How to Organize Your Day: A Guide for Work and Home
Being disorganized feels a bit like playing Donkey Kong. You’re constantly running and jumping from one platform to the next in pursuit of your goals while dodging all the barrels being thrown at you.
Your stress levels are through the roof and you’re also missing deadlines, forgetting to answer emails, and dropping the ball on important tasks.
And it’s affecting your personal life, too. Perhaps you forgot to pick your kids up from soccer practice, or your roommates are fed up with the constant chaos at home.
With so many competing priorities, you need to learn how to organize your day. This article will show you how in nine easy steps.
Why is it important to organize your day?
Put simply, planning your day will save you time — and we all know time is money. To put it in perspective, motivational speaker Brian Tracy says that “every minute spent planning saves ten in execution.” And who doesn’t want to get their work done in less time?
Aside from that, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of remote work have blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives, making running a tight ship more crucial than ever.
Although work-from-home opportunities offer more flexibility and freedom, bad habits can get in the way of our ability to get organized. Perhaps procrastination is your vice, or maybe you’re a classic clutter collector constantly searching for lost pieces of paper.
Without a boss breathing down our necks all the time, it’s up to us to develop organizational habits that make daily life run smoothly — both in and out of work.
The good news is that with time, being organized can become a daily habit. The following section will outline nine of our favorite strategies for organizing your day better than an army general.
9 ways to organize your day and minimize stress
Ready to organize your day like a pro? Follow these nine tips and start getting organized today.
1. Use to-do lists
If you don’t keep a to-do list, now’s the time to start. Incomplete tasks take up space in our brains and make us anxious and unproductive.
This phenomenon is known as the Zeigarnik effect, and it’s why so many people find to-do lists an effective way to stay on top of daily tasks.
Offloading your pending tasks onto to-do lists will put your mind at ease and improve your ability to focus.
2. Plan your day the night before
Do you lie in bed at night trying to remember everything you have to do the next day? If so, you might want to start planning your days the night before.
Take your to-do list and prioritize the most important tasks to include in your daily plan for the following day. Then, plug them into your calendar.
Make sure you also schedule time for any unforeseen tasks that may come up, such as responding to emails or helping a team member with their work.
3. Break big tasks down
Sometimes, we procrastinate over tasks because they seem too big and overwhelming. For example, let’s say you have to write a presentation for your company’s annual meeting.
It requires gathering data from various sources and putting it together in a way that’s going to impress the leadership team, and you know it’s going to take a day or two.
If you put “write presentation” as an item on your to-do list, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed and procrastinate.
But if you break it down into bite-sized, actionable tasks, such as “get data from the finance department” or “get quarterly sales numbers from the sales team,” it will be easier to get started.
4. Start with the hardest task
Similarly, we’ll often procrastinate over our most difficult tasks, preferring to tick quick wins like answering emails off the list for a little hit of dopamine.
But this isn’t an efficient approach. Instead, many time management experts recommend the “rocks, pebbles, and sand” technique.
Imagine your time is a large glass jar, and your tasks are represented by a pile of rocks, pebbles, and sand that you need to fit into the jar.
The rocks are your big, urgent tasks, the pebbles are the semi-urgent tasks, and the sand represents the non-urgent tasks.
If you fill the jar with sand first, there’ll be no room for the rocks or pebbles. But if you start by putting in the rocks first, you can fit the pebbles on top and, finally, fill the gaps with the sand.
5. Reduce decision fatigue
Our brains can only make a finite number of decisions per day. The more decisions we have to make, the further the quality of our decisions decreases.
It’s why Steve Jobs always wore a black turtleneck, and so many people rave on social media about their morning routines.
It turns out they’re onto something. When you follow a daily routine, after a while, it becomes so ingrained you don’t even have to think about it — kind of like brushing your teeth.
Reduce decision fatigue with a morning routine that nourishes your mind, body, and spirit and keeps you feeling calm throughout the day. Plan your outfit the night before and carry out daily activities at the same time each day.
6. Plan your meals
Eating a balanced diet can boost your brainpower and energy levels and save money, but it requires some planning — otherwise, you’ll keep ordering take-out or worse, heating TV dinners in the microwave.
Meal planning takes the hassle out of healthy eating. People who plan their meals have a higher quality diet and eat a greater variety of foods.
Feeling organized around food can have a domino effect on the rest of your day as you don’t have to waste time choosing what to eat. Plus, it can stop you from getting hangry!
7. Know your energy levels
Many people say you should get your most important tasks done first thing in the morning. But what if you’re not a morning person?
If you do your best work at night, that’s when you should be doing your most taxing tasks. Figure out what time of day your brain is most “switched on,” and create a schedule around that.
Although this contradicts the “rocks, pebbles, sand” method, it’s important to remember that different techniques work for different people. Experiment until you find what works for you.
8. Keep your space free of clutter
Clutter — both physical and digital — makes it harder to find things, leaving you feeling more disorganized and decreasing your productivity.
If your desk is full of half-eaten sandwiches and piles of paper, it’s time to clear it out. But don’t stop with your physical space. Organize your digital space by purging your inbox and creating a system for digital file storage.
9. Let tech do the hard work
Fortunately, a plethora of tech solutions is available to help you organize your day.
For example, automation software allows us to automate repetitive manual tasks, reducing our to-do lists and stress levels. In fact, 65% of knowledge workers say they’re less stressed because of automation.
And while there are many wonderful solutions out there, at Stack, we felt there was something missing — a way to personalize your digital universe for maximum focus and minimal stress.
So we created it. Stack Next is the world’s first spatial browser, designed to help you organize your digital life so you can get more done with less stress.
How Stack helps you organize your day
As we just told you, Stack is a spatial browser. But what does that actually mean? And how can it help you get organized? Let’s take a look at a few of the cool Stack features that can help you organize your day.
It all starts with Spaces, which, as the name suggests, allows you to create separate virtual spaces for your tabs, apps, documents, and tasks.
Create one Space for work and another for personal admin. Or, create and assign a Space to each project you’re working on.
Saved cards are bookmarks on steroids. They make it easy to organize and group together different apps and accounts. This saves you time on constantly clicking through open browser windows and minimizes the risk of getting distracted by a particularly cute cat video.
Ghost Cards are similar to Saved Cards but for temporary items that you won’t need later. You can get rid of your Ghost Cards in a single click, reducing digital clutter.
If push notifications and emails distract you, you need Focus Mode. Mute all your notifications or just the ones on a particular Saved Card to minimize distractions.
Or, you can schedule all your notifications and handle them in batches at specific times. You can then focus on your deep work and block out time to respond to messages later.
A stress-free life starts with organizing your day
Organizing your day doesn’t have to be difficult, even if you consider yourself a disorganized person. A few lifestyle tweaks — like the ones mentioned above — can go a long way towards reducing your stress and helping you get organized.
At Stack, we’re passionate about organization. We understand that getting — and staying — organized can unleash your highest creative potential at work and in your personal life, and give you the balance you’re always looking for.
That’s why we created Stack Next. Request access and start living your best life online.