends up collecting dust, it’s time to re-strategize. Find what works for you.