New year, New you. Are you ready to get organized this year?
You can follow these 6 tips for creating an organized life any time through out the year. However, the New Year is a fabulous time to “reset” and start fresh. It seems that if the whole calendar and world is starting over, it empowers us with more energy to do the same.
1. Get rid of the clutter
Physical clutter can make us feel anxious, depressed, and worried. A study found that levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, were higher in moms whose home environment was cluttered.
Physical clutter can lead to “mental clutter.” Our brains function best in an orderly environment. When we are overwhelmed by the “stuff” around us, and the constant “heaviness” of what needs to be done, our minds seemingly “shut down.” Studies have found that clutter has effects on our mental health, specifically our ability to cope, short term memory, ability to focus and even weight loss.
There are a lot of strategies out there for how to get rid of clutter. You need to find the one that works for you. I wrote about my donation box being a favorite “mom product” because everyone in the family helps out. I have a friend who gets rid of 5 things in her house in each week. She finds this manageable, and she feels she is constantly moving forward and clearing the clutter. Long term strategies include:
- Everyday, give just 10 minutes and systematically go through your house
- Each week, a different room, duplicates, expired, or no longer using produces
- Once a month, outgrown, no longer using clothes, books, toys
- Ponder bin: Once a week find things you don’t use, but if you aren’t sure you want to donate, put them in the bin, if you haven’t used the articles in it in a year, donate
- As you do laundry, linens, towels, blankets: if you have extras, they have holes, bad elastic, repurpose, donate or toss
Do you want a checklist to get stuff done..
10 Minute Tidying & Decluttering Tips
- 52 Tidying Tasks
- Tidying tasks separated by room
- 60 Decluttering Tips
- Each one takes 10 minutes or less
- Next to each one is a box for the date you did this, (if you want to keep track)
52 Tidying Tasks
60 Decluttering Tips
All in 10 minutes or less!
2. Organize your files
I hate this job. I see the value in having an organized filing system. I want an organized filing system. Yet, this is a constant struggle for me. If you do not currently have any files, how do you organize your important papers?
However you keep your important paperwork: taxes-and all of the paperwork that goes with taxes, mortgages/rent information, car maintenance history, medical records, warranties, etc, this is what needs to have an organization system.
I prefer file drawer with large hanging file folders that have categories, credit cards, for example, then within each hanging file folder I have the “normal” file folders that are individually labeled with each credit card. I know that you can have a lot of your information in digital format. I like to have my credit card statements in paper form so I can actually check to make sure that returns, get returned.
I got a label maker I love so that the file folders are clearly marked. This made the job less tedious. I have no idea why. It takes longer to type out a label than to just scrawl a word on a file. However, it is also much cleaner and more organized to look at when I open the drawers.
I have a friend who has an organization career; she helps people organize their stuff and their lives. She came over and tried to help me out. She likes a binder system. She gets 3 ring binders and adds sheet protectors. She can then 3 hole punch any documents and add pictures or receipts of anything that cannot be put into the binder in the typical fashion in the sleeve protectors.
I wanted to love the binder system. This seemed so much cleaner and much better organized. Yet, it was not the system that worked for me. You really need to find a system that works for you.
Strategies for organizing your important papers:
- File Drawer
- Binder System
- Cubbies or Boxes
- Digital-apps, scans, etc
3. Digital Clutter
I had never heard of this term before this year. When I did hear it, I knew exactly what it was! Now that we are in a “digital age,” everything is coming to us in digital format. We are keeping everything digitally.
We end up buying more cloud storage to store all of this digital “space junk.”
Do we really need more storage? Not always. We are simply so overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” that we would rather store it than risk erasing that great picture of Dakota playing with the goats at the petting zoo.
Organizing your digital clutter is an arduous task. Do not try to do this in one sitting. I recommend you look at one area, and try to “clean it up” over a period of time. For example, if you are cleaning out an email box and have a lot of emails, try to clean out 300 a week. While this seems like a huge number, you can easily see who sends you a lot of emails that you may have “clicked on” but not erased. Just type that sender in your search bar and you will get all of their emails that you still have stored in your “inbox.” Select them all and delete them all. I get regular emails from the library and the local theater company. I always forget to delete them after I read them. This is an “easy clean up.”
In “10 Family Activities during Winter Break” I talked about going over photos as a family. This is fun because you can talk about the things you enjoyed doing together and decide which photos to keep as a group. You then delete the photos that are grainy or blurred or are “let me just get another shot just in case” photos.
Here are some areas of digital clutter you may have:
- Google Drive
- Downloads on your computer
- Old software/applications
4. Get a Planner
Planners come in all shapes and sizes. In my opinion, a family planner is critical to your mental health. This sounds dire, I know. However, you are responsible for getting everyone to all of their appointments, activities, play dates, etc. You also need to keep track of who is where and for how long so that you can make sure you are there for drop offs and pick ups, or if you need to have special clothes ready or bring any items. This is a lot to remember. A family planner that everyone can have “space” on is helpful for everyone because they can see what is happening in the family.
It is critical for you because you no longer have to rely on your memory for the very important job of being where you need to be and at what time in your children’s lives. I love the Bliss family calendar because it is simple. Give each member of your family a different color. Whether they are old enough to write their own activities and events on the calendar or you do it for them, everyone can see right away, based on color who is available and when.
I also like having a portable “mom planner.” There are so many out there, I recommend looking for one that is just right for you. First, decide if you want digital or paper. Then, how much do you want to put into your planner? I love a paper planner for “stuff” I want to get done, what I am feeling month to month, goal setting, and big tasks. My favorite is not mom specific, but it is one that I have used for 3 years now, after checking out a lot of planners! The Ashly Shelly Signature Weekly is the one that I love. I don’t use a digital planner so I cannot recommend one of those for you. Happy hunting!
Regardless of what you use, having a family planner on a wall in your home and a portable planner or calendar will help you maintain organization by simply keeping track of everything so you do not have to remember everything.
5. Set Weekly Goals
I love having a planner because you can now put in your goals. The planner I recommend is the Ashley Shelly Signature Weekly planner. I like that it has a year view for goals. I am not able to think for the entire year, however, I use this part in quarters. I usually have a bunch of things I want to accomplish within three months.
Before each month is a run down on what you feel is going well in your life and what you need to say “no” to. You also look at what you want to accomplish for the month. If, for example, your three month goal is to reduce spending in your home, for one month your goal can be to learn a good coupon system, another month can be cost efficient meal planning, and the final month can be looking at subscriptions.
This planner helps you see your goals. You can then put in your weekly goals. By breaking down your quarterly to monthly to weekly goals, you give yourself a much better chance of accomplishing the goals. Setting goals are a big step in helping you organize your life.
6. Plan Meals for the Week
The final tip for organizing your life is meal planning. If you can get your meals planned for the week ahead, you can save a lot of time, You will be able to make a grocery list with exactly what you will need for the week and make one trip to the store. You can plan meals that “piggy back” off of each other. For example, I like to make roast in the crock pot on a busy night and then the next night we have hash with the left over roast beef and potatoes.
Your mind is more frantic when you are sneaking on 3:00 in the afternoon and you have no idea of what you should cook for dinner. One of the limitations is what you have in the house. You also have to work around everyone’s schedule. If you have school age children, you know that they often come home with their own set of issues from the day and they need to talk. Your life is much easier, your mind is less cluttered, and you feel more in control if you have the meals planned for the week and the groceries are in your cupboards.
You can give yourself a fabulous gift by creating systems in your home. These 6 tips for organizing your life will help you feel more in control, experience less stress, and “buy” you more time.
“Your mind is like water. When it is agitated it becomes difficult to see, but when you let it settle; the answer becomes clear.”– Oogway, Kung Fu Panda
*If you love the label maker I recommend, Amazon will give me a little :”thank you” – remember, this is the label maker I have in my house and use. I love it for all kinds of things (files, drawers, food expiration in fridge, what the heck is that in the freezer, cords and what they go to-the sky is the limit!)