Our Five Ring Circus: 35 Easy Ways To Organize Your Life in 2020

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

35 Easy Ways To Organize Your Life in 2020

35 Easy Ways To Organize Your Life

Now that the new year has begun, everyone is making resolutions, setting goals, and coming up with words to live by. In the past, I have done all of those things, but in 2020, I decided to forgo resolutions, goals, and words of the year. Instead, I'm focusing on living life to the fullest with those I love most, and enjoying all the sweet little moments 2020 will bring!

In order to do so, I'm going to attempt to stay as organized as I possibly can, so I have the time and energy to savor those moments. I probably don't have to tell you this, but raising five kids, dealing with the extra aspects that come with having a child who has special needs, spending time with my husband, running a home, managing a profitable blog/social media accounts, volunteering, enjoying hobbies, and managing 7 busy schedules takes up most of my time. My To Do list seems to get longer with each passing day, and I found myself feeling too stressed and overwhelmed in 2019 to actually fully enjoy the special moments with my family and friends.

At the end of 2019, I sat down and brainstormed ways I could make things easier on myself in 2020 so that doesn't happen again. I took past experiences into consideration, and thought about things that actually worked and things that didn't work. In the end, I was able to put together a list of easy ways to organize my life in 2020. Hopefully some of these methods will work for you, too!

35 Easy Ways To Organize Your Life

Prepare for each month ahead of time. 

Before the start of each month, fill out your planner, paper calendar, or digital calendar. (I use a planner and a shared digital calendar. My family loves the Cozi app, because we can all access the calendar, and add events to it.)  Write out a daily tasks list of things that need to be accomplished each day, and print it out for reference. Fill out a simple budget planner for the month ahead. Start planning for birthdays and special events that are coming up that month.

Prepare as much as possible the night before.

Before you go to bed, do as much prep for the next day as you possibly can. Pack lunches, fill reusable cups, choose entire outfits for each person, and sit out all bags, coats, and appropriate gear needed depending on the weather.

Start your day with organization and self-care.

If you're a morning person, that's awesome! I, however, am definitely not. I think early morning wake ups are a bummer, but for most of us, it's a necessity. 6 AM comes far too early! When I wake up, I treat myself to my favorite hot drink in a cute mug, curl up under a blanket and sip my drink, go over my calendar for the day, then write a To Do list. After my list is complete, I prioritize the tasks on it into must accomplish that day, need to accomplish as soon as possible, and could wait until I have extra time. Something extra always pops up in a large family, and there are lots of distractions, so it helps to start the day completely organized, and knowing what to (kind of) expect.     

Organize Your Life

Do it NOW. 

Try to get out of the mindset of I'll Do It Later. If it's something simple, just do it now. If not, all those simple things will add up and become overwhelming! For example, when you get the mail, sort through it immediately. It will only take a few minutes. When the kids come home from school, go through their backpacks, file away paperwork (I use this method), sign papers, and add any important upcoming dates to your calendar. When a load of laundry is folded, take the five minutes to put it away. We have a few new family rules: 1) Laundry gets put away as soon as it's washed, dried and folded. 2) Bags get emptied out and items get put where they belong when the kids get home from an outing/sleepover.

Immediately add important dates to your planner/calendar.

When you schedule an appointment, don't just toss the appointment reminder card somewhere. Add it to your planner or calendar immediately.  The same goes for the what feels like millions of important school event or sporting event dates!

Aim to organize one small area each day.

With 7 people in one house, clutter builds up quickly. This year, we're aiming to organize one small area in our home each day. (Of course, there are exceptions while dealing with illness, holidays, or extra busy days.) We have already tackled the American Girl doll corner in the girls' bedroom, and two shelves on their bookshelf. Breaking it up into small areas keeps it from becoming overwhelming, and it only takes 10-20 minutes to complete. As we organize, we decide what to keep, what to store away in the attic (each of my kids has a box in the attic with their favorite outgrown toys that they want to give to their kids one day), what to hand down to siblings, what to donate, and what to throw out.

Have a donation box.

We keep a donation box in our garage. Several times a month, items get tossed into it. At the end of the month, I drop it off at a donation location.

Multitask when possible.

In a big family, time is limited. Sometimes you HAVE to multitask in order to get things done! Some of my favorite tricks are quizzing my kids for tests while I wash the dishes or pack lunches, cleaning the bathroom while Liam is playing in the tub, and doing squats or leg lifts while folding the laundry!

Start delegating tasks.

I was 9 months into my journey as a mom of five before I realized that I simply couldn't do it all. My big kids are perfectly capable of pitching in to do an extra chore since we're always picking up little extras for them!

Complete one task before moving on.

If you can multitask, do it. But some things are just meant to get done at once. I often have so much on my mind that I tend to get sidetracked easily. For example, I'll start putting on my makeup in the morning, then go get Liam dressed when I'm only halfway finished, then go back to finish. My husband always yells at me to just get one thing done before moving on, so I'm actually attempting it this year!

Start your day by sending birthday wishes.

When I'm writing out my To Do list for the day, I consult my calendar, which also has the birthdays of our family and friends on it. After I'm done with my list, I send out birthday texts to everyone that has a birthday that day. That way, I don't get sidetracked and forget!

Address texts and emails immediately.

How often do your receive a text or email, and think you'll reply later? I'm completely guilty of this! This year, I'm working hard to reply to texts and emails as soon as they come in!

Throw away or donate one item each day. 

We have too much stuff. It's a fact! This year, I'm choosing one item each day to throw away or donate. It's going to feel so good to declutter this house!

Clean up one thing every time you walk into a room.

The mess builds up fast when you have so many kids living in one house! I did this during the second half of last year, and I'm doing it again this year. Every time I walk into a different room, I do a quick scan and do a several second cleanup. Sometimes it's as simple as throwing away garbage on the counter, or giving the faucet a quick wipe!

Make time for something you love.

I am a mom first, foremost, and mainly. So much that I often forget about the things I loved to do before becoming a mom. Prior to having kids, I loved to act, perform in musicals, ride horses (and compete), hike, and read. Truthfully, I don't have the time for theater anymore, and my heart hasn't been into horseback riding since my beloved horse passed away a few years ago. BUT...I CAN make time to read and hike, and spend more time on a skill I acquired since having my kids: photography! I'm attempting to do something I love most days this year!

Make time to fully enjoy your family and friends.

More important than doing things is spending time with loved ones! I tend to get so caught up in what needs to get done at times, that I'm not fully present with my family and friends. As I mentioned before, this year, I want to savor the time I have with my loved ones. I already started taking the steps to do so, like putting my phone in another room during family time and while hanging out with friends.

Keep an organization notebook.

I love paper lists! I keep a notebook with lists that I continuously add to. It's great for reference when I'm making my To Do lists, weekly meal plan, and grocery list! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Favorite meals for dinner
  • Master Shopping List - a list of items we buy each week/month
  • Chore lists per child
  • Blog Post Ideas
  • Daily Blog/Social Media Tasks Checklist
  • Items in our home that need to be replaced
  • Breakfast Ideas
  • Lunch Ideas
  • Lunchbox Ideas
  • Renovations
  • List of big items that need to be purchased
  • Areas in our home that need organized
  • List of books I want to read
  • List of photo ideas
  • Birthday Gift List (Ideas & Purchased)
  • Christmas Gift List (Ideas & Purchased)
  • Sensory Bin Ideas

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Plan your meals in advance.

I have been meal planning (dinner only) for years, and it was a game changer! Each weekend, I look at our schedule for the upcoming week, figure out how many meals we're going to be eating at home (usually 4-5), then consult our master meal plan list or Pinterest for ideas. I take requests from my family into consideration so everyone gets a favorite, and I aim to try one new recipe each week. (One of my most popular Pinterest Boards is What's For Dinner!) 

Keep a running grocery shopping list.

I keep a grocery list pad in a central location in our home. When we run out of something, or if somebody thinks of something they need, they add it to the list. It makes it much easier when I write my grocery list over the weekend!

Use chore charts for the kids.

I got giant, magnetic, dry erase chore charts for each of my four older kids last year, and they hang on the side of the fridge. I keep a magnetic dry erase marker and a magnetic eraser next to them. I can easily update them as needed, and the kids check off the items daily. That way, they can easily see what needs to be done each day, and know whether they completed it or not!

Keep a simple budget/monthly bills planner.

I became very forgetful after Coen (my fifth child) was born. It was a combination of a LOT of kids, and very little sleep. I'm not going to lie - I did forget the due dates of a few bills! We do have some of our monthly bills set up for automatic payment, but are unable to with some of the quarterly ones. I keep a very simple budget planner with a list of our monthly bills and due dates, pay dates, and which quarterly bills are due that month. I also add additional expenses, such as birthdays, sports, and school events.

Shop for gifts throughout the year, and take advantage of clearance deals!

To go along with budget planning, December and January are tight months for us, after a very expensive Christmas. It definitely helps to purchase little things throughout the year (stocking stuffers are a great example) and store them away until you need them. I also pick up great clearance finds as I see them, and put them in a gift bin. We are one week into the new year, and I've already purchased items for our Elf on the Shelf Arrival Breakfast next year, Valentine's Day gifts, and four gifts for Lexie's birthday next month. The best part was that the breakfast stuff and Lexie's gifts were over 70% off!

Do weekly prep on Sundays.

Sunday evenings are not my favorite. After a fun weekend, I always dread the week ahead! Preparing for the week ahead helps a bit. I write out our weekly schedule, finish my menu plan and grocery list, and prepare healthy snacks for the week in advance. (Cut vegetables, fruit, and cheese, and cook hard boiled eggs.)

Schedule time to exercise.

If I don't schedule exercise into my weekly plan, I won't do it! Going to the gym won't cut it for me since it's out of the way, and exercising at home is my last priority. Instead, there's a walking/running trail that I pass after I drop my kids off at school, so it's super easy to just stop there and do it! Bonus points for getting it done early each day! Working out and just getting outside year round makes me feel better mentally and physically, which means I'm more likely to have the energy to conquer that To Do list!

Plan regular date nights and family fun activities.

Date Nights? Rarely happen. It's difficult to find the right person to watch five kids, including an infant and a child who has special needs. And this year, I just want a night at a hotel for my birthday. 18 hours away from the kids. I haven't been away from my kids overnight EVER.

Girls Night Out? Rarely happens, because it's tough to sync our busy schedules.

Family Fun Activities? Those we can do, but it does take a lot of time and money in a big family.

We need to make it happen though! The plan this year is to use our teens to babysit for SHORT periods of time. That way my husband and I can run out for an hour for coffee, ice cream or dinner. Girl's Night Out needs to happen more often. We already focus on a lot of family togetherness through family dinners and several movie nights a week, but I want to plan more outings now that Liam is getting a bit older, and Coen isn't nursing 24/7!

Togetherness is SO important! Making time for each other will benefit you and your family so much!

Schedule blocks of time throughout your day.

Scheduling blocks of time is a new skill I'm working on. It works much easier on school days! Take a look at your schedule, and figure out when you will have uninterrupted time. Use that time to schedule tasks that need to be done in carefully planned blocks of time.

If you have a few extra minutes, complete a task or prepare for an upcoming event.

If you're waiting for something, use those precious extra minutes to complete a task instead of scrolling mindlessly through social media! I use the 5-10 minutes I have while waiting for Liam to get out of school each day to complete a small task. It's amazing how much you can get done in such little time! In just 3 days, I managed to schedule an oil change, schedule an appointment, and return a few important emails!

Schedule regular appointments at the beginning of the year.

In a big family, there are a LOT of regular appointments. When you have a child who has special needs, there are a lot of extra yearly appointments! At the beginning of January, I use one of those scheduled time blocks to schedule each child's next well visit, my yearly appointment, and Liam's round of yearly appointments with specialists.

Work on one big project each month.

Do you ever write a list of the big projects you need to tackle around the house, then get completely overwhelmed? ME TOO! I now pick one big project each month. This year, the boys' bedroom needs to be repainted, the trim in the girls' bedroom needs to be touched up, I want to paint our kitchen cabinets and trim white, I want to paint the wood in our living room white, we have to finish the bathroom reno, update/paint our sun porch and front porch, set up a basement playroom, organize the garage, and redo our bedroom. Are you tired yet? I am! I can't do it all at once, or even multitask, so I'm picking one big project a month to tackle!

Learn something new or hone a skill.

Learning something new or working on a skill is fun and exciting! Kids always come before me, and the things I want to learn get pushed aside. I finally said no more! I mean, my kids will always come first, but this year, I'm also going to work on my photography editing skills to create some magical photos!

Create an organization drawer or basket.

Find a place for all the things you use to stay organized, and keep them nearby! I have a cute basket that I keep next to my side of the couch. (You have a favorite side, too, right?) In the basket, I keep my planners, calendars, notebooks, pens, school excuse pads, blogging tools, hand lotion, lip balm, tissues, and more. They are within reach at all times, and since I tend to work on the couch while my kids play, it makes more sense to keep them here rather than in a desk!

Remember the IMPORTANT things.

Keep a journal, and write down a short sentence or two about your day. Write down something funny one of your kids said, something special that happened, or something you always want to remember. Write down one thing that you are thankful for. You'll be happy to have a written document of days, and quickly realize what's truly important in life.

Do a quick cleanup before bed (and during naptime). 

Each night before bed, we set a timer for five minutes (hello, Google home), and the kids do a quick cleanup of their rooms. I do a quick walk-through of the kitchen, living room, and bathroom, and make sure everything is tidy. It helps start the day with a neat home! (I do the same thing during Coen's long lunchtime nap.)

Read, Write, Enjoy.

After the kids are tucked into bed or your tasks are completed for the day, take a few minutes for yourself. Soak in the tub, read, write, or watch your favorite show.

End your day peacefully.

When you climb into bed, put your phone down. Take a few minutes to reflect on your day. This is when I write a quick, few sentence entry in my journal. Invest in a white noise machine so you can sleep better, and when the lights go out, push all worries out of your mind, and simply think about the positives. Focus on your favorite moments from the day, and instead of thinking about what you didn't do, make a mental list of what you DID do. I guarantee that list is going to be a lot longer than the list of things you didn't complete!

We are just one week into the new year, and although I haven't been able to achieve all these goals each day, I came close! I do feel less stressed because I'm more organized, and I have already spent many fun hours bonding with my family and friends. This is EXACTLY what I want for 2020!

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What are your favorite ways to stay organized? Share them in the comments!

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35 Easy Ways To Organize Your Life

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  1. All great ideas. I like that you want to focus more on yourself this year, and making time for dates and just family together-ness. It's all important!!



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