How I keep my chaotic life in order

Just kidding, no I don’t. It’s a constant mess of things to do, people to see, and animals to feed. Which is fine, because that’s just the way it is to be a human on this earth. (This is what we tell ourselves to keep the wheels spinning, anyway.) On the plus side, there are plenty of ways to keep up the illusion that everything is running smoothly. Here are some of the methods I employ.

I use a scratchpad

Before I conquer the week ahead, I cast out a metaphorical net on all the thoughts swimming around in my mind and then reel it in. I write down every idea I have in my reusable Rocket notebook (which also syncs my notes to the cloud) or type it out in a text file (I use Caret on Chrome OS and Notepad++ on Windows). And I mean, I write down every idea: everything I think I want to get done, every person and customer service line I need to call, every box I need to return, and every corner of the house that needs attention. Then, I factor in any upcoming deadlines put into my Google Calendar.

Then I put it into Notion

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#FF304F” class=”” size=””]I would be lost without a customizable to-do list[/perfectpullquote]

I wrote a guide on Lifehacker a while back about using Notion to organize your life. I would be lost without a customizable to-do list. After I’m finished dumping my brain out on paper or a text file, I start pasting those action items into my weekly planner page. The nice thing about Notion is that it syncs in the cloud, so any time you change anything, you’ll see the change reflect across your smartphone and other computers, too. I even have a section for house chores, because working from home means I am constantly noticing what needs cleaning.

This is just a sampling of the stuff I have around for organizing my life. And anyway, it’s an excuse to buy colored pens.

Sometimes, I can’t fit everything into the week, so I’ll put those tasks aside and return to them the following week. I’m not superhuman, and I don’t have an assistant. I can’t remember everything I have to do all the time. But I certainly try my best, and having written records of the things I’ve thought about having to do helps me keep track of what needs to get done eventually.

I also write in a paper planner

I don’t use the paper planner religiously, though I do like to doodle through it and make big to-dos about things I have coming up. I love the planners from They include a sheet full of stickers and are pretty to look at when you’d rather be doing anything else than working.

Now it’s your turn to tell me: How do you manage your chaotic life?

2 thoughts on “How I keep my chaotic life in order

  1. The more I ask myself “how do I organize my chaos?” the more I realize that I don’t have chaos.

    People talk about being overwhelmed with email. I don’t have that problem, and continually have InboxZero.

    This isn’t meant to be a humblebrag. Really.

    So, to answer the question: For what little “chaos” I do have, it’s wrangled in Google Calendar, and in a handy dandy file folder I keep in my messenger bag. Every day, I look at the calendar and rifle through the file folder first thing in the morning to see what’s pressing.

    The answer? Usually nothing.

    I lead a boring life. I actually sometimes envy the chaos of others.

  2. I would really like someone to release a tablet device (Android) that is similar in size and weight to that of an A5 planner, with pen support like the ipad or surface devices. I feel this would make me much more productive as trying to take the Surface Pro into meetings and write on there, it just feels too big and weighty.

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