How I Stay Organized

Most of us went into the new year with a plan to get organized 2017. We wrote lists, made goals, and for the most part, felt really excited about them. But a few weeks in, it’s often the case that we go back to the same old things we did last year.

So consider this your reminder not to give up, because we’re only a month-and-a-half into 2017 and it’s not too late to make things happen! Because organizing your life will keep those goals you got so excited about less likely to fall by the wayside.

I feel pretty good after getting rid of over 50% of my wardrobe and so much of the clutter is gone, but we still have a junk drawer or two or seven.

And please note that I do not suggest doing all of this at once. When January rolled around, I scheduled my doctor’s appointments but spaced each one out by a few weeks. I’ll spend a few hours tackling various projects, like last weekend when I organized our shoe shelves by adding a few more shelves and tossing our shoe boxes–because life feels much better without shoes all over the floor, Conor. 

Write things down

Whether you’re taking notes on paper or in an app, find a place where you keep all your notes and stick to using it. I used the notes app on my phone and desktop since they’re synced.

Set reminders

I set reminders for everything from things I need to discuss with my cofounder to when I need to call and schedule my annual dermatologist appointment. And because the reminders app is synced on my desktop and phone, notifications are never missed.

Use a calendar

I love paper calendars but they only work if you’re good about always carrying your calendar with you, which I am not. So I synced my work and personal calendars to my phone and computer, and always know what’s happening when. Unless they un-sync and I can’t figure out why which has happened more than once.

See your doctor

Speaking of your dermatologist, part of being organized means taking care of yourself. Schedule your teeth cleaning, annual physical, gynecologist, and skin check at your dermatologist. Don’t let those appointments loom for another year. Take care of yourself!

Get rid of the clothes you don’t wear

Sell and donate clothes you don’t need and organize everything. My sock and bra situation was a mess so I got rid of the ones I don’t wear very often a few weeks ago. My drawer that was once full of 4 t-shirt piles now has a handful of t-shirts, so these days, I only own shirts, jeans, and shoes that I actually wear. It feels so good!

Don’t forget about your beauty products

Get rid of the half empty bottles of face cream you haven’t used in 6 months or commit to actually using them. Toss the old nail polish bottles and extra hair tools, too. Opening your medicine cabinet or drawer, knowing what’s in there, and having easy access to everything feels really good. Trust me.

Toss the expired stuff

Go through your pantry, refrigerator, and medicine cabinet and toss everything that’s gone bad. Chances are you’re holding on to something from a few years ago and didn’t even know it.

Clean out those junk drawers 

We all have junk drawers in our nightstand, desk, or kitchen–or all three–so toss everything you don’t need and clean it out once and for all. It’s incredible how freeing it is to not know there’s excess “stuff” tucked away in your home.

Delete or finally answer those unread emails

It is my goal to not have more than 10 unread emails in my inbox by the end of the day and those are really just flagged so I don’t forget about them. There’s always so much being thrown at us, so unsubscribe when you can and finally reply to those emails you’ve been meaning to reply to.

Pay off that debt

If you have credit card debt, stop using your CC on anything that isn’t urgent (like shopping and dining out) and get that thing paid off. I pay my credit card off every week or two and am always logging into to track my spending. I’ll talk more about how I budget soon.

Plan your groceries for the week

Make a plan for the week and when you prep dinner, make a few extra servings for lunch or dinner the following evening. And while you’re at it, have some easy, healthy options at home for when you don’t feel like cooking but are trying to save on take-out. I’ll usually make a slow cooker dish that I have on hand for a few days, or grill a bunch of chicken at the beginning of the week, and mix it up with different veggies. I also stock up on eggs, egg whites, frozen turkey sausage, and almond milk so there’s always something healthy in my kitchen.

Make your bed and tidy up every day

I make my bed every single morning and usually tidy up a little bit each night. You’re not going to clean your entire home every day, so pick a few things you don’t mind doing or tackle one project at a time. I usually wipe down the kitchen counters and try to put any extra “stuff” away, and while it’s not always perfect, these touch-ups make everything feel a lot more organized.

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How do you stay organized? 

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  • Google – it’s the greatest. I’m very meticulous about updating my calendar, and my fiance and I have access to each other’s calendars, which can make things a lot easier. We also have shared google sheets for a virtual address book, one for all our wedding information, and I have one with a budget template I use each year to figure out how much “fun” money I have each month. I also use google photos for all my pictures and sync my phone with it regularly so I don’t run out of storage on my phone.

    I also go through my clothes, beauty products, pantry, medicine cabinet, and fridge/freezer on a regular basis, as soon as I notice things like more hangers in use, cluttered shelves, or a lack of space available to put new things away. I recently started keeping a bag in our closet so when we find a clothing item we won’t wear anymore, it can go right in the bag and we donate the bag once it’s full.

    1. I also do that bag idea, Janine! I’ve also found it helpful if you’re like me and can have a hard time paring down on clothing (but what if I “need” it??). It’s like a trial separation: the item goes in the bag and can stay there for 3-6 months, in which time, if you change your mind, then you can get the item out of the bag and back onto the hanger it goes. However, I usually find that I don’t miss the item or reach for it again, which makes it much easier to donate later on.

  • Keep in mind that make-up expires! It does go bad! If you’re holding on to things in the 6 month – 1 year range, it’s probably time to get rid of them, especially if you’re not using them.

  • Moving 3x in 18 months has really helped get rid of excess stuff. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be without my own place; so, as I packed everything for storage, I started early and went through EVERYTHING I owned, donating clothes, towels, sheets, kitchen things, decor, and DVDs I no longer found special/liked/used. I’ve “lived” with stuff that would all fit into the trunk of a car for the last year and a half and it’s a great example of how little I need. I move back in next week and expect to unpack just as slowly and really examine what I put into storage and see if I really need it.

    Other than that, I am a paper calendar die-hard; everything is in there and usually only use my google calendar for things I need an actual reminder of (like, buy concert tickets in 5 mins when the pre-sale starts).

    I’d say in the last 6 months I’ve gotten serious about meal planning – which has it’s pros and cons. Pros: I eat everything I buy every week because I only buy exactly what’s on the list for the week. Cons: there really isn’t a back-up option or something available if someone pops over last minute.

    The next task to, hopefully, tackle in the next months is cleaning something every day or every few days. I’m great at wiping down the counters and washing pillowcases but I will wait until there are dust bunnies before washing the floors and vacuuming seem like good ideas.

    1. Moving REALLY helps, doesn’t it? So does meal planning. And I try to have some backup chicken or veggies on hand. The daily cleaning works wonders–been doing it for forever, really. I love it!

  • This is EXACTLY what I need right now. I created my own list for my new year’s resolution and it’s very similar to this list. I’ve been slowly sorting everything and getting rid of things I don’t need. Currently, I’m in the middle of trying to meal plan so that I’m eating healthier and wasting less food. I’ve come to see meal planning as a mini-hobby as I’m trying out all these new recipes because of it! Thanks for the post!

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  • Great ideas! I had a massive declutter when we moved last year. That felt amazing! Meal planning has also been a huge game changer – I was going to the grocery store way too much. Now I plan 2 weeks worth of meals, hit up Sam’s and Smith’s in one go – heck I don’t even go into Smith’s anymore thanks to their new online ordering system – I order the night before and drive up to collect the groceries – sooo easy!

  • Is this your closet? I know city apartments can have tiny closets, especially shared ones. I’d love to see your closet and how it’s organized. I just moved which helped in paring things down, but it’s still an explosion of mess right now! I’ll get to it after the other 700 things on the list!