How to be organized when you suck at organization

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

This post contains affiliate links.

I am NOT organized. Sometimes I pretend I am and sometimes I trick people into thinking I am but I am always one step away from losing something, forgetting something important, or having an adult meltdown because I’ve lost or forgotten something.

Here are some ideas on how to be organized when you’re…well, not organized.

How to be organized when you suck at organization|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

Get a planner

I guess I should specify that you need to actually USE the planner, right?

I know it’s challenging to write all the things down. I know we all go through the “I’m getting organized RIGHT NOW” sprees where you profess your undying love for your current planner and then we forget all about it until we find it under a pile of kid’s school papers on the coffee table. That actually happened.

Now I have an Erin Conrdren Life Planner. I love this thing.

My new planner and other goodies from @erincondrendesign have made this first day of daylight savings time so much better. If I can't get organized with this haul then there's probably no hope for me at all. Here's hoping! #planner #sugarskull #ridiculouslyhappy

I’m a little more focused and accountable because I have a place to write stuff down that isn’t random sticky notes I lose or on the backs of old envelopes that wind up crumpled in the bottom of my purse.

I love the “Wet Erase Pens” that I can use to track expenses or other things on my “to do” list. LOVE LOVE LOVE. There are so many cute and handy laminated inserts that help me keep my “to do’s” straight. Kind of. Probably as good as it gets for me.

As a working freelancer, I love my Erin Condren Planner. It helps me track where I’ve submitted my writing so I can follow up with editors or clients regarding publication and payment. We had an issue with our taxes this year that stemmed from me not keeping good business records, so I’m really making an effort to be more organized in this way.

My planner and I are still in the honeymoon phase but all of these cute and fun little accessories make me want to use it. Plus, it’s a little smaller than most of the planners I’ve used and it goes easily in all my purses.

If you want to order from Erin Condren, you can use my referral link here. You’ll get $10 off your first order. Full disclosure, I will get a credit for my next Erin Condren order. Erin Condren sent me a planner and accessories free of charge but all opinions – including my profession of planner love – are mine alone.

Have a family calendar

Again, having a calendar doesn’t do you much good if you don’t use it so pick something that works for everyone. We have a three month look on a whiteboard in our laundry room…which basically ensures only I will see it.



This has really kept us on track for social engagements, days off from work, and kid activities. My planner is for MY stuff but this gives a visual snapshot of the big picture things happening at our house.

I like the three months at a glance view so we can see if our schedule – particularly our weekends – is getting too crowded. I’m a big believer in no plans pajama weekends, although with our kids getting older, those weekends are pretty rare. There’s usually a birthday party or a soccer game and this setup helps us keep things under control. Kind of.

We used to use a web-based family calendar and that just didn’t work for our family. I guess we’re visual people. Figure out what works for you and expect some trial and error.

Accept your limitations

If you’re admittedly not very strong in the organizational skills department, don’t expect to be the queen of organizing your life to the level where you don’t forget stuff and lose stuff. I’m not saying you can’t challenge yourself to be better but I am saying to cut yourself some slack.

When it comes to mom organization stuff, I am barely functional. I spend half my time trying to be that perfectly organized Pinterest mommy and the other half of my time bucking the system and telling myself I love the chaos…which is a lie. I lose school papers, birthday party invites (okay, some of those might be on purpose), receipts for major purchases…you get the idea. I’ve even forgotten to pick up my kids a couple of times…not my shining moment in motherhood.

But you know your strengths and weaknesses. You know what you do well and what you absolutely suck at. I’m really working at being more organized but I accept that it’s just not a natural thing for me and that I’m never going to be super on top of things in this department. There are always going to be things I forget and things I leave to the last minute (this is pretty much everything, by the way) and I’m probably going to have to accept that at least half my kids’ school pictures are going to showcase some non-photo worthy outfit because I forgot to write “picture day” on the calendar.

See also I’m really looking forward to seeing that class picture where my kid is wearing orange and gray sweats and a two sized too small stained Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt that he rescued from the bag that’s destined for Goodwill. The bag that’s been sitting in my hallway for three months. Yeah.

[Tweet “How to be organized when you have zero organizational skills”]

Have a system

I know…this one sounds a little bit lame. Have you ever had someone (someone who is probably not a parent) inform you that you could be ever-so-much-more-organized if only you had a system.

Yes, I want to smack those people upside the head, too.

But seriously, a system, a battle plan, whatever you feel like calling it, is a good idea.

The tipping point at our house is morning organization and meal planning. I hate mornings and I struggle to be semi consistent with meal planning. But, we have a system.

We do as much as possible the night before – we lay out clothes, pack lunches and snacks and set the backpacks by the door. I set out the breakfast stuff the night before and that might be something as simple as putting cereal bowls, spoons and the vitamin bottle on the counter next to my coffee cup.  Every little bit that I don’t have to do in the morning helps.

I don’t really meal plan for breakfast but I do try to discuss school day breakfasts with my kids in advance. If they’re expecting eggs to order (which happens about once a week) they get a little cranky when I slap a bowl of Cheerios in front of them.

If this level of preparation counts as a system, so be it. I don’t consider us particularly organized but I’m a night owl who likes hit the snooze button and I get out of bed at the last possible minute.

Meal planning? Meh. I’m inconsistent. I get really into it for a couple of weeks and then I just fall off the wagon and my family eats chicken nuggets and pizza for a week.

What has seemed to work the best for me is using writing our menus for the week on a chalkboard that hangs in our kitchen. My kids are beginning readers and kids like structure, so having them interested (and hopefully on board) with what we’re eating works for us. It also gets them involved in meal planning and they love seeing their “special request” up on the board.

What’s your best organizational tip?

Don’t forget, if you want to order a planner (or any other cool stuff) from Erin Condren, don’t forget to use my referral code. Thank you for reading!



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