My life is crazy! I’m often at work for ten hours a day. I’m in school part time. And most importantly, I have a busy family with two teenagers, a husband, two dogs and a cat. Without structure and planning, I would completely lose my sanity! Luckily, I’m pretty good at staying organized so that tasks are completed, deadlines are met and dinner is on the table every night by 6:30 p.m. But I wasn’t born that way (well, maybe I was – I used to sort my Barbie shoes by color!) Instead, I’ve developed a few strategies to manage the chaos of daily life.
Tips for staying organized
- Lists – I’m addicted to lists! I have a checklist of “to do” items, reminders and tasks for myself every week. Everything goes on this list – doctor’s appointments, evening meetings and commitments, and assignment due-dates for my Master’s degree classes. I also create chore lists for my kids (and leave them in a highly visible place – near the snacks in the kitchen!) so that they remember to unload the dishwasher, take out the trash and feed the dogs.
- Menu planning – Planning meals ahead of time and spending a couple of hours cooking on Sunday for the coming week has been a lifesaver for me! My local grocery store, Giant Supermarket, has an online shopping feature that only costs $4.95/week. I’m able to build a grocery list and save it so that when I’m ready to do my online shopping, it doesn’t take much time or effort. I buy all the regular stuff, like milk and eggs, as well as the ingredients necessary for the meals I’ve planned for the week ahead. (I’ll talk more about online grocery shopping in my next blog post.)
- Prepare for tomorrow – I pack my work lunch at night so that I’m able to just grab it from the refrigerator each morning as I’m walking out the door. I plan what I’m going to wear to work the next day so that I don’t have to rummage through my closet in the morning. Preparation reduces my stress level and keeps me focused on more important priorities.
- Communicate – The most important way to stay organized is to communicate with family members. I talk to my kids each day, usually during dinner, about what’s coming up tomorrow or later in the week. Is there a field trip? Do they need more money in their cafeteria lunch accounts at school? Sharing information allows me to keep up with what they need now, and to anticipate what they might need in the week ahead.
Staying organized isn’t easy – it requires thought and planning. But for me, the result is less stress and more time to spend doing the things I enjoy.