One of the most important aspects of self-care is to have time for ourselves, to make room for new things, new ideas and new experiences. With our busy lives it is not always easy to have these luxuries, but there is one magical way to get this done, and that is living a more organized life. You will find that having an organized life gives you more time, more money and more peace. If you live in a perfect world where everything is in its place when you need it, you pay everything on time, and nothing is ever stressful that means that you, my dear, are a unicorn. The rest of us juggle a family, a career, friends, exercise, bills, pets, and of course our Instagram. But even just a little bit more organization can go a long way, so with this plan we are aiming at improvement – not perfection!
Take care of yourself first. The following tips will help focus on organizing YOU- and the things that make sure YOU are well.
- Schedule me-time. Take at least one hour a week where you can do anything you truly enjoy like running, reading, tv-binging or a massage. Mark your calendar as if it was an appointment with the IRS, and don’t cancel it NO MATTER WHAT!
- Keep a calendar. Whether you use a digital calendar or the one on your phone, or even the old school book style, make sure you keep yourself informed of your obligations. And never, ever, ever…double book yourself (I learned this the hard way).
- Keep your easily lost items in the same place. Keys, phones, purses, chargers… they all have a knack for getting themselves lost. Make it a habit to ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) put them in the same place and you will never waste time with the good old “where did I put my _______”.
- Set up a regular get-together with your favorite friends. A good friend is the best therapy, and least expensive.
Now it’s time to organize your home. Yes, your family might resent you at first but trust me, in the long run they will thank you.
- A place for everything, and everything in its place. A messy house creates confusion and an overwhelming sensation that can drive you crazy subconsciously. Make sure things are always, and continuously put in their place. It is easier to put away five dishes in two minutes, three or four times a day, than to try to clean a mountain of dishes on the surface of a counter that you haven’t seen in a week.
- Have a schedule and stick to it. Bedtime is not negotiable, children (and adults), function better when fully rested. There is also a sense of control when you have a routine that gives you structure and boundaries.
- Automate- Automate- Automate. Make all your bills automatic payments, take that burden off your brain. This will free your mind from stress and potential late fees.
- Goodwill – good riddance! This tip is one of my favorites because there is so much power in purging, and keeping the energy flowing when you clean out closets of underused items. Not to mention the added good karma you earn by helping others too.
Don’t forget your workspace, there are wonderful financial benefits to being organized at work. You will immediately reduce the level of stress, you will become more efficient and your stamina will increase. Being organized means that you will have more time and focus to meet your deadlines, and be on time. As you develop these skills you will notice how much more you can accomplish and by default, you will advance in your career.
- Set alarms on your computer and sync with your phone. Not just for appointments, but for critical tasks, calls, filings and even small errands. Have a repeated reminder for “clean-up” tasks, such as shredding old documents, running reports, deleting old computer files, buying office supplies. Aim to complete tasks before they are due.
- Cleanliness is next to godliness. A clean desk should be home for only those items that are important, current and that need your attention. Make it a habit to throw away trash, shred unwanted papers, and file away what is considered “done”.
- Labels are your friends. Label everything, and always file in alphabetical or chronological order, whichever is more effective. This is true for hard copies as well as digital files, your computer desktop should be as clean as your physical one. This one tip is a HUGE time-saver.
Miscellaneous items. There is always a miscellaneous file, cupboard, box, and closet. That is ok. This is the bermuda triangle of life where motley crews live, those items that don’t quite fit a category or a place. While it is inevitable to have them, they should always be maintained and cleaned out. They have a purpose in life, but don’t abuse it.
Speaking of miscellaneous, here’s some miscellaneous tips:
- Keep your vehicle clean, and your trunk as empty as possible. Put a basket in to keep lose items in place, like the soccer ball that will be used regularly or the jumper cables.
- Make your bed. I stole this tip from the book of its name written by Admiral William H. McRaven, a Navy SEAL famous for addressing his graduation class with the following statement “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” Trust me, doing this one thing will change your demeanor for the entire day.
- Know how long it takes you to get ready.
- Know how long it takes you to drive places.
- Prepare your clothes the night before.
There you have it ladies, a whole line up of tips that will improve your life, even if you just apply one of them! Start small and build up, be consistent and stick with it. Revisit this list as your year goes by to refresh your motivation and get back in the saddle.