Can you believe next week’s September? Whether the kids have gone back to school or work’s entered the last yearly quarter, we’ve officially hit the mark where there’s far more time behind us in 2017 than ahead.
Before we know it, we’ll be passing out candy to neighborhood kids, passing around the turkey gravy, and passing out holiday presents.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I still have SO MUCH TO DO this year! Does the thought of the next few months flying by make your head spin? The first step to conquering overwhelm is to come up with a plan. Keep on reading for 5 amazingly smart tips to get organized today and be sure to grab this gorgeous free planner in the Home Beautifully Resource Collection!
Get Organized Tip 1: Start Small
If you’ve read this blog for a bit, you know that I have a tendency to dive head first into things. My dreams run about eight thousand times faster than my ability to actualize them. I love starting projects, almost like a magpie loves shiny objects. But finishing those projects? Well, there’s the challenge. Often, before I know it, I have a list of things that need to be done that stretches from here to Morocco. And as someone who struggles with anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, that’s not a good thing at all.
So I’ve learned along the way (through many bumps and bruises) that I need to start small. Before I conquer my dreams, I need to brush my teeth. Why? Because taking care of myself — mentally, emotionally, and physically — is often the first thing I cut when triaging my day. Who’s with me?
[bctt tweet=”Before I conquer my dreams, I need to brush my teeth. ” username=”homebeautifully”]
To reinforce this idea, I’m sharing with you this amazing speech by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S.Special Operations Command. He gave this speech, entitled To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed, at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. It’s incredibly powerful and definitely worth the 20 minute break. As he shares to the graduates:
“Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”
So I make my bed every day. I track how often I brush my teeth, take my vitamins, and drink enough water. Why? Because in my quest to do the big things, I don’t want to forget that the little things are just as important. And, on days when my big dreams feel awfully unobtainable, I get a small sense of accomplishment realizing that I kept myself healthy and my bed neat, which fuels me for the day ahead.
Get Organized Tip 2: Write It Down
If I were to divide my life into two categories — the times where I felt overwhelmed and the times where I felt accomplished — the distinguishing factor becomes crystal clear. When I simply write down what needs to get done, I feel calmer, more focused, and ultimately more productive.
Why is this? When we write down our goals and to-dos, we commit ourselves more fully to them. They transform from nebulous or anxiety producing thoughts into concrete tasks that can be ordered, prioritized, and completed.
Over the years, I’ve used a variety of planners, from techy apps to the backs of napkins. And I’ve learned that while there’s a convenience to tracking my progress on my iPhone, there’s nothing quite as irreplaceable as taking a pen to paper. I don’t have any science to back this up, but I truly think there’s some neurochemical magic that happens when we write our goal, old-school style, by hand. You agree?
I’m thrilled to share with you this stunning (free!) planner designed by Kate, the phenomenally talented artisan behind Laude Designs. Kate and I met on Instagram, where I fell head-over-heels with her clean and elegant aesthetic. Even more, Kate has generously shared this beautiful planner with the Home Beautifully family to get us organized for the remainder of 2017. How amazing is that? And yep, this is an exclusive bonus for subscribers. If you want in on the fun, click below to jump to the Resource Collection. This free planner is actually a section of a much larger and super affordable planner she has in her Etsy shop, which spans not only through the end of 2017, but includes all of 2018 as well.
The mission of Kate’s shop is beautiful and resonates strongly with Home Beautifully’s vision to create beauty and purpose in our lives and homes. She shares:
We spend our days in the act of making. Whether our title is that of an artist, musician, builder, administrator, every job or task involves taking small existing parts and bringing them together to make something new. I have found that one of life’s most beautiful joys is in the ability to make. This little joy is accurately summed up in the word “laude,” which comes from the Latin root “laetus” or “laus,” meaning joy and praise. I hope to share this joy through one of my favorite ways of making: design.
Get Organized Tip 3: Have Lunch
I met my dear friend Gladys the other day for pizza and was struck by two things: (1) that I could eat an entire pizza by myself (hellooooo third trimester!) and (2) that having lunch with a friend is a powerful way to hold ourselves accountable.
Gladys has spent the last year writing and marketing a book to empower women in times of change. Her book will launch very soon, and every time I catch up with her, I’m amazed to learn all she’s accomplished. Not only that, but I also love sharing with her my big dreams and the steps I’m taking every day to reach them. I walked away from our lunch feeling emboldened to conquer the tasks ahead. Why is that?
Turns out, sharing our dreams, goals, and priorities with a friend keeps us far more accountable than if we just write them down for ourselves. Professor Matthews at Dominican University conducted a study and found that those who not only wrote down their goals, but also shared them frequently with their tribe accomplished far more than those who didn’t loop in their friends.
[bctt tweet=”Want to get organized and feel productive? Meet a friend for lunch.” username=”homebeautifully”]
Get Organized Tip 4: Donate
One of the best books I’ve read in 2017 has been Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (Yep, that’s an affiliate link I love the book so much!) In her book, she encourages us to clear our clutter so that we’re surrounded only by possessions that spark joy. Imagine living in your home, surrounded only by objects that make you supremely content and happy. What an amazing premise, no? I’ve found, too, that when my exterior is neat and tidy, my interior becomes calm and focused. That is, when my bedroom is free of clutter, my mind is as well.
So the fourth tip to get organized is this: donate. Even if you don’t read Marie Kondo’s book, which would guide you through her decluttering process, simply grab a brown paper bag and head to your closet. Fill up one bag, just one bag, of items you no longer use or love and take that bag to a donation center. Again, the focus here is just getting started. The act of beginning to declutter your physical space will have a profound impact on your mental and emotional clarity.
Get Organized Tip 5: Let Go
Who’s still with me, reading this epic blog post? (Can you tell I’m passionate about how to get organized?)
Let’s say you’ve done everything on the list above. Tips 1 through 4, you’ve knocked them out. Started small? Check. Wrote it down? Check. Shared your goals with a friend and started decluttering? Check and check. And after all that, let’s say you still feel overwhelmed. Anyone else feel that way? (Yep, I’m over here raising my hand.)
This is when we need to just let go. How? We all do it differently. I wrote an article about how to calm anxiety and ease a frazzled mind because I struggle with this on a daily basis. No kidding, every single day. Those big dreams? They’ll be there tomorrow. The endless to-do list? That too. Nothing is as important as your physical, mental, and emotional health. And if that means setting everything you absolutely want to do aside, that’s absolutely okay. Some days we get a gold star for making sure the wheels stayed on the bus. Doesn’t even matter if the bus didn’t drive. In fact, that’s better than okay, it’s just perfect.
Today, I’m writing this blog post without any makeup and with hair that hasn’t been washed in about 6 days. There’s dishes in the sink and a work project that should have gotten done three days ago. I haven’t folded the laundry in weeks, and I truly, truly need to figure out the paperwork for my upcoming maternity leave. But, you know what? I’m taking this hour to enjoy myself and dive head first into writing. Why? It calms me down.
And I’ll get to all those things I need to do soon enough. For now, I’m going to lean a little bit more into the quiet and just let go. What tips resonate with you? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.