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Monday, July 31, 2017

Getting Life Organized

Woman Holding her Forehead in her Hands.

Using Planners to Help Get Organized

It is easy to feel overwhelmed with so much going on, such as work, kid’s schedules, connecting with friends and family, etc. Organization has helped countless people get control of the chaos in their lives.

One of the ways you can get organized and control the disarray in your life is by using a planner. A planner can help overcome forgetfulness (which happens when you’re busy every day), and help you get on the road to an organized life.

Using a Paper Planner

Day planners have been around for years; there are many styles and types to use and many accessories that can be used with them - you just have to find the right one that works for you.

That being said, planners can be expensive. If you don’t want to pay for something that you could easily make yourself, go find a regular 3-ring binder, add a few dividers and zippered pouches to create your own. Depending on your needs, binder sizes for this type of thing are typically 8 to 12 inches in height.

Here are some sections your binder should have:

  • Calendar including daily, weekly and monthly – there are many places you can print these for free and if you own a Word program, you may be able to get a template that you can customize and print. Otherwise, you can easily find some free blank calendars online. Calendars are great for keeping track of appointments, class plays, after school activities, birthdays, anniversaries, chore lists and so on.
  • Important phone numbers and addresses like schools, doctors, family members, etc. I know we have our smart phones connected to the hip, but if your phone dies, are you going to remember these numbers?
  • Emergency information, including any medication family members are taking, allergies, who to contact, etc.
  • Shopping lists, including meal plans. With a busy lifestyle, these are great to have on hand, especially for any last-minute trips to the grocery store. No guess work and a great meal for the family.
  • To-do list that includes the personal projects you want to accomplish, fitness and other goals you want to meet, gifts or cards that need to be purchased, and plenty of extra pages to write down whatever may pop in your head that isn’t currently in your planner.
  • It’s nice to also have a list of bills noting the payment amount, date they need to be paid and think about keeping a few envelopes with your cash spending money (these are great for budgeting) and allowances for the kids.
  • Cleaning schedules and checklists and chore charts. If you don’t use the calendar for chores and cleaning, there are many checklists you can download and print free. Take a look at the cleaning checklists we have on House Cleaning Central, they are free to download.
  • Zippered pockets for pens, clips, coupons and other loose items you don’t want to lose. I like clear/transparent so I can see what’s in there.

Using Technology to Get Organized

Technology has changed our world and it can help change your life and make you much more efficient.

Computers are a great resource to create your own planner. Use your favorite word processing program or spreadsheet program to create your binder sheets, then print and add them to your binder.  This will make it easy to update your lists as information changes. I keep a running list of all my Christmas card addresses in a spreadsheet to use for Christmas and all year long for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and more.

You’ve heard the expression, “there’s an app for that”, and it seems to be especially true in the world of organization. There are many different list apps, calendar apps, checklists, and even apps to remind you to take any medication or vitamins! So, take a look and try out several to see what specifics you need and the format that you like.

Whether your planner is virtual or hard copy, it won’t work unless you use it. The key is to check your planner daily to see what is coming up and what you need to do.  Make an effort to sit down at least once a week to update your planner.  You can even set a reminder in your planner just for this task!

How to Use Your Planner and Make It Work for You

Whether you choose a paper planner or an electronic planner, in order for them to work effectively they need to be looked at and reviewed often. Don’t be scared off by this by thinking “oh crum! – I’ll be spending hours just keeping a planner,” know that the more you get in the habit using a planner, the quicker you’ll find yourself going through it to update it and make changes. It takes time to develop a habit, but once you’ve got it, it comes as naturally as breathing.

Effectively Using Your Planners

Each night, maybe after the kids have gone to bed, sit down and spend at least 10 to 15 minutes reviewing the next day’s plans, activities, meals, etc. so you don’t forget anything – this may also help turn off the brain when you lay down for sleep.

Color code the different sections so you can easily go right to what you’re looking for. Color coding can be done by either having colored dividers or using a colored label for each section.

At least once a week go through what you have for the upcoming week. Add, make changes, remove, etc. This is where those extra pages come in handy. If you’ve made miscellaneous notes now is the time to add them. This might only take you 30 minutes to an hour, again this depends on how in depth you get with planning.

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