Have you ever asked yourself, “How did my life get so out of control?” I know I certainly have – more than once, unfortunately. If you ever happen to find yourself in this situation, or if you’re just spending some time reexamining your life and looking for areas to improve, these books and tools should help you streamline, pare down, rearrange, and take control your life.
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I have to admit that I’ve spent a big part of my life trying to get my act together. But in that quest, I’ve run across a lot of good books that have helped me put systems in place and focus on priorities.
Since starting this blog, I’ve been utilizing more technology. I’ve become a convert and love being able to keep track of things and be productive even when I’m not at home. Talk about finally feeling like your act is tied up with a red bow!
Each of the items I’m listing here is something I’ve read and used. All of the books were helpful enough that I put them in my personal library.
Books to help you get organized
Ready For Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done – David Allen. Does just what it says – it gives you guidelines to help you get more done in the time you have. I’m not the only one who is a “GTD” fan.
The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management – Hyrum W. Smith. This is a book I spent a good amount of time with at a point in my life when I was trying to clarify my values. The lesson I learned from the book is this: figure out what’s important in your life, prioritize your time by focusing on what’s important, get rid of everything else.
Never Check Email in the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies For Making Your Work Life Work – Julie Morgenstern. This is something I still struggle with because it’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole that email (and the internet) provides. Then you look up mid-morning and wonder why you haven’t accomplished anything. By putting off the routine, and probably mundane, tasks till later, you should free up your best time for more productive activities. My advice is that if you have to check email, just do a cursory look through to see what must be dealt with immediately then come back later to deal with the other stuff. And it’s amazing how the delete button makes things all better (or am I the only one who gets annoying emails that I didn’t ask for?).
Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – Brian Tracy. One huge lesson from this book is to get the worst thing off your list first. Once you do that, the rest of the day goes much better and you don’t spend time dreading something.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen R. Covey. I still refer to the time management matrix to help me determine the importance and urgency of particular tasks.
Enough Already: Clearing Mental Cutter to Become the Best You – Peter Walsh. One of the most important lessons I learned from Peter Walsh’s books (and I have several of them) is that stuff can weigh you down and make you feel like you’re drowning. Most of us keep way too much stuff thinking that it’s important, sentimental, and that it makes us happy. As a result, stuff takes over and deprives us of our best life. The test for me became this question: do I love this enough to display it, use it, or wear it? If the answer is no – out it goes. Less stuff = a more organized me.
While the books contain great advice, we still need tools to help us put that advice into practice and make it work for us.
Technology to help you get organized
cozi.com – I discovered Cozi several years ago and used it primarily from the website for a long time. But it’s also got a mobile app that makes it even more convenient. The thing I liked most about Cozi is that I can color-code each member of the family in order to keep track of their activities. I also love that it sends text message reminders to my kids of events I want them to remember (like birthdays). Gone is the “I forgot” excuse!
Evernote – I like that I can access Evernote on my computer or phone and it makes it easy to c capture things I want to read later. Keep lists, ideas, voice memos, etc. in Evernote and as long as you’ve got your phone – you’ve got everything with you. This app is great for people who write. I write fiction in addition to my blog and I’m always coming across something I want to read later (it’s too easy to fall down a rabbit hole if you’re not careful) and by “clipping” the things that would normally get me sidetracked, I’m able to stay focused (for the most part) and not get sidetracked. It’s also great for people who ever need to remember anything. It’s just pretty great for anyone if you think about it.
Google Docs – I have to admit that I’m not great with Google Docs yet. I have some friends who are much more tech-savvy than I am who rave about how much easier their lives are because of Google Docs. And I can see applications where this is going to be helpful to me in the future. But it’s still something I’m working on.
Trello – This one is new to me and I’m just learning it. Trello is a project organizer that allows you to break projects down into smaller pieces. You’re able to add checklists, due dates, and attach files. Trello can be used by teams (or families) so it would be good to consider if you’ve got others involved in helping you get something done.
Toodledo – I primarily use this for the list making function (did I ever tell you that I’m a compulsive list maker?) It’s a good place to capture all those miscellaneous things that cross your mind and cause you to say, “I need to remember to do that (clean that, buy that, etc.).” Whether at your computer or on the go, add that pesky thing that’s big enough to annoy you, but small enough that you don’t always remember it, to your list. Then when you’ve got a few free minutes on your hands you can check the list and check something off. You can set due dates and assign priority levels to items and you can sort according to each.
Planners and calendars to get you organized
Full disclosure here: I am a paper girl. I love calendars, planners, notebooks. If it’s paper then I love it.
Mom’s Plan It Calendar – This was my favorite calendar for years and years! It was perfect for us because it had a place for me to list each of the five members of our family out to one side and then in each large square I could write what was pertinent to each person. I also LOVE that this calendar comes with lots of stickers so it’s colorful and fun to use. I don’t know if it matters how old we are, there’s just something more fun about any project decorated with cute stickers. And no, I’m not embarrassed to admit that. The stickers caught my eye which helped me pay attention and not let something fall through the cracks.
Franklin Planner Pages – You can put these in a notebook or special planner binder to keep track of your daily appointments, tasks, notes, etc. My hubby has always liked to joke that I can’t go to the bathroom without my planner. He’s wrong of course because I can – I just choose not to! Seriously, I know that lots of people have gone digital and digital does have some advantages. But I am a paper girl at heart and I remember thing better when they’re written down and staring at me. I also get such a thrill from crossing things off my list that I’ll write something down that I’ve already done, just so I can cross it off. I know I’m not the only one who does this (fess up now). I even have a favorite pen that has four colors of ink. And yes, I use the different colors to signify different activities. Call me crazy if you want – just don’t run off with my pen!
There you have it. While this doesn’t list every book or tool that has great information or organizing ability, it’s a good list to get you started. I personally do not believe that there is such a thing as TOO organized. The truly organized person achieves so much that they can take over the world – or at least their world.
What’s your favorite organizing tool or tip? Is there something you have learned or implemented that make your life run smoother? Please share it below because I’m always looking for a new idea. And if you know someone who could use a little nudge in the organizing arena, please share this post with them. A shared blog post is so much better than nagging, don’t you think?