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Getting Started: Ten steps towards an organised life

Feeling frantic as the end of the year starts to draw closer? Keep calm and carry on with these quick tips to staying on top of your game, including why making the bed in the morning is so important. 

1. Choose a diary that works for you, whether it’s a full-on organiser with week, month and year planners, a simple, unlined notebook, or a calendar on your phone. Carry it around with you, and if anything pops into your head, write it down. 

2. Give it a date. Assign a diary date to your commitments, work and personal activities, bills, birthdays, appointments and anything else you’ve written down. Where appropriate, add them to a to-do list under categories such as ‘work’, ‘friends’ or ‘home’. 

3. Deal with loose ends by gathering up all the floating pieces of paper in your home. If they can’t be filed or dealt with right away, create a folder such as ‘This week’ or ‘This month’ which you can refer back to. 

4. Do, schedule or file. When something new comes in, be it a bill, email or task, either take care of it right away, schedule it in your diary to be completed on a particular date, or file it in the right place. 

5. Prioritise your to-do list. Each day, set yourself three MITS (most important tasks) to complete, suggests Leo Babauta of Zen Habits (www.zenhabits.com). Do them first thing in the morning, and you’ll be on a roll for the rest of the day. 

6. Focus on the task at hand. If anything crops up while you’re working, make a note of it in your diary to be dealt with later. Try the internationally acclaimed Pomodoro Technique – work for 25-minute stretches, taking a five-minute break at the end of each one. 

7. Do just one thing. When you’re short on time or overwhelmed by your to-do list, decide to complete one small task. You’ll feel as if you’ve achieve something – and you’ll be one step closer to an organised life. 

8. Start a difficult task. Is there something you’re putting off? Work on it for just a few minutes. According to psychology professor Richard Wiseman, we’re programmed to finish what we’ve started. Once you get going, you’ll want to see it through. 

9. Block out ‘you time’. Schedule time for your hobbies and interests and be staunch in organising other commitments around them. Keep personal lists in your diary, such as recommended books you’d like to read, and write down things that inspire you or goals for the future. 

10. Make your bed. It’s one task that almost always makes people happier, says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project This is because it’s quick and easy to do, but makes a big difference, says Gretchen. “For many people, outer order contributes to inner calm.” 

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