I've been on a journey of trying to get organized for a very long time.
Years and years I have tried this and that. Methodology after methodology. Computer apps, Android apps, paper and pencil, everything. Finally after many years I have distilled everything I have gone through and learned into three, no four! basic topics that are the bedrock of my organization. Ironically 2/3 of them aren't the methodology or the tool, but rather they are the system of staying organized.
Note: These are not in a particular order
1) Understanding Your Brain
Having gone through so many systems and apps and ideas and processes I learned something. That no matter how "good" a method is, it has to be the right one for you. I struggled with understanding this for many years actually. I heard about and was fascinated by so many organizational methods that I lost track of a simple aspect. Whatever method is really going to work for you has to be comfortable, has to flow with you not against you. There should not be emotional or mental work or friction between you and the system you are using!
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is one for example. It's an amazing system for staying organized. But it's just not how my brain and my day to day life work. I tried for over a year to use this system and failed. Because while it's a great system, it's not great for me.
I settled on a simple system, because it's how my brain works through the day. It's the "Today / Tomorrow / Someday" system. It's what am I really going to get done today, what I am going to do tomorrow. Or what got moved from today off till tomorrow. And everything else ends up in the "someday" category. And as I get things done today and tomorrow I pull more things out of "someday" and put them into "today"!
2) Where is Your List?
Where you keep your organization list or system is just as important as the system itself. If you forget to check it, use it, remember it's even there you won't get anything actually done!
For me this ended up being an app on my phone. It doesn't even sync with my anything. It's solely on my phone. And not only that but it's just a widget without an app! (Link to play store app). Why this particular app you might ask? For me it's perfect. It's a widget on my phone home screen. I have it taking up the entire 1st home screen. It's right there every time I use my phone so I never forget it. It's just a checklist, nothing else, broken into those categories.
For all my love of tech, UIs and UX, everything. This simple no background checklist widget hovering over my wallpaper is heaven for me and my organizational style!
3) Getting Things Done
Lastly and one could argue this is one of the most fundamental aspects... is finishing what I start, before starting something else. Multitasking is a road to failure and misery I have found. You have to finish something and the more things you try to squeeze, or the more things that divert your attention from finishing something the more likely you are to finish nothing.
Along with that there is the truth that breaking things into smaller parts and complete them is the way to go. Sure it sounds like you are actually creating more work by taking the time to write down all the little things. But the reality is you get the quick wins, you get the boosts of checking things off and feeling like you are accomplishing things! Don't deprive yourself the feelings of accomplishment just to save yourself three minutes of your day that you spend writing down the micro task parts of the bigger to do item!
Finish what you are doing then move to next. Don't multitask!
4) Do The Little Things!
Those little tiny 5, 10, and 15 minute tasks you keep shoving off into the future. Saying "I'll get those done a little later..." or "I'll have time later for that, I need to focus on ...". Yeah those. Stop right now and do them. Just do them. Why you ask? Because they will be sitting there on your to do list for days or weeks. And they will be stuck in the back of your mind every day until you do them, weighing you down reminding you that they aren't done.
They are after all only 10 minute tasks! Just get them done, cross them off and be free of them! You can get all the little tasks done and then get back to the big stuff afterwards. And when you do you will be free of them, you will have checked off things on your list and you will be able to focus that much more of the bigger stuff.
Trust me. Stop putting off the micro tasks. Just get them done and over with, then move back to the big stuff!
The Practice Journey
Pushing ahead little by little!
Here a quick sketch to go with the post of someone trying to make a to do list on a wall board!