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Has back to school madness hit you yet? Where I live, today is the first day of school. We will start next week to allow me some additional much needed planning and organizing time. A lot of our activities begin this week. I. am. not. ready. I love the less structured days of summer. But alas, the school year must begin and I must go back to being a homeschool mom and business owner. Some days it is a lot to deal with and a lot to fit into 24 hours. I am often asked how I do it. Today, I'm going to share how I do it. I've got some organization tips for you as well.
I'm pretty sure the thing I hear most from both readers and friends is, “I don't know how you do it.” I can tell you it doesn't happen by accident. 😉
Today, I'm going to share exactly how I do what I do. At least the being organized in order to have a fighting chance of doing what needs to get done each day. I've got an arsenal of tools, planners, and methods to my madness. I'm certain that you can pick up an organization tip or two from what I do. I truly hope that what I share can help you if you are feeling anxious about what needs to get done each day.
I don't get done what I do by living like I do in the summer. Carefree, lazy days go by the wayside during the school year. Pretty much every moment of my day is scheduled. It can be tons of fun and it can be totally stressful. Just depends on the day, the kids, and the deadlines.
First, what exactly am I talking about. In case you aren't familiar with me, I'm a homeschooling mom. I also own a business, this blog. I also run the house and take care of my two girls, most of the time by myself as my husband travels A LOT. My girls are active in a homeschool class (or maybe 2), girl scouts and 1 additional extra-curricular activity each. I am also a Girl Scout leader. It is a lot and most days I love it all and wouldn't even begin to know what to give up. Though there are days I want to give it all up. Right?! You know what I mean…I know you do. 🙂
So, to start off, I start any organization project with making sure I have the right tools. Since this is organizing my life, I need the right tools. I have several planners that I use for different things. I love digital technology, but for some reason I have gone to paper for tracking my blog editorial calendar, my homeschool planning and my daily calendar.
I do keep my main calendar with appointments and such digitally. It is just so much easier to be able to access it on my phone. Most everything else, I am currently keeping in a paper format. At least until some digital format that can handle all my needs comes along.
For the organization of my daily life, I need a planner that has hourly time slots from 7am to 8pm. I need a great pencil and eraser, markers and highlighters. I headed to one of my favorite stores to pick up some fun new items to help me feel more prepared for this school year. Office Max is like a candy store to me. I could just wander the aisles for hours and have fun figuring out how I truly ‘need' all the fun things they sell, but alas, this trip I stuck with just the tools I needed to begin to get ready for this school year. Thankfully, there were some great prices on the things I needed and a great deal, too! Yippee! Happy Dance time. I also signed up for Office Max Rewards….can someone please tell me why I hadn't signed up before? Duh!
To fit in what I need to in a day requires total planning for each day. I do my planning one day at a time. It would feel totally overwhelming to me to plan a week or more at a time. No need to add stress. This is meant to help me be efficient.
I start late at night planning for the next day. Usually when I am done with work for the day I grab a sticky note and jot down everything on the calendar for the following day. I also jot down what cleaning and laundry need to get done. I'm showing you a typical Tuesday which is a lite cleaning day because we are gone for a good part of the day at our homeschool co-op. I reference my weekly cleaning sheet to know what needs to be done.
I always make sure to include taking care of myself, which usually means exercise but in the case of this summer I've added a few pounds with all our travel, so I will add in planning out my meals and what I will eat as well to help me take of those travel and summer fun pounds.
I always add some individual time with each girl (usually 10 minutes each, not much but it really makes a difference). I try really hard to get 15 minutes of ‘quiet time' or time where we are each in our room doing something quiet on our own. That is most often the thing that gets dropped from the schedule. I love quiet time and we all need it, but it can be very hard to fit it in.
Next up, I take my hourly planner and start penciling in all the different things that need to happen for that day. I'm telling you, a good pencil and a good eraser make this job a ton easier. I pretty much always have to erase and figure something out and rework things to make it fit for the day.
I make sure to cross off items from my sticky note as I add them to the calendar. It makes it easier to see what still needs to be added.
Now truth be told, I made up this day for you to see, however it isn't very far off from what a typical Tuesday looks like for me.
Next up, every family member picked a color this year. I bought matching Sharpies and Sharpie Highlighters to make it easy to see who needs to do what on my daily calendar.
At this point, I pull out my Sharpies and start putting coordinating color dots for who is participating or needs to do the items on the calendar. It will make it easy for me to follow-up with the kids or Mr. T that those items have been completed. I need that as much as they do. My girls also know about my daily calendar and often check it first thing in the morning. The color coding gives them the ability to look and see what they are responsible for as well as their free time for the day.
The last step is to add the details and the MUST NOT MISS items. I used to circle them on my calendar but they would just blend in. The Sharpie Highlighters in the coordinating colors now makes it easy not to miss those details and don't miss items. It also allows me to mark who is supposed to take care of those items by using a highlighter that matches each family members color.
Now the only things left to do is relax for an hour or so and then off to bed to get up and take care of the day I just planned.
I have a mix of stress with the lack of spare time and peace that I have a plan and that I know what needs to be done the following day.
It is totally my choice to do all that I do and I love what I do. There just are times that it gets a little overwhelming. Those usually coordinate with when my husband has been gone for quite a while and I've been responsible for all of this and all of his stuff as well. Some time when that happens, I just skip the schedule and just get done what has to and find some time for me. Sounds like a perfectly sane thing to do to me! 🙂
It might seem a bit overkill or crazy, but if I don't have a detailed plan for the day, I end up accomplishing very little and usually not the important things. By planning and scheduling each day, I am able to continue homeschooling my girls as well as be a business owner and take care of things around the house…well more days than not.
This week at Office Max (while supplies last) are two great deals that will help you with your own back to school organization:
- Save $5 Off your purchase of $20 or more on Select Newell Rubbermaid Brands (PaperMate, Expo Neon Window Markers, Sharpie, Uni-Ball, & Mr. Sketch)
- Aug 31-Sept 6:
- Sharpie Clearview Highlighter 3 pack: $4
- PaperMate Clearpoint 2 packs: $3
- Select Expo Chisel & Ultra Fine 4 packs: $2
What organization tips do you have? How do you plan for your busy life? I'd absolutely love to hear because I know you have some great ideas as well AND I always LOVE new organizing ideas!
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