Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Motherload

I'm an anal retentive organizer. I like things neat and orderly. I like having a routine in place so that I can deal with grace the unexpected as it occurs. As such, and I've posted about this on several occasions, I've been trying to find a way to make my organization work for me while trying to fit my style into other's plans.

You know what? It simply was not working!

I'm a digital hybrid. While some people like to have their home management binders with them at all time -- that's far too much for me to tote around at any given time, plus what if you forgot it or God forbid, left it somewhere! GASP! There goes your brain! That alone wasn't going to cut the mustard. (what does that mean anyway? Who cuts mustard?)

That being said, I DO have a Home Management Binder (and I'll get into that shortly), but right now I'm talking about how to make the digital and the paper mesh coherently. I don't like having to redo things just so they're on paper when I've already done them electronically. I want to do it once and have it done. Period.

I'm a list maker. I love my to-do lists. However, I hate how ugly those lists become once you've scratched off a few things. That causes me stress so I redo the list. Efficient? Absolutely not.

I've bought personal planners. I've downloaded tons of forms to use. I've read blogs. You name it, I've probably tried it. And frankly, like I said, nothing was working. I refused to give up my digital organization for handwriting just to have it fit into someone else's plan.

I had to create a system FOR ME that works for MY family. And while it's still a work in progress, I have much of the legwork done thus far.

Electronically I was doing great. I used Microsoft Outlook and frankly it has everything i could ever need. It has my e-mail, my contact list, a sticky-note section, a task list, a calendar. It didn't, however, have the ability to sync with my smart phone. No bueno.

So, first things first, I made the switch to Google for my calendar. It took some getting used to, but I have grown to love it. I love how handy it is and how my information is accessible from my phone instantly. I can make changes, edit it, etc. With Outlook, I couldn't do that unless I manually connected my phone to the computer to sync it. I don't have time (nor do I remember) to do that.

In Google calendar each family member has a color. The school has its own color. Scouting events that we may or may not go to but that are going on -- has a color. Events in the DFW area has a color. It's so nice to see my world so colorful at a moment's notice. That makes me happy.

So, for the calendar - it's digital and Google is king. I can print it out if need be and put it anywhere it needs to go.

However, the one feature that Google doesn't have is one that I really, really need and utilized routinely in Microsoft Outlook -- the task list. Google has no way of scheduling a recurring task unless you just create a calendar for tasks but if you want all your daily tasks to appear on your calendar, that is going to be ONE CROWDED CALENDAR!

What to do? Frankly, I'm still a little perplexed about that. However, I have come to the conclusion that the only way I'm really going to do the tasks on my task list is obviously, when I'm home. So, those CAN stay on Outlook and I can just make a point to check it each day.

Then again, there is always Cozi. Cozi is a free application that you can access from your phone or any computer. It has a calendar feature, too. It will email reminders. However, you can't sync Outlook's task list and Cozi. And Cozi's "to do" list isn't able to be sorted. You also can't assign a due date for anything. No bueno.

In Outlook, you can have recurring tasks that you manually check off. That, is awesome! Once you check them off, they resort back to whatever predefined date they are scheduled to recur. If they're past due, they're in red. It's fantastic. I just wish Google would COPY Microsoft Outlook's task list feature and then my world would just be butterflies and roses!

So, for the time being, until Google wises up, they are my go-to source for calendaring. Outlook is my running to-do list and email handler.

Now that I've established a way for me to have electronic means to manage my time and tasks... what are those tasks? Please note that I created and manage my lists ON PAPER just in the event of an electronic crash, I have my back up in hand.

I went through and created a list of what things I wanted done on a daily basis. This will be different for everyone, obviously.
Mine are:
  • Daily devotional
  • Kelly's Zone Mission of the Day (from
  • Weekly Home Blessing (again, from - this is my day to clean)
  • 15 minute hot spot clean up (you know those places where everything seems to pile up all the time? Yeah, that place -- set the timer for 15 minutes and purge/clean!)
  • Set dinner out to thaw
  • Daily photo
  • Blog
  • Process 5 recipes
  • Edit/upload 1 past album into Snapfish
  • Load of laundry
Then rotating through the week there are things that I do DAILY but on certain days of the week. For instance:

Mondays are playdates with the GCSML

Tuesdays I scrapbook and clean out the fridge

Wednesdays I check out two websites that I love but always forget about. I send out thank you cards, I do Zone cleaning (from and I go to the grocery store.

Thursdays I do errands

Fridays I do filing of any papers

Saturdays I match the socks

Sundays I wash sheets and sync up the weeks' calendars in the house, restock the diaper bag and plan the week's menu

This isn't rocket science but it really helps to have a day set to do something so if you are asked to do something you know if you'll realistically have time to do it. That way, too, if I have an option, I know to schedule errands ON my errand day.

So where do YOU start? Grab some blank notebook paper and at the top write your list and then start numbering. Leave yourself enough room to write the days/months along the right edge when you're done.
  1. Create your daily list.
  2. Create your specific day list.
  3. Create your weekly list. Other items may include: go through magazines, clean out purse, clean out car, etc.
  4. Create your monthly list
  5. Create your bi-monthly list
  6. Create your quarterly list
  7. Create your bi-annual list
  8. Create your annual list.
Then you simply go through and figure out when doing each item best works for you and your family.

My lists look something like this:

  • heartworm preventative to the dogs
  • cut the kids finger/toe nails (gross, but necessary)
  • Check out the free workshops at Lowe's and Home Depot for the kids
  • See what kind of festivals or special events are going on around the area
  • get the boys hair cut
  • clean out the garage
  • run a cup of vinegar through the dishwasher and washer
  • Run a cup of bleach through the washer
  • replace toothbrushes (am I the only one that forgets?)
  • replace baking soda in the fridge/freezer
  • Go stock up at Costco
  • Clean blinds
  • Wash all bedding
  • Change batteries in the smoke detectors
  • Dental appointments
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Cleaning the light fixtures in the hard to reach areas
  • Clean oven
  • Have windows cleaned
  • Check dryer exhaust pipe
  • Clean out junk drawers
  • Clean out and wipe down refrigerator
  • Dust cabinet tops
  • vacuum mattresses
  • kids' well check ups at pediatrician
  • obgyn
  • eye dr
  • winterize outdoor faucets
  • check/repair interior caulking
  • drain sediment from water heater
  • vacuum fridge coils
  • clean chimney
  • stock car with cold weather gear
  • stock car with warm weather gear
  • have rugs cleaned
  • trim trees
  • organize attic
  • service heater
  • service AC
  • flip/rotate mattresses
  • clean gutters
  • have drapes cleaned
  • dogs to vet
However, there are things that are specific to January that I want to accomplish so you kind of have to have a list of just "January" items and "February" items and so on.

So, what this led me to do was to create myself a "daily docket" sheet for each day of the week that I have laminated and stuck in the front of my home management binder. Since there are 365 days in a year, I certainly didn't want to use 365 pieces of paper (that's hardly tree-hugger friendly) . I also created a check-off to do list for each month that has the items above, as well as month-specific items to accomplish. I have no problems using 12 pieces of paper so I write directly on these and just add more in the blanks if there are other things I want to do that month.

An example would be January. I took the items off of my master task list that were to be done in January and put those on first and then added the other specific items I wanted to accomplish that month.

  • heartworm prevention to dogs
  • cut kids toe/finger nails
  • dental appointments for boys
  • hair cuts for boys
  • plan a date night
  • Scrapping: create Valentine's cards
  • Change air filters
  • Take down Christmas decorations
  • Birthday cards prepped and mailed
  • clean out fireplace ashes
  • Create a time capsule for this year / do a Kid's letter
  • Photos to take this month (and it includes a list of those)
  • and then there are several blank lines for me to write on.
As I find other print outs and ideas, I will just add those behind this and tweak/add what we like and then throw them away once they're added.

THEN what I've done with these sheets is take them and plug ALL this into Microsoft Outlook's task list. This way I get daily reminders of what I need to do if I don't open my home management binder AND it also helps someone else step into my shoes (using the paper version) so they can help our home run smoothly in my absence.

In a nutshell, I've created a list that I use as my master to do list for scheduling anything. From that list I plugged in what needed to be done into monthly lists. I have a daily sheet for each day of the week that I refer to and check off from and every couple of days, I check my MONTHLY to do list to see what I can knock off of that. By months' end, everything is accomplished and it's smooth sailing.

If anyone is interested in these daily docket sheets, the monthly sheets or the master list, I can certainly email them to you, just request them in the comments. I didn't see any need to upload them here.

My home management binder is absolutely what keeps me ticking. I use a 2" purple 3 ring binder because I like the ability to keep lots of STUFF in it (and I do!)

Here is the contents in order:

In the front see-thru cover is anything that requires immediate attention so that it's the first thing I see.

Next is a see through zipper pouch with sticky notes, pencils, highlighters, pens, etc.

Next is a single page yearly calendar in a page protector. On the back side is a printed calendar for the school.

Then starts the dividers. They plastic pocketed dividers.

TO DO - any items that are to be done are in the pocket. There are also a few page protectors behind this to hold other items as well. I also keep a list running on notebook paper of miscellaneous items that come to mind.

DAILY - My daily routines (morning, afternoon and before bed) are in page protectors and then my daily docket for each day of the week are in page protectors as well.

WEEKLY - The basic weekly plan from the list I made above is here (just in case it's ever lost electronically, my paper back up is in a page protector here)

MONTHLY - I keep the current month's specific list behind the divider tab, the rest are in the pocket. I also have a page long birthday and anniversary list. I have another page I may start using so that I can keep track of major expenses in each month so we can better budget our money. I haven't started utilizing that yet.

SEASONALLY - Here is where there are specific plans for Christmas plans, Thanksgiving plans, etc.

MEAL PLANNING - I cook -- a lot. I can't, however, pull something together without a plan. I meal plan once a week. Sometimes I plan a week at a time, sometimes I plan two weeks at a time. Sometimes I plan to do a major cooking spree for a once a month eating plan. Sometimes I want to bake a lot. I just keep all kinds of planning sheets here for me to use. One thing I never thought of doing that I recently read about was to SAVE the old meal plans so that in the event you're ever out of time to plan for the week, you can simply grab the old list and use that one. GENIUS! Another mom has a quarterly menu that she rotates through. I think that's pretty genius, too. Everyone gets their favorites at least four times a year.

CONTACTS - A printed list of my contact list from Google/Outlook

MISC - This has a baby sitter's information form, my grocery list

EMERGENCY - a list of all of the numbers me, or anyone would need in the event of an emergency -- down to the specific utility companies and account numbers, alarm company and attorney. The back page is the specific insurance policy numbers with agent information. There is also a form for inventory and location of important documents (so we can find them).... this is about to be overhauled, however. :)

CLEANING - this is a detailed list of the Fly Lady's Zone cleaning information as it pertains to MY house

HOME MANAGEMENT - a list of what we've done when to the house...who did it and how much it was.

PARTY PLANS - I use this one tab to keep all the information for any parties we have coming up... nothing fancy, I just wanted a central location to have it

JOSH - any information for sports clubs, calendars, etc. JUST for Josh, goes here

DREW - ditto

BEN - preschool information, teacher information, playgroup list, etc.

Anyway, this was long-winded (ya think) but it's my brain dump for the MOTHERLOAD of household organization! :)


chksngr said...

Google has a task list...if you look at your Google calendar on the left side is the little My Calendars that is the Tasks. if you click on it the task bar on the right shows can set a due date or not in the details...if you don't it just sits on the task list. If you do, it puts a little check box and reminder on your calendar. What I don't know is sync'ability and/or printability...

And as one organized woman to another, you BLOW ME OUT OF THE WATER!!! WHEW...If I was a domestic engineer, I think I would do it like you do...I keep my work stuff that organized, so I know my home stuff would be too if there wasn't this whole pesky job thing to worry about.

brandt! said...

omy woman! why don't you just move up here and organize my life!