To say that we are all stressed out is an understatement. One of the worse things about being constantly busy with work, though, is that it's all too easy to let things escalate to the point that you start forgetting important dates, losing track of email threads and shoving important paperwork into the back of a drawer full of identical paperwork. If any of that has reminded you of, well, you, it's time to follow Ice Cube's advice and check yourself before you wreck yourself and organise your life. The best thing is that it isn't even that hard to get your shit together – you can achieve a lot in a week, you know! But of course you already know that, you hard-grafting gal.
Tools you'll need:
An internet connection
Some plastic folders
A week-by-week diary or notebook
A little patience.
Firstly, sort out your inbox
Let's tackle your inbox first, because your email is not only a productivity killer, but also stress-inducing once you have over 100 emails just chilling there (I used to have over 12000 until I had a nervous breakdown of sorts, so I won't judge). Emails are not the same thing as text messages; having loads of them is less representative of your popularity than it is of your inability to be a Proper Adult.
There are two key methods of tacking an out-of-control inbox:
Firstly, mass-deleting (and blocking) newsletters that you never open. Unsubscribe from mailing lists wherever possible; Unroll.me is a handy, free service that sorts this out nicely. Then you can organise your inbox properly. Make your life easier by creating labels to categorise emails, and don’t be afraid to use add-ons to up your email game.
Secondly, create a second email address to link all your online shopping, newsletters etc up to, thus leaving your 'main' email address open for important, personal & work stuff only.
Go through the drawer that you're forever avoiding
We've all at least one dreaded drawer in our homes. You know the one: the one you shove all paper-based items into just so you don't have to look at them. This would be fine, but the reality is that most of us use these drawers without having a filing system in place, meaning that copies of insurance policies are nestled alongside local takeaway menus. Recently, I have discovered that there is nothing more frustrating than having to sift through piles upon piles of paper just to find your poxy A-Level results transcripts for the graduate scheme applications that you're submitting at the latest possible date because you're so frigging unorganised. I totally don't need to tell you all of this because, deep down, you know what you need to do: sort that bloody drawer out! Make like your mum by taking everything out and putting it into labelled folders, organised by category. You'll thank me later!
Write everything down on paper
Yeah, I know, writing things with a pen is so 2010, right? Call me crazy, but you'll be surprised by how therapeutic it is to write your schedule down by hand. Buy a Filofax, create a bullet journal or make do with a £1 diary from the pound shop – whatever your budget and preference, you'll easily find something to suit your needs, such is the breadth of snazzy stationery that's (rather ironically) available in these digitised times. If your own thrilling, busy lifestyle doesn’t motivate you to craft to-do lists in perfect cursive or jot down appointments in a fountain pen, I guarantee that a quick Pinterest search for ‘personal organisers’ will change your mind.
Consider reconsidering how you use your phone
While the thought of deleting social media apps from your phone will probably fill you with dread, particuarly if you're under the age of 25, if you regularly find yourself unable to switch off at night, or unable to get any work done because you're constantly checking your phone for 'important' updates (side note: important updates on Facebook though... really? Gurl, come on, who are you kidding?!), you may benefit more than you'd realised from deleting that pesky Messenger app. Since removing Facebook from my phone, I find I feel a lot more zen, and able to get a helluva lot more done in the working day. Try it for a week, I dare you. Then come back to me and try to tell me that you actually missed it.
Quick tips for a more organised life
- 1: Familiarise yourself with folders in Gmail, and sign up to Unroll.me if you're bogged down with spammy newsletters that you last paid attention to in 2012.
- 2: Consider removing distracting social media apps from your phone if you're feeling stressed out and feel like you don't have enough hours in the day – it's surprisingly effective
- 3: Buy cheap folders to organise paperwork effectively... don't let it get on top of you!
- 4: Try writing your schedule down by hand instead of digitising it like everything else!