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A woman think about how to better organize her day surrounded by question marks

Do you know what you want to do tomorrow? Is there an idea in the back of your mind of what you hope to accomplish? How long is your list of things to do? If you’re anything like me, you are always doing something. I admit I pack lots and lots into almost every day. Sometimes the list of things I want to do is longer than time will allow and other times I accomplish everything with time to spare. As a certified professional organizer, I can honestly say that organizing my day is integral to my successfully accomplishing my tasks. There are 6 tricks I use which I will share with you so that you can better organize your day too.

1. Understand and acknowledge the most important thing or things in your life

Everyone has things that are important to them. What’s important to you? I’m not asking you what is on your ‘to-do’ list. Instead, I am asking you to identify what you want to attend to on a regular basis. I’ll give you a few examples of things I attend to regularly. These are my family, my dogs, my home, my faith, my plants, and my business. Everyday I give a little time to these aspects of my life.

Whatever they are, these are the things you will attend to on a daily basis. Even if just for a few minutes. To better organize your day, acknowledge that time will be given to the things that matter most to you.

2. What are you working on today?

No one can pay attention to everything that have going on in their lives every day. We all have more than a few things that are asking for our time. There are volunteer activities, friends and/or neighbors to check-in with, routine household chores, projects, and our work. Decide where you are going to focus your attention today. Remember to place your focus on things which support the way you want to live.

It can be tempting to place your focus on something that your peers think is important. Resist that temptation unless it also aligns with what matters to you.

I usually pick 1 or 2 things in addition to scheduled appointments and routine tasks

3. Divide your day

To better organize your day, divide it into segments. Morning, afternoon, and evening are the segments that work for me. You may have a different idea and that is completely fine.

I schedule one area of focus to each segment of the day. Sometimes life gets in the way and the things I want to focus on during that time either get pushed to another time or another day. When that happens, I make a point of rescheduling the task I had originally planned to do.

Remember that later is not a time. When you are rescheduling a task pick a specific day and time.

4. Know yourself

When do you do your best work? Admit to yourself the time of day during which you make your best decisions. Are you a morning person? If so, organize your day so that you do the most taxing brain work in the morning and physical work in the afternoon. People who take a little longer to wake up might schedule brain work for mid-day or evening.

I am an early morning person. Most of my brain work is done before noon. I leave the afternoon for other things that also matter to me.

Take advantage of your personal strengths and better organize your day so that you do your hardest, most challenging work when you know you are at your best.

5. Free time

Ok. I know there’s no such thing as ‘free time’. When I was in school the expression ‘free time’ meant an unscheduled time during the day. I was free to do whatever I wanted.

Allow yourself ‘free time’ to reset your brain and your soul. Free time lets our mind wander which in turn invites creativity. It feels good to have nothing pressing during that time.

It doesn’t have to be hours free time can be 10 minutes. Close your eyes or if the weather is lovely find a place to be outside, stare into nature, and recharge.

6. Organize your day the evening before

At the end of the day, I take stock of what it is I have accomplished and what is left to do. It is not about how much you get done in a day or what you have accomplished, it is truly about how you feel. I make a point of noticing the things that have gone well and learning lessons from those that haven’t.  

Then I look at my calendar, review my appointments for the next day, think about into which segments of the day I can schedule a few tasks, and decide my focus for the next day.

Planning my day in the evening lets me unwind and relax.

When I get up the next morning, I have an expectation of how the day will unfold. This is not to say that everything always runs smoothly, it does not. But, by organizing my day this way I know what I can let go, what I can reschedule, and where my flex time is.

To Summarize

Use these 6 tricks to better organize your day. Acknowledge what’s important, what are you working on today, divide your day, know yourself, enjoy free time, and finally organize your day the night before. These tricks work for me and for my clients. Join the Clear Space for You, virtual clutter support group to receive guidance and accountability while you work on your skills to better organize your day. Click here to read more blogs on this topic.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization. Diane and Jonda Beattie are the award-winning authors of: Filled Up and Overflowing.

18 Comments

  • All of these are spot on! I think it is so helpful to decide in advance what you will focus on tomorrow, and keep that list short enough that you can actually do it! We can always adjust if plans change, but a list that never gets completed is just depressing.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I agree, Seana. No sense in adding something else to be sad about. I love your expression – adjust the list. Moving tasks around to another day, or even another week helps to arrive at that feeling of accomplishment.

  • What great guides you shared for organizing your day. I like how your suggestions leave room to individualize things according to your priorities and working style. Like you, I’m a morning person. So BIG brain-type things happen more successfully when I use my mornings for that type of work. As the day progresses and the evening sets in, my energy is lower, and my activities change. As far as list length, I try to have a realistic number of things each day. My goal is to complete the tasks that are there. So if I have too many, I am not setting myself up for success. There are times when either my list is too ambitious or something unexpected happens in my day. When there are “leftovers,” I move the tasks to another day so that my daily list is cleared. Then I feel that sense of completion for the day.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Linda. I love the idea of setting yourself up for success by not having too many things on your list of things to-do. Being realistic about what you can accomplish in a day is a skill I’m adding to my repertoire! There are many days when I am over-ambitious but then, like you, I reschedule those things to another day so I don’t lose track of them.

  • Margarita says:

    Boy, did I need to read this on a MONDAY. I was up early and am amazed at how much I get done when I do that. I’m making my way through a list and hope to get most things done today. Thanks for those great tips.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Margarita! Those early morning hours are a fabulous time for me to get things done, too. I’m so happy the tips resonated with you!

  • This says it all, “remember to place your focus on things that support the way you want to live.” Does the rest really matter?
    I spend four days a week working on my business and projects. Still, I don’t let the day pass without connecting with my family. They’re my lifeline.
    I too like to plan the night before as it gets me rolling the next morning. Just as you said, it helps to put our day, our week in motion so if we have to reschedule, we are able to do it, without a crisis.

  • I love that you say to allow yourself to have “free time”. I need to rest my mind to be creative and think of the big picture in my business. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I need my ‘free time’ every day! I love to just let my mind wander and allow random thoughts to sit. Sometimes they generate a worthwhile idea – sometimes they don’t. Thank you for commenting, Sabrina!

  • The older I get, the more time I want for “free” time. I used to like to stay busy, but the fewer obligations in my day, the happier I am nowadays. I absolutely agree about thinking in terms of day-parts; as you know, I don’t “do” mornings, so my times are early or late afternoon, evening, or late night. I probably do as much from 10p-2a and most people do from 8a-Noon, but I make sure those are low-stress things, so if I don’t finish them, I won’t be stressed out when it’s time to sleep. You make excellent points, but I especially things that #4, re: knowing yourself, is key. Trying to change our approaches to organizing our days to satisfy arbitrary rules can be really counterproductive.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I know, Julie, I also truly value my ‘free time’. I guard it and make sure I take advantage of it by resting my eyes (not napping) just walking away from screens and into nature or sitting and letting my mind wander. Thank you for commenting!

  • This is excellent. I love these tips. I especyliked your point about rescheduling tasks. Later is not a time. Definitely sharing.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Sheri! I always wonder when someone tells me they are going to do something ‘later’ when that is…

  • I like the way you focus on one activity for each segment of your day. I may try that. i usually make a list of the most important things I need/want to get done that day and then start on them. But a lot days i’m working all day to finish these things.

  • Lucy Kelly says:

    Great post, Diane! I have to manage my energy carefully so I don’t wipe out during the day, so I’ve divided my day into six segments. I alternate active brain work/physical work with quieter rest times – no screens and no just scrubbing the kitchen floor on my way to sit down for a few minutes.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      What a terrific way to manage your day, Lucy! Dividing the day into six segments sounds like it would work for me, too. Thank you for sharing this with me.