New Year’s Resolution: Getting Organized

Categories: Career

Getting organized is one of the major resolutions that I’m striving to work on this year. I already like to spend time out of my day to organize to-do lists, emails, computer files, etc., but there’s no reason not to improve! The only caveat is that every person has his or her own way of organizing things, and if you haven’t found your organizational groove yet, then the effectiveness of this resolution may be moot.

But that shouldn’t stop you. Try these different methods of organization, and I’m sure you’ll find one you’ll be able to tweak and stick with for the year to come.

For jotting ideas down

1. Notebooks– This works for me, especially if the notebook has a certain aesthetic. I personally like using ones that are lined (but not too dark), college-ruled, purse-sized, and aren’t spiral-bound. But use whatever you like!

My pick: Geometric Kraft Pocket Notebooks | $3.99 for a 3-pack at Target

2. Small pieces of whatever you can grab (napkins, Post-Its, etc.)– Though it’s not my most favorite way to organize, I do like the convenience of jotting something down and throwing it in my bag to look at later. It’s like rediscovering buried treasure.

My pick: Staples Simply 3”x3” Yellow Notes | $18.99 for an 18-pack at Staples (that’s just about $1.06 per stack vs. $1.29 per Post-It brand stack, but the price difference is really nominal here)

3. Smartphone or tablet app– This method is particularly useful when I’m out and about, but honestly, it’s not my method of choice.

My pick: Google’s Keep app | Free (you can make notes and lists, and access them online through your computer later)

For getting things done on time

1. Planners– This is probably my favorite way of planning most of the things that I need to do on a deadline. Writing down to-dos also reinforces my memory of needing to do them.

My pick: Le Petit Prince Moleskine Daily Planner | $20 on Amazon

2. Online calendar– Besides being able to sync up calendars and view it across devices, I can share my calendar with friends, which makes it easier to coordinate dinners and hangouts.

My pick: Google Calendar | Free

3. Printed calendar– I keep these for particular types of to-dos, such as keeping track of when a certain blog post is due to publish. I find it’s a helpful supplement to my other methods listed, but it may be burdensome for those who don’t want to have to update multiple things.

My pick: No-Frills Printable Calendar | Free (I love the sense of humor of these guys, and the calendars are really no-frills!)

4. Sticky notes calendar– The only thing keeping me from making one of these is space, but if you have enough of it (or if you use small sticky notes), then this dynamic method could serve you well. I haven’t seen too many blog posts about these, but I think they’re neat for a home office!

From the Martha Stewart blog.
From the Martha Stewart blog.

Example: Martha Stewart Post-It Note Calendar | Free (minus the cost of materials)

5. Spreadsheet calendar– This is what I currently use to keep track of my blog posting topics and schedule. It makes planning much easier because I get to be more descriptive and organized with this method than a traditional calendar.

Example: My editorial calendar template | Free (hosted on Google Drive; feel free to download for your own use!)

For saving files

1. USB thumb drives– This was one of my preferred methods of saving everything, especially since the computers at my university did not save any of your files past midnight (we had a lot of students). And since these things are getting cheaper by the day, they’re great for a quick plug-n-go type of deal. However, you have to be pretty diligent in remembering to take it along with you.

My pick: Cruzer Blade USB Flash Drive (16GB) | $32 through Sandisk, $21 through Staples (I like them for their small profile, and these tend to go on sale pretty often)

2. Dropbox– It’s my personal favorite at the moment, mainly because I get so much space just for referring friends and completing various promotional tasks. Once my promo space runs out, I may just have to upgrade my account for the convenience of having my files everywhere I go.

– Basic | Free for up to 2GB (not including any additional free promo space; this is what I currently use)
– Pro | $9.99 per month for 1TB

3. Google Drive– My second-favorite to use, just because of the pervasiveness of Google’s services. The only downside is that the memory usage of your account is shared across your Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos.

– Free for 15GB
– $1.99 per month for 100GB
– $9.99 per month for 1TB
– …and more

4. OneDrive– Though I don’t use this as often as I use Dropbox and Google Drive, it’s particularly handy when I need to maintain Excel and Word formatting while collaborating online (using Google Sheets/Docs can change the formatting pretty drastically). The cool thing about OneDrive is that you can get a license for Office 365 (their newest version) just by paying for their 1TB plan.

– Free for 15GB
– $1.99 per month for 100GB
– $3.99 per month for 200GB
– $6.99 per month for 1TB (includes Office 365)


I actually use most, if not all of these tools, on a regular basis. By using a combination of all of these, I can compartmentalize the different aspects of my life– my blog, my career, volunteer work, personal life, etc.

But getting organized takes a lot of work. It takes some effort to sit down for a few hours per week to review last week, ensure you’re on track for the current week, and hash out the plan for next week. Even so, getting yourself organized is probably one of the most satisfying things you can do. Once you see yourself crossing off tasks and major projects, you’ll feel like an organized champ.

Brain poke of the day: Are there any other tools that you use to get organized? Of each category, which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image Credit: Original image by edar. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

  • Good list of stuff, but what about Evernote? I like Evernote for short quick notes, lists and to do lists I can access while mobile. I find Evernote much easier to use when out and about rather than Google Drive and Dropbox, but I do use them.

  • Right! Evernote is definitely a nifty tool (and it has some cool integration with special Moleskine products as well), but I’m not a fan of its layout. That being said, some people would probably still find it really useful! Thanks for bringing up Evernote, Gregg; it didn’t cross my mind to mention it!

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