Are you wondering how to organize your life for success?
Have you found that recently you feel like you can barely stay ahead of the chaos that is your life? Are you weighed down by obligations to work, family, friends and self- care? Are you just exhausted and feeling hopeless and helpless?
The good news is is that there is hope and help! There are ways that you can organize your life so that you can stay ahead of the fray.
Here is how….
#1 – Use a calendar.
I had a new client who was really struggling with getting things done in her life. She worked full time, and sometimes overnight, and had two little kids. She came to me because she needed help getting organized.
The first thing that we looked at was how much time she had available in the week. It turned out to be very little so I encouraged her stop beating herself up for her lack of organization. You can only do so much with so little time.
That being said, we set out to make her operate efficiently in the little time that she had. The first step to do that was to use a calendar.
Every Sunday night my client would sit down with her calendar and make a plan for the week. She would write down everything that was non-negotiable for the week, like work, appointments, after school activities etc.
Once she had those things registered, she could see where in her week she might have time to get other things done, things like haircuts, grocery shopping and time at the gym. She registered those things on her calendar as well.
The thing about having a calendar and checking it Sunday night is that you familiarize yourself with what your schedule looks like, big picture, for the week. You also know when you have time on your schedule for things that need to get done – you don’t just try to get them done whenever you have might have time.
Calendar use – the number one tool for how to organize your life for success.
#2 – Have a routine.
Once you have your calendar up and running, it’s time to work out a routine.
I encourage my clients to look at what they need to get done every week and to establish a routine around getting them done.
For me, when my kids were young, I went grocery shopping every Tuesday (complete with a typed up grocery list, organized by aisles in the supermarket). I knew when food would be coming into the house and organized accordingly.
I also did laundry on Sunday and Thursday nights. I would do the laundry during the day and fold it at night after the kids had gone to sleep. I chose these days for a reason…TV. In the pre-DVR days we had to watch TV live and Thursday nights was ER. I could justify watching TV because I was folding the laundry!
So, make a routine around your weekly chores and put them in your calendar. You will be glad you did.
#3 – Keep a running list.
An important part of getting things done is to keep a running list.
I used to recommend that clients get a small spiral bound notebook to write down things that need to be done as they think of them. So many of us are remember things that need to get done while driving home but then forget them by the time we get home. If you have a notebook with you at all times you can keep a running list. And if you have a bound notebook instead of a scrap of paper you are less likely to lose it!
Of course, many of my clients now like to keep their list on their phones. Whatever works for you!!
Once you have a running list, when you look at your calendar on Sunday you can see where in your calendar you could get these things done and register them accordingly.
If you know that something on your list needs to be done right away, you can review your calendar for the next few days and see where you can fit it in.
You can also, if you find you have a few free minutes, check out your running list and see if there is something that you can get done in that time. It’s amazing how much one can do in 10 minutes.
So keep a list. Refer to it often. Get things done.
#4 – Get professional help.
If we were all in charge of the world, I am sure that we would delegate our chores to professional help. Who wouldn’t want a personal organizer, a chef or a cleaning lady to take the load off a bit?
I am here to give you permission to do that, to hire some professional help, should your budget allow.
It’s okay to ask for help. This is a chaotic world that we live in and we can’t do it all, in spite of the fact that we think we can.
Imagine all of the free time that would appear if you had someone to mow your lawn once a week. Time that could be used for self-care or so that you could attack that pile of paper on your desk.
If your budget doesn’t allow for professional help, consider bartering with someone to get things done. I used to help organize my friends’ houses in exchange for driving car pool. It was a win-win for both of us as I was a great organizer and she had a bigger car!
So don’t be ashamed to ask for help! We all need it!
#5 – Take care of yourself.
More than anything, at the top of the list of how to organize your life for success is self-care.
Imagine that you have read the list above and are raring to go – to get a calendar, establish a routine, keep a running list and get help. You are so excited to get it done and then….you are so tired on Sunday that you spend the day in front of the TV instead and never get started.
Taking care of ourselves is a key to organizing our lives for success. It is important that we get enough sleep every night, eat a diet that includes at least some fresh fruits and vegetables and that we get at least a little aerobic exercise weekly. If you can add a massage or a pedicure in there even better.
In order to be able to think clearly and act efficiently we need to be healthy. These days it is almost badge of honor in our society to be so overworked that we are exhausted but don’t kid yourself. That kind of living is unsustainable and will ultimately stop you short.
So, when you are building your calendar on Sunday night, make sure you make room in there to take care of yourself. If you don’t, you are doomed to fail.
So there are a few tips for how to organize your life for success.
I know that it seems daunting, doing all of these steps, but really it’s not. All you have to do is start at the beginning.
Get yourself a calendar and start using it. Once you get into the routine you will find that the other pieces fall into place – the establishing routines, keeping running lists and asking for help will come naturally.
Just make sure you take care of yourself. It is always important that you do.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.