how do you stay organized?

desktop with iphone jewelry modern white desk

I’m not a terribly disorganized person…but I’m not exactly the most organized girl on the block, either. (Hey oh, piles in the closets and forgotten doctors appointments!)

As I try to manage freelance assignments, keep the house in somewhat livable condition, raise two little dudes, maintain this blog, and support Jonny in his ministry, the whole use-my-mind-as-a-planner thing isn’t quite working.

In college, I used a planner religiously. As a magazine staff writer, my calendar was everything. As a newspaper reporter, hourly deadlines kept me in order.

But now?

I have scraps of paper planning things and I have lots of things that I want to get done swimming around in my mind that often get misplaced and forgotten. I use Google calendar (synced with Jonny) on my iPhone, which helps kind of, but…I need help.

So, organized people of the Internet — share your secrets with me.

And I don’t want any magazine-style tips or tricks — I want tried-and-true, real-life help for getting my stuff together.

Help a sister out?


15 thoughts on “how do you stay organized?

  1. Dan and I have what we call a logistics meeting every Sunday night after kids go to bed. We pay necessary bills, plan our meals, write our grocery list, look at our master calendar and write out our weekly schedule to be able to quick glance at it throughout the week. It has done wonders for us and we are so much more productive and are always on the same page with everything. I think every married couple should do it.

    1. Wow, that’s awesome! I’m really impressed that you plan means and write a grocery list together. Do you have a whiteboard with your weekly schedule? This is a good idea…I think the harder part for us is actually implementing it. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Post-it makes a weekly tablet that I stick to my white board and only use my board for quick notes. Even if you just did it yourself, planning for the week instead of all random things at random times is less intimidating and more likely to get things done without forgetting them 🙂

  2. Google Calendar has been awesome for us. I have to keep running notes of my work on cases, which helps me a ton for work. For personal stuff, we use Wunderlist. Have shopping lists (grocery, Target), as well as to do lists (specific to me, specific to home, specific to adoption, etc.) I’ve seen lots of Etsy-type organization/productivity notepads lately. We also recently went to Container Store for folders, file organization, drawers, etc. And you just gotta make yourself use them! 🙂

    1. The last part is so true…I have to make myself use them! It’s like…I know all of the apps and planners…maybe my problem isn’t organization, it’s discipline. Oh, adulthood, thank you for all of the ways you show me my deficiencies!

  3. Joe and I invite one another to all our events (individual and joint) on Google Calendar so we always know what is going on. Joe’s better than I am, but I have found I have to put coffee dates and after-work events on the calendar right away or I forget. Also, I bought an Emily Ley planner and I love it! Plenty of room to write down all the things I need to do and remember. I’ve certainly got a long way to go, though. I want to be more organized, too!

    1. Amen to the Google calendar! That is my only glimpse of organization right now, and my saving grace. Emily Ley planners are gorgeous! I’m worried that if I bought one it’d just sit there looking pretty. How do you get yourself to actually use it? And Madison, I imagine that you are incredibly organized!

  4. I live and die by the calendar in my phone (Google calendar). I loved paper planners in school, but now it’s just not practical for me to always have it with me. My phone, on the other hand, is never far away.

    As for organizing my house…it would be much easier if I lived by myself ha. But since that is not happening (and for good reason!), I honestly just have to accept that my bi-weekly deep cleanings are eventually going to deteriorate and not beat myself up over it. That’s not a particularly scientific approach, but it helps me keep my sanity!

  5. i already replied with (for house cleaning organization) and the book Getting Things Done (for all other/work related/email related organization). But I must add my praise for the Sunday meeting! I don’t do it on Sundays, I like Sunday to be “free” of planning. But I have Friday meetings every single week. If I am going to be out of town on that Friday, I do the meeting on Thursday! The last Friday of the month I do a “final Friday meeting” with myself – in a coffee shop, with my day planner, computer, notebook and an expensive coffee 🙂 I sit down for 2 – 3 hours and plan: my workouts, work (what I will be writing, what projects I’ll tackle), and our family meals for the month. I will find the time I need to accomplish what I want to accomplish – or its off my to-do list. Then, I look at the month and think: do I need to set up appointments? hair cuts? dentist? doctor? lipwax? manicure? Do I need to buy tickets for anything we are planning to do? That Friday meeting, once a month, looking ahead, is a long and fruitful one. The remaining Friday meetings are pretty simple – I make the grocery list based on the meals I’ve already planned; I check for child care/dog care/play dates; I see if any last-minute things have come up that necessitate moving a workout, or changing my work schedule, I print anything I need (tickets, lists), as well as two print-outs of the week – one in Word, one from Outlook. I put all of that in a pretty folder titled with the month I am in, and leave the office happy (I go in to the office even in the summer, on Fridays, to print my lists!). One last thing I do every Friday: renew any library books that are due in the coming 5 days, if we are not done with them! And, Aaron pays our bills on line, but on Fridays, I pay any that require a check/postage. Also during those Friday meetings, if I have time left over, I like to write a card to my mom or a friend. Friday meetings rock!

    1. OMG. You do not know (well, maybe you do!) how helpful this is! Jonny has Fridays off which makes a Friday meeting (together or alone) super doable. Part of me has to fight the guilt of taking the time to do this, but I know that without something like this the family only suffers and I’m less present because I’m stressing out about everything that needs to get done. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  6. I live by lists!

    1) I plan a dinner menu each week and do my grocery shopping online (Peapod rocks! I hear Wal-Mart is starting delivery, too!). We eat the same things for breakfast and lunch, which simplifies things.

    2) I plan outings and “to do” items for specific days of the week before the week starts.

    3) Based on David Allen’s excellent “Getting Things Done” book, I keep a master list of to do items. I use Evernote for my Master List. That way (theoretically) if I think of it, it goes on the list! I work through the list throughout the week as I have time. If something *has* to happen on a certain day, I write it for that day at the beginning of the week.

    4) Like several others have mentioned, my hubby and I have a weekly “planning meeting.” I keep a running list of things to discuss with him.

    1. Courtney, thanks so much for your tips! Online grocery shopping would be amazing, and would probably help with budgeting, too! I should read “Getting Things Done.”

  7. I write everything down in my phone, whether on a reminder list for myself, shared family reminders with my husband or another list for our little nonprofit or my blog. The Reminders app on my iPhone integrates all of them, so I can review and set reminders as needed. I started only setting reminders for time-sensitive or other high priority items while looking at our calendars then reassess at least weekly. Checking things off a list and having my husbamd’s iPhone remind him of reoccurring weekly tasks like taking out the garbage make him more proactive and allows me to clear some of that mental clutter that slows us mamas down.

    For our calendars, we have three shared, color-coded iCloud calendars (mine, husband, joint family activities). These help us to know what the other is doing and when the other has committed us to do something. Seeing these on our iPhones/iPads/Mac desktop at home and on the go alongside our Exchange calendars from work and even calendar feeds for various organizations allows us to have a better handle on our schedules and how to plan accordingly.

    Hope this is helpful in your organization quest!

    By the way, I found your blog through your clothing swap with Espresso and Cream and love how you integrate a Chrisirian element into a lifestyle blog. And your posts about starting a blog helped motivate me to finally start my own. So thank you!

    1. Hi, Kindra! Thanks so much for your organization advice! I’m learning, slowly, but surely. 🙂 And thank you so much for finding me, and sticking around! I’m hopping over to your blog right now — I’m so glad you found that post helpful! Thanks again for your advice and for saying hi! 🙂

Leave a Reply to Justine Lorelle Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s