We live in a world that is forever hustling, so effective time management is crucial for everyone. However, for neurodiverse women, organization in time management is especially difficult.
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Organization is key to being able to maximize productivity, reduce stress, and achieve your goals. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of staying organized and look at time management practices specifically tailored for neurodivergent women.
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Clearing the Clutter:
Maintaining an organized environment is important for effective time management. By decluttering both physical and digital spaces, you can find what you need when you need it, which promotes productivity. Here are some decluttering tips:
Decluttering Physical Spaces:
- Start with one area at a time: Trying to tackle your whole house (or maybe even just one entire room) at once can overwhelm you. Begin by focusing on one specific area, such as your desk or a particular room (if it’s not too much).
- Sort items into categories: Create categories for items based on their purpose or relevance. For example, create piles for items to keep, donate, discard, or relocate to another area. Once you have your pile of items to keep, group those by purpose or use so you can find a home for them.
- Implement storage solutions: Invest in storage containers, shelves, or filing systems to help organize items. Use labels or color-coding systems to make it easier to identify and locate items. For many of you, out of sight is out of mind, so consider picture labels or clear containers.
- Clear workspace regularly: Make it a habit to declutter your workspace at the end of each day. Do a 10-minute sweep to declutter so it doesn’t get out of hand. Put away items, file documents, and reset your workspace for a fresh start the next day.
Digital Decluttering Techniques:
- Organize files and folders: Create a logical and consistent folder structure on your computer or cloud storage. Use meaningful file names and subfolders to categorize and store documents and files.
- Manage email inboxes: Implement an email organization system by creating folders or labels to categorize and archive emails. Set up filters or rules to automatically sort incoming emails into specific folders based on sender, subject, or keywords.
- Reduce digital distractions: Minimize distractions by decluttering your digital environment. Remove unnecessary apps or icons from your device's home screen, unsubscribe from email newsletters that no longer serve you, and disable non-essential notifications.
Decluttering is an ongoing process. Regularly assess your physical and digital spaces to ensure they remain organized.
Developing Effective File and Document Organization:
Organizing files and documents is crucial for efficient time management and productivity. Having a consistent system in place will allow you to easily locate and retrieve important information and avoid duplication.
Significance of Organizing Files and Documents:
- Easy retrieval: Organized files and documents enable quick and effortless retrieval of information when needed, saving valuable time and minimizing frustration.
- Avoiding duplication: A well-organized system helps prevent the creation of duplicate files or multiple versions of the same document, reducing confusion and ensuring data integrity.
- Collaboration and sharing: When working with others, an organized file structure allows for seamless collaboration, easy sharing of documents, and effective version control.
Creating a Logical and Consistent File Naming System:
- Be descriptive: Use clear and descriptive file names that accurately reflect the content of the document. Include relevant details such as project name, date, or document type.
- Use consistent formatting: Establish a consistent file naming convention throughout your system. For example, you can use a combination of initials, project codes, and keywords to maintain consistency across files.
- Avoid special characters and spaces: Stick to alphanumeric characters and underscores or dashes in file names to ensure compatibility across different operating systems and file systems.
Folder Structures and Labeling Conventions:
- Create a hierarchical structure: Design a logical folder structure that reflects the organization of your files. Start with broader categories and subdivide them into more specific folders.
- Use meaningful folder names: Choose descriptive names for folders that clearly represent their contents. Consider using project names, client names, or functional categories as folder names.
- Apply color-coded labels: Assign color-coded labels or tags to folders to visually distinguish between different projects, categories, or priority levels.
Version Control Techniques:
- Version numbering: Incorporate version numbers in your file names to track revisions. Use a consistent format such as “v1,” “v2,” or “v1.1” to indicate the progression of versions.
- Date stamping: Add date stamps to file names or include a date column in your document management system to indicate the most recent version.
- Utilize version control software: Consider using version control software or collaboration tools that offer built-in version tracking capabilities. These tools allow multiple users to work on the same document while maintaining a history of revisions.
It takes time to set up a system like this, but it will ultimately save you time and a boatload of frustration. We’ve all spent too much time looking for a document or folder on our computer, only to think we’ve found it and discover it’s the wrong version. (No? Just me, then?)
This will feel overwhelming if you look at all the files you have and think about fixing them. Start with new files first. Going forward, use your system. Then, as you have time and energy, work on the older stuff.
Utilizing Tools and Technology for Organization:
It seems like every time I turn around, there’s another app that can help with organization and productivity. Many of them do similar things and the sheer volume is overwhelming. Apps can be amazing tools. However, I don’t want you to feel like you have to use all of them.
I know that when you hear someone talking about how much they love this or that, you want to jump on that train so you don’t miss out (and of course, you try to convince yourself that this is going to be some magic cure for all your problems).
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I’m all for experimenting and trying things out, but you can’t do them all at once and if you find one that works, you don’t have to move on to the next. If you haven’t tried apps, here are some ideas to get you started:
- To-Do List Apps: Apps like Todoist, Microsoft To Do, or Any.do help create and manage task lists, set reminders, and prioritize activities.
- Note-Taking Apps: Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, or Notion are powerful apps for capturing and organizing notes, ideas, and important information across devices.
- Focus and Distraction Management Apps: Forest, Freedom, or RescueTime assist in blocking distractions, managing screen time, and maintaining focus during work sessions.
Project Management Software:
- Trello, Asana, or Monday.com: These tools help manage projects, assign tasks, track progress, and facilitate collaboration among team members.
- Basecamp or Teamwork: Suitable for larger projects, these platforms offer comprehensive project management features, including document sharing, discussions, and milestone tracking.
Digital Calendars and Scheduling Tools:
- Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, or Apple Calendar: These popular calendar apps allow scheduling appointments, setting reminders, and managing events across multiple devices.
- Time blocking tools: Apps like Clockify, Toggl, or Focus Booster enable time tracking, block specific time slots for tasks, and analyze time usage patterns.
When choosing the right tools, consider the following factors:
- Functionality: Identify the specific needs you want to address and choose tools that offer the required features. Decide what tool you need before you start playing with them.
- User Interface and Ease of Use: Evaluate the user interface and ease of navigation within the tool. If something doesn’t appeal to you as soon as you open it (you think it’s ugly or hard to navigate), don’t bother with it. It doesn’t matter how amazing it is if you don’t like it.
- Integration Capabilities: Consider the compatibility of the tool with other apps and services you frequently use. Being able to connect tools to help organize your life is a powerful way to streamline everything.
- Accessibility and Cross-Platform Support: If you use multiple devices, opt for tools that are accessible on various platforms, such as web browsers, desktop applications, and mobile apps. You want to be able to use the tools wherever you can.
It's important to experiment and try different tools to find the ones that best suit your individual needs and preferences. Start with a few selected tools, gradually integrate them into your life, and assess their impact on your organization and productivity.
Organization in time management is the best way to be efficient and increase productivity. By implementing the practices discussed in this article, you can significantly improve your executive functioning skills.