We all have them. Those colorful paper piles sitting staunchly on various tables and counters in your house. They embrace long-forgotten magazine articles and appointment reminders. Past-due bills lay buried under their weight. The possibility is very real that your calendar that you are supposed to be checking daily is nestled under that random tower of dictionaries and “books-on-my-bucket-list-to-read”. In fact, you just remembered you have a dental appointment sometime – THIS week! (Or, is it next week…?) You can’t remember when the kitchen floor was last mopped and your backyard looks so overgrown you are sure they could film the next sequel to Jungle Book there.
You’re stressed, grumpy and going slightly insane. But, you have 20 new likes on your Facebook post that you had time to make so that lifts your spirits a bit. Staying organized is a long-lost companion. Let’s go find him. Shall we?
Tip #1: Write things down.
One of the top suggestions for getting organized is to write things down. Make lists. Some people love doing this. I’m one of them. I have Google Calendar, have asked Siri to send me reminders on my iPhone, have emails sent to me from my project management apps but, honey, if I don’t have it written on a piece of paper in front of my face, it just might not happen. There is just something about making a list of “to do’s” and checking off things when they are done.
Tip #2: Put things away.
“Put things away where they belong.” Yes, the same words our parents barked at us constantly that we, apparently, never learned to apply. Stay organized! If you used the hairspray, comb and toothbrush this morning and left it on the counter, it will probably still be sitting there tonight when you add to the pile with hair clips and facial cleansers. Believe me, mess is stress. It’s been proven that seeing messy clutter all around your house or office makes us feel stressed and out of control. Take the extra moment to put things away. You are investing in your sanity, remember?
Tip #3: Have less stuff.
Have less stuff – translated: mostly JUNK. I have this policy for myself – if I buy new clothing, something in my closet has to go. There is nothing more frustrating than hangers getting stuck on each other and all your clothes being wrinkled because you have them all jammed into an overstuffed closet. Things get so buried you don’t realize for months that you keep buying red t-shirts because you think you have none. Seriously, you know you haven’t worn that hideous orange sweater in years but you hold onto it because the tag says “Dolce & Gabbana” on it. Give it up. You’ll thank me someday. You also don’t need 4 curling irons for one head, three sets of silverware or the whole set of your grandfather’s old encyclopedias. Just saying…
Tip #4: Invest time 15 minutes before bed.
Before you go to bed every night (Be reasonable – don’t stay up until 2 am and think you will be productive the next day.), take 15 minutes and do a quick straightening up around the house. Sit down and make a short list of things you need done the next day. It sets the stage to wake up the next morning with your day prepped and a halfway organized home to start with! Are you feeling the anticipation here?
Tip #5: Organize some meals.
Organizing your meals. I love to prepare freezer meals ahead of time (there are tons of ideas online) that I can pull out in the mornings and throw in the crock pot before work. I’ll shop and prep meals on a Saturday to last about 2 weeks. (I would love to do a month but, hey, I need to leave room for ice cream in the freezer, right?) Can’t shoot for that kind of time frame? Do a week. Goodness, at least figure out that morning what you are making for dinner and pull it out of the freezer. It’s a start. You got this!
Tip #6: Ask for help.
I’m sure I hear you giggling because you feel like everyone around you is just as disorganized as you are! However, you need to do some self-advocating. You cannot handle it all. If you work full-time (at home or outside the home), have a house to clean, pets to care for, kids needing you constantly, and you graciously volunteered to bake 500 brownies and individually wrap them for the youth fundraiser, you are going to need some help. Staying organized is not a one-man (woman) show. You aren’t there to organize everyone else’s life on top of your’s. That’s a sure-fire way to skid right into burnout mode. Delegate chores to family members. Ask coworkers to do their share so you don’t have to. And, by all means, ask another youth parent to help you wrap those brownies!
You get the picture. Have a bonfire in the backyard for the paper piles around your house (after you dig out the important stuff). Stick your lists on your bathroom mirror. Shop and prepare meals together with your family and do some bonding. Get rid of those non-essentials that clutter up your home and tranquility. Put things in their place so you can actually find them next week. Keep your sanity by staying organized.
Oh, and go dig out your calendar and start using it!
Make it a great day!