Modern life can be extremely stressful, and it’s easy to find yourself lost in everything that’s going on.
That’s why being organised is important. But I’m not talking about storage boxes and labels. Organisation starts with yourself, you first need to have an organised mind before you can lead an organised life.
How do I know if I have a disorganised mind?
Some chaos is normal. It’s not realistic to expect the whole of our existence to function like clockwork. Urgent appointments come up, things break, the weather suddenly shifts… There are lots of things that are out of our control. However, an organised person can deal with those without feeling stressed out.
What a disorganised mind look like changes depending on the person, their focus, and their stage of life. But there are some basic guidelines that can help you decide if you need to work on your organisation skills:
- Your disorganisation starts affecting others: you’re usually late, you forget about appointments and important dates, you misplace borrowed items, you completely forget about responsibilities…
- You feel like you can’t think straight because you have so many things in your mind at any given time.
- You can’t find what you need, be it a physical object you’ve misplaced or information you can’t remember.
- You are often surprised by events you should’ve known about: birthday celebrations, payment due dates, work deadlines…
- And the most important: your life feels like uncontrolled chaos.
What does an organised mind look and feel like?
If all of those I mentioned before are signs of a disorganised mind, what does being organised look like? As usual, the answer depends on the person and what they are going through at any given moment. But in general, there are a few skills that organised people often share that help them stay on top of things, even is life throws a surprise or two their way.
Organised people often:
- Keep good records: this can be in the form of journals, planners, calendars, or even post-it notes. The method itself is not what’s important, what matters is that you have a way to get information consolidated outside of your brain.
- Can assess and modify their behaviours: they change the way they do things is the results are not what they were expecting or if circumstances change. Flexibility grounded on reality is an important part of being organised.
- Accept that perfection doesn’t exist: at some point things become as good as they’re going to get or good enough to be acceptable, and that’s when organised people move on.
- Know how to keep track of their own behaviours: they know what they are doing and why, and can explain it to others if needed to. Some find their records an useful tool when it comes to this.
8 tips to help yourself organise your mind
Just as getting a physical space organised takes time, reorganising your mind won’t happen overnight and it will be a work-in-progress for a long time.
These are some things you can do to help you slowly start taking control of yourself.
Learn to control your reactions
It’s impossible to control our emotions, but we can control how we react to them. The first step is to be truthful with ourselves and giving ourselves permission to feel what we feel. Feelings are not good or bad, but our reactions and behaviours are.
If you find controlling your behaviours hard to do on your own, you may want to get support from a professional. Certain behaviours can happen due to mental health issues we are not aware of, and there is no shame in asking for help. In fact, opening up to others shows you are a strong person who wants to become better, and that’s something to be proud of!
Learn to let go of judgement
Judgement of others and judgement of yourself.
Perfection doesn’t exist, doing something to the best of your abilities in the time you have is always better than not doing it at all or leaving it incomplete because you are aspiring for something that can never happen.
And remember that others are human too and will make mistakes. Being able to forgive and move on is also important. This doesn’t mean not holding people accountable for their behaviour, it means understanding that what’s done is done and all you can do is look into the future rather than focusing on the past.
Have to-do lists
These can be as simple or as detailed as you want, just make sure making to-do lists doesn’t act as a way to not do things! It’s all too common for people to get caught up in list-making and feel as if they’ve accomplished all their goals when all they’ve done is just write them down.
You can use to-do lists for boring day-to-day activities like household chores and errands, and for longer life and professional goals. Whether you use one or both it’s up to you, but do check that all tasks and goals are realistic and you are able to complete them within the expected time even if something unexpected happens.
Try something new
Organisation doesn’t mean always doing the same thing. Being open to new ideas and experiences is an important part of maintaining mental health.
Allow yourself to bring new opportunities, activities, methods, and people into your life. It might feel scary and you will probably want to stay within what feels normal, but push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Give tasks the time and focus they need
This is a big part of slow living, and it also helps with mental clarity. Our brains take almost 25 minutes to develop full focus on a task. Multitasking and short 5-minute bouts of activity don’t allow us to do our best work.
It’s best to fully dedicate yourself to one activity and one alone instead of trying to do everything at the same time. This way the results will be better, they will take less time, and you won’t feel stressed and rushed.
Dedicating yourself to one task is important, but that doesn’t mean to only do that one thing! Breaks are important too.
You should aim for at least 5 minutes every hour to freshen up your body and mind. Stretch, go to the toilet, and get a drink. Changing the location of your work if possible is also helpful, if that’s not possible opening curtains or windows, lighting up a candle, or changing the background music (if you have some) can also help.
If you enjoy them, give yourself some time to perform activities that can help you clear your mind: meditation, running, yoga, tai-chi, crafting, cooking, art… Almost everything goes as long as it’s not shopping and it doesn’t involve harmful substances.
Make physical organisation a priority
It’s extremely hard to have an organised mind if you are surrounded by a chaotic physical space.
Keep control over the clutter, clean as you go, and get rid of those things you don’t need anymore. You don’t need to go full-minimalist or spring clean your whole environment everyday, a little bit everyday goes a long way. Simply make sure you place things in the correct place straight away once you are done with them, rather than letting them linger in places they don’t belong.
Life would be way too boring and barely worth living if everything was neatly organised. Embrace a little chaos and learn to have fun.