All the "stuff" | Productivity | Small biz resources
30 April 2021
Let’s face it: it’s hard to stay on top of things. A bursting email inbox, a list of friends you need to text back, workouts left undone. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Maybe you’ve got to the end of a busy week and promised yourself: next week I’m going to get organized! But next week arrives and you get sucked into the same cycle all over again.
Getting your home, personal, and work-life organized may seem like an unachievable goal. And when you’re already juggling a lot, finding the time to get organized can feel impossible.
The truth is, learning how to organize the most important aspects of your life is an investment that will pay back ten-fold. Getting organized can:
- Reduce stress
- Free up time for the things you want to do
- Boost creativity
- Improve productivity
- Accomplish goals
The best part is you can get organized in less time than you think. There are easy and efficient strategies you can use to organize all aspects of your life that will have you feeling less stressed and more motivated in no time.
In this guide, we’ll show how to organize your life in just one week, and keep it that way.
1. Set your goals
Understanding your “why” is key to succeeding at any task. Knowing what you’re working towards will help you stay committed.
Start by making a list of your personal and professional goals. Think about all the things you’ve told yourself you’ll get to once you have more time.
So for example, a personal goal might be to run a 5k. A professional goal might be to publish a paper.
When you’ve got a list of higher-level goals, you can break them down into smaller steps. So to get ready for a 5k, you might decide to schedule weekly training sessions. To achieve your publishing goal, you might decide to set aside time to read similar papers.
If you need help organizing your thoughts, check our free personal goal planning template and business goal planning template here.
2. Plan your week
Do you ever arrive at your desk on Monday morning and feel instantly overwhelmed? Planning your week ahead is one of the best ways to organize your life and reduce stress.
Pick a time that works for you: Friday night before you log off, Sunday evening, or first thing on Monday… whenever works for you. Commit to spending the time to review what you want to achieve this week.
This can include both work and personal life: don’t neglect your exercise plans, social needs, and home organization! Review your commitments, remember your goals, and create a plan that you can stick to.
3. Timebox your calendar
Your calendar is a great tool for organizing your life. Whether it’s a humble wall calendar, an old school day planner, or an online version, your calendar can keep you on track.
Make the most of your week with timeboxing: creating a visual representation of your time.
Got a big presentation on Friday? Box out the time in your calendar you need to make sure you have it done with plenty of time. Want to work out three times this week? Schedule them in advance.
Timeboxing keeps you realistic about the time you have. We each only have a certain number of hours in the day. Timeboxing is a great way to make sure you focus on important things.
4. Focus on habits
If you really want to figure out how to organize your life, it’s time to be honest about your habits: good and bad.
Think about the bad habits that are keeping you disorganized. Common bad habits include:
- Mindless scrolling: Research suggests that we lose on average 2 hours 22 minutes per day.
- Blowing your budget on takeout or pricey coffee
- Getting to bed too late
- Focusing on the negatives
Most of us can identify our bad habits—and how they’re hurting us. It can be harder to work out how to break stubborn bad habits.
A great framework for change is to “Ctrl+Alt+Del” your habits.
Control: Understand your triggers and reflect on your behavior
Alternate: Replace bad habits with positive alternatives (and have a plan for how to stay on track)
Delete: Remove temptations
For every bad habit, there’s a good habit you can sub in. Replace takeout with Sunday meal prepping. Stop burning the midnight oil to get enough sleep. Leave the endless scroll behind by filling that time with an activity you actually enjoy.
Whatever habits you decide to adopt remember that a habit takes an average of 66 days to form. Persistence is key!
5. Stay motivated with lists
Checking off an item on your to-do list can release a hit of dopamine in your brain. It’s an easy reward to keep you motivated and feeling accomplished as you’re organizing your life.
A word of caution: don’t get too focused on checking off small but unimportant items. We recommend separating out your lists based on your priorities.
One list may be small daily tasks that need to get done but are lower priority (e.g take the garbage out). Another list might include high-priority goals for the week (write a report at work, make time to call family).
You don’t want to fill your week completing low priority tasks at the expense of your high priority goals. (Again, this is where your timeboxing will help you figure out how to get to both high and low priority items!)
6. Declutter your inbox
It’s hard to prioritize when you’re swimming in hundreds or thousands of messages. A cluttered inbox can leave you feeling overwhelmed, out of control, and disorganized.
Messages go unanswered, tasks get missed, and key information is impossible to find. Spending the time to organize your email (and keep it that way) can be a real boost to your productivity. Block out time each day to review your emails. Respond to what’s important, file key information away, and delete what you don’t need.
- Create folders to quickly sort emails. Try these folder options “Action Today” “Delegate” “Needs Review” “Read Later”
- Work your way through your newsletters and subscriptions and unsubscribe to any that you no longer read and file away others into your “Read Later” folder
- Create inbox rules to make staying on top of your emails a breeze
- Tip: Forward emails containing content and let Charli deal with it. Just add #tags and notes.
You’ll feel better when you’re no longer greeted by a sky high notification number every time you open up your laptop.
7. Make a meal plan
Meals can add a significant amount of stress to anyone’s day. Trying to balance good health with limited prep time can lead to less than ideal outcomes. How many times have you lacked the energy to rifle through your fridge and come up with a meal idea, and ended up simply ordering takeout?
To get your life under control, making a weekly meal plan is a no-brainer. Start by coming up with a long list of meal ideas. That way, each week, you can pick and choose what you’ll eat that week, without having to scramble for ideas. A few places you can find meal ideas:
- Subscribe to a few food blogs, particularly ones that focus on recipes that fit your family’s lifestyle
- Look up recipe ideas on Pinterest and create a board for quick meal planning
- Keep a list of past recipes your family has liked that you can look back on for inspiration.
- Tip: Use Google Docs so you can collaborate with your partner or even children on their favorites.
Plot out your meal plan on a calendar and make a weekly grocery store run (or for additional time savings, get your groceries delivered). And if you have to schedule yourself one or two takeout days, don’t sweat it. Everyone deserves a break!
8. Create a home organization plan
An organized life starts with an organized home! Although you probably don’t have time to scrub down (and spruce up) your space in just one week, focus on putting a plan in place. It’s easier to do this sort of work in small chunks. So, map out a plan to make your place so tidy that even Marie Kondo would approve!
Start by listing out the rooms in your house, and then prioritize them. Focus on the rooms you spend the most time in — that’s where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck.
Assign time in your calendar to tackle each room. So, maybe this Saturday, you focus on your kitchen, and next week you’ll address your living room. Go at your own pace. Begin with decluttering the space and then giving it a deep clean.
The first time will take the longest, but then each clean after that will simply be to maintain your hard work.
9. Coordinate with your loved ones
If you live with a partner or have kids, you’ll know how hard it can be to keep plans straight. One person books a Zoom call with friends and forgets to share the news. Someone has to work late one night, and dinner duties are missed. You get the idea.
A great way to get aligned is to set up a shared calendar just for your family. That way, everyone can add important dates or events, so no one will be left in the dark. A Google calendar works great for this, and you can even assign different colors to different family members so it’s easy to scan.
10. Elevate your mindset
The benefits of meditation are manifold: but can it help you organize your life? The evidence shows that meditation can:
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep
- Lengthen your attention span
When you’re less stressed, well-rested, and focused, you have the energy and mindset to get (and stay) organized. The best part is that studies seem to show you don’t need to spend hours each day meditating: even just fifteen minutes can have a positive impact. An organized mind leads to an organized life.
Let Charli help you get organized
When you’re already busy, overhauling your organization strategies may feel like the last thing you need. But if you’ve spent weeks or months trying to figure out how to get organized, you already know that something has to change.
When making a change, it helps to have the right tools on hand. Here at Charli, we got tired of trying to get organized with a patchwork of tools that never quite worked.
That’s why we created Charli, the AI-virtual assistant who helps you tackle your life admin while saving you time and mental energy.
Unlike other tools, Charli works for you. No endless hours trying to figure out a new organizational system. No presets that don’t fit your workflow. Just send your “stuff” — like your documents, expense receipts, photos and more — to Charli (via text, upload, scan, or email) and let Charli know how you want it sorted. Over time, Charli uses the magic of AI to adapt to your preferences.
Organizing your life has never been easier.
Try Charli for free today to start reclaiming your time.