Let me start by making this clarification: I am a freak. I enjoy cleaning out closets and the sight of a dirty Swiffer after sweeping my apartment. I write my agenda down in both my phone and my Sugar Paper planner and I straighten up the pillows in the living room before I got to bed each night. Yet, as the Friends tv series has taught us, even the craziest of Monica’s have a closet/drawer/trunk full of uselessness, stacked high and wide. There’s a little messy-devil in us all.
One of my best friends is a simply a rock star. She is amazing at her career and should open up a second business making people smile. Each time I publish a new blog post, she’ll send me a SnapChat of how my post has improved her day. A few weeks ago, she calls me up to say “help me organize me lifeeeee… ughhh!” in that groggy, helpless way (okay, she texted it to me but she def said it that way in her head). Most would laugh at the rhetorical demand, I immediately perk up out of my chair – “OKAY!”
I’ve been through my share of agendas, apps, and scheduled alarms to keep my life on track, and I must say, I do have my favorites. Lucky for you, I’m sharing my secrets. As for that New Years resolution of “get my shit together” … check!
Problem Area #1: Prioritizing & Remembering
We’re all forgetful. In fact, my family, friends, and co-workers will tell you that I have the worst memory of all time. My trick: write it down – or better yet, type it. I have a list for everything: groceries, blanc to-do’s, freelance design to-do’s, and just life to-do’s in general. My favorite app of all time (nerd alert) is AnyList. A list-making app that also includes a meal planning schedule and recipe storage. The My Grocery List even categorizes your needed items as you enter them, making it easier to pick up all your produce while in the produce section. No more circling Publix four times!
Problem Area #2: Get on a Schedule: Social, Gym, Bills
As I said before, I write everything down in a paper agenda (doctor’s appointments, girls nights, upcoming Charleston events…), but I also type my schedule into my phone. Nothing fancy here, just Apple’s calendar app. This way when my friends schedule a girls weekend while I’m away from home, I have my work schedule in my palm to check my availability. Plus, your more likely to go to that work out class you’ve been avoiding if it’s written in ink/pixels.
Tip: Create an event for your bills: rent on the 1st, student loans on the 18th, credit card bill on the 25th. In your Apple Calendar, edit the settings of the event so it repeats every month. You can even set an alert as a reminder. Even though I use auto-pay for most of my bills, it’s a good reminder of when my money will be going in and out of my account.
Planners so cute, you’ll want to use them.
Problem Area #3: All that Stuff
I have two rules here: Have a place for everything and if you’re not using it, get rid of it. Let’s break down all this “stuff:”
- Important Paperwork – have a specific place for it. If you don’t have a desk, keep it in one drawer and know that every time you get a bill in the mail, you sign a new lease, or you get a receipt from the doctor, it’s going to the same spot. I keep mine organized with file folders. Designer Nate Berkus has some chic filing folders at Target.
- Your Closet, Section A – Keep it. Toss it. Donate it. A rule of thumb: if it’s an everyday-wear and your haven’t worn it in a year, you’re probably not going to wear it next year. I, myself, have a problem with shoes. My favorite summer wedges have trekked many fraternity parties in their day. They look like absolute crap, but they’re my favoriteee! It wasn’t until I had a client meeting last June that I realized, I could not wear them in public. We all have our attachments, if you’re having trouble figuring out what to get rid of, invite over a girlfriend and have her help you decide.
- Your Closet, Section B (let’s face it, there’s a lot to talk about here) – Baskets and trunks are your friends people. Keep your out-of-season clothing stored in tubs. My available storage is miniscule, so I keep my winter clothes in designer trunks that I found at TJ Maxx. They are stacked in my living room on display – functional and cute. Instead of a typical tv stand, I have my flat screen on top of a dresser that holds my important paperwork, gift wrap, crafting supplies, and Christmas decorations. Hide belts, socks, and scarves with clear, plastic storage drawers underneath your hanging clothes.
Problem Area #4: I can’t manage money!
Your dad would tell you to make an Excel spread sheet. Sitting at a computer, looking at your bank account, separating each transaction into categories, doing math – who has time for that?! Ladies and gents, I have your new best friend. It’s an app called Mint and it does all those things for you. By connecting with your bank account, Mint keeps track of your spending habits and allows you to set monthly budgets for things like groceries, clothing, gas, coffee shops and bars. It will even send you a notification when you’re approaching a budget (or when you’re $60 over your restaurant budget… sigh…).
My last notes: Do it as you go and it will become second nature. I may not make my bed everyday (or ever), but those couch pillows are looking pleasantly puffed every morning when I wake up. If you let things build up, they become harder to maintain. Yes, this includes your email inbox. Get in the habit of making a list for things and move the number one priorities to the top.
For some, getting organized can be a lifestyle change as similar to being on The Biggest Loser. For others, it comes naturally. The trick is to build patterns. Eventually, it will all become a healthy habit.
Comment below on what tips worked for you! Anything I missed? Let me know what you’d like to hear next.