7 Tips for an Organized Life

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When I first started working from home, life went into chaos. As a teacher, I had lesson plans, unit calendars, to-do lists, file systems, and a very structured bell system that told me what I should be doing all day long. It was perfect for my Type-A personality because everything has its proper place. Then, I was suddenly working at home and starting from scratch. CHAOS!

However, I finally have my organized groove back, so I’m sharing my 7 Tips for an Organized Life!

7 Tips for an Organized Life - Set strong habits for a good year! Plus there's an Erin Condren Life Planner giveaway open until 1/12/15! {The Love Nerds}

This is not to give you the wrong impression. I am not 100% organized all the time. My office is really tiny and usually becomes the dumping room. I just spent yesterday afternoon putting the office back in order after the holiday craziness: wrapping paper, boxes and decor supplies everywhere.

I have worked hard at planning and organizing my life though and want to share with you tips that have worked for me and for our marriage. Plus, the whole post ends with an AWESOME Erin Condren Life Planner giveaway that you don’t want to miss.

Tip 1 : Hold a Weekly Family Meeting

I came to a realization that most of the disagreements Bryan and I had were over our schedules. He would forget to tell me about a late meeting which would inevitably be the night I planned a nice dinner or I told him in passing I was going out to my parents’ house when he was busy and distracted. We needed a new system.

So now, every Sunday, we sit down and have a family meeting. During this time, we discuss the week ahead and make sure our calendars are updated. It is also the time we review any needed budget info or long term goals/projects, like our vacation in March. If you meal plan, which I recommend down below, this is also a great time to discuss meals for the week, and I always ask my husband for a couple meal ideas.

These do not have to be long, formal meetings. Last night, our family meeting lasted 5 minutes between episodes of Friends. What is really important is that both of you are looking at your calendars and talking through the week. Our normal Sunday family meeting is with brunch. Since I normally make us something a bit more special for Sunday breakfast, we sit down at the table together and bring along our calendars. Whatever works for you, this time is invaluable. We are more in sync and those little schedule fights are less common. It’s a total win!

7 Tips for an Organized Life - Set strong habits for a good year! Plus there's an Erin Condren Life Planner giveaway open until 1/12/15! {The Love Nerds}

Tip 2: Plan Your Week

Find a quiet time to sit down with your calendar and schedule out your week near the beginning. For me, this works best on a Sunday afternoon with a pop and snack or Monday mornings over a cup of coffee. Because of our family meeting on Sunday, I already have our personal/night events entered into my planner in addition to any events on Bryan’s schedule that might influence me. So my first step during this time is to transfer my routine projects and activities over to the new week. Then, I start adding any new meetings or assignments into their proper slot.

If in doubt, write it down! If you are anything like me, it will never enter my mind again (at least not on time) unless there’s a written reminder.

Tip 3: Meal Plan

While planning my week, I also take time to meal plan, create our shopping list, and schedule a shopping trip. Now, I do not get super fancy about my meal plan or even plan out the whole month. I do, however, create a list of meal ideas that would work for us in the next week or two. I find that having a rough schedule for our meals takes the stress off me at 5 o’clock when Bryan asks what we are having for dinner.

Meal planning has also helped me become more intentional about what food we buy and scale back our food budget a little. I try to consider meals that use up ingredients we already have, could use leftovers from other meals (such as setting aside shredded chicken from soup for tacos later in the week), and could provide us more than one dinner or lunches for me. You will probably find a casserole or pasta dish on the menu most weeks to meet our goals of staying on budget and cutting down meal prep time during the week

7 Tips for an Organized Life - Set strong habits for a good year! Plus there's an Erin Condren Life Planner giveaway open until 1/12/15! {The Love Nerds}

To be honest with you, I hate this process. I’ve never been a fan of grocery shopping, feel like my ideas are repetitive, and hate spending lots of time in the kitchen during the week when life is extra busy. It is worth it though! We have saved money on groceries AND not going out to eat. Since “What are we having for dinner” is a list of options already prepared, we don’t order food as often. {side note: living in the city is dangerous when you realize almost everything, including Chipotle, delivers.)

Tip 4: Take time for you.

I know this is a cliche statement but you need to take time for yourself. AND, if you are anything like me, you need to schedule it to make sure it actually happens. As busy as life gets, I find that I operate better when I take time to recharge my battery. On my schedule, this looks like reading a book, spending time with my family, applying a new Jamberry manicure, a morning to sleep in, or special time with Bryan.

Whatever makes you happy, put it in the schedule. You really will be healthier and happier!

Take Time for Yourself

Tip 5: Don’t Forget the Big Picture

I don’t really believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but I do believe in setting goals. I am constantly setting yearly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals. Most importantly, I WRITE THEM DOWN! Goals are not something to be thought of in passing. You need to see them, check in on them, mark down progress, etc. It is so easy to let the daily to-do lists rule your life, but setting up good habits will allow you to keep your eye on the big picture as well.

In my planner, I have a note page in the back for my yearly goals. Remember that the yearly goal needs to be broken down into smaller pieces – how are you going to accomplish it? What steps do you need to take to make sure it happens. Many of these small steps become my monthly goals, which I write down on the side of my monthly calendar spread.

Tip 6: Plan Each Day with Manageable To-Do Lists

Without my to-do lists, I would be lost. My brain was simply not built for keeping track of loose information, important tasks, birthdays and deadlines all at once. Hence, to-do lists. However, having a to-do list a mile long with everything possible thing that needs to get done in the next month or even just week is impractical. You become unfocused and preoccupied with items that are not time sensitive.

By creating manageable to-do lists, items that I can reasonably complete in one day, I am more focused and feel way more accomplished. It feels a lot better to see my list crossed off than 40 more items on the list that need to be done.

7 Tips for an Organized Life - Set strong habits for a good year! Plus there's an Erin Condren Life Planner giveaway open until 1/12/15! {The Love Nerds}

One thing that has helped me with this is keeping my to-do list in my planner and adding items to their real day. My weekly spread is mostly reserved for my to-do lists. Instead of morning, day and night, I use the different sections for Blog, Client Work, and Personal. As a rule, I try not to have more than 5 things in each of these boxes.

While not always possible, it is usually doable because I evaluate those items pretty closely. Instead of putting everything that needs to be done that WEEK in a day list, I put things in their rightful place. For example, I need to have a craft photographed on Wednesday. Instead of listing it under today, I add it directly to my Wednesday spot. If something needs to be done this week, I add it the weekly goals/to-do list on the left hand side. It doesn’t mean you can’t work ahead, but it will keep you focused on the items that really matter for your day.

Tip 7: Find a Planner or Calendar System

This is has truly been the game changer for me these past 5 months. I tried lots of different digital suggestions that people made, but nothing really worked for me. Then, I decided to go back to pen and paper because writing things down helps me remember them and I don’t always want to be tied to my phone or computer. I again did a lot of research and decided on the Erin Condren Life Planner. I have posted about my planner a couple times already, so you can head over to see why I chose this planner and how I am using the planner instead of me posting it again here. If you are interested in buying your own, use this referral link and sign up for their newsletter to get $10 off code for your first order.

Whichever planner you choose, make sure it is something that can work for you and keep an open mind. Many people say no to Erin Condren because of the Morning, Day, and Night layout. Me? 3 sections was perfect so I just changed it to work for me.

If you find these tips helpful, you might also enjoy these Organization Tips

A morning routine can make even the worst days easier! See my 4 Tips for Establishing a Strong Morning Routine, including a recipe for an easy breakfast - Dutch Apple Pie Muffins! {The Love Nerds} #McCafeMyWay #Ad How I Use my Erin Condren Life Planner to Organize my Personal Life and my Business! {The Love Nerds} #gettingorganized #familyplanner #businesstipsDo you like having a place for everything? Do you tend to lose things? Or, maybe you want to keep track of special moments! Check out these 4 Ways to Get Organized with Brand New Erin Condren Notebooks! {The Love Nerds} #spon

 

Comments

  1. Clara says

    Getting organized is a big challenge for me. I’ve always been a wing it kind of girl. Time to get a planner and actually use it. I especially like your tips on meal planning – I totally relate!

  2. Stephanie says

    Great post and super helpful! Planning to print this one out and keep it for reference. Any advice or tips on figuring out what to-do’s are needed when starting a new and unfamiliar project?
    Have a lovely week!

  3. Michael Gregory II says

    I’m still in the process of mastering my time management skills. There seem to be so many taskers put on my list daily and it could become quite annoying. So what usually helps me is using a journal where I list all my assign tasks on and cross them out whenever I complete something. At first it was strange to always write down my goals, but the longer I keep at it, the easier and more efficient I become.

  4. Karen H says

    I clean the kitchen up after every use. This keeps clutter away, my mind at ease and I feel more inclined to dive in at the next meal.

  5. Karen Lynch says

    I have a chalkboard in our kitchen divided into sections for grocery, target, and a section for meal ideas or requests. So easy to write something down when you are low or runout. And meal planning is easier, I love it when family writes down something they’ve been craving.

  6. Jami B says

    I am so glad I just found your site! I actually found it on pinterest with a recipe but now am following you! Thank you so much!

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