One of the top questions I’ve been asked since becoming a professional organizer is how do you organize your life’s schedule? My answer is always, I keep it simple but have key go-to apps and rituals that make my life organized. Here are the top 3 that I use, they’re either free or inexpensive and it’s easy.
Number One: A calendar
It’s amazing how many people don’t use a calendar. Whether it’s a planner or an app doesn’t much make a difference so long as you always have it with you and use it consistently and accurately. I’ve used both an actual planner and a digital calendar and find benefits to both. For those who are super visual, having an actual planner can give you a big-picture view of your week or month. Look for a planner that is large enough to write everything in it that you need, I prefer planners that have full letter-size pages. Currently, I use my Google Calendar on my phone to track everything from my work schedule to appointments to dates. Get-togethers with family go on there, weddings, showers, vacations, workouts, and tasks like dropping off donations. Anything that has a date and time associated with it goes on my calendar. The key is to have one calendar for everything whenever possible so that you have a big picture view of your life. It may make sense to have a work and personal calendar, especially digitally, but putting your work schedule blocked off on your personal calendar helps you stay realistic about how much time you actually have to get things done. You can even block off the time you allow for sleeping if it gives you better boundaries and a visual reminder that there are only so many hours in the day. The key is to update the calendar whenever something changes and to always make sure you add events in the first place. I always used a pencil and eraser when I used a physical planner so that I could easily make changes.
Number Two: The alarms on your phone
I use these alarms a lot to keep me on track and not just for waking up in the morning. The best part about the alarms app on your phone is that you can name the alarm with a label so it tells you what to do. I use this for things that I don’t want to muddy up my calendar with. For example, there’s an alarm for the following on my phone:
Number Three: To-Do Lists
I have two ways of planning my day and making to-do lists. The first is just simple paper and pen. I prefer lined paper and a nice pen. I use this for my personal tasks and planning my day with the finite things I don’t want on my calendar and that don’t have a set time that I can set an alarm. I always put the top priority items first that need to be done that day, then things that need to be done that week or month for if I get to them. I use the previous list to make the next list if I didn’t get everything done on the previous list.
My other method is the free Notes app on my phone. I am also a personal assistant in addition to being a professional organizer and I keep my To-Do list for this job on the Notes app so that it’s always with me and I can easily edit it. I have the list broken down into things I do daily and things I do weekly on specific days of the week. I also keep grocery lists on the Notes app both for myself and for my client for whom I’m a personal assistant. I love the checkmarks option for the grocery list, it makes it super easy to see what I’ve gotten and what’s left. I keep other lists as well on the Notes app, like books to read, books I’ve read, places to check out. All sorts of lists are handy to have with me at all times so that’s what I use this app for.
If you implement these 3 tools, calendar, alarms, and to-do lists, your life will become more organized and you’ll be carrying less around in your head which will decrease stress. We must use the tools we have to declutter our brains the same way we declutter our physical belongings. I hope that you start using these three tools today to see what a difference they make in staying on task, organized and to give yourself a big-picture vision of your schedule. It’s always important to know what lies ahead so we can plan.
Here’s to an organized you!
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the thought of moving because of all of your belongings? Is being at home stressful because your clutter is suffocating? Do you have a hard time finding items in your home? It may be time to consider the joy of living with less and lighten the load you’re carrying.
I’ve moved a lot in my lifetime and have always lived in small spaces. From a house that was less than 600 square feet to a studio apartment that was 400 square feet, I prided myself on being able to make small spaces warm and inviting yet organized and clutter-free. You don’t have to live in a small space though to live with less. You can do this in any size of home. What are the benefits of living with less?
It makes it easier to move. When the time comes to move you can easily pack your belongings knowing that you’re not moving things you haven’t used in 20 years that were never unpacked from previous moves. You can pack faster and smarter. The less you have the less you spend on movers. Stay away from storage units. They just become a place where your belongings go to die, often never used after being stored for a long time. Move what you Need, Use, and Love, and that alone will make your load so much lighter. When your home is organized your move is organized, you can pack things room by room and unpack the same way. No more mixed-up boxes of miscellaneous items all jumbled together. This brings joy into your life because it makes the moving process so much less stressful. Moving can be joyful when done in an organized way.
Another benefit is that it’s better for your mental health. I’ve worked with clients that don’t enjoy being in their homes because the clutter is suffocating, making it hard to focus, causing fights amongst family members, and all in all, being a joy killer. Living with less frees physical space so that you have the mental space to enjoy your home. A clutter-free space brings calm and peace into your life. It makes it so that you can enjoy your home, entertain in it easily, make dinner without having to clean first, get ready faster, the list goes on and on. “Outer order, inner calm” is one of my favorite sayings from author Gretchen Rubin. It’s so true, as the outer space comes together and you live with less it truly brings an inner calm to your mental state. It creates harmony amongst family members. And it saves money making stress go down as well. What’s more joyful than that?
Living with less also means that you’ll find your belongings when you need them. The Pixie Lost & Found survey finds the average American spends 2.5 days each year looking for lost items, collectively costing U.S. households $2.7 billion annually in replacement costs. This is a lot of time and money lost throughout the years of your life just because of disorganization. Living with less will save you time and money, and a whole lot of it in the end. Imagine having a place for your keys, your charger, and your purse. Everything that you use throughout the day has a home and you know not only where to find it but where to put it when it’s not in use. No more cleaning before the cleaning lady comes over. No more panic-stuffing items into clothes baskets and hiding them behind closed doors when company comes over. No more buying multiples of items you already own because you can’t find them. That is the joy of living with less.
I hope that this sparks some motivation for you to get moving towards living with less. A 400 square foot studio apartment may not be in your future but moving easily, feeling joy in your home, and finding what you need when you need it most definitely is. May you find joy in your home today by living with less!
Helping feed your urge to purge clutter from your life!
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