Q:  I don’t know how I keep ending up in the same rut, but I do.  I am so busy with family and work that I don’t have time to organize myself and end up with clutter everywhere.  Consequently, I am always losing phone numbers, notes, clothes, etc. and spend a lot of time looking for them.

A:  The frustration of sorting through clutter, losing time and things certainly puts more stress into your already busy life. The image of the absent-minded professor may be OK for some people, but most of us don’t want the confusion or expenditure of time and effort that accompanies that image.  It’s hard to know what comes first, the stress or the clutter.  Typically they are interrelated.

You might consider trying a few of the following time management techniques to simplify your life and get more control over your time:

1.   Get in the habit of using an appointment book that has space for notes.

2.   Centralize!  Take those scraps of paper with notes and phone numbers and immediately put them into your appointment book.  Better yet, skip the extra step of jotting notes on scraps of paper and put the information directly into your book.

3.   Remember that habits take time to change.  It takes 52 times to make a behavior a habit. Give yourself at least six weeks to use your centralized appointment book-memo system; then evaluate its effectiveness.

4.   One big time-robber is cluttered clothes closets. Keep only clothing that fits, looks good and compliments your lifestyle in your primary closet. Don’t waste time sorting through an overstuffed closet.  By investing a few hours into closet organization, you may save yourself a lot of aggravation each morning.

5.   Use a “To Do” list to get things out of your head and onto paper.  Make room for creative thinking by cleaning the clutter out of your memory bank.

6.  Use a “To Do” list to recognize your accomplishments as you complete tasks.  Also use your “To Do” list to prioritize your tasks.  Eliminate the unnecessary ones (usually about 10 percent).  Delegate what you can and complete the others yourself.

7.  A good rule of thumb is to try to simplify tasks, chores, and your environment. Keep your organizational system streamlined.  You don’t need fancy books and complicated systems.  Some people do find, however, that investing money into a high-quality appointment book motivates them to use it. The bottom line is whatever method you choose, use it regularly so it becomes and effortless, positive habit.