clipix has sponsored this post, but all opinions expressed here are my own (honestly!).
I’m not, by nature, a very organized person. It’s one of those things that I’ve had to work hard at, and the easier I can make it, the more likely I am to do it. A few weeks ago I shared my tips for doing a tech deep clean. And now that you guys have all followed my tips (as I know you have), I want to share my ideas about how you can proactively use technology to stay on top of your shit, instead of just cleaning up your messes afterwards.
1. Switch to a digital planner (and actually use it!)
When I was younger, even in college, I never used a planner. Sure, in December or January I’d eventually give in to the enticing options at my local bookstore and swear to myself that I’d use it, but inevitably it’d wind up taken out of my school bag and used as a coaster in the living room. Aside from occasionally double-scheduling myself, it was never a big problem.
Now that I’m a grown up, though, and often making plans several weeks or even months out, a planner has become absolutely essential to keep track of work, family, and social obligations. I know some people prefer a planner that they can actually hold, but I prefer a digital one that I can use on my phone and computer. I never wind up forgetting it somewhere or leaving it at home because it’s too big for my purse. Plus, it’s made me more comfortable making plans far in the future, such as watching a friend’s dog for a week, that I would have previously felt hesitant to commit to.
I personally use Google Calendar, which I find intuitive and easy to use, but there are many great options out there including the native one on your phone. Get in the habit of quickly adding plans to your schedule, even when they’re just a few days out, and checking your calendar daily to make sure you haven’t forgotten a vet appointment or softball game. I also like to add little reminders to myself, such as to update my Stitchfix order or send an item back to Best Buy before the end of its return window.
2. Set up an online budget to keep track of your spending
I’ve talked about my overindulgent spending habits before on this blog, and while it’s still an issue that I struggle with, keeping track of where my money is going has definitely put me on the right path to keeping it in control. Since I use my credit card for just about everything, every few days I sit down and go through my purchases, inputting what I’ve bought and what I’ve made into my Quicken program. Then I’m able to compare that to a monthly budget I’ve set for myself in different categories ($100 on home supplies, $150 on the animals, etc). If you don’t want to pay for Quicken (and you shouldn’t, since there are so many free options), go hunt down a different budget tracking tool like Mint or the app Spendbook. Get in the habit of putting in your purchases every day or, if you’re really good, after every time you make one.
By keeping close track of my money, I’ve been able to be more conscientious about when I can afford to eat out, what subscription services are actually worth $10 a month, and when I can afford that big furniture splurge.
3. Keep a running grocery list on your phone
I used to keep our list of food to buy on the refrigerator at home, which only kind of worked. Yes, it allowed me easily write it down when I noticed something low in the kitchen, but if I was out and thought of something, it was usually forgotten by the time I got home. Also, if I decided to swing by the grocery store on a whim, I was left struggling to remember what was on my list.
Although I use the app Anylist, there are loads of great tools out there for you to keep track of your grocery list. With Anylist, I can set “favorites” that we like to buy regularly such as half-and-half and avocados and even share the list with Reg via email or text. I can also set multiple grocery lists that are store specific, for those times that we stop by Trader Joe’s or Berkeley Bowl. I’ve even made other random lists, such as for Target or the garden supply store. Seriously, this is basically what your smartphone was made for – just do it!
4. Organize online articles, recipes, and products with clipix
There used to be basically two ways that I kept track of things online – if it was a recipe or an outfit that I liked, I’d save it to Pinterest. But if I was shopping for a new non-stick pan or bedspread or if I found an interesting article that I wanted to read later, I’d usually just save it to my bookmarks and promptly forget about it. A year later, I’d look through my bookmarks and inevitably just delete everything in one swoop, because by that point it was useless. It was seriously not an efficient way to save things online.
I recently started using clipix, a bookmarking service which allows me to keep track of articles and websites I want to save and send to others all. When I find an appetizer that I want to make for a house party next week or a few dresser options that Reg and I are considering, I quickly add them to the relevant file using the clipix button I have saved to my toolbar. I have one folder for different types of recipes, one for gifts I’m thinking about for friends and family, one for stuff I want to buy but can’t afford to yet, and a whole lot of others. In addition to online articles and webpages, I can also save emails, PDFs, and photos. Think of it as Pinterest meets Evernote.
Now when Christmas rolls around, I won’t be stuck without ideas about what to give or what to ask for. Not to mention, this is the perfect tool for planning a party, a trip, a wedding, or, in our case, re-decorating our apartment. It can even be used as a financial or list-keeping tool, so you can really organize your entire life right in one place.
What are your favorite ways to stay organized using your computer or smartphone?