How to organize your life: 11 simple steps

howtoorganizeyourlifeAre you stressed? Do you feel like you are treading water?  Do you just want to roll into a ball and cry because you feel like you have some much to do?  Fear not!  It’s time to grab the bull by the horns and organize your life.  Organizing your life will put you  back in control and give you time to enjoy the simple pleasures.  If you need help getting on track, follow our 11 easy steps to organize your life.

1) Write things down.  Even if you have the memory of an elephant, write things down.  We recommend keeping a schedule planner on hand at all times.  While paper planners were the go to, many people are switching over to the digital word.  Do whatever works best for you.  Make sure to jot down appointments, important dates, deadlines, etc.  If you use a digital planner, you can often set text or email reminders for important things.  We also recommend writing down anything that’s floating around in your head before you go to bed.  Try keeping a little pad of paper and a pen in your nightstand.  This will help ensure that you get a good night of sleep and don’t forget any last minute thoughts.

2) Keep a schedule.  Now that you have that planner inhand, make yourself a schedule and follow it.  Think of routines as your friend.  For example, set one day every week to do the grocery shopping.  Take the time to plan out your meals and make a list of exactly what you need to buy.  Keep this routine every week.  Also, make sure you follow through on deadlines. When making schedules, remember to always add in buffer time for things like traffic, getting lost, or running late.  Take a look at this class to learn more about how to master your time to become more efficient.

3) Don’t procrastinate. Seriously!  Procrastination will be your downfall.  A good rule of thumb is that if it takes less than 5 minutes, just do it now.  Need to recycle something? Then recycle it in its proper bin.  Do not put it on some “to recycle later” pile.  Just opened an email that needs a quick response? Then respond now.  Also, we know that everyone says that they can multitask but just don’t.  You will find that you will accomplish things much faster when you have only one thing at a time to focus on.  If you need help beating procrastination, check out this course on how to conquer the excuses that keep you from finishing.

4) Everything has a home.  Everything in your life should have its own place to exist physically when not being used.  If it doesn’t have a place, then find it one.  If you can not find it a home, then how badly do you really need it?  Also, never ever should you have a miscellaneous drawer…. That is a code word for “junk” and junk needs to be disposed of.

5) Declutter/Only keep the essentials.  Decluttering can be tough, especially if every ticket stub is a fond memory and you always find yourself thinking, “I may need this in the future”.  Time for the big reality check, a ticket stub is trash unless it’s in a scrapbook and the chances of you ever needing that random thing again is the same chance that pigs are flying over your head right now.  Go through your stuff and throw things out (donating or reselling is also highly recommend).  If you haven’t used it in over a year, say goodbye.  Same goes for all of those clothes in your closet that you are hoping to fit into again.  Think of it this way, when you do slimdown, then you get to throw out the old clothes and get new ones.  We recommend doing a massive “life” decluttering of physical objects at least twice a year.

6) Think before you buy.  The fastest way to accumulate more crap is to buy it.  Watch yourself, especially in the bargain aisle.  Before you buy it, ask yourself:  Do I need it? Can I afford it? Do I want it and will it bring value to my life?  The first two questions are pretty simple, if you need it and you can afford it, then you should probably buy it.  But if you just want something, think if it will actually bring any value to your life that you cannot get elsewhere.  If it can and you can afford it, then give yourself the green light.  Not all things need to be purchased though.  Consider the advantages of buying a new book that you really want to read.  Do you really need to own it or will you be just as happy renting it from the library?  Also, keep vigilant on free giveaways.  The likelihood of your needing all of that weird junk that you grandma is trying to unload on you is slim.

7) Share the burden.  Do not be a slave to your household.  Unless you live alone, share the burden of running the house with the other members of your household.  This means there is a chore chart and everyone has assigned tasks.  As laundry comes out of the dryer, fold it right away, and put it in its proper spot.  Are there dirty dishes?  Don’t allow them to pile up.  Get in the habit of washing dishes promptly after every meal.  Everyone in the house needs to be responsible for putting away their own things.  If things are left out by children, consider putting them in jail for the next week.  Maybe an extra chore can free the jailed item a little earlier.  Try scheduling 30 minutes twice a week for a group pick-up too.  Often times it’s easier to be motivated to clean-up when everyone is doing it.

8) Say no.  Learn to say no. “No” should become your new favorite word.  If someone asks you to do them a favor, you can gently let them down by stating that you do not have enough time.  Saying “no” does not mean that you are failing.  It means that you care about setting yourself up for success.  The more you turn down doing favors for others means the more time you’ll have for yourself.  Learn more on the art of saying no and doing less with this course.

9) Get listy. Remember that awesome planner from step one?  Time to add some lists to it.  We recommend prioritizing your lists. There should always be a running to-do list with short-term and long-term things that need to be accomplished but the key to managing this running list is pick the top 3 things that need to be accomplished each day, and then doing them.  Lists are also necessary when going grocery shopping, christmas shopping, and errand running/shopping.  Don’t buy things that are not on your list.  Endcaps exist to entice you.  Going into stores prepared with a list will keep you from spending money on random junk that you don’t need.

10) Embrace technology. While technology has done a good job of making us feel more stressed (ie always being connected to email or looking at the awesome lives of your facebook friends 24/7), it’s time to turn the tables on it and use technology to our advantage.  How you might ask?  Time to take bill paying online so you never miss another payment again.  Set your bills to come out automatically on the same day each month.  We also recommend using personal accounting software to track your budgets, spending, savings, investments, etc.  Both Quicken and Mint are geared toward personal finance.  If you need some personal finance training before you can organize, consider taking this course on building a personal finance system.  You can also declutter your coffee table by enrolling in magazine subscriptions on a digital tablet. This way, all of your reading materials are in one place.

11) You time. No matter how busy you are, you need you time.  Feel free to schedule it in since you are scheduling everything else these days.  Take a break to do something you enjoy.  Be selfish.  Ideas include yoga, jogging, reading, journaling, meditating, going out with friends, watching a movie, trying a new activity, painting, etc.  The key here is to make sure that you take the time each week to do something that makes you happy.