I would not claim to be the most organised person. I know I can do better. But, I also know I struggle less than some. Here are a few things that help me to avoid chaos. I don't do all of them all the time, but they are good to aim for.
Just say no.
The more responsibilities you take on and the busier you get and the harder it is to juggle everything, keep up, think clearly, set priorities, avoid the tyranny of the urgent....
A clear desk
I am more relaxed, focused, and productive, if the only thing I have on the desk in front of me is what I am actually working on. Move the piles of other stuff somewhere else, out of view.
I have a work calendar and a personal one. I include all my weekly meetings and obligations.
Everyone I work with can see the work calendar and knows what I am up to. They can also see "busy" if there is something in the personal one. My family sees both.
Keep the schedule
Once something is in the calendar it is more or less fixed. Only in exceptional circumstances do I reschedule.
Papers for Mac
Any paper I download goes in there. Mostly I only print it if I am going to read it now. Papers is great for searching and finding stuff.
The paperless office
Sorry, I can't do it. Anything that requires a detailed and thoughtful reading I have to read in hard copy. But, ...
The paper recycling bin is your friend
I only save papers I am likely to read again. All the admin stuff goes in a box below my desk that then ends up in the recycling bin.
A moratorium on buying new bookcases and filing cabinets
I already have too many, both at work and home. So, if I buy more books or file more papers I have to get rid of some existing ones.
Turn it off. Try to only look at it a few times a day.
I have folders I do occasionally file stuff in.
I have not yet managed to use tags such as to remind me to act on certain things.
to do list
I have a long one on the computer, and so it is easily edited and updated.
I don't look at it often enough, out of guilt and frustration. But it is a useful reminder and it does feel good to cross stuff off.
On busy days I do hand write a schedule for the day.
I don't use one.
I could do a lot better. I welcome others to share what they have found helpful.