“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Anonymous
If I am honest, I would say I am pretty obsessed with being organised. The reasons behind my obsession are good ones though, I promise!
I learnt a long time ago that “winging it” was not for me, that trying to get through the days or weeks with zero plan or direction just sent me into a tizzy and caused so much unnecessary stress. I also wasted so much of my precious time, never seemed to accomplish anything and also felt like I wasn’t doing enough.
So slowly over time and with trial and error I have worked out a system that helps take care of a lot of areas in my life with ease. It means I use my time more effectively, I don’t encounter many curve balls and I manage to juggle everything in my life without losing my mind and I want to share that with you.
What my life looks like
Before I go into it, I want to just set a bit of a picture of my life. I am a mum of two beautiful children aged 3 and almost 5. My partner works on the mines and is away for around 4 weeks and then home for around 1 week. We never know when he is coming or going until it happens. My daughter has quite a few medical issues and we sometimes travel as many as 3 times per week to our closest children’s hospital which is 2 hours from where we live. My daughter has started full time school now and I am about to begin studying at university full time.
On top of this I have my blog, normal mum life duties, cooking and taking care of our house and 1 acre block. I also manage after school activities, support groups and some social life. As you can imagine life is pretty busy and for me to actually manage all these things and well, I need to be super organised. I am not perfect, no one is… but I am learning as I go and keen to share what I am figuring out along the way.
How I stay organised
My last blog post was about time management and in this article I mentioned a few strategies that I used to be more organised and save time. I didn’t go into more details about how I organise my busy life so I thought I would share my best home organizing tips. These are the things that help me to stay organised, plan ahead and be on top of every day life. These tips help my life to run smoothly and easily, it also saves me time and money. Here are my best home organizing tips:
1. Meal Planning/ Shopping Lists
Our family has always meal planned and over time we have tried a few different ways to do so. With this year about to get hectic, we decided that to make life easy for everyone we would work out a better way to not only eat healthy, save time and money but to encourage our kids to try new foods each week. We use a meal planner pad and a shopping list that I purchased from Kmart, you can buy all sorts of planners and lists in matching colours!
Using a shopping list means that we don’t waste money on things we don’t really need and we aren’t tempted to buy things as we see them. It also means that we only go to the shops once a week, so we know that we are OK for the whole week and can avoid those last minute dashes to buy a bottle of milk or something else we have forgotten or run out of. This also saves me a lot of time and money and takes the stress out of trying to sort dinner out each night.
Here is a little run down on how we plan our meals:
- Plan your meals the night before shopping day – We plan on Sunday and then shop on Mondays but work it in with your life.
- Check the fridge, cupboard and freezer to see what you already have – if you can plan a few meals around food already in your freezer or fridge you will save money and reduce waste.
- Choose 7 Dinners – we personally choose 6 meals that are healthy, easy and that the whole family will eat and then 1 new recipe that we are going to try. Write them on your meal planner for each night of the week.
- Work out your ingredients – write down on a notepad what you will need for each recipe. Don’t forget to double check what you already have.
- Look at breakfasts, lunches and snacks – we alternate just 1 or 2 breakfast options and snacks usually consist of fruit, veg, cheese, homemade goods like healthy muffins or banana bread etc. Write these on your meal planner.
- Write your shopping list – once we have what we plan to eat, we have checked what ingredients we need and what we already have on hand, we then compile our grocery list.
- Display it – once all done, put your planner somewhere you can see, ours goes on our fridge. I transfer just our dinner ideas to my weekly planner (it’s a whiteboard and makes it easy to see and check).
- Organise it – we have just started a new system where we group the foods needed for a single recipe into small baskets that are labeled Monday to Sunday. This means we don’t waste food, we can see exactly what’s in the fridge and can grab the basket and know we have all the cold goods we need for that recipe. Will let you know how we go with that one!
You can browse through some meal planners here to see what might suit
2. Weekly Planners
There are so many weekly planners that you can use, they can be paper, whiteboard, chalkboard, on your phone, computer or tablet. These are a great way to manage your time and plan ahead so your week runs smoothly. I have tried a few apps and planners I have bought from stationary shops but never really found one that included everything I wanted until recently.
Finding a family orientated planner was a little tricky and my goal long term is to design some of my own! What I did find was a great whiteboard planner that includes the following categories and has space to make your own. I still own and use a diary to write everything I need well in advance but a weekly planner helps to keep everything in one place and includes all our routines and tasks.
Just like the meal planning I sit down on Sunday night and spend 15 minutes writing down everything from my diary, meal planner and usual routine so I can see clearly what I have for the week, where I can squeeze things in, where I have spare time and if I have ever double booked or over committed. Knowing all of this before the week starts I find is a huge advantage to our whole family.
This is what it looks like and how we use it:
- My Week – this is where I put all our routines, appointments, social commitments and anything else I have on during the week. Mine is split into AM, NOON and PM making it super easy to see what’s happening at a glance.
- Kids – this is where I write the kids after school activities, commitments like playgroups or parties that we have coming up.
- Meals – I just write down the dinner planned for each night and which recipe book or print out it is on, this makes it simple to grab the basket for the day, the recipe and cook dinner without having to think too much about it. It also means that when the kids ask I can tell them easily and as they get older and learn to read they can check for themselves.
- Chores – We don’t have a very specific chore planner, I am a tidy as you go person and I clean each night before I go to bed (just a tidy up, dishes and a quick sweep of the house) I just like a reminder to water plants (we can only water on designated days in Australia), days for gardening, we do a deep clean once a week and a day to change all the sheets and linen.
- Birthday – this is a good reminder to call or text a friend or loved one on their birthdays or to order flowers or drop off a gift. I love to do these things but have to say its something that I often forget about so this is my way of trying to improve.
- To Do – this particular to do list is my non urgent tasks, these are usually things like our renovations or big sorting jobs that we have written down so that if we find ourselves with some spare time we can start something from that list.
- Notes – I don’t really use this section a lot, but my partner enjoys leaving little notes here before he leaves for work.
- Spare Category- there is also a spare category that I haven’t found a use for yet but I am sure I will!
You can check out some great planners here.
3. To Do Lists
With how busy my life is I am often on the go non-stop and on days with lots of errands to run I used to find myself forgetting where I was up to or what I had to do next.
Now I use a to do list app on my iPhone called Wunderlist. I write down a to do list the night before so that I can sleep without thinking about what I have on the next day or if I have forgotten anything. This also saves me time in the mornings which I find is the busiest time of the day.
This only takes me about 5 minutes, here is how I do it:
- First I check my weekly planner to see what I have arranged for that day such as appointments, drop offs, pick-ups, errands, chores etc then I write them all down into my Wunderlist.
- Once that is done, I group whatever I can together to save time. For example, if I have errands to run in town I will group all the things I need to do on the way and way back or whilst in there so I am only traveling the once.
- Then I order them so that they flow with my day, I don’t forget anything and I have a good firm plan in place before I start my day.
- Don’t forget to tick off your tasks as you complete them, this not only keeps you on track but gives you a sense of accomplishment as you clear your list!
This is my easy way to create a to do list and is helpful for our family, give it a go and see if it works for you. There are heaps of to do list style apps and notepads specific to this purpose. You can of course just use pen and paper but I personally find the app really helpful.
Here is a whole heap of to do lists you can choose from.
4. Cleaning Roster
Having a cleaning roster can be super helpful for those that live a very busy life, they can remind you of jobs that aren’t obvious and make it easy to see where you are up to. It’s also a great way to keep the whole family involved in the cleaning of your home and as the kids get older they can be added to the roster and have their own chores to be responsible for.
You can be as specific as you like when it comes to a cleaning roster, you can have set days for each room or group a few tasks for each day or block out a time to do the lot. See what works for you. There are some great cleaning roster ideas on Pinterest here. You can also download apps for cleaning that help you schedule things in.
Personally I just worry about the big jobs like sheet and linen changes, gardening, washing the car and deep cleans of the house once a week.
”Bottom line is, if you do not use it or need it, it’s clutter, and it needs to go.”
– Charisse Ward
Our family has been leaning toward a more minimalist approach to our lives, reducing the amount we own and trying not buy things that we don’t really need. We managed to fill our shed with things that aren’t being used or that have been sitting untouched for a long time. It’s taken us some time to do and we are still in the process but decluttering your house and life is a great way to make a fresh start, to feel more organised.
I would recommend watching a few documentary style series such as:
- Tidying Up With Marie Kondo
- The Minimalist
These are all on Netflix in Australia and all offer a different style of decluttering and have loads of tips.
There are also some books you can read on decluttering here.
Decluttering and getting rid of belongings that aren’t needed leaves you with more space, less mess, less to stress about and saves you time when cleaning and trying to find something. Aim to have a place for everything in your home so you know exactly where to look when you need something and you aren’t searching the whole home for an item.
Another thing I like to declutter is my phone and social media, clearing out apps I don’t use, phone numbers I no longer need and culling my friends lists on social media can be a great way to declutter too. I also like to leave groups and pages I no longer need or feel connected to on Facebook and Instagram so I am only left with the things that I love, inspire me or are useful in some way.
Computers also need a declutter now and then. I like to get rid of old documents that are outdated, duplicate files and unused programs from my computer and make sure that what is left is part of a system so everything is where it should be. This saves precious storage space on your computer and also saves you time by knowing where to look for something.
Unlike these reality TV shows, most of us don’t have the time and resources to do all of these things at once, so just choose one area of your home each week, fortnight or month to tackle and declutter. Make sure that what’s left is organised well so you can see everything clearly and it’s easily accessible.
Now you have my best tips and also some great resources, head over to some of my links, learn a little more, maybe order a few things that you like and see if you can get your life a little better organised.
Set yourself a challenge to incorporate just one of these ideas and see how it works for you. You don’t need to do all of them or go crazy and begin all of these at once. Just make a decision to start a little change and see what the results are like.
I would love to hear any feedback on what you currently use from this list, what you have decided to give a go and how these ideas have worked for you.
P.S Please remember that the links I provide to you are affiliate links, they won’t cost you anymore than you would normally pay but I do earn a small commission to keep this page running… I appreciate the support.