5 things to do every day to live an organized life

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
I don't consider myself the most organized person on the planet, but I know I feel a lot better and get a lot more done when I have everything in order, at least for the most part. When I was in college, I was obsessed with keeping everything I did in perfect straight lines. Since then, I've calmed down quite a lot – possibly just because I have a little bit more free time than I did back then and I can control what comes onto my plate a little bit more than I could control homework and, you know, news.

• Take time every morning and every evening to prepare.

I'm better at this when I am traveling than when I'm working at home – it's hard to pull out my planner or bullet journal around Theo, because, well, he eats books – but I think it's so crucial to make time in the morning and the evening to see what is actually happening in your life. I start my day, every day, by navigating my Trello board for my to do list and blocking out time for tasks in my bullet journal. (I'll talk more about my Trello system later.) And then in the evening, I clean up my to do list, getting rid of things I've completed, adding things that I know will be important tomorrow and archiving or postponing things that I decided weren't a priority.

• Make time to tidy up after yourself every day.

Patrick would say I don't do this, of course, but I try to take 15 minutes in the evening to clean up after myself. There are certain spots that I keep messy – for example, we have a sectional couch, and the couch cushion in the corner is where I hoard snacks and books and jewelry I've discarded, much to Theo's joy – but I try to throw Theo's toys in his toy box, throw out any trash that might've collected on the kitchen island and put my shoes away. It's the little things!

• Make a to do list every single day.

Seriously. Every day. I mean it. Make a to do list! You don't have to use a bullet journal system like I do – it's not for everyone – but whether you have a designated notebook, a magnetic notepad on your fridge, your iPhone reminders, a Trello board or a napkin, knowing what your tasks are and your goals are can make and break a day for anyone. In college, I would just add tasks straight to my Google Calendar, blocking out the time it would take to get them done, and I'd move them around to fit my schedule.

• Keep a planner or a digital calendar fully updated.

Much like the importance of writing down what you have to do, you should be keeping track of where you need to be and things you need to remember, every single day. I have tried and failed to keep a planner going, but I meticulously update my Google Calendar every time something needs to be added to my schedule. Google Calendar is my recommendation, but I love paper planners, too, so no judgment here. I love Google Calendar because I can add Patrick to events like Theo's vet appointments or puppy school classes, and I can schedule meetings with coworkers this way, too – by seeing when they have openings on their calendar.

• If something comes across your desk and it will take less than 5 minutes to deal with it, deal with it then.

Especially if your work involves a lot of emails, don't let things sit. My advice on this is a little different than most, who recommend you don't let yourself become consumed by your email inbox, but some days, my team can get a lot of questions or requests in our inboxes. They pile up fast. At some point, I'll post about my Eat That Frog system that I use to keep me on top of my tasks, but here's my basic strategy: If I can answer an email or a message in less than 5 minutes, unless I'm working on a tight deadline, I will answer it. If it's going to take some time or require me to do some more work, I add it to that handy to do list of mine.


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