Organizing

7 Things You Can Do Today to Feel More Organized

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Do you ever have those days when you feel completely unorganized? The ones when you wish you could just stop time for a day, get your act together, then resume business as usual? It’s an awful feeling and one I like to nip in the bud as soon as it starts to creep up.

I specifically remember a day like this a few months ago. My to-do’s for the day included two projects to wrap up and send over to clients, a handful of very important emails to return and a bunch of print orders to package/ship. It’s a doable list for any given day, but everything I did felt like walking through quicksand to get it done. That’s when it dawned on me, the root of the problem was that everything felt unorganized and disheveled. I needed to regroup.

7 Things to Do (Right Now) to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

While I didn’t have the time to spend hours organizing/labeling/washi-taping everything in sight, I knew if I tackled just a few minor things, it would make me feel better, and I could accomplish what I needed to more efficiently. Over the past few months, I’ve found a “formula” of small tasks that instantly make me feel more organized. These tasks aren’t ultra-complicated or revolutionary, but when grouped together, it’s an instant solution to feeling more in charge, at peace with your surroundings and ultimately more productive.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

01 // Clean out and organize your purse. This is a simple one, but you’d be surprised at how much this step helps you feel a bit more organized during your day-to-day activities. Go ahead and throw away (or file) old receipts, trash the gum wrappers, be sure to check all of the little zipper pockets and put the random dog toy back in the toy box. I actually did this earlier today and found one of our missing cordless house phones. I also like rearranging my wallet from time to time to make it more convenient (like moving the Starbucks gift card up towards the front so I’ll remember to use it, and throwing away used/expired gift cards, debit cards, coupons, etc). 98% of our readers are gals, but if any of you guys are out there, apply the same principle to your work bag, car glovebox or wallet.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

02 // Tidy up your computer files and desktop. Especially when I have a lot of projects going on at one time, my computer desktop can get rather crazy. If I need to clean everything up in an instant, I make a folder called “Stuff” and throw everything in there and plan on going through and organizing things later. When this is done, it feels so good. Once you’re all finished, change your desktop image. This (along with the organizing action) will make your computer feel new and refreshed. At the moment, I’m sporting this lovely one. Obviously, if you’re a tablet- or phone-only user, you can apply the same idea there.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

03 // Organize the junk drawer. Truth be told, every house probably has more than one junk drawer (we have two at the moment), but take about 10 minutes and tackle the most commonly used junk drawer. Throw away expired coupons, put the birthday candles back where they belong and divide the pens from the notepads. If you don’t have any dividers on hand, use a few small shallow dishes or Rubbermaid containers until you have time to get to the store and buy one. Check out my latest junk drawer makeover here.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

04 // Update your phone contacts. Updating and organizing the contacts in your cell phone can make a day out running errands go so much smoother – especially if you use your phone often as I do. To start off, go through your phone and delete the contacts you don’t need/want anymore. This is basically the phone’s equivalent to throwing away gum wrappers in your purse. Next, organize the contacts. This is something I’ve been doing for a long time and I love the handiness of it. What I do is group numbers for take-out places, medical-related places/people, shops, florists, and such together in their respective categories. So, for our florists, I add “Flowers | ” before the name of the florist. So, when flipping through my phone, the contact would read “Flowers | Strange’s (West Broad)” and all of the florist-related numbers would be grouped together. If there are multiple locations (like our favorite florist), I add the location after the name in parentheses.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

05 // Organize your social media pages. This can pertain to everything from Facebook to Tumblr, but I’m going to specifically mention Pinterest. For the longest time, I had a Pinterest board called “House Candy”, where I just stuck everything house-decorating-related. A few weeks ago, I went to my Pinterest board to find a photo of a specific bathroom I remember pinning a while back. It took forever to go through the entire “House Candy” board just to find that one photo. That’s when I made a note to set aside some time to organize my Pinterest boards. I decided to go through and re-categorize everything until there wasn’t anything left in the “House Candy” board. I think it took about a little under an hour total to organize all of my Pins, but it was totally worth it. Now, my boards are all categorized and it makes inspiration that much more easily accessible.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

06 // Make a meal plan for the rest of the week. The question, “What are we having for dinner?” always seems to pop up around 3:30 or 4:00. Normally, that’s also the time of day where I’m trying to wrap things up, answer the last few emails, etc. Taking a few minutes to map out what you and your family are going to be eating over the next few days can smooth things out nicely. I don’t have a fancy meal planning calendar or anything. I just jot down “D:” on the last line of each day on my weekly planner page in my binder and write what’s for dinner. On the menu tonight, we’re having chicken and spaghetti squash and watching Frozen. When it comes time for the big question, “What’s for dinner?”, it’s right there at my fingertips.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

07 // Start a “Thought Notebook”. I have what I call my “Get It Done Binder” that lives on my desk and I use everyday. I love it, like, a lot. I also have a small spiral notebook that I carry with me everywhere I go. I use it to jot down post/print/project ideas, websites to check out, grocery lists, notes I take while I’m on phone meetings, random doodles of dogs… yeah, pretty much everything. Since doing this, the sticky note collection on my desk has been cut down tremendously, so my desk looks and feels much tidier. Having a designated place to write any thought or idea that comes in my head is oh so nice and in a weird way, freeing. Basically, it just keeps me sane. For these “Thought Notebooks”, I love using Staples’ Sustainable Earth notebooks (photographed above and available in store) and Poppin’s medium spiral notebooks.

Hopefully this list helps you regroup and refresh on “those days”. Do you have any helpful tips to add to the list? Anything that makes you instantly feel more “together” and easier to be productive? Be sure to share them with us in the comments.

By the way… Check back tomorrow for my ramblings about our new dining room table!

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36 Comments

  • Reply
    Kala M.
    March 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I totally understand the Pinterest issue. I went to find a recipe I had pinned and gave up scrolling through my recipe board. After that I decided I need to break it down more. Now I have boards like recipes-pasta, recipes-crockpot, recipes-desserts, etc. I also am doing the same thing with other boards like the DIY board, what a mess.

  • Reply
    Reagan
    March 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I’m seriously stopping what i’m doing and going to do all of these right now. Thank you for posting this!!

  • Reply
    Molly
    March 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    I was just telling my husband this morning I wish I had time to organize the entire house. This is perfect timing.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    March 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    I ADORE your organizing posts!!!

  • Reply
    Beth S
    March 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    This is going to be so helpful! At first glance I thought your tips were rather simple but after reading, there are some things I haven’t considered before (like the phone contacts). Looking forward to your dining table post.

  • Reply
    Kerri
    March 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Love this list. Particularly organizing my iPhone contacts. This is a must for me.

  • Reply
    Sarah Kyle
    March 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I do love your organization posts:) I was just thinking about organizing my Pinterest boards last night! Also, I LOVE that someone else carries a notebook around to capture everything that’s not a to-do list- I have a collection going now of my old ‘ideas’ notebooks, haha. Also, nice shout-out to Strange’s 🙂 Hope you’re doing well!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Sarah! So good to hear from you 🙂 Yes, you know we love our Strange’s, haha!

    • Reply
      Amanda
      March 18, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      I’ve been doing this for years! It makes it so much easier trying to find that thought you had last week… it’s in the book! Plus it gives me more excuses for buying more notepad and notebooks. Haha.

      • Reply
        Ashley
        March 18, 2014 at 7:36 pm

        Any excuse for new paper! Haha

  • Reply
    Jen
    March 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Great tips! I just made a note yesterday to re-organize some Pinterest boards. I find it helpful to give my phone/tablet a good wipe down in addition to changing the background image and re-organizing the desktop/home screen. It feels like a brand new device when I’m done! Thanks for the motivation today!

  • Reply
    Emily @ My Love for Words
    March 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Omg, we’re having spaghetti squash and watching Frozen tonight too! So funny! I love # 6 and 7. I know having a more organized method for tracking my thoughts would help me be more productive and organized. I hope you enjoy Frozen 😉

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 18, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      That’s so random too, haha!

  • Reply
    Julie
    March 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Love your article! I’m actually in that phase right now! I organized my desktop yesterday, organized my office desk countertop and drawers (thanks cereal boxes! lol), I was just thinking last night about deleting some of my phone contacts that I don’t use anymore, then getting back on planning my meals for the week (or even the month…). And yay for notebooks!! I use evernote for a lot of things but I can’t get rid of my notebook where I write all the things to do and to think about!! So much easier to erase and change and add new things.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    March 18, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Great list! For my list, I’d add making the bed. I don’t know why, but for as long as I can remember that one small step helps me feel more organized for the day. It’s like I’m starting my day mess free haha.

  • Reply
    Megan
    March 18, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    So where’d you get your purse? 🙂

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      It’s from Urban Outfitters a while back – they have the best affordable bags!

  • Reply
    Allie
    March 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Love these! And also love that you use florists enough to warrant an entire phone category haha! Speaking of phone, where did you find your phone backdrop pic? Need it immediately! 🙂 Glad to hear I’m not the only one who finds dog toys in their purse!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    March 18, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    In the days that I’m feeling the way you described I always go through my bookmarks on my computer, reorganize my notes in my Notes app on my iPhone, and reorganize my fridge/freezer. The last one doesn’t sound like it does anything … but it always does + it makes me smile!

    I also do a few things you’ve listed. I’ve reorganized my Pinterest boards somanytimes it’s hard to keep track. When I first started on Pinterest I thought it was smart to have the least amount of boards as possible and group things like “House Candy”. … now I have about 50 (I have about 12 just dedicated to food related recipes!) ! It is so much easier finding what you KNEW you pinned.

  • Reply
    Missy
    March 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Ashley-I stumbled upon your blog about a month ago and loved it so much I read every post from the start! Also, I just organized all my Pinterest pins this past weekend. I too had everything on one board and it was driving me crazy. That’s funny you mentioned it in your blog today. Check our my Pinterest boards. My user name is maschwartz1000. 🙂

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 18, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks, Missy! Glad you found us : )

  • Reply
    Bailey
    March 18, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Love this post! Where is the teal notebook with gold dots from?? Love me a cute notebook!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks! It’s from Target – it came in a 3-pack with a coralish pink and green.

  • Reply
    Amanda
    March 18, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    UUGH! So much to do… One thing I’ve been meaning to get around to is organizing my bookmarks. That’s the worst for me!

  • Reply
    melodee
    March 19, 2014 at 12:45 am

    oh I love how organized you are!

  • Reply
    Sharon
    March 19, 2014 at 6:44 am

    I wish Pinterest had folders that you could create inside each board so we didn’t have to have a kazillion boards to look through!

    I do a lot of these things you mentioned, but not consistently. I need to be better about that! I am going to get rid of my many notebooks and just use one (lol).

    Things that help me feel productive first thing in the morning are fixing the bed and throwing a load of laundry in. I also turn off the TV and put some music on when my son is at school and my hubby is at work. I enjoy that little piece of quiet! I get sucked into the computer, so I try not to turn it on right away! And if I have to do anything serious on the computer, I move my laptop off the couch and into a more productive spot that isn’t so comfortable!

  • Reply
    May Argentum
    March 19, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Great advice, too bad it’s something difficult to follow. I am crazy for organized, EVERYTHING. But in a couple of days is back to being a mess.
    xo,
    May

    http://dancelikenobodyswatching.me

  • Reply
    Lisl
    March 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I love your idea about iPhone contacts! I’ll definitely copy that one.

    One thing I do that I love is use the “Notes” app on my iPhone to keep track of all sorts of stuff! I have 78 “Notes” at the moment that I can easily access. For example, I have a list of TV shows that I want to Netflix, a running grocery list, items I need to buy for the kitchen, weekend lunch ideas, freezer meal ideas, favorite meals, a list of books to read, New Years resolutions, Christmas gift ideas, schedules for my kids’ various sports, Costco essentials, trip journals from various vacations, summer meal ideas, and on and on. Basically I use this app similarly to how you use your notebook, but I love that since it’s in my phone it’s always accessible! And I can add things on the go all the time. It’s my fave app!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Very cool! Make sure you back it up to your computer – that would be sickening to lose!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    March 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Love this post. My Pinterest boards are in desperate need of a reorg and it felt like your post gave me permission to go spend the time to do it 🙂

    Where did you get your planner? I love the way the page is laid out.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      I actually made it myself – I hope do have it available for download soon. I’ll be sure to post about it when it is!

  • Reply
    Michael Ann
    April 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    I would love to know more about your get it done binder! I am trying to figure out my idea notebook, to do list, planner system and have yet to find the right flow…

  • Reply
    Buffy
    April 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Hey just a side note about Pinterest. You can search your own pins! If I’m looking for something in particular I type it in the search bar and then on the left side of the screen they have a prompt for “All Pins” or “Just My Pins” if you click “Just My Pins” it pulls up everything similar to your search request within your boards only. Saves me tons of time!

    However, I have a Board that is “I Did It” and will go through and move pins there that I have actually done. It’s really encouraging to see how much I have done from Pinterest 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel R.
    July 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Pinterest really needs a better search! We ought to be able to search our own boards OR only the currently-displayed board. (You can, technically, search “your boards,” but it doesn’t seem to index *everything* so it’s not very useful.)

    I totally agree that getting some smaller, but in-your-face-every-day, things/spaces organized can make a huge difference!

    On the computer desktop…I don’t store things there. Like, at all. (I have a handful of shortcuts, but I ought to delete those, too, because I never use them. I rarely even SEE my desktop! lol) I have a folder on the desktop called INBOX. That’s my dumping spot. Everything I download goes there by default. And anything I don’t have the brain power to figure out at the moment gets dumped in there. It’s about as easy to access as the desktop (and I have shortcuts to it in easy-to-access places, too), I know where everything is, and my desktop is always tidy. I go through it periodically and sort everything out to where it really belongs, but it seems to be more efficient that way, because I can “chunk” it.

  • Reply
    Tori
    August 16, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Just wanted to say- stumbled across your blog and I love everything about your style!! I went ahead and copied your desktop photo a good 2 seconds after finding your site. Feeling a little guilty about it, decided to let you know. Best of luck!

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