My favorite time for a fresh start is the fall, when the weather starts to cool down and the rhythm of the school year returns. I’m always in the mood for planning, organizing, and getting my life together around this time. Even though we’re well into September now, it’s never too late for a fall refresh—enter YouTube! We might more commonly associate YouTube with time wasted rather than time well spent (who among us hasn’t spent an hour or three watching videos of pet raccoons?). But hear me out. From meal planning to whole-house clean-with-me videos to bullet journal how-tos, these three YouTubers have given me inspiration and encouragement to make a fresh start in getting things together—and many practical tips and concrete steps to take in doing so.
I credit Kalyn Nicholson with getting me through a recent productivity slump. Working from home (as so many of us do now), I sometimes struggle to see my life as “real adulting” since I don’t always feel like I have a “real job.” She models for me what a good week can look like in the work-from-home lifestyle, and though her videos are beautifully produced and definitely in the “influencer” style, they still feel real and unforced. She’s honest about when things get hard and is realistic about what it really takes to get things done—she doesn’t shy away from filming herself doing work on the couch while watching Netflix.
One thing I’ve particularly loved is Nicholson’s concept of a GYST (“get your sh*t together”) day—one day in the week dedicated to planning, self-care, and cleaning. Nicholson also creates “GYST binders”: the place where she stores all those papers, receipts, gift and appointment cards so necessary to getting one’s sh*t together (and so easily misplaced!). Starting my own GYST binder has been the best way I’ve found to organize my essential papers!
Here are few of my favorite of Nicholson’s videos to get you started:
How to make a GYST binder
Cleaning routine + GYST day
How to survive a bad day
Pick Up Limes
Okay, first of all, YouTuber Sadia’s voice is one of the most soothing sounds on earth. If you’re feeling truly overwhelmed, she’s a great one to turn to. The Pick Up Limes channel is predominantly a vegan food channel with an emphasis on inexpensive and easy meals. So, if food has been a big stressor in your life, whip out one of Sadia’s simple, incredibly affordable recipes, and do a bit of meal prep! She also has one of the best bullet journal planning videos that I’ve seen.
Minimal bullet journal setup
Meals in a jar
Meal prep to minimize time in the kitchen
Michelle Barnes is a fun, incredibly organized Australian girl with a channel centered around successful planning and organizing for achieving your goals. She’s a master of the “fresh start” and also offers tips for dealing with the ways in which our mood or mental health struggles can affect our productivity. Her “weekly reset” is a tool for keeping yourself on top of those daily stressful tasks, as well as making sure you’re still moving forward on long-term goals. I also love her emphasis on if-then lists, including lists to help yourself get over the hump if you’re feeling blue or unmotivated. Follow her for encouragement, cathartic cleaning videos, and mindset advice!
How to improve your week x 10000 (on the concept of a “weekly reset”)
6 lists to make to organize your life
Sunday life admin routine: what I do to improve my week
Questions to ask yourself when you feel awful
Bonus: Soundtracks for productivity
If you’re going to become your own productivity and organizing guru, you need a good soundtrack. Of course, a great place to start is Verily’s Spotify profile, and Kalyn Nicholson also has a Spotify profile with a lot of motivational soundtracks for getting things done.
If you want to use YouTube itself, there are quite a few channels, videos, and live streams to help you out. I’ve recently gotten into lofi (low-fidelity) music on YouTube—it might sound a little weird, but there are cute videos that tend to feature an anime character sitting at a computer or being productive, with peaceful, just-enough-there beats in the background. The effect is feeling that you have a study buddy—always a great feeling when you’re slogging through a long night of work! Sometimes these are recorded, and sometimes they’re a “live stream,” meaning that you can see how many other people are also watching the stream and being productive (52,000 other people can provide a decent dose of positive peer pressure!) I’d recommend starting with the channel Chilled Cow’s videos or live streams.
If even an animated study buddy isn’t working for you, try a real one! I’ve recently become deeply devoted to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Live Jelly Cam. Soothing background music plays while the aquarium’s jellyfish float in real time across the screen. Or put on the live cam of Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska to hear the soothing sounds of water and maybe sight a bear—there was one last time I tuned in! If all else fails, yes, there is a live stream of puppies.
Happy viewing . . . but also doing.
Disclaimer: The sharing of individual YouTube channels or other content is not an endorsement of an entire brand, author, publication, or every idea discussed unless explicitly stated as such.