How To Stay Organized When Life Is Chaotic
I know I’ve admitted it before, but in case you don’t know, I’m a planner, calendar and organization geek. I love all things organization, although you probably wouldn’t guess that when you come into my home. I live with three other people who don’t share my love of organization, decluttering, planners and calendars so my house can get (very) messy.
But while the space within my four walls may not be as organized as I’d like, my planner is almost always up-to-date and I have organization systems that help me stay on top of things despite the chaos surrounding me. When I slack on planning my week, the week ends up being complete chaos.
I’ve always had a planner, but until I had two kids, with one in elementary school, I never really needed to track very much. I have a really good memory so I rarely wrote things down in my planner, I just liked to have one.
Once my oldest son started elementary school (he’s now in third grade), I realized that I could no longer rely on my memory since there was so much more to remember. Between work deadlines, my husband traveling, homework assignments and projects, special days off and half days and my youngest son’s daycare schedule, there was just too much to remember. On top of all of that, I have an autoimmune disease and my medication gives me brain fog. It’s a recipe for chaos.
Since relying on my brain was no longer an option, I needed to figure out an organization strategy that would work for us. Now that I’ve been at it for a few years, I’ve made some tweaks and we have a pretty great organization system.
In order for an organization system to work, you actually have to use it. Once it stops working, you need to move on to something better. While I have tried many planners and organization strategies, I am quick to move on if they don’t work for our family. There is no time to try to fitting a square peg in a round hole.
Favorite Organizing Strategies To Stay On Task
Starting a new organization routine doesn’t have to start at the beginning of the year, although most people wait for the new year to start. If you are drowning, take a step back and figure out where you are struggling and how to fix it.
Figure Out Your Organization System:
Different systems work for different people. What works for me may not work for you and you may need more than one system. I use a combination of digital and paper. I keep my calendar on Google so that I can share it with my husband. I also have my paper planner, which I use to plan out my month, week and day. And here’s where my Type A nuttiness comes in: I also have a wall calendar for the month and a weekly calendar on my refrigerator.
Essentially, I break everything into pieces so that I can keep us on task and remember important information. I also make important information that relates to other family members available to everyone. That way, my husband knows when he needs to take both kids to school and I know when my husband is unavailable.
If you are new to the planner/calendar game, here are some systems that have worked for me either now or in the past. I recommend testing out different systems until you find what works for you.
*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
- Google Calendar
- Cozi Family Organizer
Paper Planner Systems (I currently use Franklin Planner but have used others at different periods)
General Information Command Center
(If you want to use an electronic calendar, you may want to consider using an information command center so that you keep important information in one spot.)
Create Your Custom Organization System
Once you have a system, you need to actually use it in order for it to work. Here are some organization strategies that work for me.
- Write every appointment in your calendar and enter it on digital calendar. Don’t assume you will remember that next Friday is the field trip. Put it on your calendar. If you schedule an appointment while you’re out, make sure you put it on your calendar right away or as soon as you have access to it (that’s why I keep an electronic and physical calendar).
- Set aside time weekly to plan out your week and monthly to review your month. At the beginning of every month, I take some time to make sure my paper calendar and digital calendar match. I then add anything that affects other members of the family to our wall calendar. Every weekend, I take about 20-30 minutes to plot out my week. I note any appointments and special days on our weekly refrigerator calendar and on my planner. I’m less likely to miss something if I review it before the week starts.
- Keep track of your goals. If you have big projects or goals that don’t have deadlines, be sure that you include them on your to do list every week. The only way to work toward them is to actually schedule the time for them, particularly when they are personal goals.
- Like I said, my house isn’t exactly neat and orderly, much as I wish it was. There are little people in my home who aren’t very good at cleaning up after themselves and there is an adult who has different cleaning standards and is a bit of a packrat. I don’t make myself crazy over the mess and clutter, but there are certain zones that are non-negotiable. I keep two command centers where important papers are kept and things we need to get out the door are hung. I also have space in my room that is clutter-free and set up for relaxing. I’m trying to teach my boys to make a home for special things as well.
It may seem like an overwhelming task to set up an organization system, but I promise, once you do, you’ll feel more together. Having a system will save you lots of time and stress in the long run.