Organization: How to Get and Stay Organized

parentinghome management

I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. Strengths include compassion and wish to help others; weaknesses include feeling overwhelmed, "behind" and disorganized, mostly from information overload. Never mind that I am a world-class procrastinator.

What I've tried to do in this year of my victory, is keep myself on track as best I can. Elizabeth Hagen, a speaker/author/business coach, recommends appointing one day each month as "Organizing Day." Today is that day for me, so I'd like to share with you a few ways I get organized and try manage my home effectively.

picture of family

Use One Calendar and Review It Weekly

Until recently, I have used multiple calendars. For me, I am drawn in by a paper calendar's design or potential and I'll use them for a week or two and then will forget about them. What I've found is that because I am using my computer and smart phone multiple times a day, I should be using a calendar that I can use easily with both devices. Google calendar works very well for me. What I'm working on now is planning -- it takes little to no effort to type in an appointment, but it takes lots of planning to manage my time effectively. With kids, Sundays are a good day to look at the calendar together and plan for field trips, appointments, or days that I'll need a sitter.

Establish Routines and Stick to Them

Tsh Oxenreider has a suggestion for our mornings in her e-book One Bite at a Time: "Doing the same things, again and again, first thing in the morning, to prepare yourself for the day, has enormous blessings. You focus on your priorities. You have a few minutes of quiet to yourself. You channel your efforts on preparing your day, instead of letting it prepare you. In short, you’re on top of things. Treat yourself to a little order and sanity before the chaos of life begins."

For the evening routine, she offers: "Before you climb into bed, do five simple things that will help you tomorrow. Use those moments to reflect on the day, perhaps talk to your spouse while you do them, or just savor the quiet. Pick five things that’ll give you most bang for your buck—little things that you’ll be glad you did the next morning."

Start Using a Household Notebook

I was first introduced to the idea of a household notebook while my son was a baby in 2001. I happened upon a site called where I learned that this simple idea "saves time, cuts stress, and enhances communication in any-sized family or household." It's very easy to put together. I took cues from Ms. Ewer and used:

  • 3 ring binder
  • Clear page protectors
  • Tabbed dividers
  • Plastic pouch (for pencil, pen, sticky notes, etc.)

The dividers marked several sections:

  • Calendar (for appointments - mom, dad and baby)
  • Finances (bill paying)
  • Kitchen (meal planning, recipes to try, pantry)
  • White/Yellow pages/Address book
  • Routines (cleaning and decluttering schedule)

You can add as much as you want to the sections and, if you search online for household notebooks, you will find much inspiration to build your notebook!

How do you stay organized at home or work?

picture of Desiree Allen Desiree Allen is a thirty-something single parent with two children. A native of Denver, Colorado, she lived there until 2009, when she moved across the country to northern New Jersey with her kids. She is doing her best to avoid ‘picking up’ a Jersey accent, but she’s not making promises that she won’t eventually start sounding like some of her new friends. You can find her blogging at Writing to Sanity and tweeting @writingtosanity.

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