Organization is an inevitable part of any professional’s day, but there are some organizational methods that have proven to be more effective than others.

If you feel overwhelmed at work and spend your nights thinking about everything you have to do the next day, that could be a sign that your organizational system needs a revamp.

An organizational system that works for you will make every day more productive, less stressful and more enjoyable. Here are a few tips I’ve found to be especially useful.

You Don’t Have to Remember Everything

When you’re trying to keep track of your to-do list mentally, your brain isn’t allowed to be in the moment. Instead, you’re focusing on what you have to do next or how much you have to do before the day is over.

The most successful people are always present and calm. If you write your to-do list in one place, you can instead focus on the task or conversation at hand.

Manage Your Time Realistically

When there is a list of items you need to accomplish, that list can easily turn into an unrealistic hole of 12 items that each require an hour of your time. By blocking time in your calendar for each item on your to-do list, you’ll never have to wonder when you’ll have time for everything. It can also help you prioritize the most urgent and important items first. The rest can either be delegated, moved to another day, or forgotten completely. Utilizing Steven Covey’s Prioritization Matrix can help you put everything into a category based on its importance and urgency.  

As the saying goes, “You can do anything once you stop trying to do everything.”

If you don’t have a personal assistant to help you keep track of your schedule, you may find yourself looking at your watch throughout the day — even during important meetings. Utilizing technology efficiently can help. Text and email alerts can be distracting, but it can be helpful to have calendar alerts that keep you on track.  

Accept the Unexpected

In most industries, it’s very rare that a day goes completely as planned. Meetings will take too long, emergencies will pop up, and it’s your job to work everything into your schedule.

Instead of resorting your schedule mentally, physically change your calendar. You should be actively engaging with your calendar anyway to be sure you’re on track with all your commitments. After your schedule is reset, you can return your full focus back to your next task.