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A few months ago I was feeling overwhelmed. My busy life was getting even busier and everything felt disorganized. I found myself forgetting things, bills getting paid late, and tasks getting completed last minute. I felt like a disaster. As a manager and wife, I knew where this was heading. Something had to give. Welcome to how I organized my entire life in less than 30 days.
Create Command Central
I highly recommend two forms of command central. First, you should create a home center at a fixed location in your house. Here you can place a calendar, place for mail, grocery lists, notes, and so forth. Try combining calendars, white boards, and mail slots. There are some great ideas for home command centers all over Pinterest and other sites. Get creative and make it your own.
Second you should have a travel command central. This will depend on your personal preference and habits. A planner works for those people who rather have paper to physically write on. There are all sorts of planners out there, but my personal favorite is the Happy Planner. It is fully customizable, beautiful to look at, and very easy to make your own.
Other people prefer to use their smart phones and various apps. Evernote is a fabulous app for taking quick notes on your phone or tablet and keeping them for easy access. It lets you note websites, links, pictures and more that you can pull up later. Wunderlist is also a great app for making checklists of what needs to get done. This app lets you set reminders, due dates and times, and more. You can also use a combination of both paper and technology, which is my personal preference.
Organize the Paper Clutter
Or better yet just get rid of it. I had a really hard time with this one. I tend to hoard papers in every room of my house. You never know when you are going to need them again, right? Wrong. Ninety percent of those papers that you hoard are unnecessary clutter that you will never look at ever again. So stop wasting space storing and find a better solution.
Determine what you need to keep for your records, what you can scan for computer storage, and what you can recycle. Here is a great article that you can reference that explains what to keep and for how long. Important documents need to be placed in a fireproof safe. Documents that should be kept in original format can be stored in a small filing system or a binder system. Papers containing random information that might be useful later, like receipts for tax purposes, can be scanned and stored in your computer. I prefer NeatDesk for this task. It is awesome and super easy to use.
Lastly, control that mail! Don’t let mail pile up on your counter, table, or even your command center. I deal with mail the moment it comes into the house. Junk mail or advertisements go into the recycle right away. My bills go into my command center spot for bills needing to be paid. Any remaining mail gets placed in a “to-do” pile or a “to-be-filed” pile. I use a system of cute, labeled clips for containing these piles.
Get a Grip on Grocery Organization
Grocery shopping is the bane of my existence. I much rather scrub the floor with a toothbrush than deal with grocery shopping. This area was a “must” for me.
I recommend first taking inventory of what food you have. Then plan your meals for the next few days to weeks, depending on how much food you have available already. Once you are close to the end of your stockpile, its time to decide how often you want to grocery shop.
I prefer to shop every two weeks, mostly because I despise it so much. Every other Thursday night I sit down and plan out my next two weeks of meals. After that I take stock of anything on the grocery list from my command center that might be needed outside of meals. And viola, there is my shopping list. From here I can go to the grocery store or use my favorite grocery cheat and have my order delivered right to my front door.
Stop Wasting Space in the House
This was a hard one for me to tackle. I tend to be a bit of a packrat, a trait passed down from my grandmother. Who knows when I might need something that I have only ever used once, ten years ago, that doesn’t even work right. You never know, I might right? Wrong.
It wasn’t easy, but I broke the habit during my organizational craziness and you can too. Start by tackling one room at a time. Don’t worry about finding a place for everything now, it is not the time for that. Instead, start by going through the room and making piles. Make one pile for things to “keep”, one for “sell or donate”, and put anything you can throw out in a garbage bag. Once you do this the first time, go through the “keep” pile one more time. Ask yourself if you have used the item in the last 12 months or if it has sentimental value. If not, add it to the other piles.
If you have items that you rather sell than donate, GREAT! This can bring additional income to add to your pocket. Try sites like LetGo, Ebay, or Facebook yard sale groups. Just don’t wait. If you can’t make an effort to sell within the first week of making the pile, donate it instead.
Eventually, you will have a lot less “stuff” to find places for. You can even switch items to different locations in your house easier once you have less “stuff” sitting around. The best part is how amazing it will feel to not have extra clutter around your house.
Go on a Social Media Strike
Ok, so maybe not completely. I mean who can live without their daily dose of Facebook memes? What you should try doing is scheduling your social media time. Limit yourself to 5 or 10 minutes a day and set a timer to keep you on track. The first time I did this I was amazed. I thought I would feel cheated, like I didn’t get to look at everything I wanted to. Instead, after a few days I found myself not needing to check my phone all the time. The result was a lot more free time to get my other to-do items done.
Make Time to Get Stuck in Your Own Head
Being disorganized is stressful, but even being organized can stress someone out. Your brain is not meant to always be on the go. It occasionally needs a time out. It needs a break from thinking, organizing, and planning. If I leave you with one change to make, make this one!
Taking a mental time-out is more than just vegging out on the couch and watching TV. You need to guide your brain into not thinking about all the other things you have to do. Meditation and restorative yoga are the two most common forms of brain time-out. I started using guided meditation to give myself a break from all the hectic stress and I felt rejuvenated and more focused soon after starting.
If self meditation isn’t your thing, try an app. Headspace is my personal favorite, it is easy to follow and the cartoons it uses are intriguing. I have also used CureStress and Pacifica with success. If you want to try a bit of meditation hypnosis, Glenn Harold makes a great series of free hypnosis recordings on topics from better sleep, to curing stress, and even getting over a fear of flying.
Thirty Days Later
I cannot believe how different my life is in less than 30 days! My stress level has decreased ten fold, which has increased my productivity even more. I no longer feel forgetful or like I need 20 more hours in a day. Ok, well at least not all the time. You can get here too. It takes 21 days to create a habit, so get out there and get started!
What is your favorite organizational tip?