The Secret to Staying Organized: Saying No

The Secret to Staying Organized: Saying No

The Secret to Staying Organized: Saying No

If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you’ve probably thought one or two things before: either, “How can anyone find time to stay organized and keep a clean home?” and/or “I will never be organized and keep a clean home.”


If you actually want to be organized in every aspect of your life, then you have to read this post. There is a secret to maintaining an organized life. And it’s not just about decluttering your life. It’s about time—your “me” time.


Here’s the secret: you need more of it. You need to be more self-centered.


Well, that is, unless you’re incredibly self-centered already and only think about and care about yourself. Then, maybe you should work on that.


But if you’re the type of person who most people (especially women) I know seem to be, then you could use a little “me” time. Because when you say “yes” to too many things, suddenly your schedule becomes too busy, and you don’t schedule in time to maintain your routine or organizational system. And that will drive anyone nuts.


Everyone is different; some people only need an hour or so every week to recharge their batteries, get prepared for the upcoming week, and clean house, while others need an entire day or maybe a couple hours every day.


I’m the type of person who needs alone time. Every day, I need a little bit of time to recharge my batteries, rest in silence, read in silence, write in silence, or just be alone with lots of music. I need time to sit down and write. I need time to cook a healthy meal and prepare my work for the following day. I need time for an Epsom salt and lavender essential oil bath (try it!). I need time to read before I fall asleep. I need time to stretch, to think, to just be.


I’ve gone my entire life without ever feeling really stressed for prolonged periods of time, because I usually develop a system, or a routine, or an organized plan to help me cope with a busy schedule or a high work demand.


But as I’ve grown older, I realize how hard it is—especially for women—to schedule in time to sleep, be alone, exercise, or try something new. That’s because, I believe, there is immense pressure on women to do everything: to be the sexy wife, the devoted mother, the gourmet chef, the most effective employee, the tutor, the community leader… the list goes on. It’s tough to keep up with such a demanding schedule! How can you possibly stay organized and sane with such a busy life?


And soon we women become more than just women; we become the martyr, the saint.

It starts with a simple “yes” to one volunteer activity once a week. Suddenly, we are volunteering for two activities that happen to occur around dinnertime, so we eat fast food for dinner and lunch the next day, since we has no time to prepare. Then, our Saturday mornings are booked and we must resort to buying a $4 coffee. Our Saturday morning alone time is gone. We agree to carpool to church and are suddenly committed to another family, and now lose that precious Sunday morning sleep-in slot. Before long, we put our own hobbies on hold and stop showering. We forget who we really are because we no longer have time to fasten our signature dangling earrings and style our fabulous, voluminous hair. Our husbands are disenchanted yet more demanding and our kids point to models in magazine advertisements and ask, “Mommy, why can’t you look like her?” The music we listens to is the music our kids dictate. The food we eat is processed and has been prepared by a teenager. Our house is a disaster and we have no idea what happened to the organized system we used to set in place. No one helps us clean the house, either, because they, too, are busy with their demanding schedules. We now used to write and used to be pretty. We used to be someone. But it all started with a “yes.”


It’s not fair to us when we are the women who give all their time and no one appreciates.


We have to say no. Let me rephrase that: we have to say “NO!” We should all contribute to our families, friends, and communities, but not at the expense of our sanity. Everyone needs alone time. Everyone is allowed to say no.


Being self-centered isn’t a negative thing. When you are only focused on yourself, then that can be an issue. But you have to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.


Here are some tips to help you say yes to saying no:


  1. Choose a day of the week and the amount of hours you need to recharge your batteries, whether that means an Epsom salt & lavender essential oils bath, or an hour workout at the park. Write it into your calendar and schedule it to repeat. Stick to it, and whenever someone asks you to do something during that time, say “No, that is not an option.”
  2. Make a list of activities—volunteer, family or friend-centered—that you enjoy doing. Then, make a list of activities that you do not enjoy doing. Say yes to as many activities that you enjoy doing rather than the ones you don’t, and that way you won’t wish you could say no.
  3. Ask for help. Your family members should pitch in to maintain an organized, clean environment. You can’t do it alone and you shouldn’t have to. You’re a human, not a saint.
  4. Practice saying, “No.” Of course, “No, I’m sorry, but I cannot focus on that right now,” or “Not right now” sounds better than just a terse “NO!” However, sometimes, you might just have to say no with force!
  5. Don’t feel guilty. Listen to your body and listen to your mind—you know them better than anyone else.


Sometimes we have to do things that we don’t want to, and sometimes we’ll have weeks or months that seem endless. That’s life—it happens. But our schedules should not be running us; we should be running our schedules. Really think about what you’re saying yes to and if it is adding to or taking away from your quality of life.



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My goal is to help you become more organized so that you can spend your time in meaningful ways.
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