Organize Your Life

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all of the responsibilities your life keeps pressing on you? Don't worry, you're not alone. In today's world of modern conveniences, where we can carry a supercomputer in our pocket that doubles as a phone, video camera, and mobile game console, many people have found that instead of feeling more liberated and relaxed, they're actually feeling overburdened and run ragged. Here are 5 tips to help organize your life and let you feel more in control.

#5 in our tips to help organize your life: Day planners aren't just for CEOs.
Todays cellphones all come standard with some type of a calendar or scheduling program. Make use of it! If it's not evident how to use it, there are plenty of how-to articles online that can walk you through every feature with your particular phone's calendar program. Do you eschew the "electronic tether"? No worries; pick up a small day planner that can fit into a shirt pocket or a pocketbook. Then, most importantly: use it! Write down every little thing that you need to remember, even repeating activities that you've been doing every week for years. Having all of your responsibilities laid out before you will help you realize what, if anything, you can cut back on; if nothing else it will help put things into perspective and make sure you don't forget anything important.

#4 in our tips to help organize your life: Stop making stops on the way home.
One of the easiest ways to make yourself feel rushed and ragged is to arrange things in your days so that you need to stop on the way home every evening and pick up something. Anything from a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread to dinner to feed everyone; if you're making more than one last-minute errand per week, you're making too many. Instead, when you think of an errand that needs to be run, write it down on a sticky note and stick it to the back of your front door. Determine one day a week that you will run errands. On that day, pull all of your errands off of the door and do them at one time. Not only will it save time, it will also save gas money!

#3 in our tips to help organize your life: Plan out your meals ahead of time.
Standing in front of your pantry at dinnertime and trying desperately to figure out what to make for dinner just increases your frustration and that feeling of pressure. For an easy solution, try E-Mealz'>">E-Mealz>. For just $5 per month, you'll get a full week's meal plan complete with a shopping list to download and print every Thursday. To do it yourself, first make a list of your family's favorite meals. Then, put each meal and its ingredients on its own index card. On the back of each card, write the instructions for the recipe. When your local grocery store sends out its weekly flyer, go through the flyer and see what is on sale that matches up with your meals. Pick out seven meals, paperclip them together and go buy the ingredients for them all at once. Don't forget things like extra bread for lunches or enough milk to last you all week. Remember rule 4? You don't want to have to run out for more milk mid-week! Once you are done shopping, hang the index cards for the week's meals on the refrigerator where they're both convenient for you and for any other family member who might want to help out for an evening. For an extra bonus, make sure at least one meal each week is a kid-friendly recipe, and let your kids make dinner while you relax!

#2 in our tips to help organize your life: Keep track of, and limit, time-sinks.
We all have many time-sinks in our life. Phone calls with friends, playing with our Facebook games, even reading email. The perfect solution for this is a simple device our grandmothers relied on daily: a kitchen timer. When someone calls, set the timer for five or ten minutes and let your caller know that you're busy but you'll give them your undivided attention for that amount of time. Once the timer goes off, politely end the call. The first few times friends call, they might urge you to stay on the phone, but stick to your guns. It will only take a few times for them to realize you're serious, and they'll be sure to get to the point quickly. Use your handy kitchen timer for other time-sinks as well. Try giving yourself just a half hour for email or online game time. Get offline when the timer goes off and go do something else. You'll find that with practice, your time online will be far more productive. You'll spend less time getting distracted and surfing around, because you'll know your time is limited. Not only will this free up untold amounts of time for all of the other things in your life that you need to take care of, it will keep you from sitting down at the computer and then, 3 hours later, wondering where all the time went.

#1 in our tips to help organize your life: Make time to relax each day.
Perhaps the most unifying thing between all of us over-pressured, overwhelmed people is that we don't make time to relax each day. Oh sure, we intend to take some time, but somehow it never happens. There's always something else that needs to be taken care of. Just one or two things that will "only take a minute" - but then those things breed into other things, and before we know it, there's no time left to sit down and relax. Here's the unvarnished truth: You have to schedule the time to relax. It will never just appear on its own. Just as your subconcious mind uses the hours you sleep to decompress from all of the input you've given it during the day, your concious mind also needs its downtime. Even just a half hour each day spent on yourself can make a major difference in how pressured, overwhelmed, and unorganized you feel. Schedule yourself a slice of time each day (try to make it the same time every day) and again, stick to your guns. When the time comes, whether it's a half hour right after you wake up or right before you go to bed, or even smack in the middle of the day, put everything else aside. Take that piece of your day and spend it doing something that relaxes you. Sitting outside listening to nature, reading a trashy romance novel, taking a luxurious bubble bath complete with candles, assembling a model car - whatever feeds your spirit and recharges you.

While certainly not an all-inclusive list, these 5 tips to help organize your life will make a major difference. Just applying these tips for a single week will have you noticing that you feel less pressured and not so overwhelmed. They're a great starting point on your journey to get your life organized and under control.