It’s no secret that I love organization. And just like other things that we love, that can become an obsession, and even an idol for me. What is one of my greatest strengths can all too easily become a great weakness. However, I am often asked how I manage to get so much done in my day, and my simple answer is that I’m organized. I have to be.
Being organized doesn’t have to be dull and boring. There’s no need for dorky glasses or pocket protectors, though I do love my multi-colored pens. And there’s no “one size fits all” approach. You’ll note that this post isn’t called “5 steps to organize your life” or something similar. Because I think organization is more of an art form than a bullet point list. Everyone is different, different things work for different people. But when you find something that does work, the results are beautiful, artistic even.
So while I may not be able to solve all your organizational questions in one blog post, I can share what I do, and perhaps lend you some inspiration.
I wear multiple hats in my everyday life, like most of us. So it was vital that I find a way to structure my time so people and tasks didn’t fall off my radar. After significant trial and error (mostly error), I discovered that time blocking was key to structuring my days most effectively. Time blocking is exactly what it sounds like. I look at my day and block off specific amounts of time for certain activities. That meant I needed a planner that had the day broken out into time intervals, not just a blank space for “Monday”.
I also love to set goals, dream dreams for the year ahead, and track my progress. What I really wanted was a way to integrate all my end of year reflection with my beginning of year goal settings with my weekly schedule. Apparently, that is not too much to ask. The Joyful Life Planner does exactly that! I am able to set big annual goals, break those down into smaller quarterly goals, and then directly incorporate that into my monthly and weekly schedule. And if you’re more visually creative, you can make it look pretty too.
I also use a housekeeping “chores” planner to keep track of what to do when to keep my house clean. I’ll be honest, I hate housework, so it is always the first thing to get pushed off my list. Having a rotating system with a day of grace built in means I’m much more likely to have a reasonably clean house.
Menu planning is another aspect of organization that elicits both groaning and admiration. I love to cook, I hate to grocery shop. So I try to maximize what I love and minimize the pain by having a menu plan. I could spend hours perusing Pinterest or looking through my cookbooks. To that end, I’ve created a rotating list of monthly meals that my family loves. It’s not fancy, it’s just a Word document that is full of recipes on my Pinterest board. Each month, we rotate through the meals; I choose what works best with the grocery ads and our schedule. We usually try 3 new meals a month and evaluate whether one of those should rotate onto the monthly list in place of something else. That way, I can preserve some creativity while still making meal planning time efficient. Because I live in Florida, I’ve even adjusted our monthly menu to include cold meals for the 9+ months of the year when it’s too hot to cook 🙂
These are my three main systems for keeping my life organized. Does it work perfectly? Not by any stretch of the imagination. I tweak it as needed; I discuss it with my family, and we try another option to see if that works better. But I do know that the majority of the time, things run pretty smoothly. There are days when flat tires, sick kids, and sudden deadlines blow the well ordered plan out of the water. But I know we can get back on track when the crisis is over. And sometimes I find that the interruption turns out to be the best of delights (but that’s another blog post)!
So what do you do to stay organized? I love to share tips, so leave me a comment below!
note – I did not receive any compensation for the products I’ve recommended. I have used them and benefited from them, so I offer them only as a resource for you to explore.