How to Start Organising Your Day

I am passionate about many things…and one of those things is organisation. I’m a mother of 2 young children, a wife, a businesswoman, and a psychologist (I could go on to include cleaner, cook, etc but let’s leave it there😛). If I didn’t have on point organisation I wouldn’t get through the day…or if I did, it would be with A LOT of stress and feelings of overwhelm.

If you’ve heard one of my rants about organisation before you will likely have heard me say something along the lines of: “We all have the same amount of hours in the day! It’s nothing to do with needing more time, or not having enough time. It’s about prioritising the important things and scheduling them in”.

If you’re struggling with feelings of overwhelm, stress, and that sense like you’re not getting the important things done, take a look at my tips below for organising your day:

  1. Make a to-do list. Not a mental one, an actual physical to-do list. Choose your weapon – paper, app on your phone, cloud-based project management software…whatever works for you. Then, get all the things you need to do out of your head and onto this list.
  2. Prioritise. I use a cloud-based program to put ALL the things I need to do into. I break these into lists under particular projects as I have multiple things on the go at any given time. I then have one list titled ‘THIS WEEK’. Each week I move all the tasks that have to be completed that week into this column with their due dates. I am then able to move them into the order of priority. THEN at the beginning of everyday I pull out this list and note down all the things I have to do that day on a piece of paper. THEN I go over the list and number them in order of priority.
  3. Focus on 1 task at a time. Research has shown us that we are most productive when we focus on ONE task at a time. Once you have determined which task is top priority then it’s time to get productive – on the one thing. Minimise other distractions. For me, this is closing down my email while I complete the task. Every time there is a distraction (e.g., a notification for a new email), your attention is diverted. You then have to refocus your attention back on the task again. Although this happens fast, there is actual milliseconds of time there where you are not doing anything at all. It is essentially lost time. Whilst these moments are brief, if repeated they accumulate. If you’re wanting to get the most out of the hours in your day you don’t want lost time! Once you have completed this task, go back to your to-do list and see what is next.
  4. When to-do’ing time is over, put it away. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just work on the tasks on our to-do list all day long! But this is not reality. Real life means there are other appointments, meetings, children, dinners to cook, etc that require our attention. When it’s time to turn your attention to one of these other activities you must put your to-do list away. You’ve done all you can and utilised your time in the best way, however, now something else important requires your attention. There’s no need to think about all the things you still need to get done – there’s no point – thinking about them doesn’t get them done, and they are there on your to-do list waiting for your next to-do’ing moment. Put it away and give whatever requires your attention your FULL attention. If you’re with your children – BE with your children. If you’re in a meeting – BE in the meeting. This will assist with keeping feelings of overwhelm and stress at bay.
  5. Accept that there will always be more things to do. It’s unlikely you’re ever going to have an empty to-do list – I never have. Every time you complete one task there will be yet another task to add to your list. This is life and it requires acceptance. If you don’t accept this you will feel stressed and overwhelmed and it will be for no reason. It’s unnecessary stress and worry, serving no purpose.

With that being said, I will leave you with some very wise words from the very wise Dalai Lama..

Dr Danielle McCarthy

Clinical Psychologist