How to Get Organized and Stay That Way

How to Get Organized and Stay That Way

A frantic young woman called me today driven to the point of meltdown. Juggling parenthood, a full workload, responsibilities, and activities created unmanageable stress. You know the kind of stress that heart palpitations are made of.

We met at a conference for working women not too long ago. As we chatted, I was drawn to the pace of her daily challenges. They reminded me of my own two daughters and so many other young women whom I speak to in the course of my work. You only need a pulse to realize that the struggles young women face today are real and unrelenting.

Get Organized – Have Your Ducks in a Row

Let’s face it; life is busy. It is messy. Life is…chaotic. The life of a working parent is always going to be a handful. You have a lot thrown at you every day. Often, it’s what you expect. More than often, it’s a surprise that leaves you gasping for breath and barely holding on by a thread. 

How you manage the organization of everything such as your photos, closets, desk drawers, food shopping, clutter, scheduling, after school activities, birthday parties, deadlines, demanding bosses, whining little ones, memos, doctor appointments, and on and on is crucial.

I find being organized with kids makes your life so much easier. It’s non-negotiable and there are ways to get it done. It matters what you do next. Here’s how to get organized:

How to Get Organized and Stay That Way

Make the Time to Get Organized

It’s important to set time aside for organizing projects but also just daily cleaning up.

  • If holiday cleaning is on your to-do list, do it slowly. One week organize the mail, the next week the mudroom and pantry closet. That way, you can organize the whole house over a few weeks. It becomes manageable.
  • How do you get projects done with children in tow? If the children aren’t at preschool or napping, give them a new toy to play with, right near you, or put on a TV show, even an art/craft project will occupy them for 30 minutes.
  • When you clean a little everyday it’s not a huge time commitment. That way, it’s only a few minutes here or there rather than letting everything pile up and then spending a couple hours at it.


  • Run the dishwasher every night and unload it in the morning. Even if it’s only a small load. Have set days to do certain tasks.
  • Meal planning is every Monday and grocery shopping is every Wednesday. It’s just time management!

Get Organized Right Then & There

  • Do tasks right then and there so you don’t have to go back, such as the dishes after a meal.
  • Have rags under the sink to quickly clean up in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Teach little ones to make their bed as soon as they get up.
  • When they come home, they should hang up their coats right away. Use hooks for easy access.
  • Keep laundry bins in the bathroom and bedroom. When clothes come off, they immediately go into the hamper.
  • If you go into a room and something is out of place, on the floor, or just plain dirty, pick it up. Doing it right away makes all the difference and gets you in the habit of going in the next room and doing the same thing for something else that is out of place. Picking up one thing eliminates a build-up of many things that are out of place!
How to Get Organized and Stay That Way

The Night Before

  • Lay out clothes the night before.
  • Prep lunches and snacks the night before.


  • No shoes in the house. Leave them by the front door. This eliminates tracking dirt which creates more work and cleanups.
  • Keep toys in one area. Encourage kids to help clean up and put away starting at a very early age so it becomes second nature.

This Works

  • Get up earlier in the morning to straighten up and get things done.
  • Tidy up after the kids go to sleep.
  • Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. So, when you’re running out the door, you know where everything is and can grab it and be in the car in just a few minutes.

Especially for Moms of Babies

  • Purchase small wet/dry bags for travel on-the-go. ($5 on Amazon). Keep one stocked with small toys for use at a friend’s house/restaurant/travel. I specifically like these bags because they have two zippered compartments so you can put clean toys in one and dirty toys in the other. It makes it easy to identify which needs to be cleaned later. I prefer to use these instead of zip lock bags because they reduce waste and can go in the washing machine, so they are easy to clean.
  • Keep duplicates of things for on-the-go in the diaper bag (diaper rash cream, sanitizing wipes, face wipes, fork/spoon, food pouch/snacks, bib, placemat, etc) and keep your diaper bag stocked with everything you need to get out the door so you don’t need to think about it every time.
How to Get Organized and Stay That Way

Balancing Out the Stress of Work and Life = Peace of Mind

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

Sure, we want perfection in airline pilots and surgeons. For the rest of us mortals, it just has to be good enough. Perfection creates unnecessary stress that’s impossible to meet. The imperfectly perfect solution is to step back and ask yourself, “Just how important is this…really?”

Don’t Buy into Myths
  • Multi-tasking: It rarely works (our brains have their own agenda) and something or someone always suffers.
  • Time is money: Actually, time is time. You cannot put a price on it. When you’re out of time, it’s gone and you can’t get it back.
  • Superwoman -Superman: You can have it all; hmm- no you can’t. In real life, you can have a wonderful life, a beautiful life. You can have abundance, but you can’t do it all and you can’t have it all. Unless of course, you’re living on the moon. This super myth creates unrealistic expectations that set us up for misery.
Create a Personal “to-don’t” List and Learn to Say NO

Avoid tasks that are a waste of time. Unfriend those people who zap your energy, stomp on your dreams and goals. It’s disrespectful to you and your time.

What’s the Definition of Insanity? 

There are times when we need to change it up and make a shift. Perhaps it’s a new job, a move, a hobby, something you’ve always wanted to do or learn. It’s that leap of faith that brings you to a place you haven’t been before. You may actually surprise yourself and love it. 

Have a Front Burner

It’s your life and you get to do it the way you want to. Know your priorities because not everything has the same value or importance.

You’re Important Too

Write your own story. At the end of the day, make yourself count because you’re very important too. Create time for fun, family, exercise, relaxation, mini-vacations, doing a crossword puzzle, reading a book. It’s whatever makes you feel good and whole and worthy. At the end of the story, write “The Beginning.”

Project Snapshot

Who doesn’t like to capture those priceless, playful, precious moments? Much-loved candid (and posed) snapshots of our lives. How many photos or selfies do you have on your phone?

I recently had lunch with a high school friend who can make magic out of hundreds of photos. I’m all for making life easier, especially when I’m stretched and begging for more time.  So, I decided to share her specialty with you, organizing all of your photos.

As parents and grandparents, we are constantly snapping photos of our children and grandchildren. But, what are we doing with them? Do they just stay forgotten somewhere in the endless number of images stored on your phone? Then, you have to scroll through hundreds of photos to find a special moment or event. Flipping through the photos on the phone is a hassle and can lead us to never look at them again. We took those photos to capture a special memory but if we don’t share those memories, they could be lost forever.

According to behavioral scientist Carl Routledge, sharing photos help people to develop feelings of connection and belonging.  He states that “albums filled with cherished memories and reminders of great times with friends and family can provide a direct boost to positive mood, self-esteem, feelings of belongingness and a sense of meaning in life.”

How to Organize Your Special Memories

First, spend some time sorting through the photos on your phone, computer or digital camera. Make sure to print all the ones you love. Then, get them organized according to year, event, and experience – whatever makes sense to you. These images will make up your various custom photo books.

Some options for sharing your photos in a custom photo books include:

  • Birth to high school or college graduation
  • Family vacation
  • Special events such as a significant birthday or anniversary
  • Baby’s first year
  • Annual family yearbook
  • Family legacy

(I created one of these for my daughter’s first Mother’s Day.)

Another great option is to make a calendar of children or family photos. These are perfect mementos or gifts for the holidays and the New Year. Caren Osborne – https://memorylanephotosolutions.com/

Both options are organizational projects that are ideal for the end of the year. The experience is a wonderful way to round off the year. It can become a festive season tradition that allows you to keep track of all the photos and memories of the past year.

Turn it into a Family Project

Sorting through photos and creating custom photo books is a great family project that you can involve your kids in. Not only is it a way to keep them busy, but it allows for creativity as well. This is a superb indoor activity that can be enjoyed by everyone when it’s too cold to be outside during the winter vacation. Besides, it can be so meaningful to remind them of fond memories through photos. Getting kids involved in a fun organizational activity like this also teaches them valuable organizational skills.

Getting organized is a skill. And just like any skill (such as learning to play golf, tennis or chess), you have to keep it up in order to succeed. It’s so much easier to keep it up by putting what you’ve learned to use, rather than playing catch-up. A few minutes a day is all you need to help yourself and your family get organized.

What is your plan to get organized this holiday season?


Comments 12

  1. Ooooh, I love so many of these! And that photo or your little guy – adorable! I think there is tremendous power in “systemize.” Once an activity becomes part of your regular routine, you can almost stop thinking about it and just go into autopilot. I have many aspects of my daily life that fall into this category, including most of the things I do before 9am:)

    1. Seana,

      That little guy is my grandson, the first!
      I’m having so much fun with him. It’s what all my friends told me it would be like times 1 million.
      I love systems just as you mentioned. You’re so right. You don’t have to think about it, they become automatic. Or as you said, “auto pilot.” I love that!


  2. I recently took a “trip” through all of my journals that I’ve been keeping since age 12. And boy, oh, boy did it bring me back to how chaotic the early mommy days were. I also had several new young mommy clients recently, and again it made me remember how complex and busy that time of life is. You’re raising your kids as you yourself are being raised as a parent. There is a lot of uncharted territory and surprises. Flexibility is key. Cherishing moments is essential. Because before you know it the kids are grown and gone.

    One of the things that I came across when reading my old journals was the parenting journal that my husband and I kept together. Recognizing that time and documenting was at a premium, we started this journal as a way of capturing those precious moments that we might forget. So it’s filled with funny things the kids said or did, or moments of love and appreciation, of recognition about the preciousness of life. It’s a treasure and I’m so glad that we stopped to capture a time of life that was fleeting, chaotic, beautiful, and amazing.

  3. Linda,

    I love hearing about those journals. I did the same. Not 12 but enough that I find myself repeating the same stories over and over again.
    I recently gave one of the journals to my daughter and she read some of the entries with excitement. Of course, they were about her.
    I used to say that parenting was the best on the job training. Though my kids are all grown, I’m still learning.


  4. I like the systems you suggested – running the dishwasher nightly and planning your grocery shopping. When I was a new stay-at-home mom I worked on one thing at a time to systemize as much as possible around my house. I have a cleaning schedule, laundry schedule, play date schedule, etc. These kept me on track and allowed me to stay organized.

    1. Hi Janet,

      Systems make life easier. Especially when my 3 children were young and living at home. When juggling a family and a busy schedule, routines help to get things done.

      Wishing you the best for the holidays!

  5. Ronni – Thank you for sharing your tips on staying organized. I agree, doing little things a few minutes a day makes a big difference. And learning to say NO to things, even though it may be difficult at first, does make a big difference.

    My daughter, who has 3 little ones, makes a game out of the toy cleanup with them and she even created a simple tune she sings while they are picking up the toys. She has bins for everything and it does make it easier.

    My grandchildren love looking through the albums I have created for them and their parents over the years. My granddaughter loves to see MaMa as a princess in her wedding dress. Sharing these memories is priceless.

    1. Caren,

      I love hearing all of this! I know you are the guru on saving memories in the photo albums you create. That’s what I think is priceless!

      Enjoy the holidays with your family!

  6. I love all the suggestions. People can use the ones that work best for them. I talk to my clients about systems all the time. Systems create habits and save time needed to keep up with daily activities.

  7. Hi Julie!

    Thank you for your comments. That’s exactly what I tell my clients as well. There’s not one formula or one quick fix. Everyone has to adapt the systems that work for them so they can stay organized. Systems save time!

    Happy Holidays!

  8. Great advice! Taking time for yourself is crucial! I don’t have kids yet, but I’ll pin this for my friends who do (and me someday!).

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