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How often have you started a sentence with something like “If I could just get more organized, I could be”? The rest of that sentence might have ended with getting a better job, buying a house, getting in shape, paying off these debts or in many other ways.

If you’re like many people, you probably see your lack of organization as a major impediment to something that you’d like to accomplish.

Unfortunately, you might have also absorbed the idea that you’re either an organized person or you’re not and that there’s nothing you can do to change.

The good news is that while you may never turn into someone who loves putting the spice rack in alphabetical order, you absolutely can organize and improve your life.

Prioritise

One reason the idea of getting organized can seem so overwhelming is that you can feel like you don’t know where to start. Your closet’s a mess, there’s a stack of mail as tall as you in the hallway, and you’ve been afraid to peek at your bank account for months.

How could you ever fix all of that in the limited time that exists between working, sleeping, and having a life? The answer is that you can’t, at least not all at once. As the saying goes, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t try to do everything. Just try to do one thing. Choose a single thing that you’re going to focus on, and if you’re getting bogged down in figuring out which one is the most important, don’t. You can even choose the easiest.

There are different types of motivational techniques you can employ to help keep you accountable once you have decided where to begin.

Concrete Goals and Actions

Your next step is to be more specific in naming your goal than getting organized. Maybe you want to whittle down your closet to a certain number of items and give away, sell or donate the rest, or perhaps you want a workable plan for paying off your debts.

Identify your concrete goal, and then write down the steps you need to take to achieve it. This could take some research. If you want to pay off your debts, you might not realize that some of them could be refinanced. A NaviRefi student loan refinance (US only) can mean lower monthly payments and might mean your interest rate is lower too, allowing you to pay off the loan faster.

Refinancing your home or car might be possible as well. You’d also need to plan how much you will pay each month and a schedule for becoming debt-free.

Habits Over Discipline

Do you think of it as a matter of discipline that you shower, brush your teeth, or show up at work each day? Probably not. Most like, you think of things as things that you must do regardless of how you’re feeling.

The key to getting organized is to take a similar approach to whatever you’re trying to get in order. Spending ten minutes a day sorting through that stack of mail doesn’t require you to really get in the mood for sorting.

It’s just a thing you do, like washing the dishes or feeding the cat. Not only does this approach help you drop some of the requirements you didn’t even realize you were imposing on your action, but it also takes off some of the burdens.

You no longer must beat yourself up for not having the self-discipline to get organized because you know it’s not about self-discipline. It’s just about putting a habit in place and reinforcing it by doing it regularly until it becomes second nature.

You can then go back to your things to get an organised list and use these same principles to eventually work your way through everything on it.

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