Ever clean a room and feel so accomplished thinking, “I’m never going to mess this up again” only to find yourself three days later in the same condition it used to be? Or got all your worksheets and files in order only for everything to be tossed into one big messy file by the end of the week? Yes, so much for organising everything. And the worst part, the worst part, is when your GC dies and you need to charge it for tomorrow’s Math exam…or you wanted to study but spent an entire hour trying to find that one worksheet. So how do you organise everything in your life such that you never lose anything again?
This is the Main Principle of Organising: Everything must have a place.
At the heart of it, organisation is about arrangement and order of things. If you attach an item to a certain area, you are ensuring that everything has its own place. You can control where everything is and what to do with everything given to you. Think of organising as a filter to know where to put everything, and you have to create that filter to know what goes where. Everything must have a place – and once it has a place, it must remain in that place (meaning, if you use something…put it back to where it belongs).
For Your Important but Neglected Items
You know that random piece of paper that had an important deadline you needed? Or your certificate from three years ago that you now need for something? Yeah horh, where did it go…
Everything must have a place: Create a space for all these papers, documents, chargers to exist, label it, and keep them there.
One of my favourite stories is from this one time we had a teacher who was in charge of our school’s online portal. Immediately after receiving our username and personalised passwords, she shouted “Everyone take out your phones…and TAKE A PHOTO OF THIS PIECE OF PAPER…because you will confirm lose it tomorrow.” When it comes to documents that you’ll probably toss aside until the day before its due, take a photo of it on your phone for a databank of your documents. This can also be extended to where you placed your graphing calculator charger – snap a photo so you can remember.
For Your Messy Desk
I get it, I get it, “I have a messy desk and just dump everything on my desk at the end of the day.”
Instead of doing this, make sure you have an organising system on your desk itself – at least have piles for your respective subjects, administrative work, homework vs completed work to file, etc. Hence, you don’t have to rummage through everything and “dumping all your worksheets” for the day doesn’t mean you have to be messy. Same thing for stationery, books, files, etc. And when you do have the time to organise, you know where each worksheet needs to go – this needs to be filed, this needs to be completed, etc.
Have a Dedicated Space for a ‘Things Dump’, and Clear it As Part of Your Weekly/Evening Routine
If you really have no time to organise through everything at the end of the day, do not interfere with your current organised pile/ relatively clean desk. Rather, put all your items in a ‘things dump’ space. Currently these items have not been organises and are in this space for later organising.
Part of your evening routine – or weekly routine – should be to clear all these items in the ‘things dump.’ Why I recommend this to be done every night is because it helps you reset everything to ‘zero’, and if you do this every evening as a habit, it helps you keep up the routine and never ‘mess up’ your organising system.
Have a Follow Up Pile List
Sometimes there are things that are wandering around your mind – for example, you had to register for NS but requested for a SingPass password reset, and when the reset instructions come you completely forgot about it. This is called a “follow up pile list.” It’s a list for you to follow up on things you have to do but cannot at this point of time because you are waiting for someone’s response, a certain time, etc. This space ensures that you don’t forget it, but that you don’t have to remember it either. Keep this place near a to-do list, or insert reminders on your phone to remind you of the event/deadline when the appropriate time comes.
For Your Documents on Your Computer
Honey, do you save your documents as “kjdfkdsjhfjsdfh what is dis”????? Yeah, don’t do that. Give each document clear titles and organise everything in folders.
But, but…I’m Someone Who Just…LOSES EVERYTHING!!!
If you’re someone who loses things often, realise this is a habitual problem. When you repeatedly lose items, your brain will also be more likely to lose items in the future. So the only way to fix this is to build new habits. This is done by diligently organising your items and putting them in the place they should be. You can document your organisation system on your phone (snap photos, create notes) or write everything down in ONE notebook. (Now if you lose that one notebook…)
However, there are items that won’t have a specific “place” for them. You bring your notebook from one place to another- it doesn’t have a designated geographical place for them. Nor does it have a specific bag in will always be – I know some people who change their schoolbags so frequently their wallet is in one and their pencil case is in another.
The solution? Create a space for them. If you’re someone who changes bags often, make sure you clear all your items to zero. Everything must be out of your bag and have a spot at home while it is not in a bag. While you’re out and the item does not have a specific place, make sure you check for all your important belongings before you leave an area.
Now that you know how everything must have a place: go and organise! Start with the big things – perhaps your computer files and all your worksheets. As time progresses, you can continue adding everything into your organising system. Cleaning and organising your items will help you become more productive because it eliminates all that fuss to find lost items. It also helps you become less frustrated, more efficient, and have a clearer mind when you study.