What is the "important/urgent matix"? Well, it's a concept that will change your life! Learn how to use it to decide exactly what you should do FIRST (and second, and third) each day in this article on the SORTED blog.

Julie screams, “There aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything! Just when I think I’m getting a handle on it, it all falls apart. When I try to set aside time to get some of this done, I keep getting interrupted.”


Taking a deep breath, she continues, “To tell you the truth I’m just doing what’s in front me. How can I be so busy all day and still feel like I really accomplished so little?”


Sound familiar? Julie’s story isn’t uncommon. Life will run over us if we let it. The house, the job, the kids, the laundry. It never ends.


Cheryll asks, “I’m feeling so unfocused due to huge upheaval in my personal life. How do you clear the mountain so that you can get on track?”


Ahhh yes, the mountain. Life is like a pile of laundry laying un-“Sorted” (see what I did there) on the floor. It’s looks unmanageable. You grab some off the top and throw it in hoping to feel like you’re making progress only to find, upon returning, that the mountain has grown. The solution for your laundry is a system. The solution for your life is no different.


When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need to get a mental handle on the mountain. When you can’t see what’s there, it’s just an overwhelming mess. When you take the time to go through it, you end up with nicely organized piles of items that you can now name and put in their place.



Sit down and list all the things weighing on you. Most are “to do’s.” Some are “wish I could’s.”



Everyone needs life goals. If you’ve never set any, read up on Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life. Learn to set goals in each area of your life. Then make sure that you run your TO DO list through those filters.


Here’s how:


For every task on your TO DO List, ask yourself in which category does it belong:


Important and Urgent: DO THESE THINGS FIRST! Important things are the things that move you toward your goals. They improve your life. Important and Urgent things will have a noticeable negative impact on your life if you don’t do them first. Going to have a potentially serious medical condition cared for is important and urgent.


Remember Urgent isn’t the same thing as Important. Often we confuse the two and put the Urgent and Not Important before the Important and Not Urgent. If you do this, you will always be playing catch-up.


Important and Not Urgent: DO THESE THINGS SECOND! Important things often have life-long relevance.


For every task, ask yourself, “Will doing this have a lasting effect on my life goals?” If the answer is “Yes” it is Important. Do not push these things down the road. Make them a priority.


Urgent and Not Important: DELEGATE, POSTPONE, OR PURGE THESE THINGS! Here is where most find themselves stuck. Urgency screams in our face until we give in. Filter these through your goals. Will it have a lasting effect on your life goals if this is not done today? If the answer is “yes,” it’s Urgent and Important. If the answer is “No,” it’s Urgent and Not Important. Even though something seems Urgent, if it is not also Important, it truly can wait. Ask someone else to take care of it or put it on your calendar for a later date or time. Calendar based living can make your life so much simpler. As you begin to focus on the Important, the tyranny of the urgent will subside.


Nor Urgent and Not Important: DON’T PAUSE. DON’T DELIBERATE. PURGE THESE FROM YOUR LIFE! If it’s not Urgent, and it’s not Important. It has no benefit to you whatsoever. If you’re thinking, “but I really enjoy it.” Then, maybe you have incorrectly categorized it as Not Important. Your life should have balance and the things you enjoy are Important. Again, I suggest the Wheel of Life.


Giving your mountain of things names and defining your goals makes them manageable, reduces stress, and allows you to focus on the Important things.



PictureAbout the Author

Growing a business is hard. It can be easier. Jacqi Glenn helps businesses solve problems and make more money by strengthening their procedures.

Jacqi Glenn has owned and worked with small businesses for over 20 years. She knows the struggle.  She works with business owners to help them plan, organize, and grow their companies. Find out more at:



SORTED: Freedom through Structure; learn how to organize your life and create routines to keep it that way!

A guest post by SORTED reader Suzanne Brown


Mornings with kids can be a bit, well, chaotic. Here's five tips on routines to develop to make mornings just a little more peaceful, productive, and enjoyable.

Our boys are early-risers, so waking up before them is not really an option for me.  I need my sleep.  Since waking up before everyone to get things going, wasn’t an option, I had to figure out an efficient approach to my morning routine to get everyone moving in the right direction and get us out the door on time for a 7:40am school start.  I also strive for keeping everyone generally happy in the morning (or at least with few to no tears) so that the day is off to a good start.   


Here’s the five areas that I focus on to make things easier for me and our household in general. 


Morning self-care makes a difference

Although it might sound counterintuitive, I start my day with a personal check-in.  Before I even get up, I see how I’m feeling.  Am I super tired?  Am I anxious about a client deadline?  Am I excited (and might be a bit intense about that excitement)?  In a matter of moments (OK, maybe more like minutes when I’m too tired), I figure out what adjustments, if any, I need to make for my day.  And it helps me know what I might need to focus on as I start my interactions with our boys and my husband.  If I’m grumpy, because sometimes mamas can be grumpy, I might do a bit of meditation. My favorite tool for meditating is and I personally love the creek sound.  


Make school lunched consistent

Most weeks, I make lunch 5 days a week for our 2 boys. The make-up of lunch is always similar – 2-3 fruits, a sandwich and a small treat for our older son (no treat for our younger son yet).  I might make turkey and cheese one day and PB&J the next and change up the fruit, but the make-up is pretty consistent.  Keeps it easy on my end and even makes it easy for my husband to help.


Use the night before efficiently

I always try to use the night before as much as possible. I label snacks that come in a package (e.g., bag of pretzels or granola bar), put items in backpacks, even wash fruit and get it ready to cut up.  I put napkins in lunchboxes and anything else that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.  Forms for school are signed or filled out in the evening the night before. Even our boys pick out what they’re wearing the night before. It makes any conversations happen at night and not in the hurry of the morning (e.g., something nicer for picture day or No, it’s going to be 90 again tomorrow, so no long sleeve shirts).  This all makes the morning go more smoothly and I’m not running around making sure to remember everything. It also limits the battles, which don’t need to happen when we’re in a hurry.  And it minimizes tears with young kids. And who doesn’t want fewer tears in the morning?


1, 2, 3, 4…

I tell my kids the number of things they need before they walk out the door.  We have 5 or 6 things to remember, depending on the day, for our older son. I remind him of the number and he counts.  If we’re off, he knows he needs to find the missing item.  It helps to engage your kids in the process so they feel empowered and makes them more responsible, even from a young age. We do this 5 or so minutes before we need to leave, so that we’re not scrambling last minute.


Bonus tip: If it helps, use an alarm to let you know it’s 5 minutes before you head out.  


Keep everything in its place until go time

Instead of trying to find everything around the house, I keep items for school in a consistent place.  All lunch boxes go in one spot.  Back packs for our younger son are on one side of the mudroom and, for the other, on the other side of the mudroom. Shoes go back into the mudroom when not in use.  I keep all lunch items for each son in a different spot in the fridge (they’re also color-coded for each child, so there is no confusion).  I know moms who still use baby bags for day care and keep the bag by the door, ready to go.  The less searching you have to do, especially in the morning, the more efficient you are when it’s time to walk out the door.


Is there something specifically that helps you with your morning routine? What changes, if any, are you going make in your morning routine?


Suzi_200About the Author

Suzanne Brown is a wife and mother to two young boys. She works as a strategic marketing and business consultant. In addition to her marketing consulting, Suzanne recently interviewed 110+ professional part-time working moms to get their insights, advice and ways to overcome challenges when working part-time for a book that should be coming out next year.  She blogs weekly about topics related to work, family and the balance between at


SORTED: Freedom through Structure; learn how to organize your life and create routines to keep it that way!

(And it's costing you time and money!)

A guest post by SORTED reader Corinna Charlton
 SORTED guest poster Corrina Charlton discusses how to break through the overwhelm, simplify your life, and discover time you didn't even know you had. Check it out!

I work closely with entrepreneurial mothers, and in this industry, numerous business gurus and courses promise to help you “Ditch the Overwhelm!” and “Gain Clarity!” and “The exact 5 steps to your next $10k month!”. Many of these programs are able to deliver bits and pieces of clarity for your life and business, but I’ve identified that we have a multitude of hard-working, ambitious moms that are not getting to their financial goals in business.

These women: they're in my group, in my masterminds, in my community - and I’d bet in they’re in yours too. They’re beautiful, talented, and have so much value to bring to the world, but they are pulling their hair out at WHY their coaches' advice isn’t working; how it is they can be doing all the steps, all the methods, all the visibility tactics, and yet their business is still at a trickle and not the surging river I know it can be.

The major culprit? Overwhelm. And even worse? When you don’t even know that Overwhelm is the cause.

Because if you knew Overwhelm was keeping you back from financial growth then it would be easy to remove x, y, z from your schedule and zoom! you’d be good to go, right?!

Being Overwhelmed and not recognizing the signs will cost you time due to inefficiency, indecision paralysis, repeated efforts, and not focusing on the best money-generating activities in your business. And not recognizing Overwhelm costs you money because you will not only be investing in your business without the appropriate return, but you will also not maximize your earning potential.

I started my personal journey towards simplicity in Summer 2015. I read a blog post about capsule wardrobes, which lead to following home minimalism methods, which lead to my full-hearted pursuit of removing things from my life that didn’t matter to make room for more things that DO matter to me. Which lead me here to SORTED of course!

Here are some examples of hidden Overwhelm:

1. You feel like at the end of the day all you've really done for your business is post on Facebook…and it isn’t resulting in more money;

2. Your business is growing and you ARE earning more money, but you went into business to feel more peaceful and more present for your kids…why do things now seem MORE stressful than before?

3. You regularly wonder whether this track you’ve chosen (stay at home mom, work remote job, corporate job, entrepreneurship) is really worth it and your eye is drifting and thinking the grass is starting to look a lot greener somewhere else;

4. You are constantly on the GO and working hard, so why does it still feel like things are falling through the cracks (romance, business, parenting, self-care, serendipity and fun?)

When Overwhelm is diagnosed, named, and identified, then we can systematically remove the clutter (emotional, physical, mental) from our lives so as to make room for the peaceful, present life you desire as a woman.

You first must recognize that you are feeling Overwhelmed and then there must be an honest assessment of priorities and boundaries. How does this look for me? I’m a traveling mom to a 2 year old boy, a lawyer turned business coach for entrepreneurial moms, and own a product business that is negotiating big box store wholesale contracts for 2017. My top life priority is to have focused time with my son. But it is also my non-negotiable boundary that I have wonderful childcare so I can work or take a breather for myself, and so as an only child and an extrovert, he has valuable social time.

My next priorities fall in some varying order of: achieving my financial goals, family relationships, fitness and faith, travel, friends, and downtime (like reading fiction novels). I then implement boundaries to ensure those priorities are getting the attention they need.

Whenever I start feeling a little short of breath, restless sleep, or a heaviness in my chest, I know that Overwhelm is trying to wrap its sticky little fingers around my soul. I pause, breathe, identify the stressor, and get my priorities back in alignment with added boundaries if necessary (like more childcare, or spend the weekend with my parents so they can take my son on adventures, or get a massage, you name it!)

Identifying Overwhelm can be difficult starting out, but you quickly acquire the skill to intuitively identify in mere moments that one really bothersome thing in your life that is causing the tip in your equilibrium and causing costly Overwhelm. I fully believe that a de-cluttered life in ALL areas of your life results in a life of greater peace and profits.

About the Author

Corinna Charlton is a pretty feisty business and intellectual property turned strategy coach to rock the start and growth of your business with a super effective step by step process. You can find her at www.powerful, join her thriving community on Facebook, or download her free guide, "10 Ways to Find Childcare for Location Independent Moms."

SORTED: Freedom through Structure; learn how to organize your life and create routines to keep it that way!
Plan Your Tomorrows: Get More Done and Have More Fun

Freedom Through Structure

Do you like to schedule your days down to the minute, or do you prefer to just “go with the flow”? The fact is, some of us crave more structure than others. Tight schedules can be stressful and make you feel like you are always rushed! However, doing a basic amount of planning can go a long way towards having a day that is not only more productive but also much more enjoyable.

Effective planning for the things that you NEED to do frees up time for the things that you really WANT to do. Here’s some guidance for how to create some structure in your daily planning that helps you feel less rushed and more relaxed.

Evening Planning Routine

Each evening take a few minutes to look over your schedule for the next day so that you’re aware what is on your plate. Plan out your time in sections and design a day that you are looking forward to living! Most of us have some time that is pre-committed (to a job, class, or child’s activity), but also have some flexible time.

Create a list of everything that you need and want to do, then plug those activities into your schedule where they naturally fit the best. If they don’t all fit, that’s okay! Don’t force it. There will be plenty more days to do the leftover tasks. Everything is not urgent.

Plan Your Ideal Day

It might seem like an obvious thing to point out, but YOU get to decide exactly what you want to do with your flexible time. Choose to do those things that will have the most positive impact in your life. Schedule in some things that you “need” to do and some things that you just want to do for fun. Remember to plan to actually enjoy your tomorrow --- we live on a beautiful planet designed for us to enjoy!

Embrace the Natural Rhythm

Your days certainly don’t need to be scheduled down to the minute, because for a lot of us, this can bring more stress than not planning at all. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have plans that fill your time. Time that isn’t tabbed for any specific activity generally just gets wasted on something that you don’t truly enjoy.

There are many different ways to plan out your days in groups of activities that allow you to stay on task without feeling confined by your schedule.

Personally, I like to create a short list for each natural part of my day. For example, I decide what I will do before my children wake up for breakfast (this morning, that included writing a blog post and drafting several emails), then the kids wake up and we have a nice, leisurely breakfast together.

After that (at about 9:15am), I plan to do the daily chores, and then take them to the park. At the park I work on my laptop (Thank you, God, for mobile internet!) while they play. At lunch time we head home. The day continues along the same line, naturally broken into sections by meals and naptime. I plan a few activities (both chores and fun things) for each of these sections of our day.

Planning out my day like this keeps things relaxed and enjoyable, but also allows me to get a lot done. It saves us from feeling tense about “keeping up with the schedule” and also prevents boredom (which tends to lead to excessive TV watching, in my experience).

A Balanced Schedule

Scheduling a successful day is primarily about finding balance. You don’t want to book yourself so tightly that you don’t have room to breath and enjoy life, but you also don’t want to just “go with the flow” because then you’ll spend so much time trying to keep up with the things you have to do that there won’t be any time left for the things that you really want to do.

Planning allows you to get the necessary things done so that you actually have time earmarked for the things that you love!


Organize Your Food to Reduce Waste

I’ve had several SORTED readers ask for organizational strategies to help avoid food spoilage and prevent waste. Today’s article answers these questions! Keep reading to learn how I organize my food to make sure it all gets used up before it has a chance to spoil. Plus, at the end of the article, I’ve included a list of some fun, interesting ways to make your food stay good for extra long!


Meal Plan & Implement a “Food to Use Up” List

My most effective strategy for preventing food from spoiling is to keep a running list of what foods we need to use up. I keep this list on the computer so that I can easily rearrange it and add and delete items as necessary.


Each week, when I’m ready to do my meal planning, I first take a quick look in my cupboards and refrigerator, to see if there’s any food that I’d like to use up that haven’t yet made it on to the list.


Any foods that will be spoiling soon go at the top of the list. The rest of the items on the “Food to Use Up” list are just things that I would like to use up because they have been sitting in the cupboards for a while, but aren’t actually in any immediate danger of going bad.


Once my list is complete, I start meal planning. I use the list of foods to use up as inspiration! For each meal I need to plan, I look at the “Use Up” list, and pick an ingredient to use up in that meal. Of course, I try to use up those more urgent items that are at the top of the list first.


So, for example, my “Foods to Use Up” list might be:


  • Tomatoes
  • yogurt
  • steak
  • canned pumpkin
  • zucchini
  • frozen green beans
  • frozen cranberries


My meal plan would then include such dishes as:


  • Spaghetti Squash w/ Marinara (to use up tomatoes)
  • Yogurt and Fruit Parfaits (to use up yogurt)
  • Steak, Potatoes, & Roasted Zucchini (to use up steak and zucchini)


Then I make my shopping list, and include all the items that I’ll need to make each of those dishes.


There’s normally a few dishes that I know we’d like to eat during the week, so I always include make room for those favorites and interesting new recipes — though I try to put them towards the end of the week, so that we can be sure to eat the other food before it goes bad.


Keep Your Refrigerator (and Cupboards) Well Organized

When your refrigerator and cupboards are well organized, it’s much easier to see what you have. That means you’ll remember to use up those ingredients, and it also will prevent you from accidently buying items you already have.


Ideally, you want to keep all of your food in clear containers so that it’s easy to see what’s inside, and grouped together with like items. (For example, all your canned beans together in one place, not spread throughout your whole pantry.) This makes cooking much easier and helps you save money at the grocery store!


Keep the Items You Want to Use Up Together

In your pantry, whenever you notice an item that has been in there for way too long and is constantly being passed over, move it to a specific, special place that you reserve for items you want to use up. That way, when you’re working on your meal plan, you can quickly glance in your cupboard and know which ingredients you’ll want to incorporate into dishes that week.


Keep Together Items that Will Spoil Soon

A similar practice can be used with the food in your refrigerator, however, it’s executed slightly differently. How I do it is to reserve the top shelf of my fridge for anything that needs to be used up soon (or else will spoil). On one side of the shelf, I put leftovers, and on the other side, I put individual ingredients. Whenever I’m not sure what to cook, the first place I look for inspiration is that top shelf.


My refrigerator has two produce drawers, and I use them to keep my veggies sorted — not by type, but by freshness. Whenever I buy more veggies, I put the new ones into the left hand drawer, and move all the old ones into the right hand drawer. Whenever I want to cook a vegetable for a meal, I always first look into the drawer of older veggies, and only go into the left drawer (newer veg) if I need a specific one.


Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Food from Spoiling

Finally, I just wanted to share some miscellaneous tips that I use to help my food last even longer. I don’t always do these things, because the strategies I explained above generally keep us moving through our food well enough that there’s no risk of it spoiling. However, these tips can still be helpful, especially if you have a lot of produce in your house, or if you meal plan for two weeks at a time.

  • Keep your bananas as separate from each other and from other fruit as possible. Bananas create a lot of methane gas, which makes fruit ripen faster.


  • Rinse berries in a solution of 1 part vinegar/10 parts water, then store them in a paper towel lined container. They’ll stay fresh for up to two weeks!


  • Store onions and potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place to prevent them from sprouting or going soft.


  • Store onions and potatoes separately, or else the moisture from the onions will make the potatoes sprout. You can put them in separate paper bags and punch holes in the bags so that they can breath.


  • As soon as you bring kale and other leafy greens home from the store, wash them, then dry thoroughly. Store them in a ziplock bag with a few paper towels, in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. Change the paper towels twice each week, or whenever they are wet.


  • Store mushrooms in paper bags rather than plastic. Plastic bags trap moisture and make mushrooms start to decompose.


  • Celery and broccoli can be wrapped in aluminum foil before being stored in the fridge to make them last for up to a month!



Is food spoilage an issue in your house? What causes it? Do you buy too much food, or is what you have just not well enough organized?


Elevate your family life: How Having a Schedule From Day 1 Can Help You Manage Your Family (and Your SELF) Like a Boss

How Having a Schedule From Day 1 Can Help You Manage Your  Family (and Your SELF) Like a Boss


[This post has been contributed by SORTED reader Sunit Suchdev of]


Let me start off by saying that there are two things I need to have to keep me happy in life. Predictability, and time to myself. There are many reasons for this, but mostly because I’m a planner and like to know what’s coming (don’t EVER throw me a surprise party).


I also like time to just do the things I need and want to do. Business or pleasure, I need time to myself. When I found out I was having TWINS, I knew one thing for sure. I had a life I already loved, and I wasn’t going to let two little babies change that. All I heard was things like, “uh oh, say goodbye to life as you know it!”.


I struggled to have babies. Like, I went through a LOT to get pregnant. Yet, I was surrounded by women who were telling me not to try so hard! Yikes!!! I could see why they were trying to warn me.


These moms were barely keeping their heads above water. Not gonna lie, I did get a LITTLE scared. Then I snapped out of it. There HAD to be a better way.


So I did something that I always recommend to expecting moms now. I started talking to moms who looked like they had it together. I talked to moms whose kids seemed happy and content. I talked to the women who had what I wanted and paid no attention to those who told me it couldn’t be done.


Many of these actually happened to be moms of twins and even triplets. What was their secret? I quickly learned that it wasn’t a secret at all. It was just something that many moms don’t think they CAN do.


It was having a schedule. From Day 1. People say you can’t (and shouldn’t) put babies on a schedule. These people probably don’t have multiples. Moms of multiples have an advantage in that they NEED to put babies on a schedule to avoid being up around the clock, so by default, they are in fact, scheduling their children and their lives.


After reading several books that promoted scheduling, I was convinced I needed to give it a solid try. There was a plethora of information and of course you had to adapt as the babies grew but I like to make it simple. I read books like “On Becoming Babywise” and “Happiest Baby on the Block”. “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins” was another great one. They all had some similarities. Scheduling was one of them. The babies would follow a pattern of Eat, Wake, Sleep.


In that order, at the same time.


Every. Day.


(No Delays here!)


Might it get exhausting to be so rigid? It might. But I had to try. Wake time would be filled with activities and nap time was my time to nap, shower, do laundry, work on my blog — the list of things you can do during nap time is endless.


Because they were on a schedule, something else magical happened — the boys started sleeping longer stretches at night.


I religiously followed the “schedule”. As the “awake” stretches would go longer, I could plan play dates and actually get them out of the house! It wasn’t lost on me that there were many times I would schedule a play date and people would cancel at the last minute because their child suddenly needed a nap. In my head I would think, “Why did you schedule a play-date during nap-time?”


And then I thought, “Oh right, You have probably been letting the baby decide when they need a nap”.” That sounds kind of like a surprise party.


I had to remind myself that not everyone was as rigid as me. Sometimes I would be a little jealous that they could just go whichever way the day would take them, but then I would remind myself that I had twins.


Actually, I would call my sister in law (who ALSO had twins), and bitch about it, and then SHE would remind me that I had twins. It was okay that I was doing things differently.


I had many days like that, where I felt I was being judged for being so “scheduled”, and I would second guess if I had done the right thing.


Was it fair that I was turning down a fun story time at the library because it was right at nap-time? How many more dinners and parties would we have to decline because our kids went to bed at 7:30? Was I the only person who was preparing for the time change, WEEKS in advance?


But at the end of the day, it was working for us. All you had to do was take one look at my kids to know that it was a great strategy. They ate and slept at the same time every day. They fell asleep without needing props or rocking. There was no crying when they woke up and they were happy as little pigs in poop all day long.


As the months turned into years, they started dropping naps and sleeping even longer at night, and a predictable schedule has allowed me to keep a very high level of sanity. I am able to get so much done during my days, and even scheduling things like webinars or teleconferences is a breeze.


Work on my business? Check. Lunch date? Check. Painting my nails? Check. Laundry? Check. Real Housewives? Check Check Check!


My husband is thankful too! He doesn’t come home to an exhausted wife and chaos every night, and a schedule allows a predictable bedtime routine which my kids know he will always be a part of. I always know exactly what our days will look like — but even better THEY know exactly what their day will look like, and for kids, that predictability is priceless. It makes them feel safe and secure.


But what about flying by the seat of your pants? Will this make your kids unable to adapt? I have found the opposite — especially as they get older. What is amazing about the whole scheduling thing is that if you have established it over several years, they actually adapt really well when they are thrown off their routine.


If you haven’t had kids yet, I highly recommend thinking about getting them on a schedule when you do. It truly works the best when you start from Day 1.


If you DO have kids who are not on a schedule, maybe consider slowly transitioning them to one. If you need predictability and time to yourself, you will be so glad you did!



Elevate Your Family Life -- A guest post on by Sunit SuchdevAbout Sunit Suchdev
Sunit Suchdev is a wife and mom to twin 4 year old boys. Between taking care of her family, running a business and contributing to her first co-author book, she is the epitome of busy! She is currently working on many amazing projects and is a mommy coach who works with new and expecting moms to plan appropriately for motherhood so they can have it ALL and not lose themselves in new mommy overwhelm! Sunit does it ALL and she eschews the mainstream ideas that foster negativity in moms these days. She believes you CAN have it all and encourages women to find their true purpose, drink a green shake, put on some lipstick, and live their best life! Happy moms make happy babies and her goal is to empower and inspire women to grow babies that will evolve to make this world a better place! Go sign up for her newsletter so you can keep up with her at!

13 Planner Tips - Gillian Perkins

1. Plan Your Tomorrows

Each evening, take a few minutes to map out what the next day will look like. List the tasks that you plan to accomplish in the order that you plan to do them in.

Then, take a few minutes to visualize yourself successfully completing the tasks that you have planned. This simple step will make an enormous difference in your completion rate (and can also help you enjoy your work more!). By taking the time to imagine yourself completing the tasks, you are not only planning the details of how you will do the work (which brings greater clarity), but you are also affirming to yourself that you WILL complete the task.

Scott Crawford famously said, “The workday begins the night before.” This doesn’t mean you should start working in the evening or night! It just means that to get a great start on your work in the morning, it’s essential to plan your tasks before you begin. That way you are fully prepared and can jump right into whatever you need to do.

2. Have Weekly Planning Sessions

Similarly, it’s a good practice to take some time at the end of each week to plan what you want to accomplish over the next. Evaluate how your previous week went and what you completed. Are you successfully doing things that bring you happiness and will lead you to your goals?

What do you need to do this coming week? First, plan out the things you “have” to do, then add in some things that you want to do! Just remember to not schedule yourself too tightly. More things will come up throughout the week that you discover have to be done.

In your weekly planning session, don’t assign more than three or four tasks to each day. That way, you’ll leave yourself some wiggle room, stay more relaxed, and actually get everything done that you want to.

3. Use Full Month Spreads for Strategy

Most planners have a full calendar spread at the beginning of each month. Take advantage of that! Use it to mark down birthdays and other significant events so that you remember to plan around them when you’re doing your weekly planning sessions.

Those monthly spreads are also great for strategy. Have a big goal you want to accomplish? Map out the steps that you need to take to reach it!

4. Make Planning Sessions Habitual

It’s great to have daily, weekly, and monthly planning sessions, but you’ll only get the benefits if you actually DO them. The easiest way to streamline the process and remember to do them is to turn them into habits!

Habits are things that we do automatically. They are easier to remember, and we become more efficient as we learn how to do them more effectively. Start with just the daily planning sessions each evening. Wait until you feel really comfortable and solid with that habit before you add in the weekly and monthly planning sessions.

5. One Planner to Rule Them All

Don’t let your plans be spread across multiple notebooks, apps, and systems. Creating all your plans in one, central location will keep things simple and ensure that you don’t forget anything.

That being said, if you want to have additional planners for specific parts of your life (such as a separate planner for work or school, or the calendar in your phone, etc.) that is perfectly alright! Just make sure that all your plans are at least in your main planner.

6. Your Planner Is Not a Scratch Pad

If your planner has extra “notes” pages, feel free to write whatever you like on those. However, don’t use the main lists provided for planning each day to jot down your random thoughts. Those lists should be kept for specifically planning tasks for those days, preferably written in the order that you intend to complete them in.

So, scribble down your thoughts on scratch paper or a separate notebook, and then, after you figure out what you actually want to do, write it down in your planner intentionally.

7. Understand the Difference Between Important and Urgent

What’s your top priority today? Is it what is most important or what is most urgent?

Important things are those that will have the greatest impact over time: writing a book, starting a business, painting your house, calling your friend. Urgent tasks, on the other hand, might not be very important in the big picture, but they must be done soon or else you’ll be faced with negative consequences. For example: getting your oil changed, paying a bill, preparing for tomorrow’s meeting.

8. Make Every Task Actionable

If you write down vague tasks, such as, “work on remodeling the bathroom” or “connect with a friend” then you are less likely to take action. And, even if you do take action, you likely won’t see the results you are after.

Every task that you assign yourself should be as specific and actionable as possible. When you schedule your tasks, consider the why behind each of them. Make sure that what you are planning to do is successfully going to fulfill that “why.”

9. Measure Each Task

Your to-do list might look overwhelming --- until you measure it the right way! Consider how long each task will take you and mark down the number of minutes. For example, your list might look like this:

Sweep: 20 minutes

Write blog post: 90 minutes

Call to schedule appointment: 15 minutes

Then, add up all the minutes. Do you have enough time available today to comfortably complete everything that you have planned? If so, then feel empowered! If not, better to reschedule one of the less important/urgent tasks for a different day, so that you aren’t setting yourself up for failure.

10. Defer Every Task Until the Ideal Time

While I fully appreciate the sentiment of “Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today” the fact is that TODAY is not the best day to do everything. You CAN do an endless amount of things today. But, if you tried to do everything then you not only would fail (perhaps missing the most important things) --- you also would feel very stressed out.

For these reasons, it’s important to intentionally spread your work out over the coming days, weeks, even months. This will keep you relaxed and give you time to add in fun things (or important things that crop up unexpectedly). If you happen to find that you have “extra” time, you always can work ahead and complete tasks that you have assigned to future days. (This always feels SO good and productive!)

11. Don’t Overbook Yourself

Along similar lines, be careful to not schedule too much to do each day. Doing so is setting yourself up for failure, and that’s obviously not a good idea. Keep your stress levels to a minimum by allowing your days to stay as open as you need them to.

​Better to get less done and enjoy life more than to be hyper-productive and miserable.

Better to get less done and enjoy life more than to be hyper-productive and miserable.
Click to Tweet

12. Hold Yourself Accountable

Whatever tasks you DO choose to assign yourself, hold yourself accountable to completing all of them every day. If you plan poorly, you might have to stay up late to get your work done: that’s okay --- now you know to plan less in the future!

Integrity means choosing to do the right thing even when nobody is watching. Have integrity and hold yourself to what you said you would do. By doing this time after time you’ll not only get in the habit of completing your work, you’ll also be developing your mental muscles of self control, integrity, and accountability. Having these muscles be strong makes EVERYTHING easier. (And as an aside,procrastination is a SYMPTOM of these muscles being weak.)

Of course, use your discretion. Sometimes our schedules are taken out of our control and there’s nothing we can do about it. You might choose to reschedule some tasks for other days, rather than creating stress by feeling like you have to do everything you planned.

13. Check Your Planner Frequently

Your planner will only serve you if you know what it says! Get in the habit of checking it several times throughout the day. This will ensure that you don’t forget any appointments and will help keep you on track with your work.

BONUS: What to Do with Missed Tasks

And finally, what do you do if you fail? If the day comes to an end and there are still a couple things left that you either didn’t get to or something prevented you from completing?

Quite simply, reschedule them! Choose the next most ideal time for the task to be completed, and mark it down in your planner. Then, cross it off of today’s list.

If there was some specific reason you weren’t able to complete the task (such as: you didn’t have the necessary tools, or you didn’t know what to do first), then make sure you schedule in the steps you need to take to be successful next time. (Such as buying the correct tools, doing some research, or having a project planning session.)


I hope you found value in these 13 planner tips! Most of them I’ve learned from my personal practice, but I also learned a couple new ones as I was researching for this article.

How about you? Do you already do most of these things, or were a lot of them new to you? What are your best tips for using a planner effectively?


Kitchen Pantry Organization: Before and After

When I set out to reorganize my pantry I had no idea how much it would make me want to reorganize my whole house! So addicting! I consider myself a fairly organized person, but my pantry was long overdue for a clean up. Our pantry is way bigger than the pantry in our previous home, but we have found a way to fill every inch of it. In the three years we have been in our home, the pantry has become a complete mess. For inspiration, I scoured Pinterest and found the most amazing pantries. So beautifully decorated and neatly organized that they almost look like no touch zones. (think your mom’s formal living room) As much as I wanted this gorgeous pantry, I knew it didn’t make sense for our family.


I had several goals in mind when I decided to finally tackle the mess that was my pantry.


  • Get rid of the clutter
  • Organize
  • Make it pretty
  • Ensure it is easy for my family to find what they need


I built my goals based on the SORTED steps from Gillian Perkins’ book, SORTED: Freedom Through Structure. In her book she recommends simple steps that can be used in any organizing project.


My favorite of the SORTED steps are the last two. After you have done the work, what do you do next?


  • Enjoy- I was super excited to show off my work to my husband, but the best part was when my son came in the pantry and said, “Whoa! You put stickers on the wall!”
  • Determine- This step is all about maintaining your work


Pantry: BEFORE

Pantry Before



Step 1: Get Rid of the Clutter

Pantry EmptyThe first thing I did was take everything out of the pantry and dispose of out of date or items that we no longer use as I went. I couldn’t believe how much stuff was out of date, and I was surprised to find so many items simply did not belong in the pantry at all. There was so much expired food, and excess product. Seriously, why do I have four cans of cream of chicken soup or 3 boxes of light bulbs? Maybe, because I couldn’t find one when I needed it! As I removed items and decided what to dispose of, I made every effort to recycle as much as possible.


Step 2: Organize


Once the clutter was gone, I placed everything on the kitchen counter, and then I continued to cull items that didn’t belong. Every surface in my kitchen was covered. I couldn’t believe it all fit in the pantry. Once I had it narrowed down to just the items that I wanted to return to the pantry, I organized it into several categories.


  • Food- Dry goods, snacks, fresh baked pumpkin bread from my awesome neighbor
  • Pet Items- Pet food, treats, toys
  • Paper Goods- Plates, napkins, cutlery, and an impressive assortment of paper straws and cupcake wrappers
  • Cleaning Supplies- I keep all my cleaning supplies in my pantry on a shelf out of the reach of my children
  • Food Storage- lunch boxes, plastic bags, foil, etc.


Step 3: Make it Pretty


I had several baskets and containers in the pantry already. They probably would have done the trick, but with the goal of making it pretty in mind, I went on a hunt to find some beautiful, yet practical, storage solutions. I found baskets, jars, and crates in addition to repurposing some items I already had in the house. I even found some left over wall decals from another home project.  I went with a soft blue and natural look in a lot of different textures.


  • Baskets and crates were used to store items like bread, chips, and our super secret (not so secret) candy stash
  • Beautiful jars in different shapes and sizes were used to hold food items like rice and pasta and paper items like my pretty paper straws.
  • Plastic and paper boxes were used to store items like cleaning supplies and my huge assortment of cookie cutters


Step 4: Ensure it’s Easy for My Family


The most important part of this project was to ensure it was going to be easy for my family to find what they needed. That meant I couldn’t completely move everything around. A lot of items went back in the same or a nearby space, but in a WAY more organized manner!


  • On the lowest shelves, I put things I knew my five-year-old would need access to, like storage containers with goldfish and cereal and baskets with individual self-serve snacks.
  • I love the addition of the jars! I love a BOGO pasta sale as much as the next mom, but I have clearly over done it. Now that they are in the jars; it makes it so easy to see what we have.
  • Commonly used items like the dishwasher detergent, dog treats, and that candy stash, all stayed in the same place, making it easy for my family to find what they need.

Pantry: After


The pantry really turned out great! It’s not super fancy, but it is super pretty and very practical. I am really enjoying being able to easily find everything I am looking for in such a pretty pantry! What are your best pantry organizing tips?


About the Author: Amy Ripper

Amy Ripper - Kitchen Pantry Makeover Before & AfterThis article on the SORTED blog was contributed by Amy Ripper, a working mom and wife who writes her blog Two Little Rippers in those moments in between working as an HR Pro, cuddling her kids, soccer practice, watching football, and trips to Target. Amy is an enthusiast for a neatly organized home and making work fun. Two Little Rippers is a lifestyle blog sharing thoughts on motherhood, home, work/life balance, and gratitude. See more from Amy at


Simplify How You Spend Money

For many years, my husband and I used a hodgepodge of several different ways to spend money: several credit cards, cash, debit cards, and checks. Keeping track of our finances was always a pain. So much so that I was never able to stick with it. We’d set up a budget, be all excited about it, then completely fall off it two months later. And, it wasn’t because we couldn’t reign in our spending! It was simply because keeping track of our money was too disorganized  and tedious, so as soon as life got too busy, the budget went out the window.

It’s only been in the past year that we’ve finally managed to keep track of where our money is going. The technique that helped the very most was simply to only pay with one payment method. For us, that is our debit cards/checks (they both debit the checking account and show up on our bank statements).

Having just one account that money goes into and comes out of makes everything so much easier to track! In addition, since virtually all banks now offer online banking, it’s very easy to connect your bank account to a bookkeeping/budgeting software, such as Quickbooks or (the latter being free).

I know this is a super simple tip, but if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend that you do! We finally actually know where all our money is going, and we don’t have to spend hardly any time keeping track of it.

The point here definitely isn’t that you need to use just a debit card. You could just use cash, or even just use a credit card. The point is that by simplifying how you spend your money, you’ll make it much easier to keep your finances organized and in check.


Simplify How You Spend Money

For many years, my husband and I used a hodgepodge of several different ways to spend money: several credit cards, cash, debit cards, and checks. Keeping track of our finances was always a pain. So much so that I was never able to stick with it. We’d set up a budget, be all excited about it, then completely fall off it two months later. And, it wasn’t because we couldn’t reign in our spending! It was simply because keeping track of our money was too disorganized  and tedious, so as soon as life got too busy, the budget went out the window.


It’s only been in the past year that we’ve finally managed to keep track of where our money is going. The technique that helped the very most was simply to only pay with one payment method. For us, that is our debit cards/checks (they both debit the checking account and show up on our bank statements).


Having just one account that money goes into and comes out of makes everything so much easier to track! In addition, since virtually all banks now offer online banking, it’s very easy to connect your bank account to a bookkeeping/budgeting software, such as Quickbooks or (the latter being free).


I know this is a super simple tip, but if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend that you do! We finally actually know where all our money is going, and we don’t have to spend hardly any time keeping track of it.


The point here definitely isn’t that you need to use just a debit card. You could just use cash, or even just use a credit card. The point is that by simplifying how you spend your money, you’ll make it much easier to keep your finances organized and in check.


12 Reasons My Family Loves Living With Less

Culture --- especially in America --- seems to constantly be telling us that it’s better to have more. In fact, it’s best to have as much as possible! People are always trying to sell us stuff that we “need” on TV, online, and as we walk down the street. It’s unavoidable.

We work hard to earn a good salary.... Why? So that we can buy more stuff. Essentially, we’re trading our time (huge amounts of it) for possessions. Is this a worthwhile trade? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this down in the comments. Are there other things you’d rather do with your time, or are you happy with the trade you’re currently making?

A few years ago, my husband and I realized that having more “stuff” in our lives was really just weighing us down and stressing us out. Especially me! My husband isn’t exactly what I’d call “naturally tidy,” so the more things we owned, the more things were left on the counters, floors, and bed.

The reason we started downsizing is a whole ‘nother story all in itself, but suffice to say that initially, it was forced on us. However, once we got started, we loved it so much that we kept going! I ruthlessly went through all our possessions, retaining only those things that we truly loved and actually used. The end result delights us all and created an environment that is really a joy to live in.

Today, I’ll be running through the top ten reasons why we enjoy living with less. These are ten benefits that we appreciate on a daily basis.

1. We stopped losing things!

No longer were our things lost among clutter. Each item has a home where we store it, and even if it’s left out, it’s always easy to locate. If we do misplace something, there are only a few possible places it could be, so looking for it only takes a few minutes. If it’s not in one of those places, then we know it’s not in our house.

2. We always have enough money.

Even though neither my husband or I earn very much, we always have “enough.” When something is important to us, we are able to afford it. Why? Because we’re not spending all our money acquiring new things every month. The answer to not enough money really often is as simple as, “Spend less.”

3. We have much more time than we used to.

Have you ever said, “There’s just not enough time in a day!”? I know that I used to say this on a regular basis. However, once we downsized, we were pleasantly surprised by how much more free time we suddenly had --- time that we could now use to pursue anything we liked! We didn’t realize how much time we had been wasting managing our “stuff.”

4. Our house is naturally cleaner.

With fewer things, even if we act like pigs and don’t clean for a week, our house is still so much cleaner than it used to be. We used to fight on a daily basis just to maintain basic order. Now, even if we REALLY let things go, it’s still not a battle to right them again.

This is especially important since, as I mentioned above, my husband is NOT naturally tidy. I used to be really stressed out by the fact that he’d leave things laying about wherever they happened to fall. It was a serious strain on our marriage! Living with less has really helped in this area.

5. We enjoy our possessions more.

Have you ever noticed how much more interesting a child finds his toys when they are all neatly put away? If they’re a mess on the floor, the child is uninterested and bored. But put them away where they belong, and they’re suddenly much more appealing.

My toddler certainly feels this way, and now I understand why! Now that I have less things and they are put away, I’m able to actually SEE, REMEMBER, and APPRECIATE the things that I have. I can cherish and make use of my favorite items every day, because they’re no longer lost amongst clutter.

6. We’re more relaxed.

Fewer things means less that we have to manage and less we are responsible for! While we often bring new possessions into our lives for some added level of convenience, the fact is that every additional thing owned brings with it new responsibilities. You must care for, maintain, and keep organized each of those things!

7. We can afford higher quality items.

When we do choose to buy something, we can afford to get a really good quality brand and model. This obviously means we get to have nicer things, and it also means that our things last longer --- which means that in the long run, we’re also saving ourselves the time it would take to replace the item if it broke sooner.

8. We stopped comparing ourselves to our friends.

When life stopped being about trying to have the most stuff, “keeping up with the Jones’” was no longer something we were trying to do. Rather than measuring our amount of stuff against that of other people’s, we now have greater appreciation for each families different lifestyle choices.

9. We’re able to live more in the present.

Our home used to be so full of old things that we clung to for “memory” that we couldn’t help but live in the past. When we downsized, we kept a few things that reminded us of especially good times (because reminiscing certainly can be a pleasure), but we let go of most of those sentimental items. Now we are free to live in the NOW and enjoy each day for what it is.

10. Deciding what to wear is easier.

Since we only have clothes we really like, selecting outfits each day is quite easy. I let my toddler pick out his own clothes each day, and he always looks just fine because all his clothes look good together.

11. Getting ready takes less time.

Not only do we choose our outfits more quickly, but all the other aspects of getting ready also go much more smoothly. We are able to find everything we need, we don’t forget important things we should bring, and we aren’t tripping over stuff on the floor as we try to get out the door.

12. Our happiness isn’t tied to things we desire.

A curious thing happened: the less we had, the less advertisements appealed to us. I think that choosing to have less showed us that happiness had nothing to do with having more. We were seeing all these wonderful benefits reveal themselves as we downsized, so we slowly lost our appetite for buying more.

I used to have something of a shopping addiction. I’m not certain if I technically qualified, but I do know that I felt compelled to buy a whole lot of things that I didn’t want and certainly didn’t need. My closet was enormous: my sole intent seemed to be to fill up as much space with clothes and accessories as possible, because I certainly had more than I could ever make use of. My husband would attest to this fact.

The change that I naturally experienced since we downsized has been truly amazing. I love walking into a store and NOT feeling like I NEED everything. If you’ve never struggled with this, then maybe you won’t understand, but I used to feel totally compelled to buy things that I couldn’t afford and didn’t need. It’s wonderful to be free from that habit.

How about you? How do you feel about the amount of possessions you own? Does your house feel open, or is it cluttered? Do you spend more time that you would like on maintaining order? Let’s talk about it in the comments!