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 organizing tools should help you streamline, pare down, rearrange, and take control your life. They’ve made a world of difference in mine.
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Busy women generally have way too much on their plates! You’ve got things to track at work and at home, and you’ve got lots of people counting on you to be organized. But some days you feel like your jugging skills are at their limit.
I have to admit that I’ve spent a big part of my life trying to get my act together since I was the head juggler in my own family. But in that quest, I’ve run across a lot of good books and organizing tools 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.
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.
Less stuff = a more organized me.
One of my new favorites that I tell all my friends about is The 12-Week Year by Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington. This book has really helped me focus in on what I want to accomplish by helping me get from a big conceptual goal down to the actual tactics that move me towards completing that goal. It has made a huge difference in my productivity! In fact, I bought the companion workbook to accompany it because I want to dive deeper into this system.
While the books contain great advice, we still need tools to help us put that advice into practice and make it work for us.
Organizing Tools Help You Get It All Done!
In addition to the great books I’ve shared above, these tools help you actually GET things done using technology, systems, calendars, and planners.
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 like 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! You get the benefit of reminding your kids (or spouse) or something without actually having to nag them in person about it. This feature alone is priceless.
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 – Trello was new to me till last year but I have learned to love it! It’s 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.
These days I’m using Trello to organize my recipes, track my Christmas spending and keep track of wish lists, and virtually everything related to my business is kept here. It’s one of the first tabs I open on my computer every morning. Even though I’m primarily a paper girl, anything that’s a big project goes straight into Trello.
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?