We all find ourselves facing overwhelm from time to time. With so many things on your plate all the time, how do you keep your life organized? From figuring out how to get rid of stuff to making some of life’s hardest decisions, this is how you get your life back on track.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best and Worst Habits to Pick Up or Drop to Help Organize Your Life
- How to Organize Your Life Using Digital Tools
- How to Organize Your Important Papers or Documents
- How to Organize Your Personal Belongings, Clothes, and Books
- How to Organize Your Work and School Items
- Best Tools to Help You Organize Your Life
Organizing your home life, work, hobbies, and all the little things takes time. We don’t recommend you do this list all at once. That is, unless you’re surrounded by a never-ending flow of free time and motivation. If that’s not possible, take things little by little.
Organization isn’t a one-and-done activity. It’s an ongoing thing that takes consistent upkeep. It might seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. If you’re ready to get started, here’s how to organize your life in 20+ tips.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
Best and Worst Habits to Pick Up or Drop to Help Organize Your Life
Though following several tips can help you organize your life, it all starts with your habits. Without proper habits and routines, it’s easy to slip into a state of disorganization. Though these are best to start early in your life, it’s never too late to develop meaningful habits.
With that in mind, what are the best and worst habits to organize your life? Some of these might surprise you. We’ll start by reviewing the patterns you should (or shouldn’t) set if you want to streamline and optimize your life.
Best habits to organize your life
To begin, what are some of the best habits to make your life easier? Though these take a bit of energy to learn, they’ll make everything else simpler in the long run. Here are a few of the best organizational habits:
- Stay positive: If you’re always looking at life through a glass-half-empty mentality, it’s easy to lose motivation quickly. When you’re an organized person, you always see the bright side.
- Handle tasks immediately: It’s easy to procrastinate and push tasks for later, even small things. While this might seem harmless, these little chores and tasks quickly add up. Organized people complete tasks immediately.
- Say no: When you say yes to everything, you lose time for things that matter. While it’s great to help others in your life, learn to say no before you overextend yourself.
- Extra time: It might seem like organized people have more time in the day, but it’s really about budgeting extra time for all tasks.
- Health first: Lastly, those who prioritize organization also prioritize their health. Putting your health first ensures you’re never running on empty.
Worst habits to drop when organizing your life
On the other hand, do you have any bad habits that are holding you back? It’s really common to struggle with bad habits, especially if this is the first time you’re getting organized. Do you do any of these things below?
- Leave things out: If you leave things out, you might think you’re saving yourself time. In reality, you’re creating more work for yourself down the line.
- No system: If you don’t have a system for staying organized, you’re setting yourself up for failure. In your home and in your life, everything should have its place.
- Multitasking: The myth of multitasking is that it helps you get more done. In reality, you can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. If you’re doing too many things, chances are you’re doing them poorly.
- Remember everything: While you might think you can remember everything you need to do, appointments, and chores, you’re bound to forget something. Everything doesn’t have to live in your head. This is why using lists and calendars is important.
Distractions: Finally, one of the worst habits you can do is succumbing to distractions. From our phones to TV shows, there are so many things to distract you every day. Creating boundaries is key to focusing on your work, chores, and healthy habits.
How to Organize Your Life Using Digital Tools
When it comes to staying organized, you’re not in this alone. There are a number of digital tools that keep your life together so you don’t have to worry about it.
1. Take digital notes
If you’re always juggling scribbles and notes, now is the time to make the digital switch. Using a tool like Google Keep, Apple Notes, or Evernote helps keep your must-have notes all saved digitally. Not only can you find them from any device, but they’re easy to organize and access on the go.
2. Digital photo storage
A lot of people wonder how to organize digital photos and with good reason. With smartphones becoming a larger part of our lives, we’re snapping photos every which way.
All these photos have to go somewhere, and finding the exact latte photo you’re searching for is a bit tricky when you have to scroll through endless images. Instead, using a digital photo tool like Google Photos or Onedrive helps you organize all of your favorites in one place.
3. Store passwords securely
Cybersecurity matters more than ever. Unfortunately, there are a number of scammers out there always targeting those with weak passwords. Because remembering your passwords is a challenge in itself, simplify the process with a digital password manager like LastPass or Dashlane.
4. Secure your documents in the cloud
Cloud storage has come a long way, and it’s now the new normal when it comes to protecting your documents online. If you’re struggling to keep track of important papers and files, it’s time to go digital. Use a cloud storage solution like Google Drive or Dropbox to keep your important docs safe.
5. Manage your time
Do you ever feel like time slips away from you? You’re not alone. Using a digital time tracker helps you manage the time you do have so you can make the most of it.
How to Organize Your Important Papers or Documents
If your papers and documents are stuffed in folders, drawers, and envelopes, there’s a better way. With a few simple shifts, you can streamline your document organization system to transform your space.
6. Put a recycling bin next to your front door
Though this sounds simple, don’t underestimate this one tip. How often do you end up keeping junk mail, duplicate documents, or other papers just because you don’t know what to do with them? Having a recycling bin right by your door helps you sort through the mail you do and don’t need right then and there.
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7. Create a filing system
You don’t need to be an administration pro to make a simple filing system that works for you. It’s all about making sure it’s organized logically and that it has enough space to store new documents over time.
An accordion file holder or even a filing cabinet are great options. Work with the space you have. Invest in some easy-to-use organizer tabs and start putting things where they belong. For example, have a specific final wishes organizer for your end-of-life documents. As long as you keep this up-to-date, it’s always ready to go.
8. Organize photos in albums
If your favorite memories are sitting in a box under your bed, it’s time for a change. Give them new life by organizing them into photo albums, hanging them on the wall, or using another unique photo storage solution. These are your cherished memories—treat them as such!
9. Make a memory box
For the sentimental items you can’t part with, create a memory box. These are bins dedicated to special things like children’s school years, holidays, and so on. Having an easy place to store these precious mementos keeps them separate from your important documents.
10. Schedule time to organize
It’s not enough to set up these systems and forget about them. You need to schedule a time to actually keep up with your new organization systems. This is something you can do once a month, once a week, or as needed.
Don’t let your new papers stack up on the kitchen table. Instead, keep everything in its proper place by scheduling 10 or 15 minutes regularly for organization.
How to Organize Your Personal Belongings, Clothes, and Books
If your home is starting to feel overwhelming, take a closer look at your personal belongings, clothes, and books. These things bring us comfort, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
11. Make it easy to put things away
If you’re finding it difficult to keep your stuff organized, it’s time to make it easier for yourself. Make everything as simple as possible for your family.
Using an open bin for misc clothes or a bathroom container for toiletries is a simplified form of organization. As long as everything has its place and it’s easy to keep up with, you’ve mastered home organization.
12. Purge what you don’t need
We all hold onto too much stuff. While you don’t need to purge everything you own, it does some good to go through your things and donate or trash what you no longer need or use.
When in doubt, take some practices from traditional Swedish death cleaning. This is when you remove anything from your life that no longer offers value or happiness. Adopting this mindset is helpful when trimming down your belongings.
13. Get rid of clutter spots
Every home has clutter hotspots that attract mess. Places like your dining room table, entryway, and desks tend to fill with things throughout the week. Instead of letting this pile up forever, take some time each day to put things away. This could be done right before dinner, along with brushing your teeth, or first thing in the morning.
14. Keep a clothing discard bag
If you’re prone to trying on clothes only to take them off again, make a discard bag or box. This is a bag or box for anything that no longer fits, looks unflattering, or just doesn’t match your style. If you haven’t removed this clothing by the end of the month, it’s time to donate.
15. Store by use
There’s no use storing holiday items in the front of your storage closet if you only use them once a year. Instead, organize items by how often they’re used. That means daily or weekly things should be on low, easy to access shelves. The things you don’t need as often should be harder to reach.
How to Organize Your Work and School Items
Finally, keep your stuff organized for work and school as well with these simple tips. Your home life is only one side of the story.
16. Optimize your workspace
Just like your home, you can optimize your workspace for greater productivity. This means keeping the things you use most often easy to access.
The things you use less often, like extra paper or pens, should get stored out of sight. Avoid cluttering your desk or workspace, which is often distracting.
17. Create a central to-do list
Having a number of to-do lists at once might seem effective, but you’re simply pulling yourself too many directions at once. Writing tasks down on a single to-do list or using a tool like Basecamp keeps everything in one place. From there, organize your list by importance.
18. Overhaul your email
Is your inbox leaving you overwhelmed? It’s time for an email overhaul. Both workplaces and schools rely on emails to keep everyone up-to-date, so don’t let this slide.
Start by spring cleaning your inbox and deleting anything you no longer need. From there, organize your inbox into folders for easy access.
19. Use a planner
Whether you prefer paper or digital planning, choose a method you can stick to. This is the best way never to miss a deadline or an important project. When it comes to digital planners, you can use a visual option like Trello or simply optimize your digital calendar.
20. Set clear boundaries
Finally, set clear boundaries for your workspace. It’s easy to mix work and personal life, but try to set clear boundaries that keep these separate.
Use your work or school organizers to keep your work or school documents. Keeping all of these things separate makes your life simpler and helps turn your work brain “off” at the end of the day.
Best Tools to Help You Organize Your Life
If you wish to stay organized, you’re not alone. While you’re free to use your tools and systems, there are also ready-made options prepared to help you succeed. Thanks to modern technology, there are many apps, tools, and resources to help optimize your life.
Whether you prefer to stay organized digitally or on paper, here are some of the best tools to help you organize your life. Perfect for full-time students, employees, parents, or anyone with a busy schedule, there’s something to meet your needs and skills.
Digital tools and apps for organization
To start, here are the top digital tools and apps to keep you organized. These are all free to use (though some have in-app upgrades), and they don’t take any tech skills. Try these for yourself to get your time back.
- Trello: Trello is an organizational tool designed for those who are visual learners. With different lists you can drag-and-drop, checklists, and shareable tools, this is the ultimate to-do list.
- Google Keep: If you like Google Drive and its cloud tools, you’ll love Google Keep. This is a note-taking app that lets you consolidate your lists, notes, and scribbles digitally. You can add your notes to any device, making it easy to make plans on the go.
- Toggl: Do you know how you’re spending your time? If you’re not sure, use Toggl to track how much you’re working, your tasks, and how often you get distracted.
- Todoist: If your traditional to-do lists aren’t cutting it, try Todoist. Built for both individuals and teams, you can easily streamline your to-do lists every day. If you don’t finish a task on a certain day, it automatically adds it to the next day’s tasks.
- You Need a Budget: For financial tracking and budgeting, YNAB is one of the best in the business. This software syncs to your devices, helps you set a budget, and shows progress in real-time.
- Mint: Another financial tool is Mint. This digital tool connects with your financial accounts to keep track of your spending, budgeting, and financial goals.
- Evernote: If you’re a student or professional, odds are you have many different notes and documents you can’t keep track of them all. Evernote lets you exchange files and notes on a project online, offline, and with others.
- Calendly: Finally, to organize events, meetings, and even your own social calendar, Calendly integrates with your schedule. Never waste time with back-and-forth scheduling calls again.
Physical tools for organization
If you’re old-school or prefer to have your life organized with physical things, there are still so many options. Though not as easy to take with you as the digital tools above, these are great for keeping everything together easily.
- Calendar: At the very least, make sure you have a calendar for your home’s tasks and errands. This should be somewhere everyone in your family can see, and it should be easy to customize.
- Secure file folder: If you’re organizing important documents and records, a file folder is the best way to keep them together in one safe place. For extra security, make sure you choose one that’s water and fireproof.
- Label maker: Labeling things in your home is the best way to know where things are. You can label albums, notebooks, storage bins, and virtually everything in your home.
- Charging station: We’ve all struggled with our devices getting lost and the chargers misplaced. A charging station keeps all-important devices together and organized, while also charging them efficiently.
- To-do list notepads: While a typical notepad might be great for lists, they also make custom notepads designed specifically for efficient list-making.
- Car organizer: If your car is becoming a bottomless pit where things are lost, never to be found again, a car organizer easily fits in your trunk to keep track of must-haves on the go.
- Key organizer: Last but not least, never lose track of your keys again. A key organizer rack or bin ensures you always know exactly where your keys are before you leave.
Declutter Your Life with These 20 Tips
With our lives only getting busier, now is the time to take inventory of your current organization strategies. While there are many books on organization, you don’t need to be a decluttering guru to get started. As long as you have a bit of time and motivation, you’re ready to optimize your life.
From your workspace to your closet, these tips above make your life a little bit easier. Stop wasting time looking for things you’ve misplaced. When you know where everything is, that’s one less thing to worry about.
Looking for more tips? Read our guide on how to organize your day for success.