The Year of Living Organizationally

NTcalendarSo I’ve just handed in revisions on THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE (yay!) and my children started back at school this week.

It’s time to haul my life back on course.

2014 is going to be my year of being organized, people! Yes, you heard it here first.

I’m a person who doesn’t like routine but actually thrives on routine when I have one–perverse, I know! I’ve discovered that the more organized you are, the easier it is to live in the moment. You don’t have to constantly worry about the next thing because you know there will be time. You’ve made time. It’s in your schedule.

Sarah Richardson study

It’s hard to stick to a schedule when you’re the primary caregiver/administrator for the household. Unforeseen things pop up all the time that you simply must deal with immediately. I’ve been guilty of throwing my hands up and going with the flow when things get tough. This year, I’m working hard to be more resilient and persistent. 

My goal for 2014 will be to try to stick to my schedule as much as possible and adjust it to accommodate new circumstances where necessary. 

One thing I absolutely adore is organizational paraphernalia. I just bought a whiteboard to use when planning out my books and I love it so much it’s scary. I use one side for brainstorming and one side for planning. Love. It.


I bought one of those family wall calendars that has a column for each family member, so you can keep track of everyone’s activities. For my book schedule I have a year planner so I can see the year at a glance. On my desk, I keep a gorgeous National Trust diary the lovely Anna Campbell gave me for Christmas.

Maybe it would be more efficient to keep everything on one calendar but I like to keep my everyday chores completely separate from my study. It’s hard to write when you have these other tasks nagging you from the calendar on the wall.

I do like functional things to be attractive, too, where possible. Luckily, Good old Martha Stewart has a range of home office supplies so I’ll be spending up big at Officeworks.

Jenny KWhat I really want right now is a noticeboard for each of my study and my kitchen, like the one in this office decorated by interior design guru Sarah Richardson, above. Ready made noticeboards this pretty are hard to find, so I’m considering a DIY project. 

I know. Fraught with peril. I am so NOT the DIYer. I just really, really want one of these. 

I really should organize the household better, too. That’s not quite so much fun! I can’t imagine a cleaning supply cupboard in my house that looked like this one (right)!

What about you? Are you so terrifically organized you actually have a schedule like the one from Jenny Komenda’s Little Green Notebook blog? (So NOT going to happen in my house!) Or are you more the slapdash, it’ll get done when it gets done variety?

What is your best organizational tip for home or work? Best piece of organizational equipment? (Other than your smart phone!)



  • Jane says:

    Hello Christina,
    I am not that organized, but I’m usually able to get things done when they need to be. I try to stick to a schedule as much as I can. No cool tips to share.

  • J St George says:

    Hi Christina

    Great post. I’m fairly organised. I love all that pretty ‘get organised’ stuff too. I’m on a massive tidy up at the moment though – things got a little behind during Xmas craziness! That will happen when 14 relatives come to stay over two weeks.

    I gave your latest book to a friend to read and she is just loving it! I told her I’d tell you and she was very excited that I knew you and wanted to ensure that I told you how fabulous you are!!

    • Oh, thanks so much, Jen! Please tell your friend I’m glad she’s enjoying it.

      Wow on the 14 relatives!!!! I’m not surprised things got a little behind. I think I’d have a breakdown!

  • Christina, great post and good luck for 2014 being your year of organization!

    Actually like you, I don’t like routine but I definitely operate best when I’ve got one. I tend to get completely off my oats if my routine goes haywire, however exciting that haywire may be at the time. One of the reasons I haven’t been to an RWA in America for a few years is that the stress of travelling and all the wonderful exhausting fun you have at conference leaves me completely discombobulated at the end of it and it takes me about a month to get back into my…routine again. Sigh. I sound so dull, don’t I?

    Hey, love that the diary got a mention. Aren’t they pretty? Love the National Trust stuff!

    • I’m getting a lot of pleasure out of my calendar. Thank you so much, Anna!

      I’m with you on RWA. It seems to be about three months in the planning, execution and recovery for me and I just can’t afford that time away from writing when I’m doing a book every six months.

  • Helen says:


    I am so not organized LOL I do try to be and in some ways I suppose I am I do my shopping on Fridays and try to do as much housework as possible then I can have Saturday and Sundays to myself well that is the plan but of course there are family BBQs and lunches and grandkids get dropped around out of the blue so things always change 🙂 but when the going gets tough and something just has to be done I do get it done and that can be reading a book that must be read. Good luck on being more organized this year I honestly think I would be a lot better if I didn’t have to work 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Helen, it sounds like you do have a good routine. I like getting housework out of the way first so it’s not nagging at me. The trouble is that housework is never finished, is it? As soon as you turn around there’s more to be done! As long as there’s time for reading, that’s the main thing! 🙂

  • Amy Conley says:

    Thank you, Christina for the laugh of the day, week, month, year. No I refuse to do “organized” anything. Like tonight, hubby informs me we are keeping grandson #2 this weekend. “We” may be stretching it a bit since I am still down and out ( I’m only awake now because I’ve been catching up on my fav soap, NEIGHBOURS). I do everything on the fly, always have. About the only thing scheduled around here is laundry and it gets done on the weekend. No more, no less.
    i will admit with no kids at home and me being in bed all month, maybe other than some dusting, right now we are good.

    • Hi Amy! I’m sorry to hear you’re still in bed. Good old Neighbours, I can’t believe it’s going still after all these years! I’m an on the fly kind of person at heart, which is why it’s taking me a huge effort to plan ahead!

  • Shannon says:

    After 18 months of being on different schedules–go in at 3:30am or 6:00am or 2:00pm, I entered normal life. I found the scheduling I did to keep on routine during shifts worked really well. So I have my M-F schedule, my Saturday schedule, and one for Sunday. Actually, there’s the lite Sat/Sun schedule and the heavy one so there’s flexibility.

    Being off to take care of Mom, coming back to do Christmas, and having cold weather has thrown off the schedule. And I can feel the effects in my mood and my body. So, despite the cold weather, I forced myself to walk this week. Not sticking to a schedule I am not carving out my me time to work on creative projects (sleep in a warm bed) is preferable. So my life is slight chaos and slight disarray but I am getting back to a routine that is helpful without being too constraining. A lady does need pleasant surprises now and again.

    • Shannon, sorry to hear your schedule has been thrown out. It takes real determination to get back on track, doesn’t it? Great to hear about the walking. I’ve been a sloth lately so it’s time to get back into the exercise.

  • Mozette says:

    I hated being too organised in my life… dunno why, I just despised it, right up until I came home from the coast and realised I had a house chock full of crap!

    Yep, you read right… I lived in a hoarder’s paradise; and i hated myself.

    So, I jumped on Facebook, looked up Peter Walsh and liked his page. Then,I got my butt into gear and began organising myself one room at a time. But first, I kept up my usual housework, bill-paying and grocery-shopping ways… I didn’t rush into it and it took only 10 minutes each day; to start with.

    If it took longer, well, that’s because I left that job for too long. But once I was finished, the rubbish bag was filled to the brim, the other bag/box was ready to be sorted out and the place I organised was – well – organised, I found I could tick that off my long, long list in my head of places in my house to clean up.

    It’s only been a month, and so far I’ve organised and tidied up – on a permanent basis:

    * my kitchen counter
    * any rubbish bags sitting around filled with plastic bags
    * knitting and yarn lots
    * my craft area
    * credenza
    * the area at the top of the stairs.

    So far downstairs has only been finished up… I’m not rushing this, and I’m going to make sure this house stays tidy and neat. the main problem I have is that if I want to do something, the place is a mess… right up until I have to put everything away.

    • Mozette, I really like that approach, taking it one room at a time, a little bit each day. Seems so much less overwhelming, doesn’t it?

      • Mozette says:

        And I’ve found that nobody can help you with your own clutter but yourself… Mum tried to get me to help her with hers, but she was very resistant to me taking things to a charity.

        This year, I told her it was a very personal thing to deal with your own clutter, and she agreed. So, we’re doing our own houses at our own pace. I’m very proud of how she’s doing right now. She’s even gotten rid of Dad’s old work bag – which has been sitting in the same place for 3 years – and she put it downstairs, and he hasn’t noticed it’s gone yet! 😛

  • Susan Sey says:

    Good morning, Christine!

    Good on your for doing the organization thing! I have few things I absolutely have to do or the wheels come off my wagon, big time.

    1) Prepackage lunch foods. Not for me, though. For the kids. They have certain fussy little things they like to eat in their lunch boxes every day & if I stock the fridge with lunch-sized containers every Sunday night, I just grab them & toss them in every morning. It makes SUCH a difference to my sanity.

    2) Go to the coffee shop to write every morning. This is the only way I can focus & concentrate on new pages. Everything else can get done here, there & everywhere but those new pages only come when I take myself into the “writing place” which is NOT MY HOME.

    Everything else can and does go straight to hell on a daily basis. But if I get my writing in & the lunches packed, we’re pretty much okay around here.

    Laundry is every man for himself, I’m sad to say. Very lord of the flies. Not proud of it, but there is it.

    • Smoov, the school lunches are the big bugbear in my house. Great idea to prepare ahead!

      And I’m with you on getting pages done in a coffee shop. I’m away from home so I can’t go and put a load of washing on, or answer the phone and there are people around so there’s just that little bit of peer pressure (imaginary) to actually type something instead of staring into space!

  • Cassondra says:

    Christina, I have a soul that desperately needs organization, but I seldom achieve the level I need. Especially in my home. I don’t know if this is a tool so much, but I have a little sign I printed from a de-clutter website (can’t remember which one now, but the methodology is the same for all of them). I put it in a nice black frame and it sits on a shelf behind me. Every time I turn around to get something or any time I pass by, I see it. It reads, Do I love it? Is it useful or beautiful? Would it be hard to replace if I needed it again? Do I need to save it for tax or legal reasons? If I were free from guilt, would I still keep it? Have I used it in the past year? In the past five years? Does it fit with my vision for the life I want to lead?

    If the answer is not YES to at least three of these, it’s gone.

    Another very small one I keep taped above my computer says, Learn to hold loosely all that is not eternal. For me, “eternal” means people, animals and trees, since I believe they all have souls. Other than that, it’s less important. BUT….

    I need something to remind me to NOT bring more stuff in if I don’t send something out–and to not hold onto things so tightly.

    So I guess my “tools” are the things that bring me back to that more rational mental place. “This is not the great depression. I’m not rich, but I’m certainly not poor. LET GO OF IT!”

    I love your beautiful notice board. That office is so gorgeous. Wouldn’t that make you want to just go in there all the time!

    • Cassondra, that’s an interesting approach, judging everything by your personal philosophy. I like it! I also like the system where you list your priorities and check how you spend your time against them. Often people find they spend the least amount of time on their no. 1 priority (family).

  • Minna says:

    Organized? Ha! I wish!
    I do have one organizational tip, though. Get rid of clutter, all that stuff you don’t REALLY need, but have saved in case you’ll need it later. Chances are, you never will. I’m always wondering what I no longer need and what I could sell, swap for something else or just give away or throw away.

  • catslady says:

    I do keep a couple of calendars which is the extent of my organization lol. I am actually trying to learn to go with the flow and not get stuck on having to do things a certain way and learning to do things on the spur of the moment.. I’m one of those that actually enjoys clutter lol. Maybe because I grew up with my mom wanting everything out of sight and cleaned all the time so I’m sort of the opposite lol.

    • Catslady, I can live with a certain amount of clutter but when it hits a level I say enough and then I must Clean All the Things!! Interesting that you have that reaction to your mother being so tidy.

  • Oh Christina,

    I so feel your pain in that I’d love to be more organized, but have learned I can only control what I can control.

    Since writing THE END on VANISHED, I’ve been slowly crawling out of the mess that is my office.

    Currently I have one growing puppy asleep in my floor, (right under my desk) and the floor is littered with various chew toys, squeaky toys, pull toys and the occasional sock he’s carried in from the laundry hamper.

    I have spent the last week searching for and entering onto spread sheets, all the various receipts for expendetures so I can pay my taxes on time!! But find them I did!


    So part of that process was going through the myriad of papers in my house to sort them into the file/keep section or the shread to tiny pieces section. There is nothing so satisfying as shreading papers that you know will leave your house and ease the clutter!

    AND miracles of miracles, the Jazzman, aka the hoarder-in-training hubby of mine has actally thrown stuff out of his office AND given me papers to shread. HA-LE-LU-JAH!! (Do you hear the angels singing all the way down there?!?!?!)

    So, yes, I’m trying to get some organizing done here before I jump into the next book!

    • Suz, mega congrats on writing THE END!!! It always feels good to have tax out of the way. I absolutely loathe doing it and every year I bang my head on the desk, wishing I’d recorded my expenditure as I went along rather than collecting them and doing it at the end.

      Great to hear you got hubby in on the shredding! It’s SO hard to get my dh on board. And then he always wants to do a clean out when it’s least convenient for me.

  • sandyg265 says:

    We keep a list of everything in the freezers with the date we purchased it. That way we never forget we have something and we can use the oldest things first.

    • Sandy, that’s a great idea. I often have no idea when something went in. Usually it goes to the dog if I can’t tell, which is good for the dog but a little wasteful for us!

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Christina, I am so impressed by your organizational skills! I’m afraid the only organization I have is (a) for writing — I keep a yearly calendar, block out days I know I’ll have the house to myself (Dr. Big always golfs on T-W-F so I have a good chunk to write.), the days I’ll likely have either children to tend or daughters who want to “play” with mommy.

    The really, really important things that I can’t forget, like tax due dates or organization renewals, or dr. appts. I write on my bathroom mirror with a vis-a-vis pen, then swipe it off when it’s done.

  • Christina, I so envy your organizing plan! I write things on the kitchen calendar. All other plans seem to go by the wayside. I buy lovely datebooks each year (Sierra Club, usually) to track writing progress. But that never lasts long, seeing as how I tend to either bury it under old drafts or carry it to some other room and forget to bring it back.

    • Nancy, any time I try to track my writing progress, I forget. I’m just not into the whole page count per day thing. What works for me is to write at the same time every day and however many pages get done, get done. I’m fast when I’m writing well but I have to get into that routine in order to write well.

      • It’s interesting to hear about other people’s methods. I tend to write a lot in my head and then blitz out a big chunk at the keyboard. Then more imagined writing, then more blitzing.

        • Nancy, I think that’s a great way to go. I always write better when I know where a scene is supposed to be going. Sometimes I even do pre-writing, just a sketch of how the scene will go. I know there are authors who mull over an entire book for months, then just blurt it all out onto the page.

  • Becke Turner says:

    This has been an interesting read today. I’m organized, but I don’t have children at home so it’s easy for me.

    Like Suzan, I prepare my week of lunches on Sunday and store in individual containers. I come home, fill my bucket, and I’m ready for the day.

    I have a wire basket for tax receipts. All go in the basket and I organize my writing expenses every month or so. I developed a tax spreadsheet several years back so it’s pretty easy to update.

    Every weekend, I make a list of the writing and other tasks I want to complete. Nothing more fun than crossing those little suckers off!

    That said, I think some people like organization and some work better in their own chaos. It’s all good. No one has starved or been neglected.

    • Hi Becke! Yes, I need to take a leaf out of your book and do the writing expenses as I go. That’s a killer at the end of the year. I like the lunch idea too. I’m going to cook ahead more, when I can.

  • flchen1 says:

    Lordy, I am horribly disorganized! My favorite thing is our wall calendar–I still don’t have a smartphone, so all our commitments go on the calendar or I will promptly have forgotten it 🙂