I don’t know about you, but my life often feels like a bit of a hot mess. On any given day there’s a load of laundry chilling in my dryer, dirty (or clean) dishes living in my dishwasher, appointments to get to, meals to be made… you get the picture.
However, I have 5 organization tips I find helpful to dial down the messiness. Some of them I adhere to religiously, others I don’t follow as religiously as I should… And since I know I’m not the only one struggling to keep it all together, I thought I’d pay it forward and share my tips. You’re welcome.
Tip 1: Make Google Calendar your best friend
David and I both use Google Calendar and share our calendars with each other. This is the one tip I follow religiously. Anytime I schedule an appointment I add it to my Google Calendar. And I never accept appointment reminder cards. Those things will just get lost in the abyss of my purse or house. If I’m scheduling a follow up appointment (dentist, or hair, or orthodontist, or waxing, or…), I put it in my calendar before I leave.
Other things that make it into the calendar:
- Cheer practice
- Nights out without the kids (those are far too precious and rare to miss)
- Family events
- Car maintenance
- And more
Nearly anything that impacts our daily life makes it into the calendar. It makes life manageable. And I can easily schedule appointments while I’m out without having to worry if I’m free that day. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Log into phone. Open calendar. Check schedule. Done.
Tip 2: Keep a notepad and pen in the kitchen
I always have a notepad on the fridge and a pen nearby to note items I need to pick up (i.e. food, household items, etc) and for random to-do lists. I don’t create a to-do list every day – maybe I should, but it it feels like overkill to me – I create to-do lists when I’m planning an event or getting ready to go on a trip. For example, I have a list started to get ready for a trip I’m taking this weekend with my daughter, Lily. It has things on it I want to get done before we leave, like get 2 of my dresses hemmed, and it has things I need to pick up to take with us, like more sunscreen. I’ll have another to-do list next week to prepare for a weekend of camping.
* Note: I don’t use the kitchen notepad for business related to-do items. I track those things separately – usually in a spreadsheet.
Tip 3: Plan your meals
Confession: This is a tip I struggle with. A lot.
Oh I know meal planning is helpful. Super helpful actually.
When my meal planning game is on point, things go so much more smoothly in the house. When I hear the dreaded phrase “What’s for supper?”, it’s great to be able to shoot back with “baked salmon with steamed veggies and fresh rolls” vs. “um… I have no idea… what do you want?”
Struggles aside, I approach meal planning in one of 2 ways:
- Plan on Sunday for the week ahead.
- Plan at the beginning of each day.
For me, the first approach is definitely the more efficient one. When I take the time on a Sunday to meal plan for the upcoming week, I write down the meals on the kitchen calendar (we have a traditional calendar in our kitchen that we use for stuff like this), build my grocery list based on the meals I planned, and then head to the grocery store to pick up what I need. The girls like this approach too – they like being able to glance at the calendar to see what’s for supper. And I don’t get the cringe-worth question “What’s for supper?”. A win-win if you ask me.
But… I don’t always have the luxury of planning meals on Sunday. For example, this Sunday I’m out of town. So when that happens, I rely on the second approach: figure it out at the beginning of each day. Be warned, I frequently fail at this approach. Many, many times, this approach has resulted in supper out. A day of not cooking is always a win to me, but it can really start to mess with the budget. And I can handle only so many meals out.
Tip 4: Lose the food boxes
A few years ago, we hosted a couple of students for a music camp. Besides providing them with a place to stay, we were responsible for providing each of them with a boxed lunch to take to camp. The thought of having to make lunch every day for a week for 3 teenagers nearly made me want to cry.
To save myself a few tears, I bought a bunch of lunch supplies that they could pick from to make their own lunch – you know, stuff like lunch meats, different sandwich breads, cheese strings, fresh fruit, granola bars, etc. When I was unpacking the supplies, I decided to store similar items in containers for easy access. That required me to take the prepackaged items out of the packaging they came in. When I was done, I had an epiphany and realized the snacks took up way more room when they were in their original boxes.
I’ve continued that practice ever since and have expanded it to items in the freezer. Bought a box of chicken nuggets? Chances are, they came bagged in a box. Lose the box. Keep the bag.
When you lose the boxes, you gain so much more room in your pantry/cupboards, fridge, and freezer. A win for sure.
Tip 5: Do your laundry
When I say do your laundry, I mean do it regularly. How often you should do your laundry depends on how much laundry you and your family generate.
We used to do laundry once a week – usually on the weekend. It was horrible. Depending on what we had going on during any given weekend, getting the laundry done took most of the weekend and sometimes even spilled into Monday. And then we’d let it pile up again until the next weekend. It took us way too long to learn if we don’t want to be buried in laundry, we need to do it every day.
Maybe you only need to do your laundry once or twice a week. Just make sure you do your laundry often enough that it doesn’t take you an entire day or more to get it done. And probably even more important to consider, make sure you don’t run out of clean underwear – unless you like going commando, and if you do, go you! 😉
And those are my 5 organization tips. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means. If you do a quick search, you’ll find many, many more organizational tips.
What do you do to organize your life? Got any tips of your own to share? If so, comment below. I’m sure others would love to know; I know I would!