So, I mentioned before that my goal for the year is to get more organized. I am at a point in my life that I am honestly surprised I haven’t left one of my children somewhere (knock on wood). I am scatter-brained to the fullest extent. I’ve also been somewhat of a genius of keeping track of things in my head, because before this year that’s basically all I’ve done. I shudder at that now!
Last year I had it in my head that a day planner would help me. I went to staples and target and didn’t have a lot of luck. Brady told me it’s because it was no longer 1994. Still, I persisted. I found some sort of underground world that people still use planners! Not everyone loves to deal with things on their iphone. I would still use a telephone on a cord and an answering machine if I could. I saw filofax was a big deal, but way out of my budget. I looked at various planner set-ups and ended up buying a small A5 sized binder and making my own inserts in photoshop. I thought this would be the cheapest way to do it, and then I could have it how I wanted. I bought some month dividers, some tabs, all that good stuff. By the end, I was probably $80 in and even though I was using it, I still wasn’t at what we planner people call “planner peace”.
I knew in 2015 my goal was to find a planner and stick with it. Cue the singing angels when I found Erin Condren Life Planners. My best gal Cher had been holding out on me. I flipped through hers and knew right away I could make this work. I also loved that it was spiral bound making it easy to write on the left page. My 3 ring binder was a real beyotch to write in. I wasted no time getting mine ordered. What I also loved is I didn’t have to wait til January to use it, because it will start from whatever month you order it in. Bonus! My planner dreams were coming true right before my eyes.
It took me a couple weeks to get my system figured out for it to work best for my life. I have altered things a bit, so I’ll show you just how I customize mine and use my week to be as productive as possible…
The life planner week view comes with a morning, day, night breakdown. I used that for a while and it was okay, but I really thought about what I wanted to keep track of, and it was a little more specific than just morning, day, night. I started covering those sections with washi tape and breaking it down to sections that worked best for me. HOME, where I would keep track of stuff around the house like cleaning schedules, school schedules, kids appointments, etc. BLOG/WORK, where I could keep track of what I needed to post, or shoot, or edit that week. This has been especially helpful for me as I used to just wing it each day. PERSONAL, where I can keep track of my own stuff like work out schedules, my own appointments and events, date nights, etc.
Erin Condren has also left side bars and some room at the bottom that can be used for different things. Right now, on my sidebar I keep track of my FLYLADY morning and night routines that aren’t day-specific. I wrote them on a post-it that I can move from week to week instead of having to re-write it every time the week ends. Right now I’m using the bottom section to keep track of what we’ve been eating. We have a goal to eat healthier meals at home and I’ve found it is really helpful for me to track my progress. Also, I can see when we’ve eaten out to see how much money we’ve spent on meals.
I use different stickers to indicate different things. I ordered some from scribble prints on etsy, which is where I got my cute laundry basket stickers and a few others. She also makes stickers to perfectly fit over the M/D/N sections which I have just been using this skinny washi tape for. I also find decorating it and making it pretty keeps me at it and enjoying it more. I buy decorative washi tape like this when I can, too.
The other stickers I have just been using to indicate reminders, or paydays, or that the girls have appointments. This just helps me know what’s going on at a quick glance instead of having to read every single note.
To keep track of my daily to-do lists I use a check-off system. If I completed the task, I write an X through the box by it. If not, I draw a line through it and move it to the next day so I know what needs to be completed. Just this simple way of keeping track of things has been SO helpful for my accountability. I hate having to re-write a task and it keeps me getting my things done.
My month glance I don’t use in nearly as much detail, but I do put appointments here (as well as the week view) and use stickers and tape to indicate change of school schedules, paydays, birthdays or something special. This also has a sidebar for notes that I have used for monthly goals, or little journal re-caps of the week.
I am happy to say I have finally reached “planner peace”. Also, getting the Life Planner was actually cheaper than trying to throw it together myself with a cheap binder and homemade inserts. It comes fully customized and ready for $50. Considering how much it helps me, I would probably pay $50 a MONTH for this baby.
Another way we are staying organized in 2015 is with the girls helping! You guys have asked about my chore chart and how we do things… My awesome chore chart is from The Organic Home. It is so perfect for my aged kids. I love that it’s a little more interactive than a simple paper or dry erase type chart.
Each girl has their own column (we even added Grae for when she gets a bit older). Each popsicle stick has a chore on it that the girls are capable of doing. Things like: clean litter box, pick-up toys, clean bathroom floor, clean bathroom counter, unload dishwasher, make bed, etc. To my surprise, these are all things my girls are capable of doing, and doing well! I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it has been having them take over these simple chores. Our house stays looking picked-up and fresh! They have a to do, done, and I had her add an “earned” jar for the token system we have added to our home.
Our chore chart is right in the kitchen where we see it every day. (Plus it matches and is so cute!) When the girls do a chore, they move it to the “done” jar. From there, I double check their chores and then they get a token once their day’s chores are completed. That goes in their “earned” jar. (right now they are saving up for something together, which is why they have moved all their tokens to one jar. :) They have the opportunity to cash in their tokens each Friday, or if they’re saving for something (which they usually are) it’s the Friday after they have saved up enough tokens. 1 token = 1 dollar. They may also get tokens for doing anything extra, or helpful, or kind when I see fit. I give tokens out for good behavior, and also take tokens away for bad behavior (always with a warning). I have seen a great improvement in my girls’ since we started this system. They love earning tokens and are great little savers. They’re gaining an understanding for working for things and choice and consequences all in one little system. We all enjoy “blessing our home” by doing our chores and working together for a happy home.
As for my chores, I mentioned in my last post about how I have used Fly Lady to get (and stay) on top of my house, and boy has it been working. Each week I get emails for which cleaning zone I’m in that week, everything is scheduled and planned out for me. It makes it so you’re never actually cleaning your house, but just maintaining a clean house. It is so good for me because I get overwhelmed easily by house work. What has made the biggest difference is shining my sink every night and morning, and doing one single load of laundry from start to finish a day (this is like magic!). I am working on other good habits, but it’s so nice to have everything planned out. I just subscribe to the emails and my list of things to do comes right to my phone. I add them to my planner on Sundays so I know exactly what I’m cleaning each day and week.
I also have been tackling a single project each weekend. Whether it’s a house project we’ve been meaning to get to (like painting the bathroom) or cleaning out a closet. Since the New Year, my weekends have been full of projects and we’re making great progress around the house. I know where everything is, and everything has a place. It is a great way to live.
Another thing that our family thrives on is meal planning. I’m sure everyone has their own meal planning system, but I’ll still share mine if it’s helpful to anyone new to the scene. :)
I use the Cath Kidston recipe organizer that I bought when I was first married and it is since out of stock. This one is similar and super awesome. It’s just a 3 ring binder that has papers to fill in my recipes, so I’m sure any type of organizer would do.
To start planning, I get a regular piece of paper and fold it in half. On one side of the fold, I write what meals I want to make and on the other side, I write the ingredients I need to buy at the store to make the meals. I check off all the ingredients at the store and circle the ones they didn’t’ have or that I need to buy at a different store. Once I get home, I know exactly what my inventory is. Once I make the meal, I cross it off and know the ingredients for that meal are gone. Another thing I do is add only 1 “new” recipe per week. If I get too many things I’m unfamiliar cooking, I get overwhelmed and wont cook as much. I keep 4-5 regulars on the weekly menu, and 1 new pinterest recipe. I also don’t plan out what we’re eating each day of the week, I just look at what meals I have available and decide what sounds good. Checking what we’re having for dinner is what I do as part of my morning routine from fly lady, so I can set out meat or prepare whatever I need for that day’s dinner. This is super easy to get in the habit of, rather than waiting until dinner time and thinking “whoops, forgot to thaw the meat. Guess we’re going to Cafe Rio.” that I’ve done one too many times. ;)
I do one big grocery shopping trip per month, and then usually a small one to get milk, or eggs, or a certain this or that just once a week if I have to.
Meal planning and cooking is one chore I just thoroughly enjoy doing. When Brady and I got married, I couldn’t make boxed macaroni and cheese, so to say I’ve come a long way as a self-taught cook is an understatement. I love that I can bless my family with meals, and my soul feels at peace when I have a stocked up fridge and pantry.
These are the top ways I am staying on top of my life in 2015.. but the most important part of all, is that I’m actually enjoying it. I’ve enjoyed keeping track of things and know what’s going on. I’ve enjoyed teaching my girls good habits and blessing our home with chores together. I’ve enjoyed planning out meals and making goals to eat better and cook more. When I do these things, I really do feel better about myself because I feel like a good wife and mom.