Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Organization

During our recent trip back West, my sweet sister-in-law asked me how I stay so organized.  It was a busy trip, and we juggled a packed schedule filled with multiple family visits, friends, shopping, family fun, and many hours on the road.  It was also one of the best family trips we've had in ages.

First, I am flattered that she sees me as such.  Some days I feel on top of it, and others, well, I'm hanging on by my fingernails.

So, here's a few things that help me to stay at the top of that mountain of To-Do's.

First, my type-A heart is at its happiest when I feel like I have a handle on what's going on and when.  I live and die by my iPhone.  I know, it seems a little silly, but it's my phone, my silent communication device, my organizer, my map, my weather girl, my personal assistant (and yes, sometimes it's my electronic leash).  Whatever is going on with work, school, or play, it goes into the calendar.  And I check my calendar multiple times a day.  I do not like surprises (unless they come in a small blue box), and that calendar keeps me sane.

My second favorite part of my phone is the 2Do app.  I use this to make checklists of all sorts of things - Christmas gifts, random things I need, shopping lists for trips to the Big City, and most importantly, I use them to keep up with what I need to do each week.  I almost always make a list for each day of the work week, and even if it contains such tedious items as "Work Out" and "Buy Milk", it helps keep me on track.  I find it especially useful when I have a lot going on & I use it to break down tasks that would feel overwhelming if I made a week-long list.    


It also helps me to avoid the "can't remembers".  It began with pregnancy brain, and moved into Mommy brain, and whatever you call it, it is firmly entrenched in me.  As the kids get older and they get more busy, it almost gets worse. With a checklist, I have no excuse.   The personal rule I use is that if a task goes into a certain day, it HAS to be done that day.  There are few exceptions.  BUT I try to limit my tasks on a given day.  A 12 task list is crazy!  I do my best to list the top 3 things I have to accomplish, and if the list is longer than 6 items, then it is generally because I can knock off at least half the list in 15-20 minutes.  

Next, I take time on Saturday or Sunday, and look over the week ahead.  This is when I will often begin my checklists for the week, and fill them with the tasks I MUST do to stay on track.  For example: This week, I had 2 potlucks in a row, and a school party that needed a treat made.  I had committed to making certain items for each, and so I used my lists to keep me on track with WHEN to prepare what I needed to bring.  Plus, checking my calendar each morning reminded me to not leave the house without that delicious food!  

Finally, I have found meal planning to be invaluable to my peace of mind.  Although I only map out a week at a time, choosing - in advance - what to make and when has helped me to cut down on my spending AND to give me a little peace of mind.  I check the plan in the morning, pull out what I need, and at 5pm, there's ALWAYS an answer to the inevitable "What's for dinner, Mom?".  

What's your best tip for staying on top of things?  


1 comment:

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

You are far more organized than me. I used to have a small notebook in my purse, but my daughter now regularly appropriates the notebook for her own use, so I've started using the calendar function that came with my iphone. I miss my paper lists, though.