Like most people I know, I’ve had dozens of organizational systems through the years. Some things work, and some things don't. I’ve always had a calendar of sorts, and back when I just had one child I had a great system of performing one cleaning job each weekday (e.g., dust on Mondays, vacuum on Tuesdays, etc.). That was all nice and easy when we had a 500 square feet apartment, six pieces of furniture, one small child, and what seemed like endless hours to each day.
More children and a couple thousand more square feet and inevitably I turned to FlyLady to help me manage cleaning and clutter. I diligently did FlyLady’s routine for a while but after a year or so, I unsubscribed from her group—but not before I’d made habits of many of her steps (e.g., shine the sink, get out of my pajamas, de-clutter a little every day).
My organizational system of cleaning is now called, “clean something every day.” Every day dishes get washed, counters get wiped down, clutter gets picked up, beds get made, and laundry gets done. That doesn’t mean all the dishes or counters or clutter, but something gets done every day. The best motivation for a really clean house is company.
Beyond cleaning organization, there is household and homeschooling organization. I am attracted to forms of all sorts. I love the forms on Donna Young's site. I love the forms from The Organized Home. With everything from calendars to home management to preparing for Christmas to homeschool forms, both of these sites are amazing! I absolutely love to print off great quantities of these sheets at the beginning of each year and
And so here, now, after 21 years of marriage, 17 years of parenthood, and 10 years of homeschooling, is what my organizational system boils down to:
* a wall calendar
* a small calendar in my purse
* my computer
* the sticky-note feature of my computer
* two spiral-bound notebooks and a folder
* weekly menu
* three bags
* the home budget feature (much modified) of Excel
* Home School Reporting
That’s pretty much it.
* The calendar is just a simple one. I don’t even agonize anymore over which artistic/literary calendar to buy (Renoir? Monet? Shakespeare?). I am no longer obliged to keep old calendars around for crafts or perhaps for framing. Sweet release. The calendar, being what it is, hangs on the wall where everyone can see it. So when they say to me, “What are we doing this week?” I simply point to the calendar.
* The purse calendar is essential, and it's also essential to transfer items from that calendar to the wall calendar, and vice versa. Also, Dr. H. and I have a shared google calendar, but I really don't look at it much.
* Pretty much everything is on the computer, in files. Nice, fairly organized files. No clutter. No stacks of papers lost beneath other stacks of papers. I love my computer. And...
* The sticky note feature on my computer maintains my to-do, reminder, and idea lists (see photo above). There’s nothing easier than writing myself a little note while I’m on the computer, where I do much of my thinking and nearly all my corresponding. Best of all, sticky notes don’t get lost or buried beneath other papers. And perhaps some gratification is lost in deleting items accomplished rather than crossing off, but even deletion has its moment of satisfaction.
* One spiral-bound notebook is solely for grocery lists. Everyone in this house is trained to write down whatever s/he needs or whatever we have used up. I also plan meals for the week each Sunday. The meal ideas themselves are on my On the Menu page at the top of my blog, and I also find great meals from Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie and Tasty Tuesdays at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, another vital component of my household. The On the Menu page contains an ever-growing list of meal ideas and recipes. The other notebook is for our finances. (We’re Dave Ramsey followers, so we keep rather meticulous records of our spending.)
* I have a library bag, an American Heritage Girls bag, and a Monday Fun (co-op) bag. Everything connected with those three groups (that isn’t filed away), goes in and stays in those bags. The bags are distinctly different looking, so that I don’t accidentally pick up the library bag when I’m going to American Heritage Girls. That would not be a good thing. The bags stay packed with their proper stuff, so if I’m looking for a book I used at the last Monday Fun, I know to look in the bag.
* We make a budget each month, and although it’s usually the same, reviewing and refining it each month helps me. I’ve found the home budget feature on Excel to be easy to use and modify.
* Homeschooling organization is really it’s own post, but here is one that keeps the paperwork down to a bare minimum for me: Homeschool Reporting Online. I can quickly and easily keep track of attendance, subjects, and create an ongoing portfolio for each child. I could also generate lessons plans, etc., if I so desired, but as of yet I haven’t desired so.
I must admit: I am terribly, terribly tempted on a regular basis to print out all kinds of organizational forms. I love the looks of them, the potential for.... what? Yes, in my life, the potential is for stacks of papers on the counter, lost forms, and frustration. And so for now, I'm sticking with what works, even if it doesn't fit in a nicely decorated and personalized binder.
Check out Kelly's Korner for more organizing tips!