My Organizing Favorites

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The more blogs I read and podcasts I listen to, the more excited I get about becoming more organized, in all aspects of my life. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a complete mess, but there’s definitely work to be done on many fronts. Fortunately, over the past few weeks, I’ve found some great tips, tools, and ideas that I’ve been able to implement, or at least give some serious thought to. Here are a few of my favorites – old and new – that are helping me take control in various areas of my life:

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My Day Designer Planner

Until fairly recently, the planner I carried with me was a tiny, monthly calendar that I got in the dollar bins at Target. (It’s a two-year calendar, so I actually got two years of planners for just $1!!) The daily squares are tiny, so I had trouble writing anything at all in them, let alone more than one thing on a given day. Then I read another blogger’s review of her Day Designer planner, and I knew I had found a great tool. I ordered the Midyear (because I bought it over the summer) Flagship Mini Edition, and I love it! Not only is it beautiful and high-quality, but it has so many of the things on my planner wish-list: daily pages, divided up by hour; space for a look at the week ahead; daily to-do lists, with top three daily priorities; a monthly overview; and even space for daily gratitude. It has helped me add more structure to my days, especially the ones when I’m not at my job.

Laura Vanderkam’s Time Tracker Documents

This summer, I heard the author, Laura Vanderkam, interviewed on at least two podcasts, and I really liked her message. She has written several books on time management, and I’m currently reading her most recent one, I Know How She Does It. The (greatly) simplified premise of this book is that we have a lot more time than most of think, and while we can’t always achieve perfect balance every day, we can come close to it on many days. She believes that the first step in managing our time more effectively is tracking how we’re currently spending it. To facilitate this process, she offers free tracking documents (in spreadsheet and PDF form), for tracking your time in 15- and/or 30-minute increments. I’ve found 30-minute increments to be more manageable, and today is my fifth tracking day. Stay tuned for an update on what I learn from this exercise…

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My FitBit Surge and the FitBit App

My husband surprised me with a FitBit Surge for our tenth anniversary last October. I started wearing it immediately, and it’s barely been off my wrist since then. (Seriously, I wear it in my sleep, which it measures.) However, I got pretty lazy over the summer, and stopped worrying about whether or not I was actually meeting the daily goals I set for myself in the app. Fast forward to my return to work this fall, when I realized that my work clothes, which had been hanging unworn in my closet for four months, had apparently shrunk. All of them. Clearly the ice cream and kettle corn I referenced here had taken their toll. As a result, I increased my daily and weekly activity goals, and started to track them religiously. I love all of the different metrics and screens available in the FitBit app, and I find myself checking in with it several times a day. (And eating a lot less ice cream.)

This Amazing Chore Chart

Getting my daughter to complete her daily tasks – especially on school day mornings – is an ongoing battle. I’ve tried both positive and negative reinforcement, and while she’s made some progress, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I want the system to be easy, self-managed, and reward-driven. I’m not even remotely crafty, so I had basically settled on using a simple checklist on a clipboard, when I came across this idea. It meets all of my criteria, is pretty, and looks like something I could actually create myself. It’ll take a small investment of time and money, but I think I can handle it, and I think it’ll work well for my daughter.

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The Organizher School Memories Keeper

My mother kept very detailed baby books for me and my sister. She filled them with photographs and specific dates, milestones, and memories. I still get a kick out of looking through them. So when my daughter was born, I got myself a baby book, and started filling it out. But I was quickly swept up in the busyness of being a mom, and forgot to note the dates of pretty much all of my daughter’s milestones. Now that she’s in school and I’m better at managing my time and projects, I have a kind of second chance. I knew I had seen memory books that were organized by grade, so I hopped on Amazon and found the Mead Organizher School Memories Keeper. In addition to being organized by grade, it has a place to affix each year’s school picture, a large pocket for holding documents and other mementos from that school year, and spaces to fill in basic information about the year, like teacher’s name, friends, milestones, and current events. It’s a perfect way to capture all of this information.

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What are some of your favorite organizing tips, tools, and ideas?

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Author: My Upstate Life

Wife, mom, and lover of books, podcasts, and blogs. Not a fan of cooking, winter, and snakes.

28 thoughts on “My Organizing Favorites”

  1. Glad to have stopped by from #FreshMarketFriday! I love organizing & am doing a blog on it coming up in a wellness series I’m doing! Love my Fitbit and agree-I hate it when my Fall clothes shrink. Thanks for the fun tips & suggestions!

  2. I’ve been working on getting more organized, too. I guess the one thing that has always helped me the most is keeping a running list of things to do. Then I can pull off a few things to work on each day. Great suggestions on your list. I stopped by today from Snippets of Inspiration. Blessings!

  3. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post at #OverTheMoon. I look forward to what you will share next week! Do something special. Give yourself a standing ovation today! We hope you’ll come back again next Sunday when we open our doors at 6:00 PM EST.

  4. I am picky when it comes to planner’s – hence my continuing cycle of zero planners because I got tired of spending money on them only to find out they didn’t contain what I truly needed. I am still on the search so I will check out her stuff! Thanks for sharing your knowledge & experience!

  5. Loved this post. I’m a little bit of a Fitbit freak myself. When my husband upgraded me, I gave him my old one and we’ve been smacktalking each other Monday-Friday (because Saturday and Sunday is our day of rest..wink).

    LOVEEEE the chore chart suggestion! This one might actually work for me and the kid. =)

    Visiting you from SITS =)

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