Organise your space

Welcome to part eight of how to find time to do the stuff you love: organise your space. Click here to get to grips with the previous seven tips. So far you have worked on some me time and on your sleep. You’re hopefully getting an overview of the thing you want to do and you’ve tried a couple of practical, tried and trusted time management techniques – timetabling and time tracking. You’ve also done a bit pondering by putting the brakes on. Next up is another practical step, one that seems simple but is quite hard to maintain.

Organise your space

Tip number 8 is organise your space:

8. Organise your space. You want room to do your thing and you want the things that you need to be handy. A portable space in a bag or on a tray works if you don’t have anywhere permanent. If you have to do other things in the space, have different coloured folders or baskets for your different tasks, to help you to switch from one to the other. I want to do my yoga every morning. Although I don’t have a dedicated yoga space, I could make sure that there’s no Lego and other sundry toys on the carpet downstairs the night before.

Here are some resources to help you organise your space:

  1. One of the best books I’ve read on setting up a system is Organise Your Paperwork: From Paper Mess To Paperless by Mary-Anne Bennie and Brigitte Hinneberg. I like it because you can read it, learn the system, and adapt for your own needs. (There’s another one in same series on decluttering.) There’s also a book called Paperflow by the same authors. I’m not sure if it’s an updated version of Organise Your Paperwork or a new one.
  2. I also like Ronni Eisenberg‘s books on getting organised.
  3. And of course David Allen is famous for Getting Things Done. Check out his work if you don’t know it already.

A psychological effect

There’s something about having a dedicated space to ‘turn up in’ that has a psychological effect. It makes you think differently about your thing or your project. If you’re using a portable space use the same bag or the same tray – let your subconscious know that when it sees that bag or tray you mean business! If you’re using a desk that is also a general work space, try using a notebook, folder or box file to provide the hint to your subconscious. You could also colour-code. I have a folder covered in butterflies for one of my projects for instance. I use pink for another. Pink isn’t my favourite colour, but when I see that vibrant folder I know what I’ve got to do!

Having less clutter in your space also has a psychological effect. Think how you feel after you’ve cleaned the cupboards out and opened all the doors and windows on a warm spring day. That’s the kind of feeling you’re after. You want somewhere you feel comfortable, and somewhere that reminds you of the thing you want to do. Think about what your ideal space would look and feel like and why you want it that way, and then see if you can take some small steps towards it.

Schedule it!

Once more, it all comes back to scheduling. Make time to get your space sorted. Enlist family help. Decide what the sticking points are. For me, it’s getting some shelves up on the wall. I really wish I was good at DIY, but I’m not. So the small step for me was to get someone to put them up for me, because it is so important that my space works. Scheduling also means finding a little bit of time once a day, once a week and once a month to maintain your space organisation.

Tips 8, 9 and 10

Tips 8, 9 and 10 work together. In particular, the system you’ll set up for capturing and sorting information will have a big impact on your space. You can use the categories you set up when you get to tip number 10, and the best ways to capture the right information to inform the process.

Next up: Tip number 9.

Check out these great productivity resources.

Happy space sorting. x Louise


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