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Monday, September 24, 2012

Help Me Get My Family's Life Organized

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Lately I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. Well, let me be honest, I’ve pretty much been in seat-of-my-pants mode since Peabody joined the family four years ago, so “lately” is misleading. Up until my second-born arrived, I’d been able to keep this family’s life organized and on-schedule using only my own brain and an appointment card or two tucked into the side pocket of my purse. And even back in my career days, I was never “lost without my daytimer,” or reliant on technology or other people to keep myself, my home or my finances on time and on track. I’ve just always had a head for keeping up with dates and times and routines and lists.

Not so anymore. In the past four years I’ve been perpetually about fifteen minutes behind schedule and I’ve forgotten, missed or shown up on the wrong day for more appointments than I had in my entire life prior to that. I forget to pay bills, I lose important paperwork, I stand up service-providers and neglect to respond to emails. My GymBucks and Kohl’s Cash expire unused and my husband’s fresh shirts spin, forgotten, on the laundry-go-round in the front window of the dry-cleaner’s store-front for many long, dizzying days despite the fact that I drive right past there at least six times a week. And it’s not like I’m just here lying around on the sofa eating Cheez-Its and reading People magazine, y’all. I’m constantly cooking, cleaning, organizing, planning things for the kids, writing, and generally being productive, it’s just that for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m so busy I don’t have time to organize the busy-ness into a framework that keeps all the plates spinning and me under and in control of them.

It’s time to take myself and my schedule in hand and start getting my life back under control. I need something. Some sort of on-line system (I don’t like paper calendars because I lose or forget them or don’t have a pen handy or whatever. There’s always some reason that option fails me.) that functions asa calendar, a planner and an alarm clock. Something I can use for daily, weekly, monthly routines, appointments, trips, reminders, lists, everything, for me and my whole family. It needs to be simple, quick and fool-proof (I’ve been known to accidentally put appointments onto the calendar on my phone on the right day, at the right time, but in the wrong year. For real.) and I would love to have the option of printing things out to give to Al or Bean (and eventually Peabody) when I need to.

And yes! This could certainly be as easy as sitting down and working with the calendar on my computer that syncs easily with my iPhone. But I need something or someone to sit me down and show me how to make it all work together, smoothly and easily - how to maximize efficiency and minimize the time I’d spend working on it. And somehow, I need to force myself to keep it up, keep it current, and obey what it’s telling me. In short, I need lessons and accountability in managing my own schedule. Like a personal assistant, but without the salary.

So tell me. Are you organized and efficient? Do you have your life under control? How do you do it? Tell me, teach me, oh organized ones!


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14 comments:

  1. Cozi.com is wonderful and free. There is a paid version, but so far we are happy with the free one. It's helping the organization process in our house. Sort of.

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    1. Thanks Glennen! I've created a cozi.com account and plan to check it out this week.

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  2. iCal and Evernote are my friends. That and a dry erase board in the kitchen (for those times I don't think my brain can hold onto the information long enough for my computer to boot up). I have to write things down immediately or they disappear. I have gotten off the treadmill at the gym, gone and pulled a subscription card out of a magazine on the rack, and written a blog post idea down, because I KNOW it will be gone if I wait until I leave the gym.

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    1. You get me. You sooooo get me. I have a dry erase board in the kitchen too, but the kids are constantly making off with my pens!

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  3. I feel the exact same way! Since my second child was born I have felt behind! I am glad to know it's not me, and my claims that I used to be organized are heard by someone else, too!! I have the white board in my kitchen, and I am still a paper and pen kinda calendar girl, but I have been using my iphone a lot more too for notes and what not. Good luck!!

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    1. Yes, my iPhone is pretty handy, when I remember to use it for notes and stuff. I just need to figure out how to fix the settings so that it syncs automatically.

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  4. I've loved Remember the Milk. It is free but for $25 a year you can use it on your smart phone. I love that there are so many ways to tag items, assign them to appear every week, month, year, etc. You can also set things up in various sections so you only see your kitchen to do's or your bills to pay at one time. This helps if you're like me and when you look at your to-do list you see 'pay electric bill' and right next to it 'call best friend', guess which one wins? LOL

    There is also an email address attached to your RTM account (both free and paid versions) so you (or your spouse) can email reminders directly to your lists.

    I've battled with disorganization for so long and lists are really the only thing that save me.

    Hope you find solutions that work!

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    1. I took a look at Remember the Milk and created an account. So far I'm not really understanding it, but maybe if I play around with it a bit I'll figure it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  5. Hmmm... a wall calendar is my system, but if that doesn't help you, then you got to do something else. As for bills, I got in the habit long ago to put them directly right next to my computer when they come in the mail, and always pay them first thing every Monday morning. I also agree that lists are very helpful... a plain kid/student notebook works well, and I only keep it in one or 2 places in the house so I can always find it (my pencil/pen cups is also right by my calendar). Get your husband to pick up his own laundry, or better yet, don't ever buy things that need dry cleaning... Don't worry about all the little things, and simplify the rest...

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  6. I LIVE by my Outlook calendar. If it's not there, it doesn't exist! A friend had a birthday on Thursday and it wasn't in my calendar and I didn't realize I'd missed it until last night. FRIEND OF THE YEAR.

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  7. I have used Google calendar for years, and now I don't think I could live without it. I can pull it up at work and add doctor's appointments to it, I can pull it up at home and add those kids' birthday party invites to it, and I set it to send me a text reminder twenty minutes before an event, so I am (almost) never late. Lately I have started setting a 5pm dinner reminder every day that tells me what I have planned for dinner that week, which helps me when it's time to make the grocery list. The grocery list is one thing I haven't mastered...as a non-smart phone use, I still make the paper list, which frequently gets left on my desk at the office or on the kitchen table. I'm sure there is a way to do that on your iphone, though.

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  8. I went digital this year, and use my Mac calendar for everything. It syncs across platforms, so a change I make to my calendar on my iPhone updates the calendar on my desktop and iPad. I also use Notes in my Mail system to keep my To Do List organized. I have to say: I'm impressed with how easy it's been. If you want to walk through anything, call me. You know I love organization.

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  9. I feel your pain... really. I felt the same way after having our second child! But -- I'm no help. I use a week-at-a-glance calendar book that sits on my desk, or fits in my purse. I write EVERYTHING in it! Couldn't live w/o it. Hope you find something that works Megan!

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  10. My advice is to schedule a time, every single day of the week, to schedule yourself. Let's say, for example, for 10 min before either kiddo is awake, you will check what must be done that day. Make yourself a list for the morning, one for the afternoon, and one for evening. Divide your must-be-dones into three time periods, reserving evening for prep for tomorrow's tasks. Whatever technology you choose, the point is to schedule your day. Let us know what you choose and how it works out, ok?

    Nate's Mom

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Thoughts?