Since it is relatively still the beginning of 2017 and we’ve all just set goals and intentions and are wanting to make them materialize, we may have bought a planner, daybook … or are converting to digital options. I thought this might be a great time to touch base around those skills of organizing and planning.
Yes, they’re actually skills. Many times people brush them off by saying “Oh I’m not good at organizing myself.” or “I don’t plan well.” Good news! It can be honed and developed! It’s not one of those things that you either have or don’t have.
Now, obviously some people may have a more natural ability toward these skills, but that does not mean you’re doomed to be stuck in a rut that isn’t effective for you. These skills of planning and organizing are often thought about in the psychology world as a part of Executive Functioning. Executive Functioning refers to a group of skills managed by the frontal lobe of our brain. This section of the brain helps us manage life tasks. It helps us manage ourselves and our resources in order to meet a goal. It helps us organize and act on information. It helps us with emotion regulation and impulse control. These are all pieces of Executive Functioning.
While these are skills we can develop, it also means we might need some tools to support us.
Here is a sampling of ideas that can help us keep our eye on the ball:
— Use a timer when doing tasks, so that you can divide up your resources as needed and won’t get “sucked in”
— Have a monthly calendar on the wall for bigger picture planning at a glance
— Cozi is a family organizing app where everyone can plug in their appointments, activities, chores and to-do lists
— Create checklists within any of these tools; prioritize by deadline, due date or urgency
— Pack your backpack, purse, briefcase or laptop bag the night before and put it by the front door
These ideas may feel like extra work for some people, but once it becomes routine you’ll likely notice some reduction in stress. You’ll hopefully be rushing less at home and work. You’ll spend less time looking for misplaced items, especially the important ones. You might even find that you ultimately have more time, because you have a plan and the tools you need to execute that plan at your fingertips.
Now let me fully acknowledge that this discussion just scratches the surface of Executive Functioning and ways to improve it, but I hope it sparks a bit of evaluation within yourself to see where you land in your planning and organizing skills and what you might be able to do to take it up a notch.