If you know me at all, you might be surprised to see my writing a post about organization. At first glance, I might not seem like the most organized person in the world. And, truth be told, I’m really not. I’m a little messy and a little scatterbrained. I’m pretty always a few minutes late (or more). I’m working on it. But I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade. When you’re a full-time working mom, a wife, a friend, a colleague, a health and fitness coach, and the list goes on and on, you learn pretty quickly that if you don’t figure out some kind of system to keep it all straight, you will show up an hour late to a birthday party because you got the time wrong or oversleep and have to face your boss when you’re late for work. Not that I’ve done either of those things. Okay, I’ve done both.
Over the past couple of years, especially the last almost 17 months since my son was born, I’ve developed a few different strategies to keep myself organized that I want to share with you in the hopes that they help you. Since health and fitness are a big part of my life, a lot of these tips will focus on that aspect of life.
The absolute most effective and life-changing thing I’ve discovered in staying organized and prioritizing my health has been to get up early and get it done in the morning. I know, that sucks. People ask me a lot about how I fit my workout into my day with a young son, and most of them are always kind of disappointed when I say I get up early to do it. “I could never do that,” they say. “I love my sleep too much!” Please believe me when I say that I AM THE SAME WAY! Notice that I used the present tense there–I love my sleep too! I don’t love getting out of bed with an alarm basically every day. I want to sleep in, too, people! “So, sleep in!” you’re thinking. Sometimes I do. But most of the time I don’t.
I was having a hard time getting my workouts in. I was tired at the end of the day, my kid stopped taking an afternoon nap, I felt guilty about “taking” that time away from my family, and the list of excuses goes on and on. Getting up early means that I get my workout in with no excuses–what reason am I going to have to skip it? Sickness or laziness. That’s pretty much it. I refuse to be lazy anymore, so up I get. I have goals that I want to meet, and I have to work out to meet them.
When I saw how effective it was to get up to work out, I decided to get up a little earlier so I could get some work done, too. So I do at least 30 minutes of a power hour (a scheduled hour during my day where I focus solely on one agenda) for my coaching work every day before the day gets started. That way, no matter what else happens that day, I’ve at least done some of my responsibilities, the most important of which is my quiet time. My Bible study and prayer time is in the morning either right before or right after my workout. It sets the tone for my day and frames my mind in the proper way for whatever happens.
Another essential lesson I discovered was to suck it up. Yes, you read that right. I had to SUCK IT UP. Everyone is busy. Everyone is stressed. Everyone is overwhelmed by the demands of their lives. I’m not the only person in the world dealing with busyness and stress. I’m not a special snowflake–I’m just a woman trying to keep it all together. I had developed the bad habit of feeling sorry for myself and letting my stress shut me down, and I had to just get over it and deal. Some of you need to do that, too. Love you, but it’s true.
Once I had accepted that fact that my life is busy and stressful, I started to try and take some control back. I didn’t want a schedule to control me, and I didn’t want to always be stressed. I started doing a few simple things to help keep everything on track.
- Use a planner. If you have an iPhone, there is a free calendar app that is automatically loaded onto your phone. Use it! I make alerts for pretty much everything so I won’t forget. I swear, I have the mind of a 150-year old. I can’t remember anything on my own because there is too much to remember! If you are a pen-and-paper kind of person, get a paper planner. You can spend $10 at Target or Wal-Mart on a cheap one, or upwards of $70 on specialty planners from online stores. I have a cheapo from Target that works pretty well for me, and I also use my calendar app. Sometimes I write the same thing in both places, but a lot of the time I use the paper planner for my coaching stuff and the calendar app for everything else.
- Use to-do lists. I have a to-do list every single day. I have a list for my job, a list for personal things, a list for coaching things, and a list for household things. I don’t keep them all separate all the time, but you better believe I have a list going at all times. For work I just use sticky notes that I keep on my desk, but for general life stuff I mostly use a free app called To-Doist. I love it! It’s easy to use and I can quickly add something to my list as soon as I think of it to help me remember what I need to do.
- Be specific. When I’m working during the school year, it doesn’t make a lot of since to schedule my entire day because I know where I’ll be for 8-9 hours of it–teaching. But for days off of school and summer break, I schedule out my days to keep myself accountable. If I don’t write down what I need to do and schedule a time to do it, it won’t happen, especially when you throw in the chaos that can come with a toddler. The day I’m writing this, I got all my coaching work done in the morning before Little Man woke up and was so excited to have some free time to watch crappy TV during his nap. And then he didn’t nap. UGH. If I hadn’t scheduled the time in the morning to do the stuff that really needed to get done, I would have been stressing all day when things didn’t go as planned. Okay, I still stressed, but not as bad.
These are just a few options for getting organized and figuring out how to prioritize your health, but these are really effective for me at this point in my life. It may seem like overkill, but I’m less stressed because of this. After doing these things for a few weeks, it became a habit and now it’s just second nature.
I hope that you have found something helpful in these tips to apply to your own life! I’d love to hear how you stay organized, too!