In today’s on-the-go lifestyle, a person can easily become overwhelmed with the many to do list that life throws at us. Certainly, the will to becoming organized can seem like a monumental task, whereas the act of being productive becomes an afterthought. Unquestionably, being unorganized and being unproductive for the most part go hand and hand. If you ever feel insurmountable pressure to want to start anew, start with getting organized.
Before you can tackle any mess, you need to assess what it is that you need to organize. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, this is the step that can cause you the most mental desolation. Notably, fear of not knowing where to start or what steps you should take to make your life align can be unnerving. With a little direction and help we can tackle that mess together.
It is important to start small in order to not overwhelm yourself. My personal suggestion is to do these steps slowly, one at a time. Consequently, if you work at something constantly for 30 days it starts to become routine…that is the goal, to make it a routine!
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Decluttering is the first step to organizing your life. Purging and reducing clutter that surrounds your everyday life can feel like a figurative cleanse to the body. Follow these helpful steps to help you declutter:
- Identify Areas of Clutter – this can be closets, mail tables, offices, virtually any area that collects anything in excess.
- Put Things in There Landing Spot – this step sounds easy but it can be the hardest. Not everything that we purchase has a designated spot. In this step you are creating areas for every item in your space.
- Reality Check – Use the Decluttering Rule of Thumb: If you haven’t seen it, used it, or wore it within 2 years get rid of it. Ask yourself the honest questions “Do I really need this?“, “Am I going to use it in the near future?“, “Does it look good in this space?” & be truthful with yourself.
- Donate Items Rather Than Sell – Saying that you are going to sell something, just gives you an excuse to let the item sit. Making you question the reason you are selling it in the first place. Cut the strings of this vicious cycle…by donating you kill the sentimental attachment. It’s like ripping off an old band-aid.
- Re-purpose – some sentimental items that we don’t want to depart with that don’t necessarily fit in your life can be purposed for something more useful.
With everything that is going on in your head it’s easy for you to forget an important birthday or due date. One of the common factors to being unproductive can be associated with misplaced time management. A calendar or planner can be your saving grace with time management. Failure to plan your day out can make you less responsive and unproductive. The purpose is to work smarter and not harder.
- First step is to choose one calendar/planner. This can be an actual calendar, cellphone calendar, email calendar, or daily planner.
- Next you will want to create a reminder system for yourself.
- Plan out at least 6 hours of your day on a regular, this step does not have to be in sequential order.
- Plan everything- birthdays, anniversaries, meetings, school events, social events, medical appointments, work events, workouts, travels, bills & expenses, due dates, holidays, etc.
Goals are essential in becoming productive. If you have nothing to strive for the less likely you’ll want to accomplish anything. BHAG is an acronym that stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals. This is a chance for you to list the ordinary and extraordinary goals that you have for yourself. The physical list just helps you visualize the goals daily. Therefore, you will want to hang this list somewhere that is easily visible to you daily. Of course, goals are ever changing and evolving each day, so don’t look at this list as a daunting task hanging over your head that you will never accomplish. Look at it as a list to say this is where I am in my life and this is where I know I belong.
Pick clothes out for the week
You can easily spend 20 minutes every morning staring at the millions of clothes in your closet trying to figure out what you want to wear for that day. One day out of the week, preferably after laundry day, pick out an outfit for each day. Outfit meaning- clothes, shoes, and accessories. The time that you are not using to pick out clothes you can use to squeeze in a quick morning exercise, tie up loose ends in a presentation, pray/meditate, etc.
Plan Ahead Meals
Pick one day out of the week to plan your meals for the entire week. Likewise, you can take it a step further by preparing a meal plan for the entire month. Make a full menu of the items that you are going to prepare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t forget to plan snacks, and desserts. Doing this helps take the stress out of the “what’s for dinner” question and creates an effective plan of action. Planned meals help formulate budget friendly grocery list, and aid in making healthier meal choices.
Another good tip is to pre-prep your meals ahead of time. Chopping, marinading, pre-portioning can all be done ahead of time. Utilize that Tupperware that has been collecting dust, or Ziploc bags for fridge/freezer staples. Do not forget to label and date your meals.
A file cabinet is a great purchase when you have exasperated all drawers and hiding places available with mountains of paper. Placing things neatly in a file cabinet keeps them out of the way but also easily accessible. The only needed items to get started are hanging file folders, file folders, and a file cabinet. Simplicity is the key here. You don’t want to over complicate your labeling system. Here are a few labeling suggestions:
Helpful Filing Categories
Medical Documents – Health Insurance information, Medical bills/claims, Health Care Expenses
Important Documents– Marriage License, Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, Passports, Power of Attorney, Will, Death Certificates, Car Payments, Car Titles
Finance – Bank Statements, W-2’s/ 1099, Tax Documents, 401 K information, Investment Accounts Info, Student Loan Confirmations, Mortgage, Personal/Business Loans, Important Receipts
Education – Degrees/Diplomas, Transcripts, Report Cards, School rewards, Academic Achievements
Click the picture below to check out our post on a file cabinet refinish to jazz up your boring file cabinet.
Organizing is all about cleaning and prioritizing. Unfortunately, you’re not being productive if you’re spending all your free time cleaning and not seeing a result. A cleaning schedule is all about making your regimen manageable and effective. Start by picking a day that you will perform certain task, like laundry and let that be your specific day for that task. Try to make cleaning fun by turning on the music, create a game, or get the family involved.
Labels help you to create organized landing areas for items that would normally just sit on a counter. Using them can help you to consolidate products in one container. For example, if they have a sale on cereal, of which you purchase 3 boxes. You can take those boxes and place in one airtight sealed container to help eradicate counter clutter.
Labels help make things easier to read and understand. For instance, your pill bottles, use generic names to help you easily identify what is in each pill bottle. Try not to over label. When organization you may want to put a label on everything. Be practical, everything does not need a label. Case in point, if you have 3 thumbtacks there is no need to label a drawer for 3 thumbtacks.
Create a Budget
Creating a budget helps you track your spending and income. Budgets come in all shapes & sizes. Furthermore, I have learned that what works for some, may not work for others. Undoubtedly, you’ve heard people complain “I don’t know where my money went“… that’s because they haven’t developed a budget.
First, figure out how you are going to create your budget. Whether it be by making a spreadsheet, downloading a budget app, using your bank features to help you track your spending, or good ole’ fashion pen and paper. Second, follow these basic steps to finish the task:
- Determine all sources of viable income
- Create a list of all monthly expenses, including any estimated expenses like grocery budgets and gas for the week
- Subtract income from expenses. If you have a surplus, that’s a good starting point. If not determine what expenses can be reduced.
- Create a separate list for debt that you are not paying on monthly (i.e., medical bills)
- Use the snowball effect to reduce debt
- Always adjust your budget as needed. Refer back to your budget constantly to help keep you on track.
Don’t overcomplicate it
Unfortunately, it is easy for you to over complicate organizing. Sometimes we develop a system, and then go back in to develop another system because the first didn’t work out as planned. If this happens, take a step back and assess what it was that didn’t work for you. Try not to compound various complex methods in one. For instance, using color coding, with an alphabetized system and over labeling. This just puts you back in an unproductive space all over again.
The objective of these tips are for you to free up time that probably wasn’t there before. Your time is valuable, so of course you want it to be maximized in every way imaginable. By being organized you gain focus from unnecessary distractions and pave a way for productivity.
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