These 10 simple habits will help you stay organized and be more productive with your days! (And they’re so easy to work into your daily routine!)
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about habits. I’m realizing more and more that habits are so important because they are our natural default, what we resort to when we are going through the motions of our days. Forming good habits and sticking to them over time can build phenomenal long term results (whereas repeated bad habits over time will do the opposite– yikes)!
Today I thought I’d share 10 little habits that I’ve either gotten into already or am trying to get into that will help make life more productive and organized. These are all easy things to do that I think help my days (and eventually weeks and months and years!) run more smoothly.
1. Make the Bed
I never used to be a bed maker. I figured that I was just going to get into it again the next night anyway, so why bother? But more recently, I began making the bed each morning, and I cannot believe the difference it has made. More than just making my bedroom look nicer, I feel like it gives me a positive start to the day– I’m beginning with order and a peaceful looking space, and it really helps to set a great tone for the rest of the day.
2. Clean Up the Kitchen and Quickly Straighten the House
If making my bed is the thing I want to make sure I do right when I wake up in the morning, cleaning up the kitchen and straightening the house are the things I want to make sure we’ve done before we go to bed at night. Our whole family comes together to make this one happen. After dinner, Donnie is the one who takes on the dishes and cleans up the kitchen (He is a keeper!) while the boys and I do a quick pickup around the rest of the house. (Admittedly, this is much easier now that they’re 9 and 6 than it was when they were, say, 3 and 1.)
(Now if only I could find a way to have beautiful fresh flowers casually laying in my sink looking beautiful all the time… 🤔😂)
Like making the bed, having a neat and tidy house before my head hits the pillow really puts me in the right mindset for keeping the rest of life organized and I absolutely LOVE waking up, going downstairs, and being greeted by a living area that is clean and picked up.
3. Finish One Task before Moving On to the Next
Okay, all my creatives out there will relate to me on this one. You’re doing a project, you put the finishing touches on it and then all of the sudden you feel the urgent need to move on to the next task ASAP, leaving all of your project materials strewn about to be dealt with later. Or you make lunch for your kids and as soon as you give them their plates you realize that you forgot to respond to that email, so you head to your computer, answer the email, browse around on Facebook, pin a couple of things on Pinterest and forget all about the mess you left in the kitchen from making lunch. Anybody with me? I do this ALL. THE. TIME.
Because I’m constantly hopping from thing to thing to thing, I get to the end of the day and my house looks like a tornado has blown through, and I wonder how in the world it got that way. I am currently trying to retrain myself to finish a task all the way through– INCLUDING CLEAN UP– before I move onto the next thing. When I do this successfully, I can plop down on the couch in the evening and be surrounded by a neat, clean, inviting space rather than mass chaos. It only takes a few more minutes, but it makes a huge difference later!
4. Use Your Wait Time
I used to be good at this before I had a smart phone. If I was heating something up in the microwave, I would use those few minutes to unload the dishwasher or wipe down the counters. Now that I have the whole world wide web at my fingertips, I am tempted to check email or browse Instagram instead of tending to the tasks that would help me keep my house in order. I am amazed at what I can get done while I’m waiting for my kids to get their shoes on or waiting for something to finish up in the oven when I commit to using my wait time wisely.
5. Follow the “One In, One Out” Rule
In our house, if we bring in something new, something else has to go. I’ve realized that even a little bit of clutter can make the house feel like a big mess! I am constantly purging and throwing things away or donating them so that we are not buried under a mountain of stuff!
Toys are one of the worst offenders when it comes to creating clutter. If I don’t stay on top of them, then I feel like they take over the entire house. The Cs know that when they get new toys, they will have to choose some of their old ones to give away. (As you can see above, there is no shortage of things to play with! They can afford to spare some!) If nothing else, committing to purging when you add something new helps to give a good reminder in case you tend to go a long time between bigger purging sessions. 🙂
6. Maintain a Coordinated Calendar
Donnie is 100% responsible for instilling this habit in me. Our Google calendars are synced so we can each see what the other one has scheduled. His appointments are in blue, my appointments are in pink, and it’s really easy to check and see what the other one has going on if we’re trying to make plans or coordinate with someone else.
Now, I am a pen and paper girl through and through so this was a challenge for me (and sometimes I still forget to add things to the calendar!); however, I definitely think the digital version is the way to go on this one because I almost always have my phone with me and it’s the easiest way for Donnie and I both to stay up to date on what’s going on without having to consult several different paper calendars.
7. Strive for Inbox Zero
Gah. Email. Email is rough for me and is definitely something I’m still working on. Again, Donnie my digital guru helped me set up a system of tagging and archiving my emails, so I’m a lot better than I used to be, but my ultimate goal is to have my inbox at zero before I go to bed every night. In order to do this, I need to schedule in time each day to respond to emails, or it just won’t happen. I will never just have all this extra time in my schedule to sit and work on email. It’s another one of those things, though, that if I stay on top of it, it’s quick and painless and not at all hard to do.
8. Have a System for Paperwork
The actual system will vary for each person and family, but I think it is so important to have some sort of plan in place for all of the papers that enter your home– from mail to schoolwork to coupons to newspapers to whatever else finds its way in the door. In our house, we handle this a couple different ways. I take care of the boys’ school information and paperwork each night, throwing away/recycling things we don’t need, displaying some of their favorite items, and keeping a small file of their best work from each year in a file box.
And then Donnie takes care of all of the mail, bills, forms, and pretty much everything else using a paperless system, which he described in detail in this post.
This paperless system has been absolutely revolutionary for us as far as home organization goes, so if you haven’t seen how Donnie does it yet, I highly recommend that you pop over and check it out. He’s amazing! 🙂
9. Make Your To Do List
You probably could have guessed that this was going to be on here! I may be just slightly obsessed with lists. I love making them, I love checking things off of them, and sometimes I make them just so I can check things off of them. For my daily list I use a time blocking system that you can read about and get a printable for in this post.
Or if you’re more of a digital list maker, Donnie talked all about his love for the Wunderlist app in this post.
10. Get Some Sleep
“But Abby,” you’re thinking, “what does sleep have to do with productivity and organization?!” Friend, it has everything to do with it. My natural inclination is to stay up as late as possible to get things done, but then the next day I’m lethargic and unproductive because I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open! Since I realized just how much getting a good night’s sleep impacts my day, I have tried to be so intentional about getting to bed earlier and getting enough sleep, and I can confidently say that there is a major difference in the amount I’m able to accomplish when I’ve gotten my sleep versus those times when I’m running on empty. Get your sleep, people! 🙂
So those are my 10! I know there are probably about 100 more that I could add to this list, so if you have a tip that helps you to be more organized and productive, I’d love for you to share it in the comments!
Have a wonderful day!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
The photos below are from a previous version of this post.
(Desk, Basket- Home Goods, Inboxes, White Board, & Cork Board- Office Depot)