Let’s organize the rest of our day

February 01, 2011

Judging from the traffic and views from the last “Let’s organize our day: the evening routine,” post and the fact that it was featured on the StartUp Princess website, my guess is that this topic of routine and organization is one that is of interest to us moms.  And who can blame us? Sanity is a pretty appealing commodity!

I will start out by keeping it real: my evening routine is a still a work in progress.  I am tweaking and adjusting it even now.  Recently (after being late out the door yet again despite all my attempts to be organized) I decided to start setting a timer for Hunter when he wakes up in the morning to help him stay on track.  When the timer goes off, he needs to be ready to leave (just to be safe, I will set this to go off 5 min before we REALLY need to leave).  If he is not ready by that time then I start the count-up timer on my phone.  For every minute he is “late” he loses 2 minutes from his allotted “technology time.”  My theory was that this would motivate him enough to stay on task (and not take 30 min to eat his breakfast like it did about a week ago).  After putting my theory to work for several mornings I am happy to report that this “tweak” has been successful and we have not only been out the door on time but early to school the past few days – yeah!  All this to say, if what you are doing for your evening/morning routine is not yet working the way you want it to, don’t give up, keep playing with it and over time ideally it will be better and better suited for your family.  Now on to the meat of today’s topic: the daytime routine.

Because each day’s schedule is often different from the next I don’t have a schedule that is quite as mapped out as my evening routine.  However, I have found several things that have created a more manageable, less stressful day.

-Grocery shopping:

It is imperative that I have some sort of “list” system in place both for my sanity and for our pantry’s well being.

In the past, this simply meant having a grocery list on the side of the fridge that my husband and I would add to as we thought of things, used up the last of something or planned a future meal. This method worked well for us expect for times that we were in town (without our list) and near the store and wondering what it was we needed.  Now my husband and I have transitioned to using an online tool for keeping our list.  This enables us to access (and add to) the list from anywhere with the use of our phone or computer.  I am sure there are many great grocery list solutions out there and I have tried more than one.

However, the one that I have settled on and used for the last several months is ZipList.  There are several things I like about ZipList but the main things are the fact that it is quick and easy to update and access and (my favorite part) if I use it to store favorite recipes then I can “push” the ingredient list from the  recipes I plan to make into my shopping list.  Sound like something you would be interested in? There is a great video tutorial that quickly covers the features of ZipList here which you might find helpful.

Another great option for taking care of your grocery list is shopping online via Alice.  Alice has a very intuitive website that allows you to shop from home for your general household items.  As long as you order a minimum of 6 things, shipping is free.  They even have an option that will allow you to choose a schedule to be reminded via email when you might be low on specific items you need to repurchase preventing you from running out.  Want to get a better feel?  Watch this video tutorial.

-Keeping track of the family schedule:

If i can write something down then I can use my mind for something else besides remembering upcoming events.  In the past I used my Outlook calendar that is built into my email system.

However, I have since transitioned over to using Cozi (which conveniently syncs with Outlook).  I have mentioned Cozi in the past so feel free to click on over and read more details there or simply watch this short video tutorial to get a feel for how you can use this fantastic (and free) service to keep your entire family’s schedule (and to-do lists) in check.  Oh did I mention they also have a fun family journal feature?  Here is my journal which I update from my phone or computer and schedule to email out to our parents at the start of every month.  I can see that I need to update it myself!

-Remembering everything else:

Evernote is where I keep all my random info that I don’t want to forget but don’t have a good place to store elsewhere.  The toolbar shortcut makes it easy to clip things to my account that I want to file and the customizable folders allow me to create endless categories such as “recipes to try” or “blog post ideas”.  I don’t use this free service to its full potential but it is pretty cool. (click here for a video tutorial of Evernote).

Quite often I run across a blog post or article that I really want to read but don’t have the time to focus on.  This is where Read it Later comes in handy.  I have down loaded a shortcut for my toolbar and can simply click on it when I am on a page I want to read later.  The URL is stored in my Read it Later account and I can go back and read it . . . later!  After I read it, it is removed from my list. (click here for a quick video explanation of Read it Later).

-Keeping things clean:

A tip that I was taught as a teenager that has continued to stick with me is the saying, “Always leave a room cleaner than you found it.”  This one simple phrase is a great one to teach your kids and to practice yourself.  If each time you pass though a room you do SOMETHING to improve it (pick up a towel, close a drawer, etc) then the next time you enter it, it will look a little bit better!

If all of this just feels a little overwhelming or if it has you excited you might find some inspiration from the FlyLady.  Have you heard of her? on the homepage of this website it says,  Are YOU living in CHAOS? (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) Do you feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overdrawn? Hopeless and you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry friend, we’ve been there, too.  The FlyLady offers practical, step by step solutions to tackling your home and whipping it into shape and best of all, maintaining it with a great, manageable plan.

Want more?
I recently read this blog post from Passionate Homemaking which talked about order in our lives and how we can look to Jesus for some practical examples for how order in our own lives can be worked out in a practical way.  Then a few days later, Developing a Simple Schedule & Routine was posted on the same blog, also with great content.  Worth the read if this topic is of interest to you!

If you clicked though more than one of my links to video reviews you may have started to notice a familiar face: Carley Knobloch’s.  Carley’s passion is finding creative digital solutions to make your life easier and condensing what you need to know to see if it is right for you in a short 3 minute video sent to your inbox each week.  if you click on her Digiwirl website you just might notice my smiling face next to my testimonial because I really have enjoyed the content she has introduced me to.  If digital solutions excite you to, you would probably enjoy getting her weekly emails sent to you as well. (no I was not paid to say any of this, nor she doesn’t even know I am writing this post with an obscene amount of links to her websites, I just really have enjoyed what she does).

I feel like I have only just scratched the service on the topic of routines and organization but I hope that something I had to offer was just what you needed to hear.  Do you have any great resources to share or tips on things you do to stay sane? I would love to hear them!

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