10 Easy Things to Do in January to Keep You Organized All Year
In this post: Everyone resolves to get organized at the beginning of the year. Here are 10 not-so-obvious things to do in January to keep you organized all year.⇒
If you come to my blog for decor inspiration, you may not know this about me, but I’m an off-the-charts crazy-organized person! Like, I keep each pair of earrings in a separate compartment in a clear box, arranged by color.
It’s just the way I think. So naturally, I have a system for everything I do, as well, and most of these arose from experience as a way to make my life easier and more efficient.
Now, if you’re like many people, one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get organized this year, cleaning out calendars, desktops, closets and more. But sometimes it’s one small habit or act that makes all the difference in our lives. Here are 10 not-so-obvious things to do in January to keep you organized all year.
Things to Do in January
1. Buy cards
How many times have you forgotten to get a birthday card for someone important in your life? Maybe you spent lots of time on the gift and forgot to get a card. Or you forgot both. Or you thought you were getting together next week but now you’re getting together today and his birthday was yesterday.
Take an afternoon and go to the best card store in town. Take your time and buy birthday and anniversary cards for everyone you normally give cards to. Then buy a few extra generic cards for those unexpected events that come up. Get a few wedding cards, sympathy cards, thank you cards and anything that really makes you laugh. Stock up and then keep them in a desk drawer where you do your paperwork.
I can’t tell you how many times this stash has saved me! This is also a great time to buy discounted holiday cards for next year.
2. Buy a few hostess gifts to have on hand
This one is also a lifesaver, because I am notorious for being late to parties and then first having to stop to get something to bring on the way. So I started keeping a few lovely hostess gifts in the linen closet, ready to give. I keep maybe 3 or 4 “in stock” and then replenish when I only have one left. Buy them when you see them, not when you need them.
3. Make all your doctor and hair appointments for the year
I’ve been doing this for years and it really helps keep me on track. For salon appointments, I book the full year out so I never have to deal with waiting a few weeks for the choice appointment times. You know how often you cut or color your hair. Do it now! The same for annual doctor appointments.
If it’s something they won’t let you book out for the year, book your next appointment before you leave the premises. Always. Never leave the salon or office without having your next appointment booked. You can always change it, but at least you’ll have something on the calendar to remind you you’re due.
4. Repair that pile of things that are waiting to be fixed
This one is really a “just do it” issue. You know those little things that are sitting in a pile that you haven’t put away because they need to be glued. Or tailored. Or otherwise fixed by a professional. Just. do. it. now. Simply resolve to get them all done. You’re not going to the beach this weekend anyway. Spend a day getting things fixed so when the spring comes, you can spend your time enjoying the beautiful weather! Ok, maybe if you live in Florida this doesn’t apply, but get it done anyway. I promise, you’ll feel so accomplished and relieved afterwards.
5. Have an extra cosmetics bag packed and ready to go
I started this one many years ago when I used to travel for business. It makes life, and spontaneous travel, so much easier! I keep a full sized travel cosmetics bag fully stocked and ready to go at all times. You already know what cosmetics you use. Buy an extra set. A *complete* extra set. Include aspirin and any meds you use. Pack it in a travel bag and you are always ready to go.
I have a personal rule that after a trip, I never put the cosmetics bag away until I’ve replenished it with anything used on the trip. Remember, this tip only works if it’s always packed and ready to go.
Bonus – you’ll always have one extra on hand of everything you use, so if you run out of cleanser and it’s a blizzard out, you’re set. But again, if you take anything out, don’t put the bag away until you’ve re-stocked it.
6. Keep a receipt file and spreadsheet
People who know me well will laugh at this one. I’m a bit spreadsheet obsessed. This is not a complex system meant for a business but just a way to keep track of your personal spending. I’m always amazed when I see someone open their wallet and a bajillion little receipts fall out in various stages of frayed decay. This is such a simple idea. Buy yourself a 12 section accordion file. Every time you buy something, put your receipts in the folder, filed by month. Then enter them on a spreadsheet. At the end of the month when the bill comes, you have something to check your bill against. You also always know how much you spent for the month. If you want to find a receipt to return something, you know where to find it.
I keep my receipts in the file for one year, so at the beginning of each month, I take out the previous year’s receipts and start the section fresh for the new month.
7. Keep a list of your favorite products in your phone
Have you ever gotten to the mall prepared to replenish your makeup, only to realize you can’t remember the color name or exact formula of the product you use? I keep a list of my favorite products in my phone (on a spreadsheet, of course!) so I never have to wonder if I’m buying the right thing. Photos help too, but have the list. It will be easier to find 6 months from now when you’ve taken countless additional photos and they’re all over the place in your phone, filed by date. Or make a designated folder to hold only photos of your products.
8. Keep spare things in your car
Raise your hand if you’ve gotten to the restaurant and realized you can’t read the menu because you left your reading glasses at home. It goes without saying to keep an extra phone charger in the car (and if you haven’t done that either, do it now!) but keeping a spare pair of reading glasses or comfortable shoes in the car can be an enormous help. I also keep Bed Bath & Beyond coupons in the car, because I usually have a pile of a thousand of them at home, and none with me in my handbag in the store!
9. Have a master grocery list by aisle
I started this one when I first stopped working in an office, but still had that uber-efficient mindset. I set up a list (on what else? a spreadsheet!) of all of the items we frequently bought, grouped by aisle of the store I usually go to. Then I just go down the master list each week and check off the items we need to add to my grocery list.
You don’t have to be a complete perfectionist about this, but it makes putting together a grocery list so much easier, and then helps you avoid criss-crossing the store 100 times because things are roughly in order by aisle on your list in the first place.
I will admit at first I went a bit too far, checking off boxes and resorting the spreadsheet to create my weekly list, but when people saw me showing up at the grocery store with spreadsheet in hand, I realized not everyone appreciated my hyper-organization! These days I just consult the master list and handwrite my list in order.
10. Buy everything in bulk
You’ve no doubt heard this one a million times, but I do it with everything and I notice even my kids do it now. I always have 3 or 4 mascaras in the closet. Same with batteries, toilet paper, shampoo and pretty much anything that doesn’t spoil quickly. Why go to the convenience store 4 times when you can go only once? And this way you are less likely to run out. Like the hostess gifts, I replenish when there’s only one left in the closet. And note… this doesn’t include the one that’s in the travel cosmetic bag.
That one is sacred.
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
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For sources on hostess gifts, please visit this post… Hostess Gift Pairings
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and i thought i was an organizational nut… BRAVO, dahling, well done!!
Sympathy cards are especially important to have on hand. You need to send them asap and that’s might happen during a period when you are too swamped to run to the store.
I’ve become more careful about buying in bulk. We overdid it a few times and still have extra stock of a few things (shampoo!). A reserve is good, but you don’t want things to sit for too long.
I also recently edited the stuff in my bag, then put it into a small, clear plastic zippered pouch. When I change bags, I grab the pouch and have all the essentials immediately. And when I need to look for my phone or wallet, I no longer sift through all that other stuff (pens, tiny notepad, tissues, tiny tape measure, lipstick, etc.).
Yes, love the bag trick! I actually bookmarked one of those pouches you can buy to put in your bag and then you just move it from bag to bag. Never got around to ordering it though. I rarely change bags… 🙂
Oh yay! I do the Bed Bath and Beyond coupons in my car also! Thanks for the tips. Will head out soon to get greeting cards. : )
Some great ideas! Thanks!
All great tips, Lory. I’m a great believer in being prepared for anything! You’ve summed it up nicely. I’d like to add, keep stamps! Having cards at the ready doesn’t help when you have no stamps. A situation that occurs frequently as so many things that required stamps on hand are now done online. Keep up the that touch of OCD, it’s a good thing!!!
Haha, yes, of course… I buys stamps in bulk!! 😉 Funny thing is, we’ve run out of milk countless times, but I don’t think I’ve ever run out of stamps. I’m not nearly as good with things that spoil… lol.
I consider myself a very organized person, but many of your suggestions are only helpful if you have the funds to follow them. I very often cannot make a hair appointment or have something repaired because of limited funds, and one doesn’t have space for buying in bulk or stocking hostess gifts when living in a one-bedroom apartment. I have also found that if I stock greeting cards I never seem to have quite the appropriate card and they pile up and get old and that’s also a waste of money.
I only meant make the appointment in advance if you were intending to go for the appointment. If you don’t ever cut or color your hair, you certainly don’t need the appointments… 🙂 But it still would apply for well-care doctor visits.
As for greeting cards, I was talking about literally buying the appropriate card for the appropriate person. You know when your kids’ birthdays are or your best friend or whomever you buy cards for. So I’m just talking about planning in advance and getting it done up front.
If you’re great at the last minute, then you don’t need to. But for me, I often wind up running out at the last minute to get the card and then getting something that’s not the best card because I didn’t have time to go to the better card store.
Great ideas! I actually have a master grocery list I print out. I’ve had people look over my shoulder in the store and ask “that’s cool, where did you get it?” I tell them I personalized it just for us. It has changed over the years. I try to keep cards at least a month ahead and often find I forget if I don’t. I do, however, keep 3 calendars to remind me of important occasions. My mother kept a supply of tiny leather baby shoes. When a baby was born she would paint trucks, balls etc for boys and tiny rosebuds for baby girls. Wish I had that talent! Thanks again for sharing this with all of us.
That’s awesome about the baby shoes!
Oh my…I already do all of this! I do my earrings the very same way! I have always done the gift and card thing. I am always ready with a gift and card. I learned the makeup thing when I had to rush my husband out of town for a heart issue,. Was hours from home and had only a few items I keep in my purse. Now it is ready to grab and go. I also keep a small pillow and a blanket in the car as well as a phone book. Not everyone has a phone that they can get online with. Great tips!
Yes!! I do the pillow and blanket thing too! And protein bars (only one or two because they usually get old and wind up getting thrown out). Lol… great minds… 🙂
A great organization reminder, Lory, especially cards. I’d always loved visiting a card shop whenever I had some time to spare…almost as much fun as going to a bookstore…so I always had appropriate cards for any friend of mine and for any occasion. Somehow, that card shop habit fell away and I’ve found myself too many times searching for an appropriate card at the last minute for someone I really care about and wasn’t able to find one just right.
I resolve that I’ll again pick up the habit I once had to visit card shops and again enjoy choosing cards that say what’s exactly in my heart.
I also am very well organized and I utilize most of these ideas. In addition to my grocery list, I also have my grocery coupons in a box with tabs for each aisle in the grocery store. This really helps to remind me to use the coupons and helps speed up my grocery shopping trip. Unfortunately, the store periodically rearranges the contents of their aisles. They want to keep customers in the store as long as possible, so they’ll spend more money. Each time they do this, I just rearrange the tabs in my coupon box and I’m ready to go.
Great plan! You’ve got them foiled… 😉
Lory, I am so cracking up right now–didn’t think anyone was as picky about organization as me! I do all of these things except scheduling my hair appointments a year in advance because events would come up whereby I’d want my hair to look nice and I’d have to keep changing my appointments around, but I still book two at a time. People are always joking that my car has duplicate things that I already have at home– but just look at who they ask for nail clippers, tape, Kleenex, band-aids, and dental floss HA! HA! They also know who will have a cooler with fruit, yogurt and other goodies as I’m the only one to bring food and water when going on an outing. Luckily, my hubby is almost as wacky as me; when we get down to one of any product he makes this siren sounding noise and says ” We’ve reached critical mass! I repeat, we’ve reached critical mass!”. Organization just keeps me sane, and on time; I hate searching for things so I learned early on to have designated places for everything.
Great minds! But I agree – I couldn’t relax without organization.
Had to laugh. My husband thought I wrote this list. Super type A+ girls. DeDe Shields
Haha! Very funny… 🙂
Great ideas! I make my own cards and set aside a day at the beginning of each month to make all the cards I need for that month. I do find shopping so much easier my list is organized by the store aisles and I get so annoyed when stores start rearranging displays. It seems like they do that to me each and every time I finally feel like I know just where everything is. Pinned.
So true!! And thanks! 🙂
The VERY first one, “Buy Cards” is so what I need to do! I’m so bad about that! I’d love for you to share over at a new party called Let’s Party https://themarkandjanshow.com/2018/01/02/lets-party-2/… look forward to seeing you there!
Thank you so much and I’ll try to get over there!
For years I have kept a box with my cards organized by category in my office but you reminded me it is time to refill it and get rid of some old cards. Also need to get some more stamps. Ever since I started keeping my earrings in a clear sectioned box it makes finding them so easy and I keep my most worn necklaces on a jewelery tree.As I get older being organized is a great help!!
Yep, even the most organized of us need to be reminded from time to time. I re-read my own posts for reminders sometimes… lol!
Great list! Love the idea of a master grocery list. My husband has been on me to create such a list of go-to meals for when I’m drawing a blank meal planning. Visiting from Dagmar’s House party.
Thank you! And welcome!! Maybe turn it back to hubby to start the list by adding his favorites, and then you can go from there… 🙂
Wow!!! Great ideas and tips Thank you for sharing
Thank you for the tips. I have also started buying some generic cards at Trader Joe’s. They are only $1.00 each and many are very nice. They change frequently so I always check the card stand on each visit. Great Thank you’s and holiday greetings. My Grandkids love to receive mail and I try to keep on top of all of the events. Thank you.
Great idea! Thanks!!
Thank you! I am not one easily drawn to organizational ideas or methods, I find them ever tedious. Your priceless list is doable, important and definitely worth my while. Must I wait until January to get started?! 🙂 Happy New Year!
Haha, no, by all means start right away! I have, too… 😉 This is a good week for that!
You have inspired me for the new year. Would love to hear your thoughts on determining how to get rid of clothes. I struggle with that and have a feeling you have a system to keep your clothes closet pared down and organized. Thank you.
Ahh, I just may have a post on this coming up somewhat soon. I’m a ‘one in, one out’ girl, but my systems have gotten off track as my closet is holding several sizes right now… ?♀️
I love all these ideas Lory! I’m also glad to know someone as obsessed with spreadsheets as I am! 🙂 Have a great mid-holiday week!
Yes!! Spreadsheets are king!!
I spend 1/3 of my life looking for stuff?. I buy cards and can’t find them on the birthday so buy another one. I’m obsessive about my house and even have a spreadsheet for monthly housecleaning. However, I have a double attic full of treasures (aka junk). Is not bringing me JOY any more so my goal is to Kondo the attics! Love all your advice and reading the comments for suggestions. Happy 2020!
Yes, Kondo away!! Although I do have thoughts about that too. I think Marie Kondo is too young to understand certain categories of “stuff”. But still, I very much believe you should get rid of stuff that you don’t love.
Try the app Any List. It’s great for groceries, hardware, etc. And the lists can be shared so anytime my husband or daughter are out shopping they know what we need and can pick it up. They can also add. When any one buys something we all get a notification saying the list has been altered (actually crossed off the list) It’s saved many extra trips to store.
Thank you! That sounds great!! Will have to check it out… 🙂
I have a Master Shopping List of food/household items that should be on hand. I have trained 1 man qnd 2 boys to ‘highlight’ the out-of-stock item as they used it up: yellow for general grocery pink for bulk store, blue for a special trip. It works incredibly well and if I find myself in a store without the list, I can text a homebody for the ‘pink’ list….
That sounds’s awesome! Except it would have to be tweaked in my house, as both hubby and my son are color blind… 😉
Just reading this post stressed me! Doing any of these things would make me unhappy! I think they make you happy and that is great for you.
Well, of course, it goes without saying that you should only do these things if you want to… 😉
As the post says, they’re ideas to make life easier, more efficient and organized. But I can’t presume to know how to make other people happy… 🙂
I used to do the master grocery list by aisle and am moving soon so will be incorporating that into my “to do” list. I am also narrowing down my choices so adding prices, etc will also help with the grocery bill.
I buy blank notecards in bulk and send them with a personal note inside. It’s more personal and less expensive. I use vista.com and enjoy setting up my own designs, etc.
You have lots of great ideas. Reader, Victoria, has a great idea. Cooking isn’t my strong point so writing down a few specific winners so I’m not going crazy at mealtime is a good idea. I belonged to a garden club and brought a quiche, same recipe to the Christmas party for ten years running. Gad!!
Talk about boring, but apparently some members looked forward to it after a while so all good. It’s tasty. It’s time to expand, haha.
I love your idea about stocking blank note cards! I love it even more that you design your own!! I’m going to try that one… 🙂
I used to buy pretty note cards when I saw them in a stationery store, but then I never wanted to use the last one because I loved saving the pretty note cards… lol! Having your own designs to re-order when you run out solves that little quirk I have.?
Maybe if you don’t have enough space or money to buy in bulk it would be helpful to do these tips on a month to month basis instead or every two months. The idea is to just not have to try to remember everyday about what’s coming and react. It helps you be more prepared and plan ahead. I do all of these things and the systems they create for my home are life changing.
Exactly true! The idea is to spend only what you’re going to spend during the year anyway. I just do it in advance for convenience. But if you need to break it up monthly or quarterly, that’s still better than doing it every time you need something.
As a decidedly unorganized person, I really appreciate learning from people who have their systems in place. I love your list.
I love your “non obvious” list Lory! You are super organized!! Love the hostess and receipt idea..that’s me…have a hundred receipts in my purse? thanks for the great ideas
I do several of these. The one that made me laugh was the grocery spreadsheet! Since the 80’s I have copied and used a grocery store checklist. It was in a magazine. It’s getting a little brittle but I make multiple copies as needed. It’s organized the way grocery stores are by category. It helps me to not forget anything.
Haha, I’m so glad it resonated with you!
I do at least half of these great ideas, but you have given me even more ways to stay organized. Truly, this is one of the best ‘get and stay organized’ lists I’ve ever read. Thank you for taking the time to provide this. The timing is perfect since this is when I like to start new (to me) habits.
Thank you so much for your kind words!! So glad it resonated with you! I have another one coming out on Monday… 🙂 Stay tuned!!
These are great tips!!! I do some but not all & will incorporate some new ones for 2021. Thanks for the inspiration. The grocery store spreadsheet did make me chuckle. ? Happy New Year.
Haha, yep, true story… lol! So glad you were inspired!
I have gotten our whole house organized during the pandemic days at home but I will still run across something else to do. I am going to organize earrings like you have them. That’s great idea. Would you mind sharing your source for your colorful accordion file for receipts. That’s so much better than the boring brown ones that are in the stores.
Yes, there’s always more to be organized, isn’t there? Did you not see the source list at the bottom off the post? The colorful accordion files are there or you can just use this link: https://rstyle.me/+doOYgGKCh9P5ybQWjGMp-g
Unless you meant the striped box one? I got that a long time ago. I don’t see one like it now, but will keep my eye out for something similar.
Thanks Lory & I did mean the striped one.
I’ll look around & maybe I will find something colorful like your’s.
From someone who loves to be organized but isn’t sure how to get there, I love this! I so appreciate all of your tips that are handy but also elegant and classy. Thank you for sharing a little insight of how your brain works!
Thanks!! I’m so glad you found it helpful!
These are great tips! I’m also very organized but found a couple of new ideas here! Thank you and happy new year!
I keep a TON of notes on my phone! The most useful are those items we typically buy at Costco…it’s the only store my husband will go to spontaneously and alone. I’ll frequently get a text, “I’m at Costco, need anything?” I go to that list, find what’s checked and we always has a constant supply of items that we love! I keep lists for movies I want to see and books I want to read, items I want to look for at craft stores, etc. If only we could get organized out in the garage!
Can you offer some suggestions on good hostess gifts? So often a candle is the answer but that gets tiring. Would be fun to have some unusual ideas to bring. Would even be better if we could create some and have them on hand. Thanks. Happy New Year!
Here’s another tip to stay organized with grocery shopping. My store reorganizes weekly (and I’ve fruitlessly complained), so the pre-printed list hasn’t worked for me. As soon as I come home from a shopping trip, I start a new list in my spiral notebook. I date the shopping trip I just made. As the week goes on, I add menu ideas on the right hand side (I might see a recipe here or in other blogs), then I write down what I need for it on the left hand side. When I need ideas, I revisit older pages in my notebook. As I go through the store, I cross things off and revisit the list at the end of each aisle. I rarely forget anything this way and I hardly buy impulse items!
I LOVE this article, thank you! During the week I babysit our grandchildren and help out my parents, all an hour away in different directions, so my car needs to be stocked with essentials in advance. I have found that keeping some things in my car cuts down on the weight of my handbag! Would love ideas on car organization!
Thank you so much! I’m really glad it resonated with you. I love your idea about car organization. I will definitely try to get to that… 🙂
You just reminded my Lory that I need more wooden hangers. Thank you! Our closets sure could use some shelves and that is the plan this year.
Using my grandmothers antique dishes around the house for odd storage works well for me too.
Clear boxes are a good idea and I need those for the Christmas decor that seems to get lost from year to year. I’m going up to look at those hangers!
Happy Holidays Lory! Thank you for the years inspiring posts!
So glad you’re inspired!! Thanks for reading and for the kind wishes! Happy New Year!!!
In the photo for #7 with the flowers, phone, and makeup, do you remember where you bought the very small light pink flowers? They are beautiful.
Thank you for writing this post. I appreciate an organized person. I thought I was organized, but you’ve got me beat!
Oh, gosh, I cannot remember but they are really nice ones… 🙂 If I recall I will come back and post. Glad you appreciated the post!
Love all these reminders of how to stay organized. I use to be so super organized but when COVID hit…I got lost. Now that we are preparing to downsize next year, I am not only following many of your ideas but also evaluating my existing storage in how I can improve it. Time to let go of a few things. Thank you for your hard work in preparing your posts. I enjoy all of them. Happy New Year to you and your family!
Aww thank you for your very kind comment!! Happy New Year to you, too! And good luck when you downsize… 🙂
Oh, my gosh! It was funny to read these tips describing me! Love it! And actually learned a few more new ideas, too. Saving your additional posts to read later. January is always my favorite time to clean up, clean out and get refreshed and organized.
Thank you for the great tips and ideas that are easy to set up and maintain as habits.
Happy New Year!
So glad this post resonated with you!! We organization freaks have to stick together… lol!