What a Magnificent Mess! Staying Neat and Organized

Organizational skills come naturally to some people but not so much to others. Being organized isn’t just about having a neat junk drawer and no clothes laying around the house. When you’re truly organized, you’re more efficient, better prepared, and much less stressed out. You show up to commitments equipped and on time. Being well organized also builds your self-confidence; fewer bombshells go off in your life, and if they do, you’re likely better prepared for them.

I have three primary tools to keep me organized.

1. Email

We all get a lot of emails. Create folders, sort, and keep your inbox as clean as possible. If you have an action item, put it on your daily to-do list, then file your email. Stay on top of this. Don’t let your email get so out of control that you can’t distinguish between what’s important and what’s not.

2. Daily to-do list

Make a list every day. Whether you feel more comfortable using paper/pen or an electronic notepad, do your best to check off items as you accomplish them. If you don’t, push the item to the next day’s list to complete.

Some days, the list might have only one thing on it—relax—and that’s important too. Just because you have a list doesn’t mean you have to accomplish everything on it. It shouldn’t be intimidating. Be realistic about what you think you can do in a day. If you are ambitious, maybe you will get through the list and even do a few things you planned for the next day. If things are busy, move a few items to tomorrow. The list is there to scan several times each day so that you can continually prioritize.

Also, consider a weekend list. Print it out and place it on your counter for reference throughout the weekend. The following list might seem overwhelming, but the total time it takes to do each chore only consumes a small portion of the day. By putting tasks and activities down on paper, you eliminate the voice in your head.

  • Mow yard
  • Meet friends at Yard House Restaurant, 5 p.m.
  • Grocery shop
  • Check in on Mom
  • ›Pack for work trip (see list of items to pack)

If you have a grocery list, Christmas gift list, or packing list for an upcoming trip, put them some place accessible so you can easily add items as they occur to you. Nothing is more exhausting than trying to remember a multitude of details. Take these details out of your mind and put them on paper. Free up your most valuable resource—your brain.

3. Calendar

Your calendar should include appointments and time to work on projects. When you have a meeting or appointment, don’t just block off the start time, build in travel time, too. I find that those who are usually late don’t build in transitional or travel time, adding to their habitual tardiness and stress.

  • 10:30 – prepare for meeting (15 min.)
  • 10:45 – walk to building #2 for meeting
  • 11:00 – Product Management meeting
  • 1:00 – work on new project

The more you can wrap your arms around your calendar, lists and emails, the less anxious you will be. You’ll be better equipped for what’s ahead of you. Feeling worried and restless is exhausting, drawing your energy away from more valuable areas of focus.

Be dependable. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. Be consistent. Being otherwise will affect your relationships and self-esteem.

Just as some struggle to be organized, not everyone is neat and tidy. I believe being tidy is just as important as being organized. You could probably list a few people you know whose house or car are cluttered and messy. Perhaps you are that person.

Remember, your environment reflects how you feel on the inside. If you are unorganized, disheveled, and frantic, you can’t have a peaceful existence. Walking into a neat and clean room just makes you feel better.

Being tidy and organized will help you take control of your life and destiny. How can you be proactive when you’re overwhelmed by mounds of laundry and a discouraging pile of dishes in the sink? When you’re organized, negative energy can’t boil up and defeat you. Surround yourself with beauty and inspiration. Imagine a clean and organized life, home, car, and desk. Feel your self-respect rise.

Sometimes it helps to start small. Clean out your car and work on the discipline to keep it that way. After you begin to feel the beneficial effects, move to your bedroom, and then another room in the house. Before you realize it, you will be reaping the benefits of a clean and orderly environment. The payoff will outweigh the work.

I’m not implying you need a spotless home, but I do believe a messy, dirty and/or cluttered environment can be somewhat, if unconsciously, defeating. People feel a sense of joy and pride when they’re surrounded by order. Create a home that gives you a sense of relaxation and pride when you walk in.

Just as you’re thoughtful about whom you spend your time with, be thoughtful about your surroundings. When you have self-respect for your belongings and environment, you can reallocate and pour your energy into building your beautiful life.

You’ve got this:

If you map out your day and tidy up your environment, you’ll sit in your beautiful space with a sense of calm and a little more self-respect.


Dina Mauro 

Dina Mauro has worked in the technology industry for over twenty-five years, twenty with one of the largest IT companies in the world. Through her love for animals, Dina began rescuing dogs, volunteering, and, ultimately, writing.

Dina is the author of A Dose of Tia: How a Woman and Her Rescued Dog Embraced Life Through Volunteering – and How You Can, Too. Initially, as a personal, heartfelt gift to her sons, but later published for the public, Dina went on to pen You’ve Got This! The Grad’s Guide to the Big, Rich, Magnificent Life You Deserve.

About You've Got This!

As a parent, author Dina Mauro was so hyper-focused on competing and comparing her children to other children that she almost lost sight of what they required to thrive. She realized that when they thrive, everything in their lives falls abundantly into place.

When traveling down life’s road, don’t simply step forward—leap toward your magnificent life. You’ve got this!

— Dina

You’ve Got This! The Grad’s Guide to the Big, Rich, Magnificent Life You Deserve steers the reader through critical “markers” along life’s way: improving oneself, conquering obstacles, achieving goals, and cultivating relationships. Other stops on the journey include heading off to college, entering the work world, making decisions, managing technology, speaking in public, and many more.

You’ve Got This! is a long-overdue guidebook that illuminates forty-seven achievable strategies and real-world advice for not just living—but thriving! Now grads have the roadmap for facing challenges that left untouched can become big distractions to an exceptional life. 

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