We are often asked as organizers how we keep our work and home lives organized. Do we have any tips or tricks to share? Of course, we have some tips and tricks on how you can try to stay on top of it all. But, unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to figuring out how to best stay organized. It takes time and some trial and error to find what works best for you and your family.
I personally love to write things down and I have a notebook that I take with me everyday so that I can make sure to capture thoughts and to-dos throughout the day. In fact, I used to almost always use a paper planner too but that changed as my needs changed when I switched careers and started my own business.
Moving from the corporate world to an "anything but a desk" job as a professional organizer made it harder for me to use and maintain a paper planner. I didn’t love having to bring along one more thing in my bag and my ever-changing schedule made it hard to keep up to date. That was when I stopped using my paper planner in lieu of a calendar on my phone. It made updating my calendar easier - much less erasing! - and it allowed me to share appointments and information easily with my business partner and friends, thereby keeping all of us more organized.
My online calendar is now my lifeline for work and life but there are still times when I need to write things out. And, in those instances, I turn to a Muji calendar notebook without dates so that I don’t waste an entire planner for the few weeks that I need to see things mapped out in front of me.
I still use my trusty notebook for work and life to-dos as I find it therapeutic to write - and even type - things out. My partner will attest that in my most overwhelmed moments I need to take a step back and being writing things out so that I can clarify my thoughts and figure out how to best move forward. I find it easy to make sense of chaos when it is written down in front of me and I can lay it out in a logical way.
And that all makes sense given that research discussed in this New York Times article has shown that writing things down helps you remember them. I have definitely found that to be the case and something that I tell my clients when they are having issues trying to keep track of all that life is throwing at them.
Tips for Staying Organized
Making a To-do List: Keep a list of to-dos so you can stay on top of everything that you have to do that day, week or even month. Depending on how you work best (again, trial and error), this list could be a running list of items that need to be accomplished regardless of timing or you can create one for the day or week ahead so that you can stay on track. There is almost nothing more satisfying that crossing items off a list.
Writing Daily Notes: Write down reminders and notes as they come to you throughout the day in a notebook or on your phone. This way, you don’t have to worry about forgetting them and you can stay more focused on the task at hand.
Setting Appointments: Whether you choose to use a paper planner or an online calendar, it is important to track all of your upcoming appointments. Online calendars are great because you can add easily add friends and family to the invite with a simple click of the button which has saved me a lot of time and grief. I also like to set up reminders about a week before my friends and family members birthdays so I can make sure I get my card in the mail in time for the big day.
Planning Ahead: Mornings can be overwhelming particularly if you are getting the family out the door, so take some time each night to list out your to-dos for the next day and review your schedule. I often find that when I am feeling overwhelmed that taking some time to go over everything that needs to be done - and writing it down - helps me rest more easily and maybe even get some sleep.