I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a control freak trying to navigate the concept of “letting things be.” Though I talk a lot on this blog about the importance of acceptance and patience, I will admit that I like things to go according to plan. Who doesn’t, right?
When I don’t feel in control of my life (which is 99 percent of the time), I start to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Of course I’ll never feel in control of everything, but I’ve found that it’s possible to feel like I have things (mostly) together with the help of a few tools and routines.
Though it takes effort to keep life organized, it’s worth it because it reduces my tendency to overthink and overanalyze things. The last thing I need is disorganization to clutter up my head more. When my work and home life feel organized, my mind can feel a little more at peace.
In this post, I’m sharing five tips and tools that help me keep my life and thoughts organized so I can worry and stress less.
How I Keep My Life Organized
1. Google Calendar & Asana
Lately, Google Calendar and Asana have been my saviors when it comes to staying on top of my workload. Though I absolutely love stationery and will always convince myself to buy a planner each year, I simply can’t keep track of my life with a physical planner. I know I won’t use it consistently. Since so much of my time is spent at a computer, it makes the most sense for me to use digital tools to plan my life.
These days, I use Google Calendar to keep track of appointments and plan out my schedule. Since I usually have my phone on hand, it’s easy to see if I’m busy right away rather than having to whip out a planner from my bag or risk leaving a planner at home. Here’s a walk-through video of the way I plan my day with Google Cal.
For my daily to-do list and project planning, I use Asana. I watched this tutorial on how to manage daily tasks with Asana, and I’ve worked out how to have it automatically compile my daily, weekly, and monthly tasks so I never forget them (let me know if you’d like a detailed plan of how I do this!).
2. Cleaning Schedule
Since moving into an apartment, I’ve been trying to stay on top of chores and making sure the place stays clean. I’m naturally good at keeping things organized, but I am not the kind of person who likes to clean.
One thing I’ve done is created an evening habit of cleaning the kitchen before going to bed. I’ll wipe down the countertops and stovetop, put any dishes into the dishwasher, and put away any clean dishes. Walking into a dirty kitchen in the morning is not my favorite thing, so this habit helps me feel like my life is somewhat together.
I’ve also been setting certain days of the week to do laundry – usually on Tuesday or Thursday. Having designated days for laundry means I don’t let anything slide for too long, and I don’t have to worry about not having clean clothes because I’ve forgotten to wash them.
Related Post: 40+ Practical Tips To Declutter Your Home
3. Savings Files to the Cloud
I mentioned this in a blog post here, but I store all of my digital files in the cloud. I use both OneDrive and Google Drive (not really sure why I have both), and I try to keep everything organized in different folders.
This has helped me so much when I need to access files on my phone or on another computer if I don’t have my laptop with me. I’ve destroyed too many computers in my life (RIP to the MacBook that I spilled water all over after three months of owning it), so I try not to save anything directly to my computer. This gives me peace of mind and saves me time.
I also use Friday as my admin day to organize and delete files on my computer, update my computer if needed, and get my inbox down to zero if possible. I also have these admin tasks as part of my weekly routine in Asana so I’m reminded to do them every week.
Related Post: How To Declutter & Organize Your Digital Files
4. Meal Planning
Now that I’m cooking for myself and my boyfriend, I find that I get stressed out about food more often. I’m okay at cooking, but I never know what to make and I’m not very good at making meals up on the spot (kudos to my mom for being that person!).
An app that’s been saving my butt lately is MealBoard. You can import recipes from websites and blogs straight into the app, and it’ll generate a shopping list for you based on the recipe.
You can also create a meal plan and decide what you’re going to eat for each meal, and you can track your grocery inventory so you know what you need whenever you’re in the grocery store.
I’ve been using this app to store recipes I’ve tried and liked (like tortellini soup and fish tacos), and it’s been reducing a lot of stress around meal planning.
5. Brain Dumps
I would not be half as organized as I am if I didn’t regularly get my thoughts out of my head on to paper. Often we think things are way more hectic than they really are because we let our to-dos float around in our heads for too long.
By simply making it a habit to get my thoughts out on to paper in the morning or before bed, I’m able to a) organize them into to-do list items or b) recognize that they are issues I probably don’t need to worry about.
After dumping out my thoughts, I can put certain tasks into Asana for a later date and forget about them until I actually need to think about them. Thoughts become less overwhelming when you actually force them out of your head.
Freebie: Free Brain Dump Worksheet
How Do You Keep Your Life Organized?
Do you use any tools or have any tricks for keeping your life together? Share them in a comment so the rest of us can stay organized too!
Brilliant blog. Very nice information and really easy to understand. Beautiful work done. Thanks!
Thank you so much!
Interesting meals I premade by freezing what I previously cooked. Google calendar and Google drive is my favorite. Love the blog!
Premaking meals is a great idea! Thank you <3
These are great tips! I just heard about Asana and so far, I like it!
I’ve used it for so many years now! I can’t imagine life without it now haha
Awesome tips Catherine. I am a huge junkie when it comes to staying productive and organized so you won my heart over with this post.
Haha I love that, Caitlin! I’m a super for productivity tips too xo
These tips for keeping life organized were awesome! I had never thought of getting an app to help with making a shopping list. I’ll definitely be trying that.
Also, just curious, but do you use any journaling prompts when you’re doing your mind dump? I’ve recently started my own morning routine which includes some time journaling, and all the thoughts I have throughout the day never seam to make an appearance when I want them to! (During my morning routine).
Hey Mel! I don’t really have any set prompts, but I try to think about all of the different areas of my life (work, home, wellness, etc) and then just ask myself what I have to get done in those areas. I find that categorizing stuff can help me remember it all :)
Love that you mentioned Asana, I have recently downloaded the app and cannot wait to use it to help me out ;-) thank you for sharing!
Asana is one of those tools that I always come back to! I hope you find it useful :)
Hey Catherine! Long-time lurker, adore your blog:) Particularly enjoyed these tips and I have to ask, where in the world did you get that beautiful iPad/kitchen utensil organizer thang?? xo
Ahh I totally wish I could give you an answer, but it’s actually just a stock photo I found. It is super cool though haha.
Thank you – great blog post! I’m downloading Mealboard now!
I come from a background of using digital tools to organize my life and so I appreciate this list and flow of how you go about keeping life organized. While I do use Google Calendar and an Asana alternative (KanbanFlow), I have also started using pen and paper as a companion to my digital organization tools. I use an erasable pen and the Ultimate Weekly Planner. I used to just use a blank college-ruled notebook but when I started working for UWP I decided I should make the switch ?.
Thanks again for the article! I signed up for your newsletter and am looking forward to more productivity tips. ✌?