Y’all, I want to make sure that we all know that everyone has no idea what they’re doing. Even so, I’m going to tell you how to organize your life.

How to Organize Your Life | It's a really busy and stressful season of my life, so I thought I'd share these five tips for how to organize your life. Learning how to organize your life is the first step to getting it all together and finally taking control of the chaos.

Original photo by STIL 

It’s generally accepted that everyone is making it all up as they go along. You should know that I am too. But I think, after 33 and a half years on this crazy planet I have figured out maybe a very small amount of things that make me an effective person.

As with all advice you ever receive, your mileage may vary. Do what works best for you, because at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that’s going to work for you.

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If you watch my YouTube videos, then you know I’m currently in a season where I need to get my life together and just keep going. Even though I have been fairly organized this year, all the loose ends and little procrastinated tasks have finally caught up with me, and I caught myself yell-muttering under my breath, “Organize your life!”

So, with that, I’m going to be sharing how to organize your life. These are relatively small ways to keep yourself together. Some of them are mindset tasks, and some of them are things that you can physically do. Going after the life you want is tough work, and it takes a lot to get there. In either case, these are the things that are saving my sanity after a weekend of traveling that was followed by a week of administering final exams with one speaking gig and a hellish allergy cold.

I don’t have it all together, but I’m getting close.

How to Organize Your Life

001: Stop compartmentalizing.

I tend to categorize things and put them out of my mind all the time. If I’m focused on planning for the blog and YouTube channel, I don’t think at all about fiction writing. If I’m figuring out my grading schedule, I don’t stop and think at all about when I’ll get groceries or do my workouts.

For whatever reason, I struggle with seeing the forest for the trees. It’s like I can’t imagine the full picture of what my life will be like, so I’m always remembering “oh yeah, that’s a thing I have to do too!” when I go through my week.

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Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of advice as to how to stop doing this. But I do know that when I plan, if I do a brain dump of all the things I have to do in each category of my life, I get a lot closer to making a holistic picture of my week. It keeps me from getting laser-focused on only one aspect of my life and only planning that out.

002: Use notebooks.

Hello. I am Marisa. I like planners.

You know this about me, and maybe you aren’t the type to paper plan. But let me just explain to you why I like the paper planning system, and why I think having notebooks with items written down is the way to go when you’re juggling a ton of stuff.

I have my big planner (which is about to change, but we’ll chat about that all later) where I keep all my to do lists and plans and my money. But I also have other notebooks where I keep other information. For example, as I’ve been planning out big things like an impending move. Or when I have an upcoming conference, I do all my planning and packing lists in a notebook so I make sure I’m prepared. I also use that notebook to take notes during the conference, and make a to do list of people to follow up with. And of course, there’s my notebook for morning pages.

It’s been working pretty well for me, and I love that I’m not keeping a running to do list in my head because that’s how I forget things.

003: Be present and assess.

This is the part where you have to know what’s working for you, and you have to admit when you need to let something go.

I’m really good at not acknowledging when I’m burnt out or stressed or stretched too thin. And I’m that way because I’ve gotten really good at not being present. I think I started doing this in high school to get me through the softball season. I really hated it, and I would just shut down until October when it was over, and I could finally have enough time to be a human again.

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This, naturally, carried over from high school to college to grad school, and to now. And it’s meant that I have a habit of taking on too much stuff whether I can handle it in a healthy way or not. I’m trying to break that habit, and this past week where I got so sick that I almost couldn’t give my short talk at Pecha Kucha OKC was a reminder that I have to knock it off.

So now I’m trying to actually be present enough to acknowledge how I feel, rather than just barrel through. And I’m assessing whether or not the items on my to do list matter, because I know I need more rest time than what I’ve been getting.

(It’s also worth noting that these are two very important steps when it comes to changing your life completely.)

004: Say no more than yes.

Okay. Let me explain.

No one likes hearing no. I know this. But when you say no to one thing, you’re saying yes to something else. So I’ve been trying to do a cost-benefit analysis before I say yes to anything, just to make sure it’s going to be worth my while.

I’m also the type of person who says yes to hanging out with friends when it isn’t always in my best interest. My gut reaction is always “hanging out with friends is fun!” but it’s not always the case. I know, right now, I can’t just hang out and drink. That will bring me way down. I also know that as an introvert, I get my energy drained by hanging out with people.

So I have to make sure the thing I’m doing is going to be good for me in the long run. I’m also using this currently for the content I’m creating and the opportunities I take. It’s hard to remember to do it, but I like to think it’s a subcategory of being present and assessing.

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005: Come to a spiritual understanding with time.

This has probably when the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Even though I’m an avid planner and someone who prides herself on her ability to manage time, I’ve had to get better about actually thinking through my plans.

See, when there isn’t a whole lot to do, it doesn’t matter if one of your tasks runs a little long. If you have a block of open time, you can just cut into that chunk. But when you’ve got a ton of things stacked on one another? Well, then you’re absolutely screwed when one thing goes long.

Admittedly, a lot of the things I do aren’t super duper time sensitive. Most of the things I schedule are tasks that I need to do on my own, and I schedule them around my teaching. But that means when something runs long, I wind up going to bed super late that day in order to get everything done.

This mostly happens because I’m really quixotic about how long it takes to do something. I assume writing the blog post, editing it, finding a photo, editing the photo for all social platforms, and scheduling the posts on all platforms will take around an hour. (I assume this for filming, editing, and uploading a YouTube video too.) This is very, very wrong.

So rather than rely on an assumption that is always wrong, I’m getting good at knowing how long something actually takes, and scheduling around that. Also, check out these time-saving hacks to make some more space in your day.

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How Have You Gotten Your Life Together?

What do you do to get yourself organized? How do you organize your life? What tips and tricks do you have for making sure your life runs like a well-oiled machine? Let me know in the comments!

5 Responses

  1. I’m not exactly organizing. these days More like ridding myself of all things unnecessary. I find it’s much easier to keep shit straight when I don’t have a whirlwhind of clutter and bullshit cramping my style.

  2. You amaze me! You are so prolific — your writing, your social media activity — all of it on top of a “regular” job.? Wow. It’s a challenge for me just managing my blog and staying active on FB and Pinterest. (I found you on Pinterest and signed up for your list after I read several of your posts.)

    1. Thanks for signing up, Martha! And thank you! I will say that my teaching schedule does give me a lot of freedom, so it makes it easier to keep up with the blog and social media.

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