It’s a day like so many others: you sit down to work, but your mind is already mulling over everything you need to accomplish. You want to wrap up early to attend a networking event in the afternoon. Later, you have a doctor’s appointment and your friend’s art show. And somewhere amidst your busy calendar, you need to find time to eat a healthy lunch, stretch, and relax your mind.
Balancing cluttered inboxes, professional obligations, and personal responsibilities can be exhausting. When you’re stretched too thin, succumbing to a sense of chaos that impacts your ability to move through life with a clear mind is all too easy.
If only you had a few more hours in the day to get everything done.
Unfortunately, you’re stuck within that 24-hour limit. But even though you can’t magically tack more time onto your day, you can create healthy habits that free up time and mental energy.
Learning how to organize your life with direction and purpose can help you feel more in control. And time management and organizational skills empower you to strike a better balance between work, life, and self-care — allowing you to squeeze in a much-needed breather.
18 tips to organize your life
If your to-do list has an entry for “figuring out how to get my life together,” these tips are a great launching pad. Whether you want to organize your mind, social life, or finances, there are skills you can learn and apply to stay on top of it all.
How to organize your thoughts
If your mind feels cluttered, you’re not alone. Moving from one responsibility to the next with no time for rest can feel overwhelming — and lead to burnout. Here are some ways to slow down, reflect on your goals, and act with more intention:
Personal development plan: Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, found that writing down your goals each day makes you 42% more likely to accomplish them. When you don’t have a clear action plan, you’re like a kite without a string floating from one thing to the other.
Taking the time to intentionally write out your goals and map a path to achieve them empowers you to turn big ideas into manageable, step-by-step achievements. You move incrementally rather than tackling everything at once, saving energy and motivating yourself with each milestone.
Meditation: Mindfulness and meditation practices may help you find a sense of grounding — and, according to the American Psychological Association, it’s proven to reduce stress and anxiety. All you require is a quiet space and a few minutes to focus on your breathing and quiet your mind.
If you’re new to meditation, consider subscribing to a mindfulness app or podcast to find the practice that resonates most. Whether it’s a quick 5-minute pause or an hour-long class, integrating meditation into your routine can provide a mental reset that enhances your focus and attitude.
How to organize your time
Time is a precious resource, but sometimes it can get away from you. Here are some life organization tips to ensure you make the best of every minute:
Wake up earlier: Getting up with just enough time to get dressed and rush out the door sets the mood for the rest of the day — and it isn’t a good one.
Try revamping your morning routine by waking up earlier to give yourself quiet, uninterrupted time to plan, reflect, or simply enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. Even 15 minutes can set you up with more clarity to approach your day.
Track your time: Identifying how you spend your time can be a life-changing exercise. Time-tracking tools (or a hand-written log) help you spot unhealthy patterns, like the amount of time spent procrastinating or excessively checking your cell phone.
You can’t fix problems you aren’t aware you have: defining your time management strengths and weaknesses is the first step to developing good habits.
How to stay organized at work
Your career defines a big part of your life — it informs your identity, determines your livelihood, and dictates your time. Learning how to get organized in the workplace has a positive snowball effect, facilitating better decision-making and meaningful work-life balance. Here are a few simple organizational hacks to revamp your workday:
Make to-do lists: Jotting down every task on your plate is a great way to ensure you don’t miss anything. And this organized to-do list saves you from last-minute crunches that cause stress and hinder performance.
There are plenty of prioritization methods to choose from, from the Eisenhower Matrix to color-coding your agenda, helping you separate urgent and important tasks from the non-essential. Plus, who doesn’t love ticking off a completed task from their to-do list?
Block out focus times: Slack messages, emails, and unexpected visits from a coworker offer no shortage of distractions. And if you work from home, blended boundaries can get in the way of your concentration. Time blocking for specific projects or tasks can shield you from interruptions, allowing you to dive deep and make much-needed progress.
Try creating a virtual boundary (like pausing notifications or blocking social media) to get into a flow state, ensuring you spend your energy efficiently and effectively.
Learn to delegate: You can’t – and shouldn’t – do everything alone. That’s why you have a team to support you. Learning to share responsibility with your peers ensures your day isn’t tied up with an endless list of little things, freeing up time to maximize your skills and know-how.
And delegation doesn’t only lead to a more organized life. It also fosters trust, sets clear expectations, and creates stronger bonds within your team.
How to be organized at home
Your home is your sanctuary. Keeping it neat and stress-free can give you peace of mind, even while you’re out and about. Here are a few tips for building new habits that foster a positive living environment:
Declutter your space: Clean spaces lead to clear minds. Too much stuff in your living or working space is more than inconvenient — messy spaces create cognitive overloads and signal your brain to release the stress hormone cortisol, which can negatively affect your mental health.
Consider tidying up at the end of each day (even if only for 10 minutes) so you begin each morning without looming anxiety about a mess you need to deal with. If you work from home, you can tackle your professional and personal space in one go.
- Follow the one in, one out rule: Another way to keep your space decluttered is adopting the “one in, one out” rule. When you bring something new into your home, something else must go to the donation bin. This habit encourages you to keep your home clean, manage your spending, and feel more gratitude for the things you have.
- Build a command center: Showing up late to a meeting because you couldn’t find your keys doesn’t leave a great impression. Designate a spot in your home where you keep essential items, like keys, wallets, or shopping lists. This helps you keep track of your things and avoid unnecessary time spent searching in a tizzy.
How to organize your social media
Social media can be a powerful resource for connection and community. But the rush of dopamine it provides can disrupt your sleep, increase anxiety, and even create addictive bad habits. Here are ways to strike a healthy balance:
- Limit your time: Social media is designed to keep you wanting more: getting you stuck in a doom scroll is the algorithm’s goal. To stay on track, set specific times for engaging with social media and use the settings on your phone to limit your daily usage. A digital detox might be just what you need to get back on track.
- Unfollow people: If your feed is filled with content from people or pages you don’t interact with, consider hitting the unfollow button. Likewise, if you negatively compare yourself to other social media accounts or personalities, you can prioritize your peace and wipe them from your feed. It’ll help you focus your time and energy on the connections that really matter to you.
How to get organized in your self-care, nutrition, and free time
Being organized at work means prioritizing your personal needs. However, many people feel guilty spending time on leisure (even though they shouldn’t).
It’s crucial to understand that self-care is anything but selfish — it’s necessary for healthy physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Here are a few ways to prioritize you in your schedule:
Schedule it: Your digital calendar isn’t just for scheduling important dates and meetings — you can also schedule your workouts, self-care routine, or time with family members.
Penciling in time for yourself in your calendar is a visual reminder of the importance of prioritizing yourself (not just your work). And consistency can create healthy mental connections and eliminate the guilt you might feel setting time aside for yourself.
Meal plan: If cooking is a source of stress, organizing your meals can save time and create a pathway to a healthier lifestyle. Consider planning a weekly menu, taking into account nutrition and cravings. Meal-planning apps, ingredient prep, and cooking in bulk can work together to ensure you have food that nourishes and reduces your temptation to consistently turn to less healthy options.
Prioritize free time: The activities you choose to do in your free time deepen your sense of self, encourage you to set boundaries with your time, and allow your mind to flex its creativity. Whether you want to learn a new instrument or relax on the couch with a movie, the joy you feel while pursuing a hobby can refresh and reinvigorate you.
Keep track of your finances: Whether you want to buy a home or hit a certain number in your retirement fund, your financial goals are only possible when you have a thorough understanding of your spending and savings.
Financial tracking apps can help you align your savings with your income, expenses, and debt. Consistently monitoring your finances cultivates financial wellness and a healthy financial future. And you’re not alone: a financial coach can help you develop better money management skills if you aren’t positive about where to start.
Time is of the essence
Life will always be filled with moments where you feel like you need an extra few hours to get through it all. But you can avoid persistent and chronic feelings of being overwhelmed by learning how to organize your life — including picking up the tools and resources to be more flexible and resilient.
Start small, set goals for building better organization skills, and find the best habits for you. Over time, you’ll notice the positive effects on your mental and physical health and find yourself feeling more prepared when life is a little more hectic than usual.