Organize Your Thoughts in 3 Steps

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This is an updated post originally published on 11/08/11. Affiliate links included. 

Do you ever find yourself screaming internally for order? I love a good routine but life happens and it’s important to be flexible. Here are my tips to organize your thoughts in 3 steps.

I recently spent 30 minutes on my head trying to get 26 alphabet magnets out from underneath the refrigerator. Once all the magnets were present and accounted for an amazing thing happened. My son is actually playing with them again!

This got me thinking. What is it about organization that makes things more accessible? Even to a toddler, it seems like when the playroom is clean and all of the toys are where they belong, he is more content to play alone. When his toys are scattered, he requires much more of me to help him figure out what to do. 

It’s the same for adults, of course. I am most productive when there is some sense of order in the world around me. When things start feeling upside down, so goes the neighborhood (so to speak). And it’s been that way – upside down – for a little while. I feel like I am starting to get a grip though and I feel good again about my direction.

What I’ve learned is that living within boundaries is more freeing than “being free”. I ‘m much more liberal with the word no and more committed to the word yes. I am getting organized, folks.

3 Steps to Organize your Thoughts

Set Boundaries

As soon as you can find an hour or two,  jot down a master “life schedule”. This plan has everything on it from daily chores to writing commitments, and kids’ schedules etc. This means I know when I can (or can’t) put something off or reschedule. I am able to be realistic about my time and what is required of me so I don’t burn out. I like to do this for at least a month at a time so I truly know my limitations. 

Read: How to make work-life balance work for you

This also means getting comfortable with the word, “no” and using it whenever necessary. Even fun things need to have their place. Burnout isn’t fun for anyone and affects everyone around us. 

Set Goals

There are a few things I know about myself, one of them being I need to have a deadline. Even a self-imposed deadline is helpful for me. So I set goals and work backward from the end of the year to see how I can meet them. Some are professional, some are personal, but I know what they are and how I can realistically make them happen. I also know what needs to wait until next year.

Now, that’s not to say I am kicking butt. It just makes things realistic. I can’t expect to lose 20lbs by Christmas if I am only working out once a month, right? When I think a few weeks ahead and work backwards, I am amazed at how much I can accomplish. 

Slow Down 

Slowing down is hard for me. I tend to have two speeds; full steam ahead and coast. I am not a pacer for sure. I am either going full out or I am crashing big time so I have to force myself to slow down a bit, know when to say NO and really only focus on the things that will allow me to meet my goals.

This is where the schedule comes into play because I can look a the calendar and see that the next 3 days will be crazy, so today really is a great time to take that nap or hit the gym. 

Read: 4 brain breaks for a busy season

Of course, I am still working on sticking to my big plan, but the fact that I have this sort of “blueprint” in my head really helps me level out. Sticking to this system really has been one of the most helpful things I have done  for myself in a long time.

So if you’re seeing this and feeling completely overwhelmed with your life, remember you are not alone! Then take a few minutes and create your blueprint. Once you start checking boxes, that big sigh of relief will feel amazing. I just know it!

Know someone who could use this encouragement?

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Organize your thoughts in 3 steps and get your week started right. Tips for work life balance and mom life.

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About Andrea Updyke

Andrea Updyke is a married mom of two boys living in Raleigh, NC. She is a published author and blogger of more than 18 years and loves to celebrate the little things that make life awesome.

Whether she's sharing tasty recipes, traveling or hanging with the family, Andrea's goal is to help make your days a little easier and a lot more fun! Email inquiries to

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  1. Excellent tips, Andrea! I have fought to stay organized since I’ve become SO much busier with work. It’s tough to maintain order when there’s so much going on. I finally broke down and bought myself a big desk calendar. Yes, with all of the technology I have and use, writing my to-dos down (and writing down WHEN I’m going to do them) has been a huge help!

  2. Thank you for sharing these great points! I, too, need a plan or a routine. I am learning to create flexibility in my routine. Well, let’s be honest… having kids has taught me that. Some people can make it up, as they go. But that’s not me. I am also learning how to be the best mommy to my boys, and sometimes that means I need a plan.