I read a lot of information on organizing from a lot of different avenues; books, blogs, magazines, and even podcasts. What I have noticed is that a large majority of this information has a common theme with three basic elements:
1. Write things down
3. Tidy up along the way
Write things down
The act of writing things down helps you remember details. It is as simple as that. Think of the notes you took in college or the shopping list you can “see” in you head. Today more and more people are producing digital notes, but research suggests that’s not the best method for recalling the information later.
In 2014, the Association for Psychological Science conducted a study on note taking and recall. A group of students were told to take notes on a lecture. Half of the subjects used a laptop while the others used pen and paper. While both groups memorized the same number of facts, the pen-and-paper group outperformed their counterparts in tests on the material. Why? It could be because writing is slower.
A recent study by Scientific American suggests that, in a note-taking scenario, we can’t possibly write everything down verbatim. Instead, we must listen closely and record key words or concepts that represent what’s being said in a meaningful way. Conversely, speedy typing lets us “drone out” and record everything, as if simply taking dictation.
Procrastination is a vile, seductive monster. While beneficial procrastination is possible, it’s the exception rather than the rule. Stop procrastinating and take time to do what must be done and simply do it.
Tidy up along the way
I know of very few people who want to spend an entire Saturday cleaning. That’s why I recommend building the habit of tidying up along the way. It requires almost no additional effort and is immensely helpful.
Walking upstairs? Grab that book that goes on the upstairs bookshelf. Going outside? Put the recycling on the curb. All of these tiny tasks add almost no time to what you’re already doing, are super simple, and have a huge impact on the state of things in your spaces.
Three simple ideas — write it down, execute, and tidy up — can have a massive improvement on your surroundings and your day. If you make them a part of your routine, you’ll enjoy the results.
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