You’ve made your New Years resolutions, so now it’s time for my top seven easy life organization tips to help you achieve your goals this year!
2019 is officially here, and hopefully you’ve already been thinking about (or planned out!) your New Years resolution(s)! (For my top tips on how to keep your New Years resolution, click here!) Today I want to spend some time sharing my top seven life organization tips!
Organization is a huge thing in my life, because I have a lot on my plate (and I like it that way, usually!). Whether it’s work, hobbies, or general life and home “stuff”, staying efficient when I’m working on those tasks is important because it allows me to set aside time to just relax and be. As I continue to grow, I’m sure that I will continue to also modify and perfect these tips, but I think so far that I’ve spent a lot of time on getting to this level of organization in my life, and I’d like to share those life organization tips with you too!
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1. Use a to do list like Reminders (iOS) to stay up-to-date on all your devices.
Let’s start off with the number one tip that I have: using a to-do list. When I finally started formulating to-do lists in college, it was out of necessity. There just was no way I was going to remember alllll the things I needed to get done without one, and so my pen and paper to-do list was born.
Since then, I’ve upgraded in a major way, and I think the first step to staying organized in life is knowing what you need to get done and when you’re going to get it done. I use the Reminders app from Apple. Because my phone, tablet, and laptop devices are all Apple products, I can easily sync my to-do lists via the Reminders app and it updates across all devices. So when I’m searching for flights for our upcoming ski trip and I think “oh yeah, we’ll need to buy lift tickets and a car rental in advance”, I just throw those two items on my to-do list on my laptop and I’ll be able to remember to do them later from any of my devices.
Some other options for “to-do list” applications include:
2. Plan your weekly schedule every Sunday.
In terms of the changes that made the biggest impact on my ability to organize and prioritize my life and become more efficient, planning my schedule every week was literally right behind using the Reminders app for my to-do list. And that’s only because in order to plan my schedule, I use the Reminders app. 😀
Every Sunday I set aside 15-20 minutes to visualize my upcoming week and then plan and prioritize tasks that need to get done. I typically run through a list of the “usual” suspects:
- work tasks (specific to whatever field you are in),
- family and home tasks (grocery shopping, cooking dinner, doing the laundry, etc.),
- pet stuff (vaccinations, allergy shots [yep. that’s for real.], etc.),
- blog tasks (write a post, take photos, schedule content, etc.), and
- for now, I’m also focusing on home reno tasks since we moved into the new house.
Then, I set up my week. I created a to-do list for each day of the week, which helps me to break down exactly which tasks I want to accomplish every day. It’s important to not go overboard though, and to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day! It’s really helpful having a daily to-do list because it breaks up that large overall to-do list that you have for the week and makes it more manageable.
3. Prioritize your schedule (but leave room for spontaneity!)
This was a hard one for me, and is something I continue to struggle with on some level to this day. Prioritizing comes fairly easily to me: you start with step #2 above and plan out what you need and want to get done on a weekly and daily basis. Then, how do you decide what needs to be done first? There are two important factors:
- Focus on the things that must be completed and getting those tasks done first.
- Prioritize tasks based on type. In other words, if you have several similar tasks, do them together. For example: run all your errands on one side of town on the same day (this is where planning your week in advance comes in handy because you can take some time to think of all the errands you might need to run that week and plan them together). Another example: when I am blogging, I tend to use the batch method to create content, where I’ll edit a lot of post photos at once, helping to save on time.
The important caveat of this step: leave room for spontaneity! My husband will attest – I have a hard time doing this. With vacations, I’m that person who plans every single day, tour, trip, and meal, which I love to do, but doesn’t leave a lot of room for spur-of-the-moment stuff.
I’m trying to get better at this, and so I urge you also to make sure you leave some room to be spontaneous with your family, significant other, or friends. Leave Friday night open for something fun that might come up! (Of course, it’s okay if that “fun” turns out to be a night of Netflix binging with a glass of rosé and your puppies!)
4. Break larger projects into smaller steps.
Sometimes big tasks can seem overwhelming – this happens to everyone, I promise! Set yourself up for success by breaking these tasks down into smaller pieces and planning just one piece every day or so.
For example, when planning vacation, I’ll plan to do different “parts” of it at a time, as opposed to planning everything at once – that is just too daunting of a tasks, even for one whole weekend day! I’ll book hotels or flights one week, start researching tours or attractions to hit up the next week, and book dining reservations another week. This helps you to also feel a sense of accomplishment as you check each step off your list, and by the end of it – you’ll be totally finished!
5. Plan your meals every week. (And only hit the grocery store once a week!)
I talk all about meal planning on a weekly basis here, so I won’t belabor the point. But I will say this: meal planning sounds like a lot of work, and I’ve had people make light of the fact that I do it on a regular basis. But I wouldn’t not do meal planning now that I know how convenient it is and how much more efficient it makes my week. I suspect the people who poke fun at weekly meal planning are those who have 1) never tried it and 2) don’t think they could pull it off, but I promise you: it only takes a few weeks to get into the hang of this habit that will help you in the long run.
I prefer to do my grocery shopping early Saturday mornings, as the stores are much less crowded around here. That means that Fridays are when I’m mapping out what meals I want to make the next week, and what groceries I’m going to buy at the store. The result is
- less spur-of-the-moment purchases in the grocery store,
- less time spent in the grocery store,
- only one grocery trip per week (need I say more?),
- I know exactly what meat to defrost each day, and
- I’m aware of how much time I need to block out for preparing dinner every night.
6. Make your bed!
In other words – clean up as you go! I cannot stress enough how helpful this is in life. Whether it’s normal work throughout the day or while I’m cooking dinner, clearing things away after using them prevents a big pile of stuff from accumulating. For example… on the dining room table or the kitchen counters. And if you don’t have a big pile of stuff accumulated…. you don’t have to clean it up later! #cleaningupftw!
7. Don’t be afraid (or ashamed) to hire help when you need to.
My last tip is perhaps one of the most important. I feel like in this day and age, we (and women especially) are expected to want it all and do it all, and have no problems or struggles along the way. The truth is that reality is quite different than the perfect Instagram account or your favorite Youtuber’s latest vlog – life is messy and sometimes things don’t get done.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to hire help. We hired a housekeeper, and it was the best decision we made: not only for our home and our mental state, but for our marriage, because 1) the house is clean, 2) neither one of us has to come home from a long and busy day at work and worry about cleaning quite as much, and 3) we don’t argue about cleaning anymore. You have to look at your time as a commodity, and if it’s more worth it to hire help than to spend Friday nights scrubbing the floors – hire the help.
Now it’s your turn: what is your number one tip for staying organized in life? Share with me in the comments below!