'Start somewhere' motivational calendar

How to get organised: Holly Tucker’s 9 hacks to get your life, wardrobe and finances in order

Living creatively
By Holly Tucker


Getting organised? I love nothing better than finding stylish, creative and clever ways to organise my life for efficiency and calm. Here are my ‘Holly’s Hacks’...

How to be more organised in life

I don’t know about you, but for me, being organised is my happy place. Knowing I’ve got things in order brings a reassuring sense of calm, but it also excites me. Especially when I find new ways to be efficient, that just happen to be incredibly stylish, creative and end up making me smile just about every day (see my Let’s Get Organised collection for ideas). So from how to organise your wardrobe, to how to organise your life, anything that not only saves time and stress but also actively adds joy is golden to me.

Why are women generally more organised?

There’s a good answer to why women are generally more organised than men and it’s this: because we have to be! As women, we have a tonne of invisible labour to do seven days a week, 12 months of the year. If we’re not being efficient and orderly, bringing calm to chaos, our lives (and the lives of those around us) would very likely disintegrate like a biscuit, triple-dipped in hot tea.

As much as I’d like to have waited for Frank to create systems at home to help things run more smoothly over the years, I’ve a feeling it would have been a rather slow burn(!), so the hacks I’ve created (with the help of some incredible creative small businesses) have been invaluable to me. That’s why I’m sharing them here, so that they might help you too. From gift buying filing systems, to bill sorting in style, here are some of the foolproof ways I’ve learnt to organise my life, the universe and everything.

Hack 1. Write down your household chores

I encourage (implore even) everybody to have open and honest conversations with their other halves about who needs to do what at home. Invisible labour (the reams of unpaid and often unrecognised work that requires hours of immense skill and mental juggling to deliver) is real and women bear the brunt of it. On average, we do three times more of this than men according to the Mental Health Network¹.

One of the exercises you can do to help mitigate this is to write down everything that needs to be done over the course of a month — from thinking about it or researching it to actually doing it — and see what happens. More than likely, this list will be a lot longer than expected.

You can then reallocate tasks fairly between you and any other members of your household — or if you don’t live with anyone and just have to suck it up, then write the jobs down anyway to mitigate the constant brain fatigue as you constantly think of them. Trust me, it helps. I truly believe the best way to get organised is to start by getting it out of your head and onto a to-do list.

Hack 2. Sort out your finances (and file them beautifully)

Bill paying is my job at home so I keep a spreadsheet with every renewal date for every contract we have, so I never need to let these automatically run over and end up costing more than we really need to pay. Especially in times like these, when we’re all trying to save.

I usually go paperless where I can but there still seems to be a lot of bills through the post each month and so I make sure I open any nice-looking or urgent mail right away, then the rest all goes into a very lovely vintage box. Much to my father’s horror, it’s once a month that I sit down and go through everything. It works for me as it stays in its place. I keep beautiful box files so that once everything’s been dealt with, I file it all away for reference in the relevant colourful wallets inside, each labelled with names like ‘household bills’, ‘Harry’, ‘utilities’ etc. Forget those plastic, grey, office, lever arch numbers because you want your filing to be good looking so you can face doing it.

Hack 3. Organise your gift giving for the year

Gifting is extremely important to me. I’ve built two businesses on it. It’s a core part of my values and it makes my soul sing. Every quarter, I sit at my computer and do three months’ worth of birthdays in one go. Having a birthday calendar with all the dates in really helps. So when I’m shopping and get inspired by something, even if a birthday’s coming up in two months’ time, I buy it there and then, so I know it’s in the bag and ready. I cross off each one as I go through them but only ever do three months at a time. You wouldn’t believe the amount of stress this reduces as if you’re anything like me, the idea of last minute panic buying for someone I really care about makes me feel sick. This solves it (and if you need thoughtful gifts for her, gifts for him or even gifts for tricky teens, try my curated collections.

Hack 4. Have a card ready for everything

These card organisers from Modo & Co are just fantastic (and definitely an upgrade on the homemade ones I used to create with cardboard!). They split your cards out into different categories (that go beyond the obvious) and mean you have relevant, thoughtful cards ready to find and send at all times.

It also means that when I see a card that’s perfect for someone, I buy it and hang on to it, filed away ready for when I need it. This essentially means that I give myself permission to buy a shitload of cards and that I’m always ready to send some sunshine through the post. The downside is that Harry and Frank think I’m a free card shop but it also means that if a friend is having a hard time, I can let them know I’m thinking of them immediately when they need it and I don’t have to go out searching.

Hack 5. Sort out your phone and keep it handy

We’re all spending way too many hours on our phones as it is, and there’s really no need for us to have to be whizzing through pages trying to find an app in a sea of others every time we need it, too. So I curate all of mine into folders from travel, finance and utilities, to film, business, social media and so on. This means that rather than having hundreds of floating icons to sift through, I can find everything I need quickly in a handful of folders. I also love a phone carrier or phone strap so that it’s close by when I need it and ensures I always have my hands free for whatever needs doing… often buying cards (see above).

Hack 6. Ensure everything you wear has a home (especially your jewellery)

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to getting dressed, I am meticulous about my wardrobe. The way I feel and how I express myself creatively is very much linked to it. I like to have a new look every day and it’s very much part of my creative process. I am lucky enough to have carved out a number of cupboards at home (more than Frank gets!) and so I colour coordinate almost everything. So if I’m feeling red one day I can express myself accordingly and so on (see my guide to dopamine dressing article for more on this).

Everything has its own section and it’s all arranged by hue to keep time-wasting down to a minimum. In fact, with trainers, because I wear them every single day and believe in maintaining them, I have a sponge set with them so when I give my face a wash at night I can give my trainers a quick clean at the same time. Jewellery is either on makeshift hooks (made from customised, cut-down curtain poles) or in beautiful boxes or trinket dishes. It may sound intense but when you add up the time you waste trying to find an item or working out what to wear, multiplied by the frustration you feel when you’re having to wear the same thing each day for ease, this just works.

Hack 7. Swap your everyday ordering for subscriptions

Upgrading much of my household shopping for the subscription model was huge for me. Now, if something has the option to come automatically, that’s what I’ll opt for, to save both time and often money, too. Whether it’s dog food from Lily’s Kitchen, toilet roll from Who Gives A Crap, drinks from DASH or face products from Beauty Pie for example (see more ideas in my article, ‘Emotional labour: the real reason a woman’s work is never done’), it now all just arrives without me having to think about it. In fact, I’ve been meaning to get my cards and stamps delivered monthly too from the brilliant Hadley Paper Goods, which must always be just such a lovely surprise. To me, convenience and efficiency like this are a key benefit of the 21st century and I, for one, am making the most of it.

Hack 8. Keep a joint family diary

In our house, if it’s not in the joint diary it’s not happening. Or at least, it wasn’t before my son Harry went off to uni. I was fanatical about making sure everything was included and although it drove the boys mad, it also kept any family logistical squabbles to a minimum. I did try progressing that into a to-do list and a food ordering list but they fell flat on their faces and there’s only so much energy I can ever spend organising them so I’ve accepted I have to pick my battles.

Hack 9. Remember, beautiful notebooks, chalkboards and clipboards are powerful

I love anywhere I can make a good list. That might be a chalk board for shopping or meal planning in the kitchen (or just cheeky messages to Frank). Notebooks have been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. The more beautiful, the better. It’s been such a soulful experience for me to curate them for Holly & Co because I get to handpick my favourites.

Then I’m a rather recent convert to using clipboards actually and they bring me a strange amount of joy. I have one for each area of my life (or my working life at least) and they help keep those different areas in order. I like to personalise mine and use different colours for different tasks too (did I tell you I was slightly obsessive?!).

Anyway, those are my hacks. So if you want to channel your inner Anya (Hindmarch, who is the Queen of Organisation after all and a self-confessed ‘label addict’), hear her share her ingenious ideas on my podcast. Her ‘Labelled’ shop is just one of the cleverest examples of delivering what women need I’ve ever seen — with a pouch or a pocket for everything. I wish you all the luck in getting organised for the year ahead. I promise you, you’ll feel fantastic afterwards

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