Do you get upset because you can’t accomplish what you want to?

For instance, you might want to clean out your closets or write that novel you’ve been putting off.

Maybe you try to focus, but end up feeling overwhelmed.

Finding control boils down to one simple strategy: developing the habit of being organized. This means you’ve got to think ahead.

When you can get organized, keep things under control and live a neat life, you can work faster and think more creatively.

These tips can help:

• Take a few minutes each day to declutter. You don’t have to set aside a weekend to tackle the basement. Just use small bits of time to clean out just one drawer or toss clothes you’ve decided to donate into a cardboard box.

• Get in the habit of buying organizational tools. Don’t buy every basket in the store, but do pick up a few containers for storing mail, pens, bills to pay and more. Buy hanging hooks for robes and coats.

• Group similar tasks. Make several phone calls back-to-back. Or, clean out the refrigerator while a roast is cooking. Don’t jump back and forth from room to room or jump from one task to an unrelated one.

• Pay attention to your methods of living and working. Remember that people who are very organized can “see” what needs to be done. They visualize the closet all neat and tidy before they remove the clothes to toss and sort. They “see” how they’ll shop efficiently for groceries by making a list and planning an orderly route up and down the aisles.

A case study

Paul, an author I was working with, had wanted to write a book for years, but his home office was messy and his habits weren’t conducive to getting things done.

He needed to get organized, starting with his home office, where he wrote. He spent a weekend sorting and tossing papers and books. When he was done, he made a pact with himself to write for three hours every Saturday and Sunday.

And he honored that pact. Paul was able to complete his book within 10 months. But he learned that being organized can help him do more than write a book.

“What I learned in the process,” said Paul, “is that my wife and I now need to organize our home — plus get our family photos in order, along with our wills and estate planning done — in order to feel in control of our lives. All of our plans for travel and retirement will flow better if we get organized.”

Now that he’s an organized man, Paul said that decluttering should be a top priority for every family.

Getting organized should extend to activities outside your home or office, as well.

Putting everything in order leaves you a clear calendar to plan for more activities with friends, co-workers and extended family. Whether it’s planning dinner with friends or a child’s birthday party, feeling on top of things enables you to manage time a lot better. Clutter and feeling disorganized eats up your energy and ability to focus.

Motivating yourself to get organized should start with the rewards you’ll experience. It’s much easier to form the habit of being organized if you can imagine how the changes will make you feel.