Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Staying organized for less than $1

...or $23 if you want to get real fancy.

I've tried different planners, phone apps, and a myriad of different systems to keep my life in check. I have never been known to keep things orderly, but contrary to popular belief, I love to have things organized. Things just get piled and then the piles get moved and they build up and seem like way too much to deal with. Such is the life of an underachieving perfectionist with Adult ADD.

Pretty sure this sums up my thoughts on keeping things organized with toddlers around.
Looks impossible at first glance, but turns out it IS possible.

However, over the past couple years I have figured out a system that works for me. Best part is: it's incredibly cheap. For the most part I have two tools that I use to stay organized, but I've added a couple more to the list that have helped me along the way (but aren't as vital to the system as the two):

1. A composition notebook ($0.88 from Walmart) - I started using one college ruled notebook for blogging ideas, sketching home decorating layouts, planning birthday parties, and organizing a capsule wardrobe. I called it my "idea notebook" (thank you Schmidt from New Girl). However, the more I had it around or in an easily accessible place, the most I used it for all of my ideas and planning: packing lists for trips, scheduling out long-term plans (hello, first month post-baby), making estimates for house projects, etc. 

I know you're jealous of my 3 week old manicure. It's cool.

My old system was to write everything down on whatever piece of paper was handy: the back of a used envelope, a post-it note, or a piece of loose leaf paper. However, those quickly became lost in the shuffle or accidentally thrown away, along with any plans that I had made in the moment. Boo.

The pages were never in the right order, but all I had to do was add a little "cont'd on page ##" in the corner and then proceed with my thoughts and sketches there. Joel had the brilliant idea to index the pages in the back to make it easier to keep track of everything. Because it's not a super nice notebook, I have no problem ripping out pages that don't apply anymore (old packing lists, room decor plans that have changed, and so on). I ended up filling one notebook and moving on to the second with an easy transition: keep them both in the same place and label the dates I used them on the cover. Easy enough! 

This didn't even take forever to do. Promise.

Fun fact: my idea for this post was written on a list of ideas for posts in said idea notebook, so, if that says anything.

2. A paper wall calendar (free from most churches, many workplaces, and pinterest printables) - Our wall calendar was a Christmas gift from family (Shutterfly collection of family photos throughout the year) but we have used free printables and calendars from the back of church before.

My super cute in-laws on the new family calendar :)

The calendar goes on the wall in the command center in the kitchen, in a spot that is easily accessible and readable for the two of us in the house that can read. All personal events, appointments, meetings, irregular hour work functions, and family visits go on the calendar. I like it better than using an electronic calendar because I can see with just a glance (even when the batteries are dead on my phone and computer) where everyone is each day, what events might overlap, and what is coming up for the rest of the day/week/month. Each day gets crossed off after its passed so I can see the date with just a glance instead of searching for it. Super simple, right??

Pardon my sloppy crossing-things-off and whatnot.

Bonus!: a magnetic notepad (about $2) - Our magnetic memo pad does NOT leave the fridge, unless it is to more easily write on and then it does directly back to its place. The current list of grocery needs is then in one easily-findable place. Anytime anyone says "we need more (insert food item here)," it gets immediately written down on the master fridge list. Then, when someone leaves the house (or orders groceries online to be delivered like ROYALTY), a new sheet is automatically replaced. Again, that means one master list in one place, so no worries about phone batteries dying in the grocery aisle or forgetting what comes from which store. 

**Exception to the rule: if Joel is bringing home food on his way home from work, I send him a picture of the list and once everything is accounted for, I take it down and start a fresh one.

Another bonus!!: a plain dry erase board (about $5) - I have one board for all of my daily tasks/goals I want to accomplish, with different marker colors for different things to remember. Black is for a quote or motivational phrase or verse I need to see often. Red is for medicine schedules and temps for when someone is sick. Blue, my favorite color, is my to-do list for the day.

It's not necessarily an all-encompassing list, just the basics of what I want to get done between pouring my morning coffee and turning in for the night. The more things I can break down, the more likely they'll be finished and crossed off. I like to only write down things with a concrete end point because it makes it that much more fun when I can put a big line through it on the board when the task is accomplished. You guys... it feels real good.

Yet another bonus!!!: a basic label maker ($15) - As nerdy as it is of me to say, my label maker has totally changed my life. We bought this one on our honeymoon (because we're dorks) and it spent two years being totally ignored in the back of a drawer. However, We finally busted it out when we sorted through our file cabinet and all of the files just looked so nice and uniform... I wanted to label all the things.

Then it became a fun new game: what different closet or drawer can I organize with labels?? I mean, it's one thing when you sort things out into binders or tubs, yeah, yeah, yeah. But when you're in a hurry going out the door and you need to find a two matching gloves, instead of going through the whole closet like a madwoman, there's an idiot-proofs place labeled "gloves" with exactly what you need. Doesn't that sound just heavenly? If it does, you probably could use a label maker. If it doesn't, it's probably because you already are used to the splendors of a well-labeled, organized closet because you've been labeling things for years. Good for you.

Welp, that's all I've got! What do you use to stay organized? Any tried-and-true tips for this frugal mom?


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