I know that my life isn’t quite as complicated as maybe some of yours are. We only have one child and he’s not old enough to be involved in a slew of activities. So I’m not claiming to be some time-management goddess.
Still, my life has a lot of moving parts involved.
I have 7 siblings. So throw in the in-laws and everyone’s spouses plus my 14 nieces and nephews (and two on the way!), and I’ve got about forty birthdays to remember and plenty of parties to attend. That’s not including anniversaries and friends’ birthdays and standard holidays.
I work from home. I have a lot of writing deadlines and manage several social media pages. If I don’t stay organized, tasks are easily lost in the chaos.
My husband is finishing up his degree and is in 12 hours this semester. (That’s after his 8-5 job.) With that comes due dates, extra credit lectures and large projects that need some accountability before the end of term.
We’re also involved in a very active homeschool co-op. And we enjoy attending additional services or classes at our church. And my husband is in the United States Army reserve, so he’s got drill weekends and extra training.
So yeah, life is pretty busy. And to function, I have no choice but to be organized.
Through trial and error, I’ve come up with 3 systems that keep life running smoothly.
1) A master list of dates
This might be a pain to create at first, but it’s worth it. I have a list of every single important date in my life, my family’s lives and a few friends’ lives. It’s broken down by month and then by date. I also list the year for most of them so I always know how old they turn on their birthdays! This includes birthdays, anniversaries and unfortunately a few days that brought tragedy. Any date that I might want to remember so I can send a card or text to say “Hey, I’m thinking of you. I love you. And I recogonize or honor whatever is going on in your life.” We all need a little more of that, don’t we? And relying on Facebook just doesn’t cut it.
P.S. Check out my post on more ways I’m trying to bring my community closer.
2) A color-coded calendar
I consider myself to be somewhat tech-savvy. I’m somewhere between your parents who call you and ask you how to bring up a Word document and the Apple geniuses.
But one thing I’m still old school about is my calendar. I’m sure there is some sort of learning style that would describe why I need to write things out. But for some reason, I HAVE to. And typing it out on my phone or computer just doesn’t work for me. I need good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Every year around November I buy a desk calendar. I actually get really excited because I love finding cute designs. I hang it on a wall that’s hidden enough to not be an eyesore, but a wall that leads into my kitchen so we see it frequently.
The very first thing I do is copy all of the dates from my list onto my calendar, for the whole year. Around the first of the month I look to see what is coming up and will get all of my cards ready to send out. I write, address and stamp them, put them in chronological order and hang them from my calendar with a tack and a binder clip.
I color code my calendar. Yep. I’m one of those. But, it works. My husband can easily check the calendar and skim for events in blue without getting bogged down in all of my random happenings.
Here’s the system I use… albeit it really came from what Sharpies I had on hand when I first started doing this.
Black = Dates from my list. And sometimes money. Like when something unusual is coming in or out (I have a separate system for budgeting). Plus I use black to check-off what was done or mark through what didn’t happen.
Green = General events. Like babysitting for a friend or a lunch date.
Red = Extra church events.
Orange = Anything that’s for the little guy.
Blue = My husband’s school and Army stuff.
Purple = My work deadlines (although I’m transitioning to a separate calendar for everything work related).
3) A menu board
Meal planning. Without it our life, schedule and health pretty much go down the drain. I’m serious about meal planning. Here are 4 reasons why.
But meal planning takes well… planning. Over time I’ve developed a pretty solid method that I’ve used for several years now.
First, I look at my calendar to see if any events will effect meals.
Will I be busy all day? Probably need a slower cooker meal that day.
Will we have company? Need to cook double.
Will I be the only one home? No way I’m cooking for just me!
Then I look at the ingredients I have on hand and try to plan meals around those. I absolutely hate letting food go bad and try hard to waste the least amount as possible.
(The Red and Honey team did an 8 week series on meal planning a while back and you can read the first one here. You’ll feel motivated when you get done!)
When I’m finished I copy my list onto a dry-erase menu board above my main calendar. I consider this area to be brain of my home.
Life gets so busy and so bogged down by the mundane. I’ve discovered that if I want to be intentional with my time and my relationships, I have to be organized.
And one of my favorite things is gleaning wisdom from people who do things better than I do. So I genuinely want to know – what organizational methods work for you? Any tips for me? For Red and Honey readers?
Andrea Vandiver is a work-at-home mom and freelance writer in Oklahoma. She spends her days imitating animals and blowing bubbles. Her favorite things are those that taste, smell, feel, sound and look wonderful. The stuff that romance is made of.