Organization is the foundation of success in every area of your life. One can easily stay on top of things and avoid stress by organizing the many aspects of their life. However, such organization is a skill that is developed over time through practice. No one is born organized. Those of us who seem to have it all together had to work at cultivating healthy habits. The good news is that even if you think you are a very disorganized person, you can learn to be organized. From looking ahead and planning out what you can, jotting things down, to ditching the unnecessary and organizing the things that matter, you will become an organized person as long as you are willing to learn, practice, and stay consistent.

Here are some essential steps to organizing your life:

1. Write Things Down

We all know someone that remembers everything. They seem to always meet or exceed their deadlines, they never forget a birthday or anniversary, and prepared should be their middle name. News flash, it is not magic and they do not have a photographic memory. Trying to remember things will not help you to stay organized. A pen and some paper is one of the easiest ways of remembering things externally, and it is much more permanent as it helps to cement what you are trying to keep track of. You will only further complicate your life by trying to contain important dates and reminders in your head. From shopping lists for groceries, holiday gifts, home décor, and meetings, write everything down. Use a planner, calendar, spreadsheet, or some other format. It can literally be handwritten or digital, as long as it is accounted for. If you remain skeptical, try this as an experiment. Write down people’s names shortly after you meet them. I am willing to bet you remember a lot more names that way.

2. Make Schedules and Deadlines

Organized people do not waste time. They recognize that keeping things organized goes hand-in-hand with staying productive. They make and keep schedules for the day, week, and month. They establish deadlines and set goals and most importantly, they stick to them. Similarly, by living a cluttered lifestyle, you will not have the time or space to make your deadlines or achieve your goals. Here is another experiment for you to try. Peruse your bucket list or make one if you do not currently have one. Taking from the first step, write down the things you want to achieve this year or in your life. Then write down what you need to do to achieve them. Life is short, make sure you are doing what matters to you most. 

If you need a little help with this subject, Salina Public Library houses an excellent helpful guide: Self-Improvement Guide Bundle, 2 in 1 Bundle: Productivity Plan and Do Better. This audiobook combination consists of Productivity Plan: The Ultimate Guide on How to Increase Your Personal Productivity; Discover The Effective Methods On How to Get More Done in Little Time as well as Do Better: The Ultimate Guide on Self-Improvement; Learn Useful Tips and Advice on How You Can Grow; Do Better and Improve Everything About Yourself. This bundle will teach you all about how you can improve yourself and increase your personal productivity. You will learn how to prioritize and plan tasks so you can maximize the use of your time.

3. Do Not Procrastinate

This can absolutely come off as easier said than done. However, the reality is the longer you wait to do something, the more difficult it will be to get it done. If you want your life to be less stressful and less demanding, then organize as soon as you can. Putting in the effort to get things done as soon as possible will lift the weight off of you from doing it later. Here is a third experiment: think of one thing that you should organize in your life. Write it down. Then write down when you can do it and what you need to get it done. If you can get it done right now, then go do it. Do not procrastinate. If you cannot do it right, plan a time when you have no other commitments and pencil yourself down to complete it then. Finally, make sure you do it.  Hold yourself accountable to the deadline. 

Something that pushes me is the satisfaction of being able to cross something off my to-do list.  Accomplishing a task that I know I need to finish provides me with a bit of serotonin and encourages me to want to achieve more. If you would like additional tips to stop procrastination, check out this book: Procrastination: A Simple and Intuitive Guide to Remove Bad Habits and Overcome Laziness, Improve Your Mentality and Increase Your Motivation. With this practical guide, you will learn how to concentrate your time and efforts to make things happen, understand why you procrastinate and how to avoid these triggers, how to improve time management, and some tips and tricks to stay focused.

4. Give Everything a Home

It is easy to lose track of items if they do not have a designated home. Keeping your life organized means placing your things in their proper spaces. Organized people keep order by storing things properly and using a labeling system. Make easy-to-access storage spaces for things you use all the time, and do not let your storage spaces get cluttered. Be creative about finding places for things. In addition, as a BIG NO: never label a storage space as miscellaneous. Doing that is giving yourself permission to collect clutter over and over again.

As an experiment, choose one place in your home that you can reorganize. If there are scattered items, then group them together. Once you have sorted everything, find or make a home for similar items, label the homes, and put them in the proper places. For example, a cup holder for your pens and pencils should go in an easily accessible place, but the rarely used craft materials can be stored out of sight.

5. Declutter Regularly and Keep Only What You Need

In the previous step, we gave all of our items a home, but we did not address the volume of items we possess. If I want to keep it 100 with all of you, the more stuff you own equates to more clutter. We often discover we bought something that we did not actually need or will consistently utilize. We find that out when the amount of times we use a product is slim to none. It was probably an impulse purchase based on what we liked at the time. People who live organized lives only keep what they need and what they really really want. Having fewer things also means that you enjoy those things more and feel better about using everything you own, rather than letting half of what you own collect dust. Finding regular intervals of time to organize is critical. Highly organized people ensure they find time every week or more to organize their things. Stuff does not stay organized on its own; it needs to be reorganized continuously and consistently. It needs a home and a purpose.   

Have you ever felt like you do not have the space to keep all the stuff you own? Instead of renting a storage unit or buying a larger home, get rid of some things. As an experiment, write down the number of things you think you actually need. Then, write a list of all the things that you own. If the number of things you actually own exceeds your ideal need list, then it is time to declutter and organize. Feel free to start off slowly and attack one space at a time. Start by looking at your schedule and pinpoint a time to declutter one space.  This could be your hallway closet, one drawer in your dresser, or the kitchen pantry. Now, follow through with the declutter, then reorganize what’s left. If you have no idea on where to start the decluttering process, The Salina Public Library has your back. Here’s an awesome guide on how to declutter: Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life by Peter Walsh.  This guide is designed to help you turn downsizing into a rejuvenating life change with useful tips and practical takeaways, including how to understand the emotional challenges that accompany downsizing.

6. Know Where to Discard Items

In step six we organized and decluttered one area. If you are willing to take on more, go through shelves, drawers, closets, storage containers, and boxes. Everything you find that you do not need, set aside. Make a pile of things to maybe keep, which you can revisit later, and a pile of things to discard now. Then find a way to kick those things out the door immediately. In one month, take a second look at the maybe pile. If you have not used them in that month, get them out of the house.

Do whatever you can to get rid of stuff. Less stuff means less clutter. Donate to thrift stores. Sell online using Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, ThredUp, etc. Take a trip to the recycling center. Set up a garage sale. Ask your friends and family to make a pit stop at your house to shop. Throw away what you absolutely have to. There are plenty of ways to find a place to get rid of your things.

7. Stay Away from Bargains

In previous steps, we discussed the decluttering and removal of the things you do not need. Will you counteract that progress by replacing them when you see something on sale? Now, I am not saying to never take advantage of a bargain. However, instead of bargain shopping without planning ahead, write down exactly what you need and buy only those items. Organized people do not give in to false advertising. Items on sale will only produce more clutter unless you have a plan on how to store and use them.

As an experiment, go to a shopping mall without your wallet or purse. Just look at all the things on sale that you wish you could buy if you had brought money. If you find nothing, then good for you. If you made a list, write down exactly how you would use the item and how often it would be used. Then keep that list somewhere and look at it a month from now. If you still want it, then it is safe to buy.

Another tactic is to go shopping and place everything you want to buy in the cart. Before you proceed to the checkout line, look at each item again and determine where exactly that item will be used. Is it something you would benefit from for quite a while? If you cannot answer these questions with a hard yes, you probably do not need the item.

8. Delegate Responsibilities

A really organized life is not overfilled with responsibilities, meetings, and deadlines. In fact, it has less because things that created stress have been slowly organized out. Your last experiment is to look at your to-do list, or make one if you do not have one. Go through the list and find one task that you can remove from your list or give to someone else to complete. After you know someone else will take care of it, feel the stress of having to do it fall away. If you want to learn how to delegate effectively in multiple aspects of your life, do not miss out on these important tips from: Household Delegation: The Basics and Delegation and You!: When to Delegate and to Whom. These two books provide you the basics of delegation, both at home and in the workplace, but also work their way into a criteria-based process model of critical thinking skills to assist with delegation decisions, the key barriers to delegation, and how to overcome them.

9. Work Hard

Do not be afraid to work hard. Put in the effort. Actually, put in a lot of effort when necessary. Once you have delegated responsibilities and made a schedule, then you can organize what you have to do and when you can do it. Staying organized is not easy. It requires that you work hard with the recognition that when you work harder, you can enjoy your clutter-free home life later. Work harder when you feel like giving up today.  What is more important is to remember what you work for is meaningful to you. And this is one way how you can stay motivated and happy every day: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

10. Conclusion

These are some of the best ways to organize your life. Do you remember how you organized your life as a child? Nothing has to change. All you have to do is replace the bad habits that you formed over the years with good ones. Learn from the organizational tips in this blog, choose the ones that work best for you, and make them your habits one by one. Slowly you will become a lot more organized and productive.