If you’ve been in a department store lately, you’ve probably noticed that the end caps are full of filing cabinets, banker’s boxes, and plastic storage bins, along with all the exercise equipment and workout DVD’s. That’s because “get organized” is in most people’s Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions, along with “lose weight” and “exercise more.” (It also has to do with the fact that tax season is upon us, but let’s not think about that just yet, okay?)
Unfortunately, by March, most of those storage bins will probably be collecting dust, along with the workout equipment and DVD’s That’s because resolutions (or goals) without plans are just wishes. To actually keep those good intentions, we need a plan of action.
Find the tools that work for you
I doubt I’m alone in my love of shiny new planners. However, after several years of looking, I’ve found the one that works for me. It’s simple and inexpensive, but it’s set up in a way that allows me to plan out my month and gives me a two-week spread with room for appointments, online commitments, and my daily to-do list. There’s no need for me to look at big, fancy planners because I’ve already discovered that they don’t work for me, no matter how pretty they are.
My lesson plans are created on a simple planning sheet that I downloaded in a Word doc, so that I can easily update it each week. I have to have a plan for the week or things will get missed, but, again, simple has proven to work well for me.
We have an extended family dinner at my sister’s house once a week. Sometimes it’s pot-luck, other times my mom fixes the meal and the rest of us bring drinks and desserts. About a year ago, we started using a shared Google calendar to keep track of each week’s menu.
Whether you prefer a big, fancy planner or plain and simple, whether you need email reminders or just a white board on the fridge, find the tools that work for you. The tools that work for you are the ones you’ll use, not necessarily all the cool things you see on Pinterest.
Decide on electronic or pen-and-paper
I’ve tried paper planners and I’ve tried electronic. There are pro and cons to each. Probably one of the biggest pros to a paperless organization system is that you can access your organization and planning tools across multiple devices. Shared calendars allow multiple family members to know what’s going on at any given time and you can add your next appointment to your calendar while you’re at the doctor’s office (or wherever) using your smartphone.
photo credit © Royalty-Free/Corbis. All Rights Reserved.
After trying a paperless organization system for awhile, I’ve discovered that I prefer a little of both. I love getting reminders from my Google calendar about birthdays, meal plans, and monthly, quarterly, or yearly items for my to-do list. However, I prefer my to-do list and my lesson plans on paper. I need the satisfaction of physically crossing off an item or checking a box.
Develop a plan of action
As I said, whether you call them goals or resolutions, without a plan of action, they’re not likely to happen. Just as the act of buying a workout video doesn’t help you lose weight or get more active (Wouldn’t that be nice? I’d have dozens of them!), buying a planner or a filing cabinet will not make you organized.
I sit down every weekend and write out lesson plans for the week ahead. Every Thursday, I make a meal plan for the following week and a grocery list based on that plan. Toward the end of each month, I brainstorm blog post ideas for the following month and start adding them to my calendar.
I used to do a load of laundry daily. Now that I have a dryer that can keep up, I typically do a marathon laundry day on Friday or Saturday, vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning the kitchen between loads.
Take a look at your schedule and your family’s needs to figure out how to achieve your goals of organization, keeping in mind that what works for a season may not work long-term and adjust accordingly.
Do you need to do certain household tasks, such as laundry, daily, or does a marathon day work best for you? Does your weeknight schedule allow you to prepare meals each night or do you need to cook ahead on weekends and utilize your slow cooker?
Sometimes it takes awhile to figure out the organizational system that works best for you, but it’s so worth it. I am so much less stressed when I have a handle on my schedule, my job, school, and household tasks.
Benefits of being organized
There are so many benefits to having a good organizational system in place.
Less stress. Being disorganized creates unnecessary stress. Being late for an appointment you forgot about – or that you remembered, but you couldn’t find your keys or purse or one of the kids couldn’t find their shoes – being unable to find something you need, or forgetting something important for your job or school are all stressful situations often born of not being organized.
More productive. During the school day, isn’t it more productive when everyone has everything they need to get to work – pencils, paper, books, etc.? I know I’m much more productive when I sit down to work when I have my to-do list written out and everything in place that I need to do my job.
More efficient. I’ve got my Google calendar reminders set to remind me of upcoming birthdays a week in advance. That allows me to do things like pick up a card, shop for a gift, or pick up the ingredients for a birthday cake on my regular weekly trip to the store. See? Efficient.
Whether it’s school, work, or life in general, being organized reaps great rewards. If one of your goals for 2015 is to get more organized, but you’re not sure where to begin or how to organize your life, you need a plan, not a wish. Mystie Winkler, author of Simplified Dinners and Paperless Home Organization, has a brand-new online course that can help.
Simplified Organization is a self-paced eCourse that will help you change the way you think about your day-to-day responsibilities and develop an organizational system that will work for you, allowing you to be more productive and efficient and less stressed. If you’ve never done an eCourse and aren’t what to expect or if it’s for you, you can check out the course overview on Mystie’s site and watch a sample video.
You can also purchase the first module for just $15 to try it out. The entire course is a $129 value, currently priced at $99, which gives you lifetime access to all materials. There is a 90-day money back guarantee if you’re not fully satisfied with the course and from now until January 15, 2015, you can use the discount code start15 to get $25 off the full course.
Mystie also has a free email course called “A Guided Brain Dump,” which will help you get all the crazy-making, spinning thoughts out of your head and onto paper where you can deal with them.
Mystie is giving one WUHS reader an opportunity to try Simplified Organization for free. One winner will receive a lifetime course membership. If you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to save $25 on the full course, go ahead and purchase it. Mystie will refund your purchase cost if you win the giveaway.
Follow the directions on the RaffleCopter widget below to enter.
Rules: This giveaway is open to United States residents, ages 18 years and older only. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. The winner will be selected at random using Random.org via RaffleCopter.
The winner will notified via email and given 72 hours to respond. You must enter a valid email address to win. In the event that the winner cannot be contacted by email or does not respond within 72 hours, the prize will be forfeited and and alternate winner selected.
Click to read the complete rules. By entering this giveaway, you indicate that you have read and agreed to abide by these rules.
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.