I hear this time & time again: I want to be organized or I wish I wan an organized person. Ahem, I’ve even said it myself a few times.
There are people who make billions of dollars from organizational products, methods & programs. And I know they’ve likely helped millions of people. But what if you’re one of the… helpless?
I fall into that category. I’ve purchased planners, highlighter pens & folders & organized my office area in an attempt to be more ‘organized’. In my mind, organization likely equals efficiency. Time & time again, the planners collect dust, the highlighters get destroyed by my kids & somehow I still manage to get stuff done.
I once asked my girlfriend (an organizational pro) to help me declutter & arrange my desk area. I sheepishly showed her how I keep all my nail polish in the top drawer of my desk, then looking up in shame I said – they probably shouldn’t be there, right? She told me something that completely changed my whole outlook on organization. She said – if it makes sense to you, then it works.
Whooooaaaaaaa. Really? Coming from the girl who kept her plastic tupperware lids in their own wicker basket, that really stood out to me.
If it makes sense to you, then it works.
With this new knowledge I was now able to create a non traditional organization system that worked just for me. Maybe you’re a hopelessly unorganized person like me & maybe these suggestions will help you create an organization plan custom for you!
HOW TO GET MORE ORGANIZED (FOR THE UNORGANIZED PERSON)
1. FIND A SCHEDULE THAT WORKS FOR YOU.
Almost every morning I hit the gym first thing. It keeps me from wasting time on social media & it keeps me from sitting in a computer chair all day long. I get to the gym, clear my mind, sweat & have some social time. Then I’m ready to get home & work. It also allows me to get away from all the things my mind keeps replaying on the agenda for the day. I check that stuff at the door. Maybe you could start your day with some meditation, prayer or a devotional. Maybe you like to sweat like me. Either way, I’ve found that NOT sitting at my computer chair first thing in the morning certainly makes me more efficient, even if I do get a later start to my day. Some people work best in the early morning & some work best in the late evening. Instead of trying to do what all the experts tell you is the ‘right’ way to set your schedule, simply figure out what works best for you!
2. FIND A PLACE TO COLLECT YOUR THOUGHTS.
I keep my notes in lots of places. I keep all my recipes in one notebook. I also keep lots of sticky notes around so I can jot things down & then stick them to my notebook, planner, computer or cabinets. I have a moleskin in my mini backpack & I also use the notes app on my iPhone. Finding 4 places to keep your thoughts may sound a little unorganized to you but for me, I know my ideas are always in one of 4 places. Figure out what system works best for you & where/how you can collect your thoughts most efficiently. If you can’t keep track of 4 separate places for notes, don’t do it.
3. KEEP SEPARATE PLANNERS.
I use one planner for our family. I use one planner for my blog, shooting schedule & recipe development. I have found this to be the most effective way to keep our family & my schedule organized. Technically, I’ve transitioned over to part time, work at home mom. My big kids are getting older so I need to record all their sports, meets, activities, doctor appts & school schedules. That’s a lot of stuff to write down! I find my Erin Condren Family Life planner to be ideal for that. By keeping 2 separate planners for myself & my family I find it keeps me from getting overwhelmed. Plus, I’m not trying to squish activities for up to 6 people in one tiny box, on one tiny page.
4. SIT DOWN & WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS. NO, ACTUALLY DO IT.
I’d heard about how great the Whitney English Day Designer was but I was really skeptical. My friend convinced me to order one & I’m so glad I took a chance. The Day Designer is perfect for a hopelessly unorganized creative like me. The beginning of the planner gives you several places to sit down & think about (or rethink) your business. You get a chance to think about your passions, your principles, your strengths & talents. Putting these things down on paper is a way of accepting them & taking them from your jumbled up mind into more of an action plan. Finally, write down your goals. Maybe you’re like me. I’ve never actually sat down & written out goals for my business (or life, for that matter). Maybe I was afraid I’d set goals & not meet them. Maybe I just couldn’t image where my business would end up or maybe I was just feeling discouraged. Whatever the reason, I highly encourage you to do the unthinkable – sit down, for the first time, & write out some concrete goals for your next year. Once I started writing, suddenly I had so many more goals & aspirations than I imagined! If you find it too challenging to write goals down in 3, 6 & 9 month increments (I do) then just stick to setting goals you hope to achieve by the end of the year. Once you’ve defined those goals it gives you an opportunity to work backwards & chip away at your goal little by little throughout the year. My friends from Oh Lardy share their 6 tips for reaching your goals also have a free Goal Setting printable!
5. FIGURE OUT YOUR TIME SUCKERS.
I have definite time suckers. Facebook is one. Instagram is another. Sometimes I sit down & slowly find myself slipping further & further down the rabbit hole. I’ll find myself an hour or two later, having not done anything but read a lot of Buzzfeed posts. Once I started putting limits on my time suckers my day started to be much more efficient. Set yourself a timer when you friend sends you the most hilarious Mean Tweets & once your timer goes off, you’ll be able to get back to your work instead of spending an hour on YouTube. My best friend & I even set timers on our phone calls sometimes.
6. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED WHEN YOUR DAY DOESN’T GO YOUR WAY.
During the day it’s easy for me to get distracted by just about everything. Diaper changes, diaper blowouts, laundry taking over our house, dishes piled to the ceiling, kids getting sick or just errands that need to be run. By not sticking to a super strict, scheduled out day it allows me not get stressed out when things don’t go the way I planned. I try to not schedule out hour by hour during the day. When writing out any kind of schedule I simply write out the top things I need to accomplish that month, that week & that day & note my deadlines. I start with my daily tasks & if they don’t get accomplished & I’m not under a deadline to finish them I just move them to the next day or week.
7. KEEP YOUR SPACE CLEAR.
This can be the most challenging piece of advice at all. I actually don’t have any kind of office, studio, zen room or even separate space to work. My ‘office’ is a built in desk right in the heart of our kitchen where everything happens. While I am accustom to working in chaos, noise wise, I make sure the kids know not to put any of their things in my work space. Does that mean my work space is clean & tidy? Hardly. But at least I have tried to separate my ‘work’ from the kids school papers, coloring books, crayons & odd bits of toys that want to gravitate to my ‘desk’. I also have a separate space for all my linens & food props. A few months ago I cleared out a space in one of our cabinets where all my food photography props can be stacked & well organized. This definitely helps make shooting run smoothly & my kids know they aren’t allowed to touch or play with any of my props, which is more than I can say for the rest of my kitchen utensils. For some reason, tongs & spoons make great toys.