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How I'm Organizing My Life In 2015

A new year always brings new resolutions and goals. Some of them we keep, some of them we don't. My goal for this year is to get organized. I want to organize my whole life. Top to bottom. End to end. Every aspect!

I've felt a little stagnant and lazy the last few months. I used to be a super productive person. I was the type that hopped right out of bed in the morning and started on my to do list. I was very organized and always got things done. Now, I'm lucky if I wake up after hitting snooze four times, and even then, I tend to sit in bed for an hour dreading all the things I have to do. Once I start a task, I'm good to go. It's the actually getting started that's a problem. 

So how am I going to fix this? When I think about what my life was like back when I was super productive, I'm brought back to high school and college days. Yes, I was young and life is very different now, but what was it that kept me on track? Why did my productivity fall apart after graduating? The answer is that once I entered the real world, I lost my routine. In school, I had a class schedule and a work schedule. Even going to school full time and working two jobs, I kept it together. I knew how many hours I had in between each obligation and I took time to plan out the next day. I penciled in time for homework and studying, lunch and coffee with friends, when I was going to visit my family, gym time, etc. Everything was planned out. I knew what I had to accomplish each day. 

Then I graduated. I am a nurse, so I work weird hours with no consistent schedule. I work long shifts, sometimes during the day and sometimes at night. There is no normalcy. Sometimes I wake up 4:45 am. Sometimes I wake up 3:00 pm. I have no routine. On my days off, I'm so exhausted from my crazy schedule that I end up just sitting around recovering. I would probably feel better if I did something though! 

So I am going to get back to the basics and find the old me. The super organized, really productive, neat freak who was a creature of habit. She's got to still be here somewhere! I spent the first month of the year brainstorming and implementing some ideas, and now I'm ready to share. Here's how I am going to meet my goal this year...

How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Create a routine. This is especially difficult for me, since I am a nurse. However, I realized that if I stop paying attention to the clock, I can do this. It shouldn't matter what time I wake up, day or night, I just need to start my day the same way every day. I've made a list of daily tasks to complete in the same order each day. I've including everything from drinking my daily cup of coffee and getting a shower to completing daily chores. To make it easier for my nurse schedule, I've made two separate lists, one for work days, and one for days off. This doesn't mean my entire day is planned out to be the same each day. This is just a routine to start my day

Create a routine | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Plan your day. When I was in college, I used to plan my day by writing out the hours of the day down the side of a page, starting with the time I planned to wake up. I wrote in what time I had class and work, and then I penciled in the rest of what I had to do that day. This wasn't carved in stone, but it helped structure my day and keep me on track. Lately, I've been trying to pick this habit back up. I write down the hours of the day starting with what time I wake up (whether on day shift or night shift!) and pencil everything in. I allow myself time for coffee and relaxing (checking my email, browsing Pinterest, reading a book, whatever I feel like that day), and then I pencil in an hour or two for the daily tasks I described under "create a routine." Then I add in anything I need to accomplish that day (chores, errands, etc.). I try to throw in an hour for blogging or for crafting. By blocking everything out ahead of time, I can see how much spare time I will have which I can fill in with something fun or can use to accomplish something I didn't think I would get to. One of my blogging friends, Erin at DIY Passion, recently explained to me how she blocks her time in 15 minute increments to help her stay focused. Whether you prefer 15 minute chunks of time or hourly planning, time blocking really does work!

Plan your day | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Start meal planning. I did this sporadically last year and I was always really surprised by what a huge difference it makes. There was no more, "Honey, what do you want for dinner?" "I don't know, what do you want?" There were no more impromptu grocery trips for last minute ingredients. We spent less on eating out. We ate healthier. There's really no reason not to meal plan! This year I want to get better at this! When I have time, I make a list of meals we really like and a few new recipes. I print out a blank calendar and pencil them all in. Then, I make a grocery list each week of the ingredients we need for that week's meals and any staples we are running out of. Depending on what ingredients I need, I sometimes do two weeks of grocery shopping at once. Meal planning is a huge time saver, and I'm excited to make more use of it!
Make a meal plan | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Set a budget. At the beginning of January, my husband and I looked over our finances. For the past year, we have been logging our expenses on This has really been eye opening for us! We've been able to see what areas we are spending the majority of our money on and where we could cut back. I highly recommend for anyone looking to organize their finances! We also plan on paying off some debt this year. We made a list of all of our debts, the amount owed, and the interest rate. We decided to pay off the debts with the highest interest rates first, and once each debt is payed, we will continue to apply that debt's minimum monthly payment to the next debt. This is a combination of two different schools of thought on debt repayment (the debt "avalanche" method and Dave Ramsey's debt "snowball" method), and we think it will help us quickly get to a point where our house is our only debt, and then we can start investing what we used to spend on debt. 
Set up a budget | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Stick with paper. Okay, okay. I know everywhere you look, something screams "GO PAPERLESS!" And that's great. It's great for the environment. It's great for keeping your paper clutter under control (or you could just make one of these cute mail trays!). However, for me, there are some things that just need to stay on paper! This year I bought a calendar and several planners (All from Sugar Paper!) They create the most beautiful planners!). The calendar goes on the fridge so that I can put my work schedule, appointments, and any social obligations somewhere that my husband can easily find them. I have a main planner that I carry with me everywhere. This planner includes my schedule, my daily to do lists, and several master to do lists (which I'll get to shortly). I've tried keeping my schedule in my phone or on Google calendar, but it just doesn't work for me. I'm a paper and pencil kinda gal! I have another planner that I use for tracking health and fitness (I'll fill you in below). I have a third planner I use for blogging (details in a sec!). I also keep my address book on paper. Address books appear to be a dying thing, but I don't know how people send out their Christmas cards without one! It definitely keeps me organized!

Get organized on paper | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Keep a master to do list. As I mentioned above, one of my planners includes a master to do list. I am a list maker. I love lists. I waste lots of time making to do lists, and then rewriting them, and then rewriting them again. Whenever I organize a drawer or clean out a purse, I find sticky notes galore. Lists everywhere! So recently, I piled up some of those lists and looked for tasks that I really actually need to accomplish but weren't time sensitive. I wrote all of these tasks on my new ongoing master to do list. I add things to it all the time. It's a long list, but at least these things are now out of my head and onto paper (and only one sheet of paper instead of a million post its!). I also created a separate master to do list for house projects. I listed every project I could think of, from painting the living room to finishing the basement. This allows me to see projects at a glance and see how much we've actually accomplished!
Make a master to do list | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Organize your blog life. This is something I really struggle with. It's so easy to let blogging overwhelm you. There are projects to create, posts to write, comments to respond to, social media to interact with, brands to work with... The obligations are endless! It's hard to keep track of! This year I am using The Blog Planner 2015 created by Corey at Tiny Sidekick. It contains monthly editorial calendars with maintenance tasks as well as week by week breakdowns including social media and link ups. There are also charts to keep track of stats. My favorite part is that it helps you make realistic goals. I'm excited to keep track of my blog life and to more closely watch how my stats change each month. In addition to my new blog planner, I also keep a mini notebook that I can easily fit in my purse to jot down project ideas as they come to me. Sometimes you think of something great, and then you forget it! Now, when I think of something, I write it down, no matter where I am. This becomes a great reference for when you just can't think of what to blog about!

Use a blog planner | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Make a cleaning schedule. Usually I tend to save all of my housework for one day. Then I sweat my butt off trying to get the whole house clean from top to bottom. This is crazy! Who wants to devote an entire day to chores? So, I made a list of each room in the house and what needed to be done weekly in that room. This just includes the simple things like dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, etc. Then I wrote out the days of the week and assigned a room/area for each day. For example, Monday is for all of the bathrooms, Tuesday is for the bedrooms, Wednesday is for the kitchen, and so on. I printed my list out with each day and room in bold text with the cleaning tasks for that room listed underneath. This is on the refrigerator so that my husband can help on days when I work since I don't get home until late sometimes. This list helps me to only devote 15-30 minutes of my day to cleaning. It makes it feel like a much less daunting task!
Plan a cleaning schedule | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Organize the house. Another master list! I listed every room and problem area in the house that I need to organize. Each month, I am going to pick one. I will go through everything, donate, recycle, or throw away unneeded items, and organize everything else into storage bins. I've also decided that whichever area I am organizing that month will be assigned to a deep cleaning that month (you know, the things you hate doing on a regular basis... wiping down baseboards and fan blades, dusting the blinds, etc. Or is that just me???). By focusing on one area at a time, I can do a thorough job and spend some time making the area look nice too.
Organize one room at a time | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Chart health and fitness. Everyone makes a resolution to get healthy, get fit, lose weight, etc. each year. It's hard to commit to! I don't have any specific health goals this year. I just want to start paying more attention to how I'm treating my body... what I'm eating, how often I'm working out, etc. I've played with several apps over the years and I really like My Fitness Pal. However, I'm really bad at actually inputting my data each day. So, I have another beautiful Sugar Paper planner that I keep on my nightstand. Each night, I write down everything I ate that day and any physical activity. Then, once a week I sit down and add it all into the app. This works for me since I'm not strictly counting calories right now, but if you are on a diet, its probably better to input your data daily so that you know your status. I find that just writing it down makes me more conscious of how I am eating and whether I am active enough and the app helps me track trends. I also have been using a FitBit for years. I have the original FitBit Ultra and I love it. They don't make it anymore, but the new FitBit One is almost exactly the same. I highly recommend one to track your steps, level of activity, and even your sleep patterns! FitBit also gives you the ability to track your meals, and you can sync it with My Fitness Pal and several other fitness apps.

Track your diet and fitness | How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

Want to hear more about one of these strategies? Let me know so that I can put together a more detailed post!
How I'm Organizing My Life This Year

These are just some of the things that work for me and that I am focusing on this year. Everyone works differently, so I would love to hear how you are getting organized this year. We can do this! We've got a whole year to work on it! Ready, set, go! :)
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  1. Great plan Nicole! This article is very helpful and it couldn't have come at a better time. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This is absolutely BRILLIANT Nicole! I know just what you're talking about re-writing your lists!!! This was just the kick in the butt I needed to get organized again too!!!

    1. Thanks Kristi! I just needed to get it all out in words to help me follow my own advice! :)

  3. You and I are so similar, no wonder we were good friends as kids! I loved this post and you've inspired me to get more organized. I can totally relate to the millions of lists and sticky notes in my purse it's ridiculous! :)

    1. Thank you, Becca! I couldn't survive without list making! :)