Are you feeling a little overwhelmed today? Is your head on the verge of exploding? Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask for any details, a simple yes or no will do—because I know the feeling, and I know it well. Every couple months of college, I would start to feel this weight on my chest. And no matter what I did, it wouldn’t go away. At least not until I finally got to the root of the problem: the disorganization that was my life. I became the messy student that I promised myself (and my parents) I would never be: I skipped class, I started losing notes, I forgot about projects and meetings, and my room was suddenly a pig sty. I know: how didn’t I realize the problem sooner? It’s simple, I was a stubborn college student. But once I did acknowledge that my messy habits were a problem, I quickly went from overwhelmed to in-control—simply by organizing my life. You can do it too! Just follow these 8 steps:
1) Do some spring-cleaning.
…and summer, fall, and winter-cleaning. Kick off this process by going through all of your things and getting rid of whatever you don’t need (or really, really want): throw away expired food, donate old clothes, and trash the contents of your junk drawer. This will provide you with some immediate relief and peace and set you up for success.
2) Stop hoarding.
Now that you’re starting with a clean slate (so to speak), vow to stop hoarding: don’t buy or keep useless items. Also, make a plan to clean out your closet and your pantry every few weeks or so, as to prevent junk from amassing yet again.
3) Learn to put things away… right away.
Piggy-backing off of the first two points, learning to put your things away as soon as you’ve finished using them is also helpful. This is something to do throughout each and every day, which will prevent your living area as well as your mind from becoming cluttered!
4) Do some virtual cleaning.
We can’t forget about your digital affairs! If you’re anything like me, then you could probably benefit from cleansing your social media accounts: delete unknown or unwanted Facebook friends, get rid of old pictures, unfollow random accounts, unsubscribe from annoying emails… the list goes on. You might even consider deleting your accounts or taking a break from them for awhile.
5) Keep an agenda.
This is something that I refused to do for years, but I’ve recently found that keeping an agenda is extremely beneficial to staying organized. It takes minimal effort and really helps you keep track of your day-to-day responsibilities, which will certainly make you feel less-stressed and more organized. So go out and buy yourself a nifty planner right now! What are you waiting for?
6) Get into the habit of making lists.
Lists are your best friend: they keep you from forgetting essentials, they help you focus on your goals, and—most importantly—they help you stay organized. So get into the habit of making lists, starting now! Make to-do lists, pros and cons lists, grocery lists, etc. Basically, if there’s a list that can be made, make it.
7) Write everything down.
Now, if it can’t be made into a list, that doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be written down. Writing things down will not just further implant them into your memory, but you’ll now have a reference to look back at. Consider investing in a journal, so that you can keep all of your notes together.
8) Stop procrastinating.
A great way to nip your problem right in the bud is to simply stop procrastinating. When you procrastinate, your to-do list builds and builds, as does the stress in your head. And before you know it, that stress becomes completely overwhelming. To prevent this from happening, you should pledge to stick to the plan (the one you’ve so methodically laid out in your planner) and put in the work! It might not be fun right now, but it’ll certainly be worth it in the end.
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