11 Tips to Get Organized

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11 Tips to Get Organized

Strategies to keep track of your diabetes to-do list

We’re all spending more time at home these day. And if you’re like many people, decluttering, getting organized and living a healthier life are all on the top of your to-do list. But if you are really like most, the idea of getting started is overwhelming. Where do you begin? How do you know what systems will be the most effective for you to maintain? Now add daily diabetes management into the mix, and getting and staying organized may seem much more challenging. The list of things you need to do each and every day may leave you feeling disorganized and overwhelmed. The truth is, you’re not alone.

We’ve put together a list of very usable and practical strategies to get you started. These are our most oft-repeated organizing principles. Take them and make them yours to bring about positive and lasting changes in your life. The most important step? Begin with one change at a time. There is no way everything can be accomplished at once. Remember to go easy on yourself. No need to organize perfectly. Instead, think organized enough.

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1. Break larger projects into small, achievable tasks.

We can’t stress this point enough. Breaking down a big organizing task into manageable parts makes working toward the big goal less overwhelming. Let’s use organizing the kitchen and pantry as an example. Instead of saying “I want to organize my kitchen and pantry closet,” break down that task into multiple, concrete steps.

First, ask yourself a few specific questions that will help you look at your kitchen with a fresh eye.

• Can you find the ingredients and cookware that you need to prepare nutritious meals?

• Does kitchen clutter litter your countertops?

• Does the clutter make food preparation a challenge?

• Is your kitchen organized by “fit” rather than “use”? For example, is your mixed nut jar in a back corner of your kitchen cabinet because it fits there, even though it’s something that you snack on several times each day?

Next, organize your pantry items by grouping them according to our principle of “like with like.” Spices in one zone. Canned items in another. Non-perishable, pre-portioned, low-carb snacks in another (for example, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds or seasoned tuna packets). This method will help you see everything you own and avoid duplicate purchasing. Win-win!

Lastly, keep the items you use most regularly in your prime real estate when assigning them homes. This means the space between your shoulders and knees. Move seldom-used items — your Christmas china or that huge turkey platter you use once a year — to either a high, out-of-the-way shelf or another location in your home.

This type of step-by-step approach also provides multiple opportunities to realize success. That feeling of “I can do it!” after completing each task can keep you going and make it easier for you to get started.

2. Make getting started simple.

Overwhelmed? Start with a task that is so small and so easy that success is virtually guaranteed. Choose one decision to make, one drawer to declutter, one piece of clothing to put away. One bill to pay. You get the idea. Chances are good that once you start, you’ll keep going.

One of our favorite strategies is to separate the setup from the task. Make setting up for the task a task of its own. Focusing on completing that initial “setup” step will make getting started easier. What does that look like? Say you want to prepare more meals that include lower-carb/high-fiber vegetables. Focus first on creating a grocery shopping list so you know what you need to purchase, and then decide how you will incorporate those items into your meals for the week ahead. Merely starting gives us a small sense of accomplishment and the confidence to keep going.

And a tip within a tip?

Use our “Triple S System” to set daily goals. They should be short, simple and specific. If you try to organize everything in one day, you’ll end up overwhelmed and frustrated. Go for specific daily intentions instead: “Thursday night I’ll put away the clean folded laundry.” “Saturday morning I’ll tackle the weekly mail. “

3. Purge BEFORE you shop.

Purge BEFORE you shop for organizing products.

Sort, streamline and toss first. Determine what you’re keeping and where it will go, then buy any needed bins, baskets or other appropriate containers. Don’t forget to measure your spaces and shop with a tape measure.

And a tip within a tip?

Remember, clear is king! We know that colorful bins are pretty, but stick with clear containers so you can quickly and easily see their contents. No need to break the bank when hunting down kitchen-organizing containers and supplies. Dollar and odd-lot-type stores are a treasure trove for these items.

4. Set up a launching pad.

This is a designated place to keep the belongings that go in and out of your home every day. Stash all of the items family members need before they leave the house, including gym bags, lunches, diabetes supply kits, etc., at this central location. Remember to pick a heavily trafficked location. It can be by the front door, in the mud room or even in the kitchen.

Consider using a bag that is specifically designed to keep your diabetes supplies and everything else you might need together in one convenient and organized place. Check out myabetic.org and sugarmedical.com for a variety of options (for everyone), including backpacks, belts, purses, wallets and cooling packs. Many companies also offer insulated or cooled pouches for insulin, such as those at frioinsulincoolingcase.com.

And a tip within a tip?

Put together a to-go bag. Have a portable diabetes kit that can go with you outside of the home. The kit should include all diabetes essentials, along with emergency contact numbers, individual snacks, glucose tablets (or another quick-acting source of carbohydrate) and a checklist of everything in the bag so you can review contents and refill as necessary before leaving.

5. Everything needs a home.

This is our number one answer to almost every organizing question. Whether you feel like you’re organizing all day but getting nowhere, or you don’t know where or how to start, these four words are likely at the root. If things don’t have a home, you’re much more apt to just let them sit where they land. Start by designating specific “homes” for all your belongings. And make sure your areas are clearly labeled. When you’re tired after a long day, visual reminders make organizing and cleaning up that much easier.

6. Create a command central.

Designate one area in your home that will function as your “command central.” This is where you will store the bulk of your diabetes supplies. This includes items such as your home blood glucose meter, batteries, test strips, lancets and extra insulin pump supplies. The location of the command center depends on your home and your lifestyle. For example, for someone who is in his or her home office 24/7, that might be a much better place than the bathroom or kitchen.

7. Binders are your best friends.

Your command central should contain all the information that family members may need in case of emergency, particularly if there is a child in your household with diabetes. Use a binder to store all emergency contact information, health provider numbers (including your primary care provider, endocrinologist, diabetes care and education specialist, pharmacy and other members of the healthcare team), a checklist of all diabetes supplies and instructions on how to spot and treat hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).

And a tip within a tip?

Create a cheat sheet. If a loved one with diabetes will be spending time with a caregiver, especially if the person with diabetes is a child, the caregiver should have all the critical information for diabetes care: how to check blood glucose, how to dose insulin if necessary, what to do in case of an emergency, and so on.

8. Go paperless as much as you can.

Pay your bills online, scan receipts and sign up for a mobile application program that will store all your medical records. Create folders on your computer the same way you would your file cabinet. Any way you can think to reduce the paper coming into your home will remove the stress of feeling buried under it.

9. Set up your morning the night before.

A smooth morning is usually the result of proper planning and preparation, which begins the night before. Our rule of thumb is, anything that can be done the night before should be! Think about it: A person without diabetes has a daily to-do list. A person with diabetes has a daily to-do list AND a diabetes to-do list. Meshing those two can really be a struggle, so lay out clothes the evening before, get breakfast ready to go, pack lunches and snacks, and pack up totes and bags for the launching pad.

And a tip within a tip?

Make a reminder checklist. Before you go to sleep, write or set reminders for yourself for the next day. This tip ensures everything gets done on time and with minimal stress.

10. Create a motivating environment.

We believe that everyone needs to create positive energy around their tasks to get motivated, and to that point, environment plays a huge role in helping get things done. So take a good, hard look at the spaces you spend time in and make sure you’ve created your “happy” place. This one is truly our favorite tip.

What does that mean? Simply put, if you don’t like where you do your work, then you are not going to get down to business. So paint your office walls orange, if that’s your favorite color; pour your favorite tea into your favorite mug; place your desk or workspace near natural light (research shows that full-spectrum lighting — like natural light — works best to increase the brain’s ability to focus); purchase colorful pens or pretty file folders; or hang up pictures of George Clooney (one of Leslie’s clients did just that!). Just create an environment that will keep you there, so you finish strong every time. Think of it as a natural caffeine boost.

And a tip within a tip?

Try pairing a super-unpleasant task with one you love doing. Is laundry your Achilles heel? Save it for an episode of your favorite TV show. Hate paying bills? Take it outside to your garden.

11. Forgive yourself.

We get very angry with ourselves when we procrastinate or don’t meet the goals we set for ourselves. Research shows that all that negativity is making the problem worse! So instead of being hard on yourself, forgive yourself. You’ll be better off for it.

Leslie Josel

Leslie Josel on social media

Leslie Josel, an ADHD-student and parenting coach, is an award-winning entrepreneur, having founded Order Out Of Chaos — an organization whose mission is to help parents guide their students to success in learning and in life. She’s also an award-winning author, creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool For Time Management, and an internationally acclaimed speaker.  Leslie has been named as one of the top time management experts in the world by Global Gurus four years in a row. She continues to learn from her audiences, sharing her observations with readers of ADDitude Magazine in her weekly column, “Dear ADHD Family Coach.”

Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDCES, FADCES

Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDCES, FADCES

Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDCES, FADCES on social media

Susan Weiner is the owner of Susan Weiner Nutrition, PLLC. She lectures nationally and internationally on nutrition, diabetes, and lifestyle related topics and is the co-author of The Complete Diabetes Organizer and Diabetes: 365 Tips for Living Well. She has authored college textbook chapters on various nutrition topics, as well as dozens of articles for peer reviewed journals and popular press. Weiner earned her Master’s Degree in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University.

Learn more about Susan Weiner:

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