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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Achieve Less Stress by Staying Organized

 By: Jeremy Foster


Day to day life in today’s world can be very stressful. Individuals today cram longer hours at work, time with friends and family as well as leisure time and into the same 24 hours. As more demands are placed on our time, it only gets more difficult to avoid becoming stressed out. What else can be done to keep everything together? If you want to achieve less stress in your life, despite all its demands, the easiest and very best way to accomplish this is to become as well organized as possible.

Tips for Getting Organized

Thinking up ways to get your life organized is the easy part. Identify the stressful aspects and activities in your life, and take some time (if you have any left!) to figure out a plan that will work for you. What makes you the most stressed: losing your car keys in the morning, looking for important documents at work, or having to stop on the way home from work for take-out because you did not have the time to plan dinner?

Here are some suggestions to get you started. Just remember: the focus is on the stressful things in your life, and whether there are ways that you can get organized to reduce the stress.

• Do you have a habit of forgetting things? Make to-do lists and an appointment book your focus. In fact, you can even combine the two by purchasing a diary in which you note down all your daily tasks, appointments, and anything else that’s important for you to remember.
• Use only one calendar, diary, appointment book, and so on. Don’t use multiple planning tools for work and personal life – this makes it all too easy to jot down conflicting appointments. Stick to one calendar, and you’ll be able to see at a glance what you have planned on any given day, whether at work or at home.
• Are you constantly losing important items such as your wallet and keys? Position a table and a small dish right by your front door, and make a habit of putting all these items in the dish as soon as you get home.
• Is it cooking meals after work that makes your stress levels go up? Hunt down a cookbook or a recipe on a web site with a focus on meals that are quick and easy to prepare. Pre-plan a week’s worth of menus at once, shop once a week and you’ll never be at a loss for quick and tasty meals.
• Is the paper trail getting you down? Spend some time organizing your filing cabinet and purging it of out-dated documents – and if you don’t have a filing cabinet, get one!
• De-clutter your home and work space. The less you have, the less you can lose, and the less you need to keep organized.
• Is it simply getting the small things done which causes you the most stress? Make a deal with yourself: once you start a task, you’ll keep going till it’s done. This could be something as simple as sorting your mail. If you open a letter, take the appropriate action. For example, if it’s a bill – pay it then file the bill, or put it in your to-do file to pay later (and make a note on your to-do list).
• Schedule in time for unplanned "stuff." Stuff could be an unexpected trip to the store, a batch of cookies for the bake sale your child forgot to mention, an emergency meeting at work – anything at all. The point here is, by planning on unscheduled emergencies, you’ll remain organized and stress-free even if an unplanned situation arises. And if it doesn’t, you’ve got some spare "you" time!

The best part is, none of these suggestions are difficult or too expensive to achieve. You don’t need a complex and sophisticated PDA to write down appointments and make lists. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going old-fashioned and using a diary or even a simple notebook to organize your days. It is infinitely more sensible to rely on good old-fashioned pen and paper, rather than an expensive gadget that can break, get stolen, or run out of battery juice.

All of this sounds easy to do, because it is! There is nothing hard about making lists, and writing down appointments, and putting your keys in the same place every time you come home. However, you will quickly find that remembering to put all of this practice consistently is the difficult part.

Luckily, like most things, being organized gets easier over time. Make these simple tools and techniques part of your daily routine, and pretty soon being organized will be just another habit – something you do without even thinking. And with better organization comes reduced stress. You will find that suddenly you have more time to spend with family and friends, and that the leisure time you do have is that much more enjoyable.

Jeremy Foster is a freelance writer and blogger. He writes about a wide range of topics, including home care and organization, often focusing on a specific area such as kitchen storage.
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