Do you need an organizer to keep your organization system organized?

Joan Fieldstone

March 22, 2016

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Interior Home ImprovementGeneral Remodeling

I'm beginning to think we are driving ourselves crazy with all the apps, books, and techniques designed to keep us organized. Everyone has a fool-proof method. Some of us have read dozens of books and spent hundreds of dollars trying to find that system that will magically keep our papers in order, our children's and spouse's schedule top of mind, our bills paid on time…the list is endless.

Everyone has a favorite organizing guru or book they swear will save you from drowning in your clutter and commitments, but if your life is still spiraling out of control, I can tell you that my system works…for me.

My secret to staying organized is simple

Getting organized and staying organized shouldn't be like having a school or work assignment hanging over your head. It should be natural. In fact, it can even be fun. I, for one, get a kick out of checking those boxes as I get one thing after another accomplished from my to-do list. And the reason is that I have only one daily to-do list. I can move items around with my finger to re-prioritize them as things change during the day. I review the list often because it's always handy, and I get rid of things I no longer find important enough to do. My secret is the Keep app from Google that I have on my cell phone.

I've read that you can do a lot more with this app than I even care to explore. You can export your lists to Google Docs if you're so inclined and share them with coworkers or family members. You can turn them into a memoir, if you like. I don't have coworkers and I live with fur babies, so I don't need to share. Simplicity is the key to my success.

About as detailed as I get with this app is that I've created separate shopping lists for the few key stores or types of stores I frequent regularly - like once a month or more. So when I have to buy something at one of them, my to-do list might say, "food shopping at Trader Joe's." Then I flip to my Trader Joe's shopping list in Keep when I get to the store and check off the items as I put them in my cart. I can resurrect regular items because they just stay at the bottom of the list when I cross them off. (I can also delete anything I've bought and decided I never want to buy again so my list doesn't get cluttered up. But I don't have to get that detailed to stay on top of things.)

Keep lists for staying on top of home improvement projects

I've used this technique for every major or minor undertaking I have including the endless list of remodeling projects I always have in progress. I keep a list of the projects -- or parts of a large project -- that I have to accomplish. When I have to shop for supplies, I make a separate list for Home Depot and can reference that. The process is so easy that it's become second nature to me. I can walk through the house like I have a clipboard, think through a process and list the steps I need to take to accomplish a project.

The fact that my cell phone is never more than a few feet away from me makes this method far more effective than searching for a piece of paper and a pen when I'm in the throes of one of those I-better-not-forget-to-buy (or do or schedule) moments that almost always coincides with my being in the middle of something else. By the time I would normally finish the "something else," I'd forget what I needed to jot down.

Keep is similar to all those sticky notes you leave around but can't find. You can even make your Keep notes different colors just like the real sticky notes. If you're so inclined, you can also label them to retrieve similar lists. As a writer, I make some notes that I've tagged as "Random Thoughts," the sort of things I think of as I'm fixing my hair -- the stuff that occurs to me one moment and disappears into the ether just as quickly if I don't capture it.

The best part is that my notes don't create piles of paper that clutter the kitchen counter or use up the refrigerator magnets. Just eliminating that one source of clutter…try it.


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