A red pin pressed into a calendar day where "organize!" is written.

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As summer comes to an end and the hectic back-to-school season descends upon us like a witch with ill intentions, it’s easy for things to get lost in the chaos. With so much to do, sometimes you just feel overwhelmed. But by keeping track of what you do, or don’t do, and adjusting your own attitude just a little bit, you may get through it all just a little bit easier.

Use lists, calendars, and organizational apps. Lists are a great way to keep track of daily duties and an even better way to feel accomplished once you cross things off. Chances are you have access to a smartphone or a computer which make it exponentially easier to create and clear lists. You can also use some super neat apps to help you stay organized.

Save the best (or easiest) for last. I know it sucks to hear, but doing the crappy chores first is just easier. You get them out of the way, completed, and you don’t have to think about doing them anymore! Once you’ve gotten the big nasties off your lists, the other tasks will seem much smaller, and you’ll feel more productive.

Anticipate interruptions. Remember that you are not a spreadsheet, or a list, or a calendar: you are a human being! Flexibility is the real key to being able to get stuff done. Keep breathing! If you can’t get through a list, it isn’t the end of the world. You can always pick up where you left off next time.

Do things in small sections. Tacking big tasks all at once can feel like a lot and actually be a block to productivity. Put twenty minutes into something you know you need to do, and then take a small break. Setting times ensures that some amount of productivity occurs and it may allow you to get even more done by switching focus and changing up your energy.

Cook ahead. This one may not seem as organizationally-focused as the previous suggestions, but trust me, it’s a big help to cook ahead. Planning your meals and having them ready saves time and energy like nobody’s business. Keeping ready-to-eat meals around cuts down on doing dishes after work, removes the burden of cooking, and can often get you to eat healthier options. If you have a healthy dish on hand and ready to go, you might not dial the pizza guy.