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organize your life with these tips and tricks

The Best Tips and Tools for Getting {and Staying} Organized

As bloggers, we really have to be able to manage our time wisely. Not only are we juggling jobs and mom life, we’re also managing content on our blog and our social media channels. For all who follow us, it should be no surprise that Alison is the most organized sister of the three of us. But I have recently discovered a new tool that is working great in my life and our FF lives as a team, and I wanted to share the news to help you organize your life, too!

Stay tuned for some other great tips for getting and staying organized from our most organized sister!

The Best Tool to Help You Organize Your Life

One of the most common questions we get about working together is about how we all stay organized. For a while, I have to admit that it wasn’t an easy task. Finding a program or calendar that we could all easily use was the key!

And that is where Sunsama comes in!

For me, some of the hardest things about being a blogger are the amount of emails to keep track of and learning to stay on task from week-to-week. Being able to plan content weeks ahead is a huge part of our success.

With Sunsama, your email is directly linked to your calendar. You can seamlessly drag your emails to a specific day and time to remind you to follow up. If you have unfinished tasks at the end of the day, you can snooze them to the next day so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. One of my favorite features is the section for noting weekly objectives. I use this space to mark down all my notes and goals for the week.

Another key thing when you’re running a business from home is time management. With Sunsama, when you enter a new task for the day, you can put in an estimate for how long the task should take you. Being a working mom, I need to stay on schedule and prioritize from day-to-day, so this feature is really a game changer.

And Sunsama isn’t just another program to keep up with. It actually integrates into your existing email and calendar software. For Forever Freckled, the three of us use our Google calendars for everything, and the integration of the Sunsama program with Google products is excitedly seamless! They also have a convenient mobile app so you can access your tasks from anywhere.

Overall it really is an amazing program and has truly transformed how we stay on top of tasks as a team!

XO, CG

Alison’s Tips for Getting Organized

As the self-proclaimed most organized FF sister, today I want to share some basic organization skills that help keep my life less chaotic and more relaxed when I have some free time.

For some people, organization just comes naturally. For others, it’s very hard work.

Having said that, there are some basic organizational skills that anyone can work on to make life easier.

1. Use a Planner

Whether you go old school with a physical planner or go high-tech with an e-calendar, like Sunsama, putting your tasks out of your head and on a visual planner is a key to staying organized.

I review my planner on Sunday to see what my week looks like so I am not surprised by an upcoming meeting, due date, birthday, or “to do” task.

This routine helps prevent “OMG, I forgot” freak out sessions and unnecessary stress. (Katie, take notes!)

2. Never Forget Birthdays

We have a HUGE family, so remembering all the birthdays is a real struggle sometimes. To keep the birthdays organized this year, immediately RSVP to any invitation (virtual or otherwise), place the event in your calendar (as well as the actual birthdate), and order a gift on Amazon (I told you it’s my favorite website of all time!).

These tips guarantee you’ll be ahead of schedule and not running around for a birthday gift last minute. I also keep my house stocked with wrapping paper, cards, tape, and ribbons. I sometimes even have last minute gifts lying around.

3. Take Advantage of Amazon

Amazon has been the biggest game changer for me. I recommend everyone set themselves up with an Amazon Prime account.

My personal goal in life is to never have to run errands.

My sisters make fun of me because they think when I am not at work, I’m being a homebody. And they are right, so laugh away Katie and Carrie!

I order everything on Amazon – toilet paper, cleaning products, shampoo, wipes, sippy cups, makeup, presents…okay, you get the point. This tip has allowed me to not waste my time running to Target, Walgreens, or Home Depot, but rather spend that valuable time with my family, working on my self-care goals, relaxing by watching TV or spending time with my husband, Zooming with a friend, or working out.

4. Plan Your Meals, and Make One Weekly Grocery Trip

This tip is another game changer for me. Years ago, I started meal planning for the week, and it significantly reduced my trips to the grocery store.

Even better if you can get your significant other to perform this chore!

My husband, Rob, has taken on this task and enjoys his weekend trips to the grocery.

Make one master list on Sunday with meals and supplies for the week, and send your hubby to the store or order it for pickup or delivery. I have used a few different apps (like Pepperplate) to help organize my weeknight meals and grocery lists and prepare me for the week.

5. Conquer Morning Rush

The only tip I have to offer here is to prepare ahead of time! We prepare lunches and pack backpacks the night before school.

That preparation saves so much time!

I also try to wake up half an hour earlier than the kids so I can sit and have my cup of coffee, practice yoga, read, watch TV, and get my mind ready for the day. Giving yourself that time before your day begins helps you start on the right foot and puts you in a better state of mind for the busy day ahead.

6. Keep an Organized and Stocked House

I get made fun of a lot for this one. I buy things in bulk, and I LOVE it! Nothing bothers me more than going to get something and being out of it…ugh, I HATE THAT!

Amazon even has a program that automatically ships items monthly or bimonthly, which is helpful.

Another great tip is to keep your home organized so when you need something, you’re not spending a lot of time searching for it. I organize my drawers, garage, and laundry room every 6 months or so, usually after I spend 3 hours looking for a thermometer or some tape!

Figuring out how to best organize your life will save you a lot of frustration and stress.

7. Have a Backup Plan

As much as I would love it to be, life is not always an organized, perfectly laid out road map. Especially with kids, emergencies and last minute things always come up.

So I always have a backup plan in case of emergencies. Who will pick up the kids if I’m running behind at work? Or who will cover me at work if I need to duck out?

Planning for emergencies has been so helpful for me. Think of a list of people close to you who can help in a pinch. And don’t forget to thank them!!!

~Dr. Alison

Final Thoughts on How to Organize Your Life

Everyone has crazy busy lives, and we’re constantly trying to keep our heads above water.

At FF, we don’t have it all worked out – not by a long stretch.

But hopefully these tips on how to organize your life will help make things less stressful for you. Even embracing just a few of these life hacks, like using a planner like Sunsama and automating as much as you can, will definitely help ease some daily frustrations and keep you and your family on track!

The best moments in our lives are spent with family and watching our children grow. It would be a shame to have those times clouded with stress and last-minute responsibility.

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