Hi everyone! For all those who have been following our blog, it is no surprise that I am the most organized sister of the three. I proudly accept this title and do my best to help Carrie, and really Katie, develop some organizational skills. Organization and I go way back to my childhood. My mom loves to tell the story of how I would line up my shoes perfectly at the age of 2, or color coordinate my school books using highlighters, while my twin Katie had toys, shoes, homework, and clothes thrown everywhere. For some people organization just comes naturally, and others it’s very hard work. Having said that, I feel there are some basic organizational skills that anyone (personality type A or B or C) can work on to make their life easier. Today I am going to go over some basic organization skills that help keep my life less chaotic and more relaxed when I have some free time. Some may seem obvious, and some may work for me and not others, but one small change and a little effort can make a huge difference.
- OLD SCHOOL PLANNER. Ok I am not going to lie, I get made fun of with this one on the regular. With iPhones, e-calendars, and everything else, I still use a tangible old school planner. Why you ask? Because I can see everything laid out in front of me more clearly. I like to see what my week looks like in advance so that I am not surprised by an upcoming meeting, due date, birthday party, or “to do” task. I stay even more organized by reviewing my planner on Sunday evening so that I know what my schedule looks like for the week ahead. This helps prevent the “OMG I forgot” freak out sessions and unnecessary stress. (Katie take notes)
- NOTEPAD ON YOUR PHONE. I love this function on my iPhone. Its most useful for storing usernames, passwords and addresses. With all the online accounts, wireless networks, email accounts, and everything else, this makes it easier to have all the information stored in one place and easily accessible. Same concept with addresses! Remember if you are going to have private information on your phone, make sure to use a security code. I recommend using your notepad to remember things like restaurants, places, products, and recipes you like, and also for New Year’s resolutions. I love looking back to see what resolutions I actually accomplished or to remember an old restaurant I wanted to revisit but forgot about.
- LISTS. This is a great one. I always have a random list sitting on my desk with things I need to do. I recommend placing one of these on your desk, in the laundry room, or on your refrigerator, in a place you always look and where you can easily jot down notes. I am not sure about you, but thoughts always comes to mind throughout the day, and if I don’t write it down, I usually forget. My lists have solved that problem. I put anything on that list that comes to mind (need paper towels, coffee, followup with a colleague, create a puppy pack for clients, try out that new sippy cup, look into preschool, etc.). This list is just a backup to my weekly planner, and its sometimes more readily available.
- AMAZON. This has been the biggest game changer for me. I recommend everyone set themselves up with an Amazon Prime account. My goal in life is to never have to run errands. My sisters make fun of me because its seems that when I am not at work, I am usually being a homebody and never running errands. And they are right..so laugh away Katie and Carrie. I order everything on Amazon- toilet paper, cleaning products, diapers, shampoo, wipes, sip cups, makeup, presents…okay, you get the point. This has allowed me to not waste my time running to Target, Walgreens, or Home Depot, but rather spend that valuable time at the park with my family, at a play date, relaxing by watching TV or spending time with my husband, having lunch with a friend, or working out.
- PLAN YOUR WEEKNIGHT MEALS, AND MAKE ONE TRIP ON SUNDAY TO THE THE GROCERY STORE. This is another game changer for me. About 5 years ago, I started doing this and it significantly reduced my trips to the grocery store. Even better if you can get your significant other to perform this chore! My husband Rob has taken on this task and enjoys his weekend trips to the grocery store with Luke. So make one master list on Sunday with meals and supplies for the week, and send your hubby to the store or order it for delivery. Pepperplate has been huge in organizing my weeknight meals, lists, and preparing me for the week.
- BIRTHDAYS. When you have children, you end up attending 3 to 4 birthday parties a month, if not more. Here are a few tips on what I do to keep it all organized. When I get an invite, I immediately RSVP (if I can), place it in my planner, and order a gift on Amazon (yep, my favorite website of all time). This guarantees I am about 1 month ahead of schedule and not running around for a birthday gift last minute. I keep my house stocked with wrapping paper, cards, tape, and ribbons. I even have last minute gifts lying around. One company I love and highly recommend is stickerkid.com. I have pre-ordered stickers that say “Happy Birthday! Love, Luke.” For family and friends’ birthdays and anniversaries, I use the app, Birthday Alarm, to remind me of the upcoming dates. The moment I get a notification of someone’s birthday, I order a gift and make sure it’s in my planner.
- MORNING RUSH. All I have to offer for this is- prepare ahead of time! We prepare Luke’s lunch and pack his backpack the night before. That saves time in the morning. I also try and wake up 1/2 hour earlier so I can sit and have my cup of coffee, practice yoga, read, watch TV, and get my mind ready for the day. Giving yourself that 1/2 an hour before the day starts helps get things started on the right foot and puts you in a better state of mind.
- KEEP AN ORGANIZED AND STOCKED HOUSE. I get made fun of a lot for this. I buy things in bulk (toiler paper, paper towels, coffee, toothpaste, soap, diapers….you get the point). Nothing bothers me more than going to get something and being out of it…ugh, I HATE THAT! Amazon also has a program where you can get things automatically shipped monthly or bimonthly, which is helpful. Another great tip is to keep your home organized so when you need something you’re not spending 1/2 the day searching for it. I organize my drawers, garage, and laundry room about every 6 months or so, usually after I had just spent 3 hours looking for a thermometer or some tape. It saves a lot of frustration and stress!
- HAVE A BACKUP PLAN. Life is not an organized laid out road map as much as I would love it to be. Especially with kids, emergencies and last minute things that come up. I always make sure to have “backups” in case of emergencies that may be able to pick Luke up from school or cover me at work. This has been so helpful in times of emergencies for me. Think of a list of people close to you that can help in a pinch. And don’t forget to thank them!!!
Everyone has crazy busy lives and we’re constantly trying to keep our heads above water. I, by no means, have it all worked out, not by a long stretch. I hope some of these tips help to make things less stressful. The best moments in my life right now are spending time with my family and watching our children grow. I do not want those times to be clouded with stress, and last minute responsibility. I love hearing what others do to keep their lives in order, so please feel free to comment and offer your suggestions.