If You Want to Be More Organized, Learn This One Simple Concept
How many times in your life have you said, “I want to be more organized,” but you just can’t get started. You’re not sure how to begin and there are so many tools and methods for getting organized that you just become paralyzed.
Today, I’m going to explain just one concept for getting organized. Once you learn this one concept, you can apply it to a variety of things in your busy work and life. It’s simply grouping and categorization. This is a basic or fundamental aspect of organizing, but many of us forget about it or don’t realize that it can be applied in many different ways.
How Will Grouping and Categorization Make Me More Organized?
First, what is Grouping and Categorization? Grouping and categorization is simply arranging like items together, into groups or categories. For example, in your kitchen, groups of items might be cups, water glasses, silverware, spatulas, etc. You can further categorize these items into smaller subgroups, such as knives, forks, and spoons.
You might be asking. What is the value of grouping like items together? Think of it this way. Imagine that your favorite department store wasn’t grouped among housewares, men’s clothing, electronics, children’s clothing, etc. Can you imagine how long it would take you to locate an item you wish to purchase? Everything in your life is easier to locate when it is arranged with other items with shared characteristics. Ultimately, you save time and become more efficient in everything that you do.
Below, I’ll discuss different ways that you can apply this concept to your busy work and life.
Grouping Items in the Home
One of the most obvious ways to apply the concept of grouping and organization is through home organization. For example, in the pantry you can group pasta, canned goods, baking items, etc., which makes preparing meals easier and more efficient. In the closet, group jeans, dress pants, shirts, ties, etc. to shave off a few minutes in the morning, which you can dedicate to sleeping or grabbing a quick breakfast.
Grouping Email Messages
If you’re anything like me, you receive hundreds or thousands of messages every week and it’s practically impossible to locate an important email message when you need it. Save time by grouping email message into folders or by using labels and filters. For example, imagine you travel frequently for work, if you create a holding area for your travel email messages, you won’t find yourself struggling at the check-in kiosk at the airport.
Grouping Mail and Important Papers
One of the items that gets out of control for most people is loose papers and mail. When snail mail arrives at my home or office, or I receive receipts, I group these paper items into the following categories: “Bills to Pay,” “Things to File,” “Coupons,” and “Things To Do.” Everything else goes directly into the shredder or recycle bin.
All of the items in the “Things to File” category are scanned and placed into cloud storage. Dropbox™, Box™, and OneDrive™ (SkyDrive) are three popular services that you can use to store your important papers, photos and files.
Furthermore, using our life and small business organizer app, LightArrow Organizer for iOS and LightArrow Organizer for Mac, I associate these filed items with Trips, Tasks, Appointments, Expenses, etc. that I’ve created in the app. This way, I always have the information that I need directly at my fingertips on my MacBook or iPhone and iPad wherever I go.
Grouping Personal and Business Contacts
No matter how you store your contacts, whether it is through an iPhone, iPad, spreadsheet, Microsoft device or Android device, it is useful to group your contacts into like groups. This makes locating and contacting friends, family and others much more efficient.
For example, you might be a busy working mom who frequently contacts other professionals, children’s parents, teachers, family members and friends. Arranging these contacts into like groups and having the ability to contact all of the people within these groups at once can save you hours of searching and crafting emails and text messages. We published an earlier post about how you can group contacts using your iPhone or iPad. Read How to Create iPhone Contact Groups to learn how to group contacts on your iPhone or iPad on the fly.
Grouping Like Tasks Together
One way to maximize your daily productivity, is to group like tasks together. For example, if you’re making phone calls and answering email messages, don’t spread these items out throughout the day. Group all your phone calls and email communication into one or two time time slots during the day. This way, you avoid switching context to a different type of task, which can compromise your focus and make you less efficient.
How You Can Apply Grouping – Tips
Getting organized does not happen overnight. When changing habits, it takes time and energy. Schedule time each day that you can dedicate to grouping items to become more organized and efficient. If you’re focusing on your home, start with one room at at time. And don’t be afraid to purge any unnecessary items from any type of group or category. Decluttering is an essential aspect of organizing your life and work.
Please Share Your Ideas for Getting Organized
What types of items do you group in your life to be more efficient? What strategies work for you? Please share your ideas!
Marilyn is the Marketing Director at LightArrow, Inc., the makers of LightArrow Organizer, a complete productivity app and organizer available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. She is a regular contributor to the LightArrow Blog, which is a blog dedicated to sharing tips and tricks about LightArrow products, small business, personal productivity, time management, organization, and getting things done.
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