How I Organize Everything

So much of what I do on a daily basis happens online. Because of this, I’ve perfected a bunch of systems to keep me incredibly organized. As a self-employed person, I find it so so so important to be as organized as possible. There is often no one else to pick up the slack or to catch a mistake or to remind me to do something. I’ve experimented with different systems over the years, but this is what I’m doing– and what works best– for me right now.

I do want to preface this whole post by explaining one weird quirk. It’s actually something that I assumed everyone had until I tried explaining it to my family one night at dinner and they looked at me like I had four heads. It’s basically a kind of synesthesia (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s where brains associate two different senses, so someone might smell a number or see an image with a sound). It’s pretty common, so there’s a good chance you have some variation of it or know someone who does.

I have number form and spacial. (When my parents informed me they did not have a calendar in their head, I pretty much started googling things like “I see a calendar” and stumbled on this whole thing.)  I  think the number form synesthesia is why I have always been so good at math and can make strangely accurate guestimates (like how much a cart of groceries will be). I see an entire number line in my head… whenever I think of a number (age, weight, price, temperature, etc.) I see where it is on the line. And for spacial, I have, literally at all times, a calendar in my head.

It never changes, and there are different “layers,” one for the week (+ a clock for minute-by-minute updates) and one for the year. And each year’s layer lines up with the year where it coordinates with my number line.

If you have this too, you definitely get what I’m saying, haha, but if you don’t, I probably sound insane. 

Having this calendar in my head at all times helps me keep track of things 99% of the time. I put appointments and build to-do lists into the different days, and I have a sense of “moving” throughout my day, and the week, and the year, and then year-after-year. For example, I “feel” like I’m in a different spot for Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at noon than I did on Thursday, October 15, 2007, at 9 am.

The only problem with this is that every time I put something else up there, I feel the weight of it. You know how people say, “I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me!” after completing something? I feel that all the time and it can stress me out. I’ve found that if I can make a real physical copy of what’s in my head, then I don’t feel the weight of it as much.

Ooookay, if you’re still with me (😂), this is all to say that the system I have pretty accurately reflects what’s going on in my head and that helps me stay as on top of things as possible.

Carly Organized

– Email // My email system is one that has not changed for years. Ever since I downloaded Gmail, it’s pretty much stayed the same. Here’s a post I wrote seven years ago complete with a hand-drawn flowchart of how I manage emails. The basic idea is that I read everything as it comes in, I “star” emails that I have to go back to respond to, and I use automatic labels so I can quickly see what is coming in. I also have a bunch of different email accounts, but I have them funnel into my one main Gmail account– that’s where automatic labels really come in handy because I know when one is coming from personal and one is from my blog, etc.

The most significant benefit is the starred email section. It essentially becomes my to-do list since I work remotely with so many different people; it’s why I spend so much time on my email! I try to start my morning by going through every starred email on the off chance there’s something I forgot about, and then I start tackling what I can do that day. If I complete an email (most likely a simple response), I unstar it to cross it off my to-do list.

I also keep my ongoing work in the starred email section, like sponsored campaigns I’m working on. At any given time, I’m at different stages with about ten different clients so I keep everything in there. (My manager is great at emails too, so all of our correspondence are looped into each thread for the different campaigns, and the subject lines are uniform so I know which campaign is which.) When I send over the final links + analytics for a campaign, I unstar it and it’s off my list!

– Notebook // For my daily to-do lists and “future” lists/reminders, I use a simple notebook. I don’t care what the notebook looks like or really what size it is, any notebook with lines with work! Even though if you were to flip through it, it doesn’t seem that organized but it works for me because of the flexibility of it.

In the notebook, I jot down my daily to-do lists with everything I need to do from journaling to my workout to a phone call I need to make. I also write down “emails,” which is really just me responding to the email to-do list… this is definitely the biggest chunk of my day. Writing everything down ensures I don’t forget to do anything and I can prioritize what NEEDS to get done if my day starts getting super full.

I put everything in my notebook, especially notes about things I want to remember, like packing or mapping out a travel schedule.

(I tried Bullet Journaling, but I needed a lot more flexibility with it. The blank notebook where I can do anything works the best for me!)

Blogger Campaign Tracker Editorial Calendar

– Editorial Calendar // Above are two screenshots with how I manage my editorial calendar. I used to have a whiteboard where I kept track of my campaigns and a list in a notebook where I mapped out my blog posts, but neither worked. This Google Doc is now my most-referenced. I keep it (and my Google Calendar + Gmail) open in a tab at all times on my computer. To make it as easy as possible, I have both the campaign tracker and editorial calendars in the same document; you can see the different years and months as tabs at the bottom.

The first screenshot is how I keep track of campaigns. This is so, so helpful for me because I can see how I do month to month and also compare months to different years. It’s encouraging sometimes and lights a fire under my butt at other times. Red squares are normal posts, On My Radar in yellow, guest posts in green, and sponsored posts in orange. This is always the most helpful for me because I can make sure I’m spacing out sponsored posts in the best way. Especially when a brand wants a specific day, I can glance at my calendar and see if it will/won’t work without having to go through a million emails to make sure no other campaign conflicts.

It’s also just a generally good idea to know what I’m going to post. It helps me plan outfits for photoshoots and I don’t get that “uhhh what should I blog about?!?!” panic because woo! I know! I also fill in sponsored Instagrams, often affiliated with a post, and what Youtube videos I’m posting.

– Google Calendar // Remember the calendar in my head? I try to get all of that into my Google Calendar. I could not function without it. I have different calendars synced with my main one so I can keep track of everything. For example, my boyfriend and I have one to coordinate schedules (gray label) and Carter and I have one (orange label) to keep track of her shooting schedule with me.

My personal one has all of my appointments (labeled in green), travel dates (labeled in yellow), NYC travel days (labeled in purple).

The best part about Google Calendar is that you can add notes within each event. I use this ALL the time to keep track of whatever I need to for the day. For example, if it’s a phone call, I’ll add the dial-in # and questions I don’t want to forget to ask; if it’s a meeting, I’ll record the suite/floor of the office along with talking points I want to review before going in; for trips, I’ll include flight numbers, hotel confirmations, etc.

– Google Docs // This is probably my least organized item. But honestly, it still works for me because I can  search for what I need. The best part is that you can search for google docs within Gmail, so I can easily pull up, for example, my editorial calendar. I also like I that the app allows me to edit documents on the go and everything is ~in the cloud~. I use Google Docs often to share sponsored post drafts, Sheets for packing lists, etc. Pretty straightforward!

PHOTOS + VIDEO // I have so many videos and photos. It can seem overwhelming to keep track of everything, but if you’re on top of it, it’s so much easier to deal event-to-event versus having an entire year to organize. (Although if you do have a big chunk to organize, my biggest tip is to sort by date and then start making folders from there!)

– Google Drive: Carter and I organize/share photos and videos between us with Google Drive. It’s the simplest way and we can work remotely more often. She shares folders with me and I download the photos/videos from it to save to my hard drive. Again, easy… not much to say about that!

– Hard drive: I have multiple copies of my hard drives so I never lose photos or videos. This is where I store everything photo and video related. I have a “Photo” folder and “Video” folder and then project based folders within each of those. I label the folders in the simplest way I can and then I can sort them or search for them by name or sort by date and find what I need. My workflow is to download from the drive (if it’s coming from Carter) to the hard drive and then upload the fully edited photos to my Dropbox.

– Dropbox: I am crazzzzzy about storing photos in the cloud. I want to make sure I can download photos to my phone if I need an Instagram right away or pull up a video on a computer when I’m traveling. I know that I have everything I need at all times. If I shot the photos, I only upload edited or “fully ready” photos so it doesn’t become bogged down with raw files.

– Google Photos: This is where I store all of my iPhone photos. It’s AMAZING. I never have to worry about losing photos, even if my phone breaks or is stolen. It (quickly) backs up your entire camera roll, which can also free up space! But the best part? You can search the photos! If you type in “dog” all pictures/videos you’ve ever taken of a dog will pop up! So cool.

How I Organize Everything

I’m still tweaking my finance system, but this is exactly how I organize everything else in my digital life!


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This was a great post. It gave me so many new ideas of how to organize my digital life, especially my photos. The post reminded me a lot of your old organize please series (which I loved).


I love the feeling of being organized and on top of everything. It makes me feel like a well oiled clock – like I’m gliding through the day instead of grinding away. I’m going to have to start using color coding on my calendar – that’s going to be a game changer. Thanks! xAllie


I can only imagine how much more organized I would be with a calendar in my head! But I’m just as obsessed with google calendar and have it shared with friends and work. It’s basically my lifeline. Thanks for sharing your editorial calendar. I’ve been trying to get that organized for a while as well. Will have to give it a try!


After managing editorial calendars for YEARS at work, this post made me realize I was working harder and not smarter. Thank you so much for a glimpse into your organizational routine. I can’t wait to spruce up my files!


I’m the same way with seeing a number line/calendar and my family also thought I was ridiculous, haha. However, I’ve always been awful at math, so I don’t think it necessarily correlates!

Meghan H.

Can you discuss the tension btw. using apple products (mac, iphone,etc.) w/ google organizational tools? Have you ever used google products? Just curious!


When you were talking about seeing calendars in your head I laughed so hard. It reminded me of every interview I’ve ever been on when they ask “how do you stay organized” and I start talking about how I see a calendar in my head and then put it on paper. I was always like, this question is so BASIC come on. I didn’t realize not everyone saw that hahaha

ivana split

I think it’s great you’re so good with math and visualizing calendars. Math skills can only help you in life. I sometimes connect things in my head as well, but it is mostly music and images.

It was great reading how you stay organized. Keeping an organized inbox is so important!

Google calendar is awesome, I love it.


I absolutely love posts like this, Carly! Thanks for sharing your magic tips 🙂

Christina J

I definitely thought I was the only person in the world who would visualize a calendar in a physical format.

I see my yearly calendar as a circle (summer at the bottom, winter at the top), but my monthly/weekly calendar as notches on the circle. I had never related it to the skills I have with spacial-awareness (I can parallel park ANYTHING), but it makes sense when you relate your own two “specialties”. Thank you for sharing!


My visual of the yearly calendar is exactly the same! My weekly calendar is a straight line, though.


This could not have come at a better time! I’ve just been panic googling ‘how to organise my life’. This is perfect.


I don’t see a full calendar but I do see a weekly calendar (similar to the ones people sometimes I have on their desks, like the weekly post-it kinds) and I visualize a to-do list, that I “feel” when I tick something off. As a result, though, I don’t end up using my planners as much as I would like to. Not sure if this is a form of synesthesia but I’ve been googling it just now!


I have the same types of synesthesia! The calendar in my head is especially helpful. I also have it down to the day, week, year, and as zoomed out as centuries. Never though of the math connection- I’ve always been good at calculations off the top of my head. I also googled “calendar in my head” a few years ago after failing to explain this properly to my husband, ha!


I assumed everyone saw numbers on a ‘timeline’ in their head?! Didn’t realize I was weird, lol!


I think I too have number form and spacial synesthesia but in a different way! So interesting to learn more about your process. I love that you showed your Google calendars, that’s very helpful to see! This post definitely makes me want to get more organized, because I typically just write everything down in my notebook/calendar and my emails are not organized at all.



This is incredible!!! I am definitely working on my organization and no where near this! I currently use a bulletin journal for pretty much everything and so far so good. I keep mine very simple as needing to decorate and make it so artsy can be detracting and people end up spending way more time designing the layouts than actually doing what needs to be done. | Slow living blog


Coming over from the Pink Clutch.
I was definitely curious by the title. Now you got me wondering if my chalkboard in my head is “special..” I’ve always done my maths on it & felt like I was wasting my time having to write it down on paper for the teacher to see. You’re the first I’ve known & several other commenters about having a calendar in their head…. makes me curious to know if my kids have it or any of my friends– what a gift you have!!


Great post! Your editorial calendars are so inspiring! I am also very organised, but this was a different outlook on it! Thanks for sharing.


Carly, this was textbook priming. I literally JUST discussed having synesthesia with my bf who is still baffled by the whole concept. For me, I have always assigned specific colors with days of the week and months of the year (i.e. Monday is blue, Tues. is yellow, weekends are white, April is green, February purple). In all honesty for the longest time I attributed this to visuals in my early childhood classrooms when learning the days and months. But after Googling and researching, I learned I’m not alone! What’s most interesting to me is that people who have this in various forms tend to be highly creative. Not such a bad thing 🙂


Oh my gosh I see numbers and calendars in my head too! I work at the events office at UNC and tried explaining to them last week how I’m so good at guessing guest numbers and invitation numbers and they all looked at me like I was crazy!! I never knew that it was something not everyone saw.

Alex C.

Ahhh I’m so glad you talked about how you see a calendar! I can totally relate to that, and feeling the “weight” of an item on your agenda; I often find myself feeling just a little anxious when I have an upcoming meeting/class/etc, even if I’m not specifically nervous about it, just because it’s another item on my mental calendar that I can’t wait to clear off. I guess some of us are just hyper-organized 😛
Alex C. //


Omg! I totally used to have a calendar in my head all the time too. And I remembered every single date for everything that ever happened. My friends used to make fun of me for being creepy! But then I got hit by a car while I was walking across the street and had a concussion that lasted almost a year (I’m totally ok now) and my brain just doesn’t work the same way now. I still have a really good memory, but before it was almost photographic and I literally saw things like dates and numbers.


Carly! I initially found your blog a million years ago *because* of your organize, please posts.

Thanks for sharing. I’m really interested to see what you do for your finances. My goal for Q1 was to get my finance system down + I think I’m getting there. Which is good since Q1 is about over 😉


This post just made me so nostalgic for the old “organize, please” graphic!!


Re: synesthesia – Have you read “A Mango Shaped Space” by Wendy Ness? It’s a novel about a teenage girl who realizes she has synesthesia, and the different things she tries. As someone who does not have synesthesia, it was a fascinating look into the life of someone who did.

Stephanie Summers

Carly, this post is one of the best and most amazing that you have written!!
I own a digital design company that deals with so many different clients and it’s so nice to see the way another entrepreneur keeps everything in line. At the moment I am totally struggling with the photography storage and access(ing) aspect of it!!! Really thank you for this behind the scenes post 🙂


Thank you so much for sharing this, Carly! Your organization tips are super helpful–and I’m definitely going to have to try Google Photos!


I’m currently storing all my photos on iCloud and it works quite well but I am trying to find something thats free (ideally) so might try Google Photos as I know a few people who use it too! x

Ariadna || RAWR BOWS


I’d LOVE to see how you organize your finances. I’m currently trying to manage my budget/savings but it would be so helpful to see where you’re at, even if it’s a work in progress!


I found this post so interesting, as I have for some reason never come across synesthesia. I can imagine the weight this puts on your mind and don’t think you are insane! Thanks for sharing how you organise everything as I am currently doing an organisation overhaul and this is exactly what I needed!

Holly from The Art of Being Holly xo


Hey Carly,
Found your blog yesterday and fell in love with it right away.
Just an additional tips, if you want to organise everything digitally, you can also try ~~ let me tell you, I organise almost everything from my groceries list, shopping wish lists, to do lists, editorial calendar and instagram posts planning and of course my financial / payment docs. It comes so handy as it sync from web to my phone. Try it out…
Productive-self lover 🙂


You would love Airtable! It allows you to have multiple tabs and transform the views between grid, card, and calendar! It’s super dynamic and sounds like it would be helpful for your planning!


Thanks for the view of your editorial content calendar spreadsheet. I’ve been tryin to figure out how to organize a few channels of overlapping content and nothing has worked as well as the spreadsheet I made after looking at yours.


Hey Carly! I have referenced this post several times over the last year or so. It’s always so great to see how other people do things and pull ideas on my continued quest for optimal organization!

Did you ever end up doing a general post about financial organization? I know that can be a bit of a sticky subject and you’d have to redact a lot in the name of privacy, but I would definitely be interested in that post if you ever did one (or maybe you already did!).