[Lifestyle] How to Stay Organized.
Updated: Sep 1
If you are looking for ways to get organized and to stay that way, here are some tips on how I kept my shit together.
1. Establish a Routine.
Establishing a routine is first and foremost the one critical step in order for me to keep my life together. This is especially important if you live alone and have a busy life (life of a college student, anyone?). Things like cleaning and laundry can easily be forgotten when we are busy studying, working and partying. By establishing a routine and marking them on your schedule, it keeps these chores in check and prevents some embarrassing situations such as having no clean socks to wear.
I remember living in a dormitory during my college time, when I have a 9-10 am class every Wednesday. At that time, I used to do my laundry once a week. Believe me, I hate doing laundry just as much as you do, so I made sure to do it efficiently. I will load the washing machine at 8:30 and then walk to class. When I get back from that class, the laundry would be done and ready for drying. Not only that saved me tons of time, it also made sure I have access to the very limited number of laundry machine; after all, who would wake up that early on a weekday morning to do their laundry except for me? LOL.
Try to dedicate one afternoon each weekend for cleaning. Instead of cleaning the whole apartment, try cleaning one area at a time. If you cleaned the bathroom this weekend, focus on cleaning the bedroom the next one. This way, the cleaning schedule would appear a lot more manageable and might help you to be more willing to do it.
2. Set a Schedule and Stick to it (Don’t Procrastinate!).
We all live a busy life with so many tasks to be done. There is no better way to keep track of those tasks other than making a schedule. It helps you keep track of your daily task and deadlines, and makes sure you do not forget any important appointments. It also gives you an overview of what tasks needs to be done that week or month, which could help you decide how to allocate your time. If you prefer to have a beautiful and trendy personalized schedule, try joining the recent bullet journal trend; if you are like me and you want to keep things simple and practical, it could be as simple as using the Google Calendar app on your phone; there is always something for everyone.
Once you have set the schedule, stick to it! There is no point in planning your schedule if you are not going to follow it. There is only one true secret to having an organized life, and that is discipline. It is always easier to do our work bit by bit rather than piling up the to-do-list until the very last minute. Besides, leaving all the frivolous tasks to the very end will only make it more difficult to do. So, please, please do not leave the dishes in the sink. Just do it immediately, it’s not that difficult.
3. Set Priorities.
Among all the tasks that you have marked down on your schedule, some would be more important than others; and some would be urgent while some could wait. By knowing what is important and what is urgent is important, you can prioritize your work. Besides having an up-to-date schedule, it would also be helpful to have colour coded folders that help you prioritize your tasks. One way of doing this is to divide your tasks into 4 categories: urgent and important, urgent and less important, non-urgent and important, non-urgent and less important. Assign a differently coloured folder to each category and place your tasks among the 4 categories. By doing so, you can keep track of what needs to be done first and what could wait.
4. Keep an Inventory Tracker.
Have you ever get lost in your own pantry and deep freezer? I did. It is easy to forget that you still had 5 packets of chicken wings that you stocked up weeks ago when it was on sale. The thing is, not only that it will expire and end up in the bin, you might also end up spending more money on food than you really need simply because you forgot that you already own that mustard while it sits in your store cupboard. An inventory tracker could help you keep track of what you do and do not own, it would also remind you of the items that are about to go bad if you don’t consume it soon. This is a very simple step and will only take you minutes, but will save you a fortune especially if you are a food hoarder like me. Find a template here/here and start working! Spend a few minutes checking it out before you go grocery shopping next time and you can thank me later.
5. Dedicate a Home for Everything.
Organization is anything but losing an object in a pile of other unrelated things. Therefore, it is important to categorize things and set out a dedicated area for a particular set of objects. Then next time when you are looking for a spice, you know where to look at, instead of getting lost in a cupboard full of pots and jars.
Make good use of different organizers that you can find. They are handy in keeping your storage space neat and tidy. To organize your closet, try to use drawer dividers and organizers (IKEA have some really great ones here).
For clothing that hangs, try arranging them according to the type of clothing. Personally, I like to put all my coats towards the left, then my jackets, next to those are my shirts and tops, and then my skirts and pants, finally all my dresses towards the right side of my closet. This way, whenever I want to pull out a particular piece, I know which section to look at. This honestly will save you so much time in the morning.
Some organizers are closed containers, such as those boxes that we use to store our out of season clothing. To organize them, I find labeling extremely helpful. By labeling everything that is concealed in a box, you can identify what is in it without the need to open every single one of them; and when you need them, you can pinpoint the box you need immediately.
This trick will also work for bookshelves organization. If you’re like me and you own practically millions of books, you would want to organize them according to the genre. This way, at least you do not have to screen through 10 bookshelves before finding that one novel book you are looking for.
Don’t forget to put the item back to its home, so you know where to find it next time.
6. Make things visible to you.
If you don’t see it, you won’t use it. That is the reason why we should make things visible to us while organizing them. If you see it, the more likely you will reach for it.
When organizing your closet and wardrobe, try not to stack your T-shirts on top of each other. Instead, try to fold and roll them up, and then organize them in a single layer so that every single item is visible to you whenever you open the drawer. The same trick applies to socks, scarfs, and underwear as well. If you prefer to hang your scarfs, which I do, I recommend using an organizers as well, you can find one at IKEA.
This applies to virtually everything, from makeup and accessories to kitchen supplies.
For makeup, make use of organizers that could help you to both stores and display your beauty items such as these ones on Amazon. It is also important to make sure that things of the same category are placed together, so that when you are looking for a particular lipstick next time, you know which pile to search for. If you have soooo much makeup like I do that you need a tower of drawers to store them, use drawer organizers specially designed for this purpose. They have many slits and slots for the products to be displayed neatly, like the ones from BYALEGORY. If you prefer to have some flexibility and adjust the size of the slots yourself, try these movable drawer dividers from ShineMe on Amazon.
My favourite way of storing my insanely overflowing accessories and jewelry is to use a specifically designed cabinet. Not only that it makes all your jewelry accessible to you and keep it from getting dusty, it also has suitable slots and hooks for your earrings and necklaces, which keeps them separated and prevented them from tangling. I got mine here on Amazon.
Ever get lost in your spice cupboard? I know I did. That’s why now I have little baskets that hold all my herbs and spices perfectly. And I made sure to label everything on the lid so that I can immediately spot my bottle of cinnamon whenever I pull out my spice basket from the cupboard. By doing so, I do not need to dig through every single spice jar to find that one bottle I’m looking for. If you can fit a free standing or wall mounted spice rack in your cabinet or pantry, it is another great option to showcase your lovely collection of spices.
7. Categorize and Organize Your Virtual Resources.
Again, organization is about dividing things into different categories and making sure things that are alike stays together so you know where to find them. Just because your apps and word files don’t take up physical space, it does not mean that you don’t need to keep them organized. You know what I am talking about if you have ever lost track of a file named “assignment 1” in a sea of other documents at some point in your life.
To organize your phone:
Just like organizing any other things, the first step into organizing your apps is to divide them into different categories, as detailed as it needs to be. By doing so, you will know where to find locate your Etsy app while not having to look for it in a sea of gaming and editing apps.
To organize your PC:
The first step to organizing all the files and documents on your PC is knowing how to name them. The most common reason why we cannot find a specific file when we need it is due to poor file naming. Keep this in mind whenever you create a new document: you want to name it in a way such that you can spot it and locate it at first glance whenever you need it. To do that, the name of your file needs to contain as many details and information about that document as possible. In most cases, the name should at least provide the following information: date, the purpose of that document, and version of the document (e.g. 180329 HIS1001 Final Essay #1). One important thing to note is to not name your files as things like “data 1” even if you plan on assigning to a particular project folder. Remember, if you ever forget where to find that document and have to use the search bar, you might end up with 10 “data 1” files under different project folders. At that case, you will still need to open them one by one to find out which one was the one you were looking for, thus it is important to make sure that proper filing technique is applied always. Trust me when I say I learnt it the hard way. Check out a more detailed tutorial on file naming practice here.
Next, you can start assigning your files into different folders. There are many ways to do this and you will have to test and try which categorization method suits you the best. Since I work in a field of science, my preferred filing method is to divide my files and data by projects; and I categorize all the journal articles that I read by the field of study. It might take some time for you to find out which way works best for you but I assure you the outcome would be totally worth it.