In 2013, it’s just a fact that life will have its chaos. Most people have to work. Many have children who need to be run from school to the tutor and then to baseball. We have demands hitting us from people in ever corner of our life: Our spouses, our bosses, our kids, our doctors. Heck, sometimes even our friends complain that they feel abandoned in the friendship.
What gives? What’s a person to do?
Though it won’t solve the crisis of what to cook for dinner or how to to fit in date night between the gym and your kid’s Taekwondo practice, getting organized in life may help you identify areas where you can pick up the slack, squeeze in a little more “me” time, create a plan of attack for meal times or even help you get out of denial about your finances so you just might actually hit those seven-to-nine hours of recommended sleep the shrink told you to get.
Whether you need to clean up your junk drawer or clean off your desk (just ask your coworkers), some of these tips from locals and other organizational gurus may help 2013 be free of clutter, cobwebs and organizational stress.
Become a list-maker
Color-code your Post-Its Jotting notes on colors and shapes helps you remember to-dos better than a white notepad. To keep your tasks organized, stick them in a manila folder to carry with you. You can color-code family members or rank them by priority. Seeing your to-dos in one place will make tasks appear less overwhelming.
Keep notes in one spot If you are the type of list-maker who scribbles on dozens of pieces of paper throughout the day, learn to consolidate so that you don’t run to the store three times because you forgot items on the other list.
Rank your to-dos Try a sequential approach — organize tasks by morning, afternoon and evening; break the list down by location (do at home; do in the car; do at work). Or rearrange by priority: Take a look at your list and think, Which three tasks would I feel the most sense of accomplishment if I complete today? Focus on those first before moving on to the rest.
— Real Simple Magazine
How 15 minutes of list making helps Lodi mom and Bank of Stockton executive Angela Brusa conquer the day
I juggle a lot of moving parts in a day, and the best tip that works beautifully for me is to give myself 15 minutes of uninterrupted time at the end of each day.
I have a notepad, and I put down everything that needs to be done for the next day — and sometimes for the next few days. From there, I categorize work, family and home.
Then, I prioritize a final hand written bulleted list of what needs to be done first for each. On the bullets that I can delegate, I do; and on those that I have to execute myself, I go right down the list and conquer.
Just making the list pulls the stress of managing so many things out of my body and gets it on paper where it is visible and becomes manageable.
I also save my notepads each year, and it allows me to go through them and pull out my accomplishments annually for work, as well as my personal life. I’d be lost without my notepad and pen at the end of the day. This works very effectively for me, and I notice both of my college kids doing the same thing — which makes me smile biggest!
— Angela Brusa, marketing director and vice president of Bank of Stockton
Dale Immekus tells us how to roll in dough, out of denial
On the count of three, let’s say it together.
One. Two. Three.
“In 2013, I resolve to get out of my denial about my finances.”
It’s time, guys. It’s time to be honest. We can’t avoid that credit score anymore. We have to open those envelopes stacked on the counter. We can answer that phone call from that 1-888-number.
It can’t get any better until you face it, says financial adviser Dale Immekus, who works with Dedicated Financial Services in Lodi.
Immekus, who says many people are in denial when it comes to their personal finances, shares these tips for getting organized and in control:
- Before you can do anything, you need to assess what funds you have coming in and going out; in other words, you need a budget. Once you have a budget, you can plan where to go from there. “The biggest mistake is just not doing it,” Immekus said.
- Once you understand what you have, the first thing you need is to have emergency money in place. If you haven’t started an emergency fund, your first goal should be to set aside $1,000. Then, you want to set aside living expenses for one month, then three, and then shoot for six months. He says it’s the old idea of “pay yourself first.” “I couldn’t reiterate enough how much they need to do that,” he said.
- After establishing an emergency stash, you need to make sure your protections are in place, whether it is car, home or life insurance.
- After all of those things are set up, you can look further into retirement savings.
A budget and emergency fund are things you can do on your own, but if you need to do more substantial planning, Immekus recommends meeting with a financial adviser.
Cyndi Carter says even students can benefit from a little organization
If there’s someone who knows a thing or two about organization, students, teachers and schools, it’s to-do list lover and functionality guru Cyndi Carter, the Lodi News-Sentinel Learning Link coordinator. She’s not only a mom and former ninth-grade teacher, but she now spends her days working with Lodi teachers and students. Here, she gives tips to students for keeping their schoolwork in order and lives less complicated.
Hit the spot
Have a designated place for EVERYTHING, from school work to your wallet. Always place items in that spot immediately.
Write it down
Planners are mandatory in staying organized. Most schools provide them free of charge, but you can also find them at most stores with office supplies. Use it consistently. Try a color coding system where you highlight test dates in orange, project due dates in pink and homework in green.
The binder is key
Keep an organized binder. Use labels so that you know exactly where to find what you need.
Never too late to prep
Before bed, review your calendar for the next day and have everything you need ready to go, so that you never have to scramble in the morning. You can take it up a notch and lay out your clothes for the following day, too.
Once you have accounted for the score in the gradebook, throw away the papers. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, find a box or chest to store these items in. Old papers do not belong in your binder or backpack. Go through your bedroom and donate or throw away unused items. This will give you space to organize the items that you do need.
Make your kitchen functional
Don’t be suffocated by your collection of plastic grocery bags. Get them in check with an inexpensive bag holder that you can clip in a cupboard or beside the trash can for easy access.
In the zone
Set up kitchen zones for your interests. For example, like to bake? Devote a counter or cabinet to housing cookie sheets, a kitchen mitt, flour, sugar and other baking necessities (and placed away from the oven). Consider other organizing zones for: beverages, cleaning supplies, recycling and trash.
The case of mismatched lids
Declare a moratorium on piles of unmatching lids and containers. Think about something like GladWare’s Containers with Interlocking Lids. Different size lids snap together, and each container nests inside another, giving you more cabinet space.
Get wine glasses under control
Running out of room in your cupboards? Stemware glasses can be stored by placing every other glass upside down.