Crazy busy is the only way to describe your life these days. You’re always in a rush and feel like you never accomplish anything. You can’t even remember the last time you read a chapter of your favorite book. It’s time to pump the breaks and learn how to organize your life.
Easier said than done right? How are you supposed to do that when you can’t even find time to sit down for a meal?
I get it, it’s hard, but what’s the alternative if you don’t. Eventually, something’s going to fall apart. It’ll probably be big, and it’ll most definitely happen at the worst possible time.
The more organized your life is at that point, the more likely you’ll be able to deal with the forced pauses it throws at you.
Are you ready to organize your life?
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How To Organize Your Life
Organizing your life is a bit different than organizing your kitchen cupboard. You can’t just take everything out, set it on the counter, and start purging.
Or can you? Not literally, but you can definitely use some of the same concepts. You’ll need to do a little self-reflection, decision making, and planning as well as some decluttering and organizing.
Don’t panic. You can do it, and I’m going to be right here to help guide you through it. Why would I do that? Because I’ve been there and it sucks.
At one point in my life, I’d become a chaotic disorganized mess, and my life was pretty much spinning out of control.
You can read more about it on my Start Here page, but the short version is that I went from having it together to barely getting by. I slowly but surely found my way back. It was a long and painful process and I’d like to help you get there a little quicker and easier.
Here are the steps that helped me organize my life and get it all together.
1. Find Your Why
Identify your purpose in life, your mission statement, the overarching desire that motivates you to do the things you do.
It doesn’t have to be super deep, and you don’t have to solve world hunger. Keep in mind that it’ll likely change and evolve over time as you move through different stages of your life.
Need some help finding and defining your Why?
Ask yourself what’s the driving force that propels you forward each and every day. What’s the sense of purpose that gets you moving and influences the things you do?
Here are some examples of famous people’s Why’s in the form of mission statements.
According to an article on HuffPost, Maya Angelou’s mission statement was “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Walt Disney’s mission was simply to ‘Make people happy”.
As quoted in an article from Fast Company, Oprah Winfrey’s Why is “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”
I’m certainly not famous, but in case you’re wondering, my Why is ‘To have a positive impact on every person I meet’. It’s pretty general and can be as simple as giving a stranger a compliment or helping you set up a cleaning schedule that you can stick to.
So what about you? What is your Why?
Maybe it’s to provide a healthy, happy, thriving environment for your family, or to help empower others to live their best life ever. Maybe it’s just to make somebody smile.
Whatever it is, once you’ve settled on your mission statement, write it down and keep it somewhere you can see it as a daily reminder.
2. Set Goals
Once you’ve defined your Why, it’s time to start setting some goals.
Goals are the foundational stepping stones that guide you through your days and help you achieve your mission statement. They are the roadmap to your Why.
Set your goals by working backward from your mission statement. Identify the main goals. Then break those into smaller pieces and actionable steps.
For example, if your mission statement is to provide a healthy, happy, thriving environment for your family, a stepping stone goal may be to raise and educate your children. That’s a goal that supports your mission statement.
Now you could break that down into smaller goals based on each of the educational stages of life from preschool through college. Each small goal supports a larger goal that leads to the mission statement.
Now you have a plan and logical checkpoints to measure your progress. The smaller goals guide you through a natural progression and signal that you’re on the right path.
Related Article: How to Get It All Done
3. Clear the Clutter
When I say clutter, most people think of physical clutter like a stack of papers or a pile of toys. Yes, that’s clutter, but clutter exists in other forms too.
What exactly is clutter then? The Free Dictionary defines clutter as anything we don’t need, want, or use that takes our time, energy or space, and destroys our serenity.
Clutter’s incredibly distracting and manifests in many different ways including physical, mental, and emotional.
In order to organize your life, you need to understand the different types of clutter, identify what’s important, and declutter the unnecessary.
Physical clutter is any item lying around where it doesn’t belong and causing an untidy mess. It can consist of broken items, duplicate items, items you no longer use, etc.
Anything that doesn’t have a defined use or a defined space can be considered clutter. The physical clutter is often the easiest to identify because you can visually see it.
I once read an article that stated ‘clutter just reminds me of all the unfinished projects I have’.
Yep, sounds about right. The minute I read that sentence, I glanced over at my kitchen counter to see a can of touch-up stain and a paintbrush.
It had been sitting there for a few weeks waiting for me to touch up the nicks on my kitchen cabinets. I moved it around a few times because it was in the way, but I still hadn’t touched up the cabinets.
That can just sat there every day reminding me of the task that I hadn’t completed.
If you find yourself moving something from one space to another because it doesn’t belong there, but you don’t really know where it does belong, it’s clutter.
Identify your physical clutter and eliminate it by relocating, repurposing, or removing it.
- How To Declutter Your Kitchen
- Quickly Declutter Your Living Room
- How To Declutter Your Bathroom
- 5 Most Common Decluttering Roadblocks
Mental clutter is comprised of all of the things that weigh on your mind and keep you from thinking about the important stuff. It can affect your mood, your reactions, and your overall well-being.
It includes guilty conscious, second-guessing, overthinking, and limiting beliefs. Mental clutter is more difficult to identify because you often don’t realize it’s there.
Do you find yourself doing or thinking any or most of the following?
- Overthinking every decision you make
- Feeling like everything happens ‘to’ you
- Having a guilty conscious
- Always second-guessing yourself
- Feeling and thinking you aren’t good enough
That’s mental clutter. It’s entirely useless and prevents you from focusing on the important stuff. You can’t organize your life with a bunch of mental clutter hanging around.
You need to figure out where the mental clutter is coming from and work through it. Mental clutter is counterproductive and just leads to more mental clutter as well as emotional clutter.
Emotional clutter is directly connected to mental clutter. It’s an extreme response or reaction to a specific situation or event and is most likely caused or heavily influenced by your mental clutter.
Emotional clutter reactions include the following;
- Taking everything personally
- Having anxiety attacks
- Developing addictions
- Overreacting to everyday situations or events
- Having emotional meltdowns
- Developing road rage
- Binge eating
I think you get the gist. If you start identifying and eliminating your mental clutter, your emotional clutter will start to subside naturally.
Clutter in any form is a counterproductive distraction from your mission in life.
4. Manage Your Time
Time is the one thing there’s never enough of and we all want more.
Sometimes you look around and it seems like everybody else is super productive and getting it all done. Don’t they have the same twenty-four hours in a day that you do?
It turns out they do, but they’re a little better at managing that time. They’ve already got it figured out.
Here are some tips to help you be more productive and manage your time at home, work, and in your daily life.
Learn to say NO!
I put this one first because it’s a natural tendency to overcommit and overextend yourself by trying to do it all. You can’t.
Pick the things you really want to do and take a pass on others.
When you spread yourself too thin, everything starts to suffer. Learn to say No and be ok with it.
Routines are essential if you’re going to organize your life. They’re a foundational part of daily life, the base that your day is built on.
Establishing routines can help automate the consistently repetitive parts of each day. Your own little autopilot for life.
Common routines include the following;
- Morning – getting ready for work or school
- Afternoon – stepping out of the workday and getting ready for dinner
- Evening – after dinner and getting ready for the next day
- Bedtime – right before you hop in bed rituals
- Cleaning – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly/deep/spring schedules to keep your home clean
- Home Maintenance – spring, summer, fall, and winter schedules to keep your home in tip-top shape
- Car Maintenance – keeping it clean, and manufacturer recommended intervals
Once you establish some routines, you will notice that things run much smoother and you have a little less chaos.
Make To-Do lists
Think of your to-do’s as mini-goals. Write down all of the main tasks that you need to accomplish, then break them down into smaller, more specific task lists.
Using the earlier example of the goal of your children’s education, you need to fit in all of their extracurricular activities as well as health appointments. Break it down into bite-sized pieces that you can accomplish in one day.
You’ll end up with several different To-Do lists. Some for larger less frequent tasks, and some for smaller daily tasks.
Managing your day with To-Do lists will help you deal with all of that clutter we talked about earlier.
Use a planner or calendar to schedule everything.
I can’t say it enough. Use some kind of planner, bullet journal, or calendar to schedule all of your daily tasks and appointments.
Write it all down. Birthdays, special occasions, appointments, goals, to-do lists, meal plans all can be kept in one central place. Just as the kitchen is typically the heart of the home, a planner can be the heart of your life.
A planner helps you avoid over-committing or over-scheduling yourself. It can help you identify where you have more time or can make better use of the time you do have. A planner can also help you remember and keep track of everything.
I used to just remember everything, but now not so much. I tease my husband that I did the heavy lifting for the first twenty years of our life together, so now it’s his 20 years.
A little secret, I love him, but he’s not much help in that department. His memory’s probably worse than mine. Between the two of us, we usually don’t miss much, but it’s not a reliable system by any means.
Because of that, I have started writing everything down. I keep a planner to help me stay organized and on task. It’s truly a one-stop-shop for everything going on in our lives.
5. Plan Your Meals
Proper meal planning can eliminate the frustration and decision making associated with daily meals. It can also help you avoid the bad fast food choices and save a little money along the way.
There are many different types and ways you can structure meal planning to fit your lifestyle.
Do you prefer to make your meals fresh every day? Just having the menu planned out and the groceries on hand can save you an hour of time and a mountain of frustration.
Think you’re a weekend warrior? You can spend one weekend a month shopping and prepping freezer meals for the whole month, then you just thaw the night before, and dump in the crockpot when you leave for work.
When planning out and scheduling your week, create your menu. Depending on your life and schedule, you might plan all of your meals for each day or you might just plan your dinners.
Having a meal plan eliminates the decision fatigue related to making that decision every day.
Still intimidated by meal planning? Here’s an Easy Meal Planning For Beginners Tutorial to help you get started.
6. Organize Your Home
Now on to organizing your home.
Home is where the heart is. It’s also where you spend most of your time, which is why it’s so important to have an organized home.
An organized home will simplify your daily life and help reduce stress.
Not one of those naturally organized people? Very few people actually are. Most come up with a system to organize any space and another to keep it that way.
Your system doesn’t have to include everything in matching containers with pretty labels. It doesn’t have to include perfectly spaced gaps between each container. While that looks amazing and would be fabulous, it just isn’t practical or maintainable for everyone.
I would call my organizing style Point of Use. I prefer to keep things as near as possible to where I use them.
This serves two purposes. It makes things easily accessible when I need them, and simple to put away when I am done with them. I’m a little bit lazy, so if it’s not convenient, I’m less likely to do it.
Figure out your organizing style and get your home in order. Without an organized home, you’ll struggle to keep the rest of your life organized.
Get Your Life Organized
Below are the 6 ways you can get your life organized
- Find your Why and write it down in the form of a mission statement so it’s a constant reminder and motivator.
- Set Goals that align with and propel you towards your mission statement.
- Clear the Clutter – Identify and begin clearing the physical, mental and emotional clutter from your life so you can make room for the important stuff.
- Manage Your Time by learning to say NO so you don’t overcommit yourself. Create routines so you can streamline your daily tasks and initiate the autopilot. Make To-Do lists and keep track of your schedule in a planner so you have a visual reminder of what is going on and needs to get done.
- Plan Your Meals so you can eliminate the wasted time related to making those decisions on a daily basis.
- Organize Your Home to simplify your daily life and reduce that nasty stress you deal with.
Now you need to periodically review your systems to see what’s working well and what needs improvement. As you identify necessary changes, make them so you can keep moving forward.
I find that a quarterly review works best for me. I set aside an hour of time in my planner to reassess my Why, set some quarterly goals, review and schedule my to-do lists, and schedule any necessary decluttering or organizing tasks.
Check back in soon and tell me about all of your progress or let me know if you get stuck. I’m here to help.