When I was asked to write a post on organisation, I thought wonderful, I’ll do it. Then nothing happened. I didn’t procrastinate and I didn’t forget. I didn’t decide not to or tried to but failed. I just didn’t do it. This may not seem like a great start to a post on organisation but the important key is that I’m doing it now. Organisation is not about trying to do everything right away, in fact, it is quite the opposite. It’s about planning to know what you can realistically fit in. In the simplest way, this is what this post is all about.

Organisation takes a lot of discipline and discipline takes a lot of practice. Before I go any further, let me explain this post will only highlight a small aspect of many parts of being organised. I could write an entire book on it if I really wanted to, but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to try to focus on what I think is most important.

First off for anyone not yet convinced on why this is important, in an hour there is only 60 minutes, in a day there is only 24 hours, in a week there is only 7 days. That’s not a lot of time. Now let’s make it even smaller. In a day you have to sleep eight hours and eat, clean and get dressed in the morning, then you have to eat again at lunch and eat again at dinner and somewhere fit everything you need to do in with more time for rest. That’s really hard. I’m sure I don’t need to tell architecture students how quickly the day fills up and how little time there is left.

So now you’re freaked out (sorry about that) but we can fix that with three steps. Prioritise, predict, practice. (And they conveniently all start with the letter P) We’ll call it, the three P’s of organisation.

The first thing I always do every day and week and month and even every year even is write a list of what I want to achieve. This is the priority stage. This isn’t is a list of what I need to do but the end outcomes. Generally writing outcomes is more motivating than writing tasks. It’s also important to understand why you’re doing something as this will help encourage you to keep on track later. Once you have your list, order them in priority from what you want to do most to least starting from longest term goals, to short term goals.

So now you’re motivated with your list of goals of what you want to do and you know which ones you want most, now it’s to predict.

This is a slightly less exciting lists. This where you write the intricate tasks, any constraints, guess times it will take and write deadlines. All the information you may need should be on this list. It is at this point you may have some tough decisions. You may need to reorder some tasks to fit in with the deadlines to fulfill longer goals. If you want to focus on studio but you are about to fail history, it would be worth changing the order to meet the longer goal, becoming an architect. (You can’t become an architect if you fail history) You should now know how long each task will take and if you can realistically complete them.

Most of the time, you will be able to complete all the tasks in the day, sometimes you can’t. You can’t do everything. You can try, but at some point something may have to give out. Architecture students are often bad at this decision as they choose to work on studio or their renders instead of sleep or eat. This is something I feel strongly about being a very bad choice. If you go back to your long term goals, you need to look after your health first and foremost. Skipping sleep will also have flow on effects as it can snowball out of control. You need to take breaks and you need to rest! It’s simply not worth it and sometimes you just need to say no. Handing in a project late or not 100% won’t kill you; staying up all night, stressing out, and skipping meals might.\

Organisation is not about working longer, it’s about smarter. Plan your day with rest and breaks and if you know you have times for this, you wont have to stress out and worry about it. Planning your time and knowing you will be ok, you can really enjoy doing your work.

And this is where practice comes in. Debatably the hardest of all the steps, organisation takes discipline and practice, but it is possible. I’m a third year architecture student and doing a massive list of other things as well, using this method, I have never had to work all night and I don’t work on saturdays. I have a day off, enjoy my time, then work hard knowing I don’t have to stress or worry. It makes the work better through being well rested and more efficient but most importantly,  it makes the work more enjoyable.

This method works for me, but what works for you? Do you have your own way of working and organising your time? Have you had bad or good experiences with organisation or do you have tips for others? Tell us in the comments.

This was our first [of many I hope] guest post, written by Nick Silagy, an architecture student and SONA Monash representative.
Photo via http://architectssleepinginstudio.tumblr.com/