The first step to being more organised is simpler than you'd think

My favourite excuse for not doing things that are good for me is that I don’t know where to start.

As in, my apartment is messy, but the whole thing is messy and I can’t possibly clean every single item today. It’s obviously better not to clean it at all.

On a rational level, this makes no sense. Absolutely none. But when we’re overwhelmed, our first response is often this kind of paralysis.

Which is why Josh Zerkel — the director of global community and training at Evernote and a certified professional organiser — says that when it comes to organisation, it’s best to start small.

If you feel like you could be more organised at work but don’t know where to begin, Zerkel recommends finding a central spot for all your files.

“Put everything important in one place,” he said when we met in May, adding that struggling to locate files is one of the most common issues he sees among people he works with.

“That sense of urgency that’s created when there’s a deadline and you can’t find the thing that you need is really, really stressful,” Zerkel said. And what’s the purpose of being an organised person if not to be a less-stressed person?

So, whether it’s an email draft or an actual scrap of paper where you jotted down an idea from last week’s meeting, make sure everything is in one place.

That place can — but doesn’t have to — be Evernote. But it shouldn’t be Evernote/Dropbox/Google Drive/your pocket.

When you’re able to confidently locate any file whenever you need it, “it’s empowering,” Zerkel said.

Once you’ve got a file system going, you can build off that success and move onto something trickier, like time management. If you start off with time management, for example, Zerkel said it can be “really disheartening” when you don’t see big changes right away.

On the other hand, putting your files in one location “is a place to get success quickly.”

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