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For many years now, I’ve been an avid fan of organisation. This fascination didn’t come out of nowhere – in fact, it came from years of being the absolute polar opposite of organised. A few years ago, I’d have truly been the last person to come to for organisation tips.
As a teenager, I left everything to the last minute, my number one coping strategy was burying my head in the sand and I was constantly stressed. There came a point when I realised that this way of going about life was actually perpetrating my cycle of depression and that for the sake of my mental health, I had to get organised.
As I progressed through my mental health recovery, I realised how much staying organised helped me to maintain my wellbeing. And, surprisingly, I realised that being highly organised was actually in my nature, I’d just never allowed myself (or had the energy) to practice and figure out what worked for me.
These newfound organisational skills served me well in my A-Level resit year, plus through my first 2 years at university. But they really came into their own when my freelancing business took off in July this year, and especially when I needed to start navigating uni and freelance work simultaneously.
After a month or so of practice, I feel like I’ve got it down to a fine art, so without further ado, here are my top 5 organisation tips! Whether you’re a fellow student, a freelancer or doing anything else, I hope these can serve you well.
- Keep a rolling schedule. This was the best thing I started doing to organise my workload. I just use my phone’s notes app for this, and write down each day in the coming week (or few weeks if needed), filling it up with my work and uni commitments as I go. For me, this includes lectures, seminars, other uni work, writing jobs and blog work, as well as any social commitments or appointments. Each day consists of 6 points, one for each hour, and once that schedule is full, it’s full. Add top-priority things in as soon as you become aware of them, and fill everything else in around these. This schedule can easily be rejigged as you go, allowing for things that run over, extra productive/less-productive days and so on! For me, this is an absolute lifesaver, as it allows me to tell clients exactly when I can next fit them in at a quick glance, without the risk of accidentally getting overbooked.
- Reset at the weekends. Use your weekends (or whenever it is in the week that you get a spare moment) to assess how the week has gone and finalise your schedule for the next week. It really helps to go into each week with a clear idea of what you need to achieve and get done.
- Don’t overcommit yourself. Set the amount of hours you can afford to work (accounting for prior commitments) and stick to it – for me this is 6, or occasionally 7 if needed. Overwhelming yourself is a sure-fire recipe for stress, and stress is a sure-fire recipe for lowered productivity.
- Stay in a routine. Productivity and organisation come hand-in-hand, and structure is so important to get the most out of each day. Figure out when in the day you work best and build a schedule around that. Life happens and obviously it may vary a little, but it’s good to have that structure in place as a framework. Personally this involves getting up early, starting work between 8.30 and 9am and finishing (usually) before 6pm. I know from experience that if I accidentally have a massive lie in, my day is much more likely to be unproductive.
- Be proactive. This is something I learnt the hard way from years of burying my head in the sand and/or sulking at the first sign of trouble or something difficult. Complete tasks early, plan for inconveniences and don’t let things build up. If things have built up and feel overwhelming, tackle them one day at a time rather than stressing about the big picture or beating yourself up (I could actually write a whole post on this alone). Not everything always goes to plan, but how you choose to tackle things is key. Being well-organised and proactive can help you get through a great deal of problems.
Personally, using a physical planner boosts my organisation tenfold, and I could not recommend Passion Planner* enough! This planner really is a game-changer, whether it be for daily time-blocking (my FAVOURITE way to plan the day ahead), monthly reflection or even mapping out those big dreams!
You can get your hands on one for the new year with 10% off by using this link* or the code ELISET10.
Are you an organisation nerd like me, or do you prefer to take things one day at a time? What are your favourite organisation tips?
*This is an affiliate link, meaning I earn commission on planners sold using my link or discount code.