If you’re looking for tips for being organised and getting your life in order so you can focus on all the fun stuff in life then keep reading for my 26 tips for being organised!
Organisation has never been my strong point. I come from a chaotic and disorganised home (sorry mum and dad but it’s true!) so being organised just isn’t something that’s in my genes.
Every New Year I set myself resolutions and somewhere on my list is always something like, ‘Be more organised’. It’s not always those exact words but it’s something to the point of getting my shit together, getting on top of everything and not letting things pile up to the point where I feel like I’m drowning in life-admit and don’t have time for everything.
But when setting my resolutions for 2019 I noticed something – there was nothing about organisation on my list. I didn’t feel the need to add anything about keeping on top of my life admin, keeping the house tidy or remembering to order milk so I don’t need to run to the shop in my slippers at 6am.
Have I cracked it?
Have I finally figured out how to be organised?
Have I finally nailed this girl boss malarky?
Errm….yea….I think I have.
Why am I qualified to tell you about organising your life?
If organisation isn’t something that comes naturally to me then why should it be me giving tips about being more organised?
In my experience, organised people don’t realise they’re organised. They don’t really even know what they’re doing. It just comes so naturally to them that they do it subconsciously.
For me, organisation is not natural. I am very conscious about these organised decisions which is how and why I can share them because I know exactly what I’m doing and why.
It’s been a very long process to learn how to be organised and it’s something I really had to do when I had kids. You can’t run your own business, have two children, travel frequently, have a social life and have any time for yourself unless you’re incredible organised! Well, I tried for a little while and my life just felt so chaotic and messy. I didn’t know if I was coming or going and I constantly felt stressed, rushed and like I had no time.
One of my best friend’s, Hannah, is one of the most organised people I know. I used to love sitting in her bedroom when we were kids and looking around at the organisation and the way everything matched and every single item had a place. It made me feel so calm to see the uncluttered surfaces and her stack of matching wash bags that contained just the right amount of everything. She had three cushions on her bed and everything was so neat and perfect. Even Hannah’s handbag is organised with exactly what she needs for each day and her diary tucked into the side pocket. Heck, even her purse is organised with every card in the right place.
Just being around Hannah makes me feel good. We all need a little bit of Hannah in our lives.
So here are my tips to be more organised and be a bit more Hannah!
But before we begin, I just want to stress that post isn’t about hustling harder. I’m fed up of the toxic positivity that’s been plastered across our social media feeds for years. This blog isn’t about being busy every second of every day or working your fingers to the bone or promoting the attitude that you can achieve everything, you just need to work harder, work more, work longer hours, try harder, network harder and spend more time working than living.
No, no, no. It’s not about that. It’s basically just my tips on getting organised so, when you are working, you’re working to the best of your ability and you’re not getting distracted by life admin.
I’m a huge believer in working smarter, not harder and being organised is definitely the key to working smarter!
#1. Do one thing at a time
I don’t know why there’s this misconception that multitasking means you’re being more productive. In my experience, multitasking means I get a tiny bit of everything done but don’t actually complete anything. Focus on doing one thing at a time and you’ll be much more productive!
#2. Simplify your wardrobe
This is something I’ve done recently and it has made such a huge difference to my life. I basically got all of my clothes out and put them on my bed, picked out 10 of my favourite outfits and put everything else into storage bags and put them in the attic.
My wardrobe is now the cleanest, tidiest, simplest space. It’s uncluttered and easy to find everything and I know exactly what I want to wear each day.
I have fewer clothes available to me yet I feel like I wear more and have more options because I can see them all so clearly. It’s so true that less is more!
I did this about three months ago and I’m still happy with my simplified wardrobe but I’m sure I’ll start to get bored in 2-3 more months so I’ll dig all of those clothes out of the attic and do the same thing again, making sure I don’t have more than around 10 outfits to keep things as simple as possible.
#3. Read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
I’m not going to lie, this book is quite boring. But it is also life changing for anyone who is naturally messy. (I actually wrote this post before Marie Kondo’s show aired on Netflix and I think the book is better than the show. Does anyone else find the show impossibly boring!?)
Until I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I didn’t realise that tidy people all have one thing in common – they don’t have loads of shit. If you’ve got less shit, you’ve got fewer things to get messy.
I know, I know. It’s too simple to be life changing. It can’t be that simple! But it is and this book really helps drum it into you. I read it about two years ago and I still go back to it and remind myself that having less stuff is the best way to live a tidy, organised life.
#4. Stick to a routine
I’d always avoided a routine because I’ve constantly been fed the message that a routine kills creativity. But I’ve actually found the opposite. A routine has helped me to get all of my mundane life chores done so I have plenty of free time to either work, enjoy life or do create projects I love.
#5. Use meal subscription boxes and a slow cooker
Struggling to find time to eat well and cook healthy meals?
I used to get quite stressed about meal times and I was so disorganised about buying and preparing food. I never had the right ingredients for whatever I wanted to buy or I didn’t have time/was too tired to cook anything proper at the end of the day. I’d end up buying all our food from the local convenience store which worked out so expensive we might as well just eat out, so we did and then it cost us even more!
But then I started using a combination of meal subscription boxes like Hello Fresh and also using my slow cooker and meal times are way more organised, a lot healthier and a hell of a lot cheaper!
#6. Use the apps on your phone and computer programs to your advantage
There are so many apps to help you organise your life and I really hate being so vague and giving the advice ‘do some research’ but I do suggest doing some research for the best ones to suit you because they’re all so personal! This can be hard because how do you research something that doesn’t exist but if you go into the app store on your phone and type in a category like ‘Productivity’ and it’ll give you loads of options.
I really like using QuickBooks which is a really great tool for self-employed people. It helps you stay on top of your accounts and track your business income and expenses as well as keep on top of invoicing and client payments. Before I used Quickbooks my accounts were a mess so this was a real game-changer for me and is worth the £7.00 a month fee.
I also use Google Docs and Google Sheets rather than just using Word and Spreadsheets on my computer. I’m always working between my laptop, my desktop computer and my phone and I often start working on something on my laptop and then will finish it on my phone so it’s really handy to use a tool that keeps everything synched.
The Amazon app is a really useful one for me as it’s so quick and easy to order things, especially if you have Amazon Prime because you have next day delivery. I use Amazon for almost all of our household items so whenever we’re running low on washing powder or dog food or nappies I can quickly order some for the next day. It’s also great for things like last minute presents (why do kids have so many birthday parties!) too.
#7. Use Alexa
The ‘remind’ feature with Alexa (or any smart speaker or app on your phone) is one of the best things ever.
‘Alexa, remind me to call the doctor’s at 8.58am’ is a lifesaver (you can’t get an appointment at our doctor’s unless you call bang on 9am!)
“Alexa, remind me to get the wine out of the freezer in half an hour!’ is another one that gets used a lot in our house.
#8. Stop putting things off
You know that thing you need to do but you’ve been putting it off for 6 months? Just do it. No excuses. Just set aside an hour this evening and just do it.
I had three things on my to-do list this week that had been lurking at the bottom for ages. I needed to book the boys to go to the dentist, book George’s birthday party and call the bank to order a new card. Why had I been putting it off for so long!? I don’t even know. When I finally did them it took less than 5 minutes for each task and I couldn’t believe I’d been putting them off so such a long time.
If you’re a putter-offer, I highly recommend reading How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation. It’s a long one but she talks about how herself and many millennials just can’t seem to get those normal, mundane, everyday tasks off their to-do lists.
#9. Assign yourself ‘admin time’
If, like me, you put off doing these simple little tasks, assign yourself 30 minutes of admin time every day. This is your time to do those horrible little jobs that feel like a big deal but really aren’t.
My admin time is from 4.45-5.15pm most evenings. It’s just after Sam gets home from work and as the boys are eating their dinner and is a time that works for me to sneak away for some peace and quiet in my office!
#10. Don’t take on too much
The main reason I fall behind in all areas of organisation is when I try to take on too much. It’s when I take on too many work projects or start a personal project that’s just too ridiculously big. It can also be something small like trying to tidy the whole house in one go rather than just doing a room at a time. You’re much more likely to achieve your goals and stay focussed and organised if you don’t take on too much.
Don’t be afraid to say no to work projects. In fact, telling people you’re busy can be a really good thing and makes people realise you’re in demand.
#11. Stick to specific times when you’re ‘contactable’
If there’s one thing that gets in the way of life it’s phone calls, emails, text messages, Whatsapps, tweets, Facebook messages and Instagram DMs. We live in a world where we’re all contactable 24/7 and, in some ways, it’s amazing but in other ways it’s the worst as we never get anything done!
Set yourself an hour in the morning and an hour in the late afternoon where you’re contactable. Log into your emails, open your social media tabs, check your phone and listen to your voicemails and let everyone know this is how you work. You don’t need to be contactable 24/7 and constantly clicking refresh on your emails is only slowing you down.
#12. Delete apps from your phone
I love the new function on iPhones that tells you exactly how much screentime you have each day and which apps you spend the most time on. It really surprised me to find I spend over an hour a week on the RightMove app! I love looking at houses! But we have no plans to move house so I have no idea why I do this so I’ve now deleted the app to stop myself wasting time looking at houses I’ll never buy!
Over the weekend I also delete my Gmail app to stop myself logging in and getting sucked into work emails. My clients know I don’t work over the weekend and they don’t expect a reply so there’s no reason for me to be reading their messages.
#13. Avoid shopping
Yes, just fully avoid shopping. Oooh, that sounds a bit drastic doesn’t it!
Since having kids I barely ever go shopping because it’s a pain in the arse dragging kids around the shops! And I don’t want to spend my weekends shopping so I basically just never go to the shops and it’s the best. I order everything online and I have most things automated so it’s quick and easy and I save SO much time and a lot of money because I’m less likely to make impulse buys.
For the things I buy monthly, I have subscriptions through Amazon Prime and I do most of my food shopping online. Once you’ve created an account and done 2-3 shops with the same supermarket it’s really easy to place your orders. I’d say 50% of my weekly foodshop is the same every week so it takes 5 minutes to add this to my trolley.
You may be wondering why stopping shopping will make you more organised but, honestly, it does. You’ll end up with less crap to clutter your home. You’ll stick to that simplified wardrobe I mentioned and it’s surprisingly freeing not having loads of shit!
#14. Learn to delegate
Repeat after me: I don’t have to do everything!
Learning to delegate was a game-changer for me but, not only that, I found people want to help but they want to be told how to help. The ‘You Should Have Asked’ cartoon was such an interesting read and I know it’s meant to make us realise that men shouldn’t need to be asked, it also made me realise than no one (especially men) realise you need help unless you ask. So don’t be afraid to ask. Heck, don’t be afraid to leave a to-do list for your man if this is the easiest way to get everything done without you doing it all.
#15. Can you outsource your household jobs?
If something like cleaning takes up a lot of your time and causes a lot of arguments and stress in your household, why not employ a cleaner?
This is something I recommend in my e-course and something I suggest to anyone who has a business on the side or works for themselves. It’s often financially better to employ a cleaner or a gardener or someone to do your laundry and use that time to work or do something that makes you feel good. And anything that saves you stress is a good thing!
#16. Don’t waste time on pretty lists and colour coded charts
This is a personal one for me because I know some people are really productive when they have pretty lists and charts. But, for me, a pretty list is just a way to procrastinate and put off doing the things on my list! I’ll spend an hour making my list and then need a little break and then I realise I really don’t want to do any of the things on my list.
#17. Buy in bulk
You know the stuff you always run out of? Why not just buy it in bulk? Everything from loo roll to milk (I freeze it) to printer paper to batteries I buy in bulk.
#18. Have a good old fashioned paper diary
Another personal one and I don’t know why but I’m so much more organised with a traditional paper diary rather than using an online app.
I basically try to open my phone as little as possible because every time I open it there are a million billion things ready to distract me. So writing things on paper really keeps me focused! I have a small diary I take everywhere with me which I use for appointments and to plan when I’ll be doing things.
#19. Write lists
Carrying on from writing things down, I ALWAYS write lists. Every morning when I have my cuppa I’ll sit down and write a list of everything I have to do for the day. I keep it realistic with just 2-3 work things and 4-5 household things.
It makes me feel really organised, stops me getting distracted and keeps me on track.
#20. Assign times to everything on your to do list
Don’t just write a to-do list, assign times to everything on the list to stop yourself procrastinating between jobs. For things like ‘respond to emails’ I could literally spend anything between 1 and 100 hours! So I’ll assign myself 1 hour to focus on what’s important and not waste all day in my inbox. I also find myself racing against my assigned time. If I set myself 20 minutes to edit some photos, I’ll race that time and try and do it in 15.
Yes, I realise that makes me sound really weird but it keeps me focused!
#21. Have a small, well organised handbag
Everyone knows that the bigger your bag, the more crap you find to fill it. Have a small, well organised bag with just a few basics things you need and you’re less likely to forget things or lose things. And let’s not forget that you’ll save your shoulder from the dreaded handbag ache.
Since having kids I’ve learnt to totally minimise my handbag because for a couple of years I mostly carried a baby bag with all their crap. Now I only ever leave the house with my phone, purse and a tiny makeup bag. Seriously, what more do you need?
#22. Know when you work best
Figuring out when I work best was an absolute game changer for me in so many ways. It took me a while to figure it out because I’m not a morning person or a night person – I’m both! I work really well first thing in the morning and again in the evening. But I really don’t work well in the afternoon. As soon as I’ve had my lunch I’m pretty much useless. I can’t string a sentence together and it takes me forever to get anything done!
Once I figured this out I was able to change the way I worked completely – and also save myself a lot of money on afternoon childcare because I know there’s no point sending my kids to nursery in the afternoon because I’m not going to be doing any work!
I now work in the morning and, if I have a lot of work to do, I’ll also work in the evening.
#23. Storage does not mean organisation
There’s this weird myth that makes us all think we need to buy extra storage for our homes to be organised. We need to buy jars for the kitchen and boxes for our bedrooms and handy little draws and space saving furniture and multi-purpose storage sets and all these little things to keep our belongings neat and organised.
But I’m going to get real with you here.
You don’t need storage to keep all your shit organised.
You need to get rid of 80% of your shit so you don’t need to buy storage.
We live in a consumerist world and we’re told we can solve all our problems by buying things but I’ve found it’s easier to solve your problems by fixing the problem, not buying something else to fix the problem!
#24. Store everything in your emails
Moving from physical storage to digital storage – I store everything in my inbox. I keep everything there from documents to contacts, names I want to remember, books I want to read, places I want to go to. Every time I think of something I want to remember, I send myself an email about it. I often take photos of things and then email myself the photo and name it correctly so I can find it again.
Whenever anyone says something like, ‘What’s the name of that book your friend recommended…?’ or ‘Where did we see that nice sofa…?’ I can just search my inbox and quickly find it.
#25. Use folders for your inbox
As you can imagine, if you’re using your inbox as a place to store everything from utility bills to insurance details to everyday reminders it can get pretty chaotic! I organise every email into a folder to keep things neat and tidy and easy to find. I have well over 100 email folders and many of them often have subcategories.
I’ll have one folder called ‘Home stuff’ and in that there’ll be categories for medical appointments, mortgage details, house repairs, bills, George, Joseph, School, Dog etc.
Travel Hack Tip: Don’t forget to ensure you have a really strong password for your email account and you change it regularly. You’ll end up with a lot of really important information in your inbox so you don’t want that getting hacked.
#26. Use your inbox as a to-do list
And finally, yes I’m still talking about inboxes because I simply couldn’t function without mine! Use your inbox like a to-do list. I prefer to write my to-do lists on paper but, realistically, I often end up losing them. When I’m out and about or travelling, I’ll use my inbox as a to-do list and when I remember something I need to do, I’ll send myself an email with the details. It’ll then be sat in my inbox until I’ve done it and it can never go missing like a scrap of paper!
Disclaimer and a bit of honesty here – I hate the term ‘Girl Boss’. I loved the book Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso but the phrase ‘Girl Boss’ just doesn’t sit right with me. You’d never hear a man describing himself as a ‘Boy Boss’. Even the words Boy Boss just makes me think of a little boy playing grownups.
Anyway, I’m not here to talk about girl bosses or boy bosses. I used the phrase because anything with the phrase Girl Boss in the title gets everyone’s attention and that’s how the internet works!
Those are my tips for being more organised. If you liked this one you might also like, ‘How to be more efficient: The Travel Hack’s Guide to Getting Sh*t Done!’
Wednesday 11th of May 2022
This article is so helpful! I'm constantly trying to find new ways to be more organized, and this list is a goldmine. As a busy professional, wife, and mother, I can definitely use all the help I can get! Thank you for sharing.
Thursday 11th of November 2021
Its an amazing post ! Loved it Going to follow some of your tips for sure !
Monday 4th of March 2019
Love this bag! Where’s it from?
Tuesday 5th of March 2019
I have a blog post about it here! https://thetravelhack.com/blog/my-favourite-new-backpack-from-maria-maleta/
Sarah Cosic - RCT
Tuesday 26th of February 2019
Totally agree with storage does not mean organization!! I also agree about the term girl boss - but I'm one, too. Let me know when you come up with a better term :)
Wednesday 20th of February 2019
Being organized is important if you are a traveler. Traveling from a place to another place is a little bit hassle if you don't know how to organize. This is such a great blog :)
Thursday 21st of February 2019
It really is! When I first went backpacking in 2009 I was so disorganised, I didn't have a clue what was going on. It must be so much easier to go backpacking now with smartphones and so many helpful apps.