How many times have you found yourself with your hand stuck to your forehead realizing that you had forgotten something? Maybe it was that crucial ingredient you needed from the store to make your favorite dish. Maybe you forgot it was your turn to pick up for carpool duty. Or did you forget to return that phone call, text message, or email because you were just too busy? Life gets busy. Oftentimes we are running at three different speeds, being pulled in at least two different directions, and still trying to find time to keep it all together.
Maintaining balance, staying organized, and keeping things in control is no easy feat. All too often we find ourselves overcommitted and overextended. Having too many items on our plate all at one time can be extremely stressful. And we all know nobody likes an extra serving of stress! One of the ways that I manage my own stress is through organization. Staying organized helps me feel less stressed out and more in control.
Here is a list of tips to help you get organized, stay organized, and get back in control of your life:
- Make a To-Do List: I am a big fan of lists (obviously). Having a to-do list not only outlines all of the tasks you need to get done, but you can also prioritize items on that list to decide what has to be completed and what can wait until later. There is no better feeling than crossing out or checking off tasks on a to-do list. (Hint: I start my to-do lists everyday with “Wake Up”: CHECK!)
- Have a Master Schedule: It can be difficult to stay organized when your life is scattered across several different schedules. Switching back and forth between agendas, phone calendars, and Outlook is sure to cause some confusion. Having one schedule to keep track of appointments, birthdays, due dates for bills, etc. will make it easier to see when you are busy and when you are free to schedule future events. There is a great app that busy families can use to stay organized called “Cozi Family Organizer“. It’s free and allows you to share calendars to keep everyone informed and connected all in one place. Keep it simple with one, organized schedule.
- Set Reminders: So you’ve got your calendar all color coded and ready to go. Then you don’t look at it again until the day of and here we are again, hand back on the forehead: “I forgot.” Set reminders for your events. Electronic calendars make this really easy. With the click of button you can set your calendar to send you reminders about upcoming events. If you prefer the paper and pencil calendar, set reminders on your phone with the Reminders or Alarm Clock apps.
- Just (Don’t) Do It: Realizing when you’ve hit your limit is a key factor to staying organized and staying in control. To-do lists can get lengthy. Work can be demanding. Our friends and family can get needy. Sometimes you just can’t do it all. Know when to say no. Take a raincheck, reschedule, and take back some time for yourself. (Remember Rule #1: prioritize those to-do list items.)
- Control the Controllable(s): One of my favorite professors used to say this phrase repeatedly. There are many aspects of life that are well beyond our level of control. Don’t try to control those things; no list will ever suffice for that task. However, you can figure out what is controllable and use these strategies to control them. For example, you can control yourself from reaching back in the box for another donut. You cannot control the fact that somebody, somewhere created such a delicious, high calorie breakfast item!
I wish I could say that this list is full-proof and that you will never forget anything else ever again. If that were true I wouldn’t still be writing sticky note reminders every Thursday with the words: “Take Trash Out” on it. Forgetting is going to happen. It is a part of our everyday, busy lives. It is my hope that the above suggestions will help get you started on being more organized and in turn more in control of your life. Give these a try and let me know if they work for you. If you need more help with these suggestions or would like to learn more strategies for managing stress, schedule an appointment to come see me!