The wicked alarm rang in its ominous rhythm promptly at 7. Cursing the eccentric who invented the damn thing, I turned it off. As with every Monday, it was a gloomy day. I shuddered at the prospect of going to work. Last Friday, I left a ton of unfinished tasks. And said to myself like Homer in The Simpsons, ‘That’s a problem for future me. Man, I don’t envy that guy!’
But the judgment day came sooner rather than later. This happened to me every Monday—well, every weekday—morning. Most days, I wake up praying for a divine intervention that miraculously made it a weekend. Though it has never happened, I have not given up faith.
Maybe you can relate to my situation. Most of us can; because we are all going through this turmoil daily. Our jobs, responsibilities, and ambitions crowd and suffocate us every day. The moment we gasp for the air of freedom, the ‘things to do’ pile up like shapes in a Tetris game played at high speed.
Identifying the problem
But the unfortunate truth is that we do work—a lot. We spend hours and hours toiling. However, our efforts only touch the surface at best.
Can things be different? Do these highly productive people have a ‘holy grail’ that helps them handle all the pressure?
Yes, and yes. There is one secret habit these efficient guys acquire that makes them more relaxed and productive. But what is that?
Two words: Staying organized
No. Rolling your eyes and groaning will not make it less true. If we really have to find a solution to our problem, we must traverse some hitherto untraversed route. Believe me, the extra mile is worth the effort.
If you are organized, life is much easier. As we are disorganized, we are forced to spend most of our work hours on trivial things. Finding a work item is like searching a stinking dumpster for a needle, with your nose, on a rainy day, with people pointing and booing at you. Once you stay organized, you will keep all the needles together, by virtue of which you can keep your nose clean and rear dry.
Moreover, we juggle many things in our personal and professional life. It is easy to get overwhelmed. We have to make a conscious effort if we want to get a handle on things.
Tips and Tricks
Before we deep-dive into the techniques, there is a caveat: staying organized takes disciplined effort. Without discipline, it is almost impossible.
Now let us kill the killjoy:
Yes, note down—everything. To-do lists, thought journals, and expense lists make life much easier than you can imagine. In your work place, remember to nail daily reports, minutes-of-meeting, and so on. This will give us more accountability and help us prioritize the right tasks.
Place everything in its place
Keeping everything in its place is a crucial part of being organized. Your keys, wallet, dress, and everything should have a place of its own. The time spend searching for something can make life unnecessarily hard and make us frustrated.
Going a step further, you can categorize your notes so that you can retrieve them whenever you want.
Set time for each task
Multi-tasking is an impossible feat for the human brain. However, our busy lives nudge us to do exactly that. A simple solution is to set a time for each task. If you have tasks A, B, and C to complete, work on A for 1 hour, B for the next hour, and C for the hour after that. Repeat the cycle. Remember to take sufficient breaks in between tasks.
Humans forget. When it is about our ex-girl/boyfriends, oblivion serves us well. But when it bleeds into our personal and professional lives, we are in trouble. However, with all kinds of reminders and alerts at our fingertips, there is no need to worry. Just remember to set a reminder for the things you tend not to remember. It can take away a lot of stress from our lives.
Clear the clutter
A cluttered desk may be the sign of a genius. But unfortunately ‘cluttered desk test’ is not a benchmark for genius as of now, and has not replaced the IQ tests yet. Decluttering your desk will actually declutter your mind too. Make a habit of decluttering every evening so that you can start fresh the next morning.
Give it a try
These tips and tricks have made my work and life much easier. It has made the problems manageable, if not disappear.
There is no magic wand that clears up all the problems. There is no Groundhog day where we relive the weekend over and over. We have to equip ourselves to face hardships. Though they will never go away, we can at least learn to manage them effectively.
Now I don’t bad mouth the maker of the alarm every morning. I don’t dread work as much as I did before. And most importantly, I do not leave problems to the future me and feel pity for him.