A LIST ON HOW TO BE ORGANIZED
For as long as I can remember, I have never had an issue with being organized. In fact, family members and friends look to me to help them organize their weekly menu plans, their closets and even sometimes their entire home. Working as an account/project manager at an advertising agency for six years – it’s essential to keep all jobs and timelines in order… the position was a natural fit for me… “Oh, I need to organize 50 projects at one time… hold my beer.”
Here are some of my tips and tricks (I put them in a list for you):
Lists. I LOVE lists. My desk, my phone, my computer, my fridge… everything is covered in lists. And each one has a very different purpose. I am getting married in June (less than 90) so I have lists for what needs to be this week, each month and when final payments are due – I am my own wedding planner. I have a separate TO-DO for work/business and my “real life”.
A guilty pleasure of mine is adding things to lists I know I’ve already completed… just so I can crow them off! It’s the small things.
Before I go to bed at night, I look over what I have on the docket for next day, both work and life related (not a huge fan of surprises). When I wake up, I set up a plan for the projects I need to tackle that day and how much time should be dedicated to each. Planning will help with efficiently and those ten minutes every day will actually save you time.
One of my favorite things to plan is meals and house chores (I know). Twice a month, I sit down and come up with a two week plan for meals every night and house chores, listing out dinner every night and things like when the bed needs to be stripped or the floors need to be mopped. My fiancé and I used to argue daily about what we wanted for dinner so about five years ago, I started making a two week list along with a grocery list. It eliminated the daily conversation and reduced our grocery bill drastically.
Day-to-day planning is just the start though. I set up goals for the whole week, the whole month and the whole year and check in with myself regularly. It’s a great way to hold myself accountable.
USE TECHNOLOGY TO HELP YOU
I’ll be honest and admit that I’m old-fashioned and prefer handwriting out lists and reminders but I am very familiar with the different programs available. Time management tools aren’t supposed to be scary or cause extra anxiety, so if that starts happening step away from the phone! Here are couple that I would recommend if you tend to lose paper:
Any.Do – Straightforward app that allows you to create personal to-do lists for any type of project
Toggl – For the obsessive you can track every single gosh darn minute of your day
Asana – This is more of a professional application that is great for helping teams keep track of larger projects… and it’s free
Remember the Milk – This one is pretty self-explanatory
Dropbox – Awesome place to store important documents that you might need to access from multiple locations. Cloud-based storage guys… think photos and videos
Like I mentioned before, I do not use all of these and there are many others that I would recommend! Try a couple out and see what works best for you.
DON’T WASTE IDLE (OKAY MAYBE A LITTLE)
When I find myself with idle time… I get anxious… because I must have forgotten to do something. I try to fill my “couch sitting/watching TV time” with research or surfing the different Facebook groups I follow… okay Pinterest and Instagram too. The best part about being hyper organized is that I know all of my time is well spent and everything I need to do is getting done. Then I find that hour in the day to sit and watch my junk TV, I really treasure it and don’t feel guilty.
Couple recommendations for idle time:
- Do you walk to work or have a long commute? Throw on a podcast or an audiobook. If I know I’m going to be in the car for a while – that’s when I call the doctor’s office since I know will be on hold for at least ten minutes
- Fly for work often or traveling for pleasure? Use that time on the plane to manage some of your spreadsheets or write that blog post you’ve been meaning to get done
- Waiting at the mechanic? Catch up on your emails or respond to that text you forgot about three weeks ago.
- Call a loved one, write them a handwritten note or bake them some banana bread. I promise this will mean everything.
Find ways to cross items off your to-do list – you will feel accomplished and more relaxed.
REMOVE THE CLUTTER
Clutter makes me shutter (forgive the rhyme). Desks or kitchen counters full of paperwork, unopened mail (even opened mail) or just random crap send me into a stress spiral. At the end of every day, at work or at home, I clear all of the days mess away… put away binders, file the bills, load the dishwasher, pick up the dog toys… When I wake up in the morning, it’s to a calming environment, free of chaos and “things”. My favorite saying is “everything has a place and a space” … and usually it’s not the kitchen counter!
We live in Michigan, so twice a year we go through a complete wardrobe change. I take this time to go through all of the clothing (both me and my fiancé) have accumulated – what is no longer worn, what has holes, what am I tired of looking at – and we make a big trip to our local donation center. In the Spring (during my big house deep clean), I go through every cupboard, every drawer and every shelf in the house with the same decluttering eye. I highly encourage you to go through one tiny space a day (or heck, even every week) and determine what you don’t need anymore. I mean… does anyone really need 97 pens?
Keeping your inbox clutter free is so important too. I receive anywhere from 100-125 emails a day and at the end of the day I usually have 5-6 left in my inbox. I have made it a personal (and professional) goal to read, respond and save/file every email after opening it. A clutter free email helps keep me alert when I do receive a new message from a client and I hold my self accountable and actionable.
Living in a clutter free environment is not only better for your spiritual self it can also have a strong psychological effect.
I love containers – almost as much as my lists. Glass jars makes everything look so much prettier. After grocery shopping, I recycle/dispose of a majority of the packaging. Keeping food in clear glass jars helps me take a quick assessment of stock levels when reviewing our pantry. Our basement is filled with those big plastic totes (or as we call them in our family “Christmas bins”). Each holiday has at least one tote filled with decorations, when I need something out of season or during, I know exactly where it is. One of us in the house is what I would consider a mild hoarder (not naming names but I think we can all agree it’s not me) so we have a couple totes filled with old video games or the three sets of Harry Potter that “cannot be throw away under any circumstance”.
Cannot stress enough how much easier containers have made my life! And you can pick up the glass storage containers at IKEA for a couple dollars. If you are a color coder – Target has many different colors of the big totes (Pro-Tip: after Christmas the red/green ones go on sale).
I will summarize this with prioritize. Everything you do every day has a priority level – actual or fabricated. A couple different ways to create order to your lists and create a priority system:
- Label with numbers
- Highlight the immediate tasks
- High, Medium or Low headers
Some people like to the harder tasks first, others the easiest tasks first. I change from day-to-day, I like to work on what I’m feeling in the moment because then I know I’m motivated and dedicated to checking it off!
One thing I’ve had to realize is that you can’t do everything at once. Focus on the current task and put everything out of your mind… you can get to it later… but not too later.
My biggest and most important tip: You ALWAYS have tomorrow. Do not work late to make sure every single little thing is off your desk. Go home and spend time with family, go to happy hour and catch up with an old friend or take your dog on that walk you’ve been promising.
Organization. Check. Arriving on Time. We will work on that…