I’m not naturally an organized person. My inherent M.O. is to let things build up to the point of ABSURDITY, and then I MUST clean/organize/purge… ALL THE THINGS…all at once. But, little by little, that system was no longer working for me. I realized that it was causing me stress and anxiety. I felt completely overwhelmed all the time. Add 3 kiddos, my husband’s unpredictable Army career, trying to manage everyone’s schedules, and keeping up with the house and I was constantly late, irritable, and ANXIOUS. Little by little, I started applying these 7 tips and it has helped. Keep reading for my 7 tips to get organized and reduce stress, anxiety, and the feeling of being completely overwhelmed.
Tip #1: Clear the Visual Clutter Daily
When my kids were little, the clutter didn’t bother me. I was just trying to keep my head above water with diapers, baths, meals and all the demands of toddlers and babies. But, as my kids have gotten older, I have realized I feel completely overwhelmed if there is clutter everywhere. This is purely a visual thing for me. If I walk into a room and there is stuff everywhere, I cannot feel calm and at peace in my space. To combat this, I do a 15 minute “spin” every morning to help me get organized and reduce stress in my day.
Additionally, my kids are able to do more chores and help out. Yes, they make most of the messes, but they are able to clean up after themselves much better than they could when they were little! Moms with littles, just…hugs. Solidarity. Wine. Coffee. And please don’t worry about being organized. Just hug those babies before they become stinky, insolent teenagers. Who you love, with all your heart.
Tip #2: Get Everyone on the Same Calendar.
A digital calendar with everyone’s schedule has made a huge difference in reducing my anxiety. I have everyone’s schedules, appointments and reminders on there. It took me while to get away from my paper planner, but having the digital calendar on my phone, computer and watch has really helped. My kids are TERRIBLE about checking it, but I’m trying to bring them into our weekly meeting so they can see the whole week. This way, they can see that it is nothing short of a small miracle we get them to all their different places, on all the days, at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME.
While my kids are still in training as far as using the calendar, it has helped my husband and I so much. I used to keep all the appointments and activities in my head, so he really had no idea of ALL THE THINGS. Now that he can see it visually, we can talk it through and plan out our weeks. He can let me know about meetings or work conflicts, and I can put my own appointments on the calendar so it’s clear for both of us. We use iCal because it is so easy to use with all of our Apple devices. iCal is awesome because you can add drive time. My Apple Maps on my car pulls destinations from my calendar. Cue Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, “I love technology…”
Tip #3: Know When to Say “No.”
Something has happened to me this past year since my mom passed away. I don’t feel the same guilt about saying no. I used to feel TERRIBLE about saying no to anyone, but now, I know when things are going to stress me out too much. Going through the grieving process helped give me perspective. Life is short and precious. If something doesn’t bring you joy, say no. If it’s something you know is going to stress you out, it’s ok to politely say no thank you. The world will keep turning without you, and your family and co-workers will appreciate a more relaxed and present YOU. Set your boundaries and people will respect it.
Tip #4: Plan Out Your Day the Night Before
Admittedly, we are still working on this in our house. Sometimes, we are too tired, or we get home too late. We don’t have time to eat, let alone plan out the next day. But, when we do, it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Here are a few things that really help if you plan them out the night before:
- Make a lunch
- Talk about appointments/Extra Activities/ Special events at school
- Plan on who is picking up/taking which kid to which activity
- Talk about dinner for the next day (this helps me remember to take things out of the freezer if I need to)
- Clean up the kitchen (it sucks, we all hate it, but our morning starts out so much better!)
- Set the coffee
Tip #5: Plan Out Your Week the Sunday Before
My husband and I have a Sunday (sometimes Saturday) meeting. We pull up our calendar on our TV and look it over, add in everyone’s schedules, plan out our meals and input our workout schedules. While meal planning, I sketch out a grocery list and then we take a look at the budget. This way we are on the same page. Does our week always go to plan? NOPE! But, at least we have seen and acknowledged all that needs to happen. If something comes up, we are better able to pivot and adjust because we are fully aware of what is going on (most of the time. 😏).
Tip #6: Create a Running “To-Do” List
I have a few lists always going. My lists include daily tasks, big organization projects, work tasks and blogging tasks. I will write out all that I want to accomplish that week and start from there. I like to color code them and move from zone to zone. For example, when I’m in the “work zone” I’ll scan my list and prioritize which tasks I absolutely must do. Some tasks stay at the bottom, but that’s ok. Be careful with these lists though. If you feel overwhelmed by making lists, try to accomplish one task at a time. Some days that may be three tasks, others it may be one. Be kind to yourself and realize that no one is accomplishing all the things on their to-do lists everyday!
Tip #7: Know the Difference Between Good and Good Enough
Sometimes when organizing, I find that I can be a “lazy organizer.” My spaces aren’t “perfect” or “Pinterest-worthy”. But, do I know where things are? Can other people in my house find things? Yes, most of the time. And while I am always trying to improve my own systems, I know that no one else in my house will keep up the “perfect” system. So, I do what I can to make the system good enough for our family. Don’t worry if not everything in your home is perfectly labeled, color coded, or up to par for the next big organization TV show. If it works for you and your family, then move on. If you find an area or a system that is causing you frustration, think about small tweaks that may make all the difference.
Above all, remember that there are different seasons and times in our life. If you are grieving, or in charge of a gaggle of children with a deployed spouse, or single parenting, or living through a pandemic, give yourself grace. No one has this perfect, my friends. No one. And if someone expects you to have it perfect, remember Tip #3: No. Nope. Nu-uh. Not todaaaaaay. You are killing it and you’ve got this!
So that’s it! My 7 Tips to get organized and reduce stress. Wanna read more from The Organized Military Life? Make sure to sign up for monthly newsletter where I will share tips, good reads, and great products. Have organization questions? Head over to my Facebook Group and ask them in there! I’m having a lot of fun acting like a dork on Instagram…come be a dork with me! If you want to start getting digitally organized, click here to read about my 7 Day Digital Declutter Challenge. Thanks for reading, and HAPPY ORGANIZING!
Planning my day the night before also makes a big difference for me. And cleaning the kitchen at the end of the day, as you said, is the best. Waking up in a tidy environment sets a great tone for my day and allows me to focus in the morning on other things like meditating or exercising.
Yes! I agree with waking up to a tidy environment. It’s nice to not wake up and immediately feel like there’s so much to do! Thank you for reading. 😊
I’m not a morning person, so literally the only things I leave to be accomplished in the morning are breakfast and grooming. Everything else, from prepping for work the next day to laundry to making the house livable gets done at night. So, your 15-minute-spin? I’d do that at night so I’d awaken to a house without visual clutter. (This may be the reason my mother had a rule that until we were old enough to clean up after ourselves, nobody was allowed out of bed until she said so; it allowed her some sanity first thing in the morning.)
As for saying “NO,” I think that’s the ultimate life rule. Feeding/caring for tiny humans (who had no choice in the matter of existing), notwithstanding, our obligations are to ourselves first, not to committees or associations or our workplaces. Our primary reason for existing is to be happy, and anything that messes with that, I eject. Guilt, shmilt. We are of no use to anyone else if we are not in top shape, and putting others first all the time just guarantees we won’t survive with our good humor intact.
Thank you so much Julie. I may adopt a little of your mother’s insistence into our nighttime routine!