Do you ever feel like you just need to figure out how to organize your life? With four young kids, I often feel like I’m in survival mode, barely holding it all together. But with the right strategies, systems, and tools you can organize your life and manage all aspects of your household.
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Use Trello to organize your life.
Trello is an online tool that can organize your life in myriad ways. It is essentially an electronic sticky note system, versatile enough to apply to pretty much any aspect of your life. You can set up systems for meal planning, household chores, home projects, kids’ activities, and whatever else you can imagine!
Host a planning retreat to organize your life.
Organize your life during an intentionally planned period of time. ListPlanIt calls this a “planning retreat.” During your planning retreat, shut out all distractions and dedicate uninterrupted time to hammering out your plans. You might use a planning retreat to organize your to-do list, create your schedule for the week, plan a party, or outline your budget for the month.
Brain dump to organize your life.
When you “brain dump,” write everything you need to do down as pops into your mind. You can then organize your brain dump into prioritized to-do lists. As Julianna from The Simplicity Habit says in her Simply Scheduled Workbook, “You will be able to think more clearly when you aren’t carrying around tasks lists in your mind.”
Mix and match planner pages to create your ideal planner.
You don’t need to try to fit your own time management needs into someone else’s planner design. Try finding a variety of printable planner pages that work for you. You can mix and match pages from the various planners to organize your life the way you need. After all, our time management needs are impacted by our personalities, as Susie Glennan explains in her ebook, Personality Based Time Management©.
Dry-erase your checklists and planning pages.
Create or download checklists that you can use on a regular basis by turning them into dry-erasable pages. Simply laminate them or put them into sheet protectors. For example, we have a school morning checklist we use every school day. We can use the same one over and over again by putting it inside a sheet protector, using dry erase markers to check things off, and then erasing to use next time.
Do not underestimate how helpful your kids can be.
Even kids as young as two can get involved in housekeeping tasks. I used to use the Housekeeping Chore Box for Kids and Families by Kemi Quinn, which inspired my kids to step up and help. Each day, I gave my kids three chore cards that they need to complete in order to earn a small treat. My seven-year-old vacuumed and mopped for the first time because of the system, and my son said he was disappointed he didn’t get those cards! Getting my kids involved in cleaning frees up my own time and resources so that I can accomplish more during the day. Plus, it teaches them responsibility and cleaning skills and instills important habits!
Now, we don’t use the cards anymore, but we do have “after-dinner jobs” built into our routine for the two oldest kids. One picks up the living room from the day while the other empties and cleans the dining room table, and I do the dishes. It’s nice to go into the last part of the day with the dining room, dishes, and living room in good shape.
You might also try this Melissa & Doug magnetic responsibility chart for the same effect.
Create a filing system that works for you.
Ever-accumulating piles of paperwork pose a particular problem for me in my home. Between kids’ artwork, mail, forms and school information, and homework, I feel I am swimming in a sea of paper!
Susan Santoro from Organized 31 offers a “tickler file” system. This system helps you process paper immediately. Place each paper in an appropriate file based on when it needs to be dealt with. Similarly, Emily Bendler’s book, Take Back Your Time, suggests placing all paper into a bin. She lays out a system for processing the papers each week.
Plan time with your partner to organize your life together.
The Ultimate Goal Setting Planner™ [Couples Edition] by Mike and Carlie Kercheval reminds me of the importance of being on the same page with my husband. It walks readers through a process of regularly reflecting on your marriage, finances, to-do lists, calendar, and goals. Then, you can plan accordingly for the next month. There is even a section for planning date nights in advance. My husband and I often say, vaguely, “We should go on a date night soon.” The planner reminds couples of the importance of being intentional. You need to actually book the dinner reservation, schedule the babysitter, and just make it happen.
Set everyone in your family up with a solid morning routine.
A smooth morning can make a huge difference in a day. As a working mom of four kids, I often feel like I’m racing a mile a minute in the mornings. In her book, Child, It’s Time to Get Off Your Butt, Angela Davis recommends setting your family members up with a “Morning High Five.” In other words, give each person five tasks they’re responsible for in the mornings, from personal hygiene to housekeeping.
Remember to download your copy of my school morning checklist here.
Put together a binder to organize your life.
Do you ever feel like you are constantly searching in different places for documents, records, and important information? Consider putting together a binder to keep everything in one place. The Life Management Binder by Moritz Fine Designs gives you space for everything. For example, it includes space for school-related information, utilities, home and auto maintenance, and copies of important documents. Honestly, I’d recommend keeping this inside a locked drawer. With the amount of information you’ll have stored in there, you wouldn’t want it to get into the wrong hands!
Hopefully, these tips inspire you to implement systems that will organize your life. You can start to make more time for the things that you really want to be doing.
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