One of my main resolutions for this year was to set myself back on the path to an organised life. I find that when my life becomes busier, I neglect little things that on their own don't seem like much, but when accumulated, make me feel a bit over whelmed. This year, with organisation a priority, I've taken a good look at what works and made a few changes to what doesn't.
1. Family Calendars
We always have a pretty calendar in the kitchen, usually one with a different view of the mountains every month, which doesn't leave much room to write in our commitments. Our favourites are the ones by Colin Prior,which contain beautiful scenes of mountains all over Scotland and which leave us pretty inspired to get out onto the hills whenever we can.
Over the past year, after one too many double bookings, my husband and I both started using the Google Calendar app on our phones. This allowed us to sync our calendars making my husbands entries visible to me, which means that we can more easily commit to engagements without the other one being present. My husband's commitments show up in a different colour to mine, which prevents any confusion.
2. Life Planner
I'm not sure why I stopped using a Personal Planner. Perhaps the smartphone revolution negated the need for pen and paper for keeping track of events and commitments in my life, but there were things that only dwelled in my head, like birthdays for example, and I started feeling more and more overwhelmed.
This year I decided to buy the Organised Mum Life Book Diary which I'd used a few years ago and I am so pleased that I did. I find it handy to have a paper copy of my commitments, and allows me to plan for things way in advance, without the added pressure of keeping it in one of the many lists on my phone or all in my head. I use gel pens in different colours to distinguish between my commitments, and those of the family and kids. The diary also comes with some reminder stickers which I stick on the Week at a Glance sheet which I mention below.
3. Week at a Glance
On a Sunday Evening, I go through what I have planned for the week, cross-reference with the calendar on my phone and check the littlies schedule as well to make sure that nothing gets left out. I then write this on my Week at a Glance Pad (similar here). The Week at a Glance sheet then gets attached to the calendar in the kitchen with a paperclip for the whole family to see. This has already proven a huge success, as there have been a few occasions when the littlies have reminded me of things that they've seen on the sheet, and which I've forgotten.
I also use the Week at a Glance Sheet to schedule any weekly cleaning tasks that need to be done.
4. Meal Planning
I always plan our meals in advance as I like to incorporate a few new recipes into our menu every week. I have been meal planning for quite a few years and find that it really cuts down our food wastage. I always look in the food cupboards and freezer before settling down with the recipe books to see if there are any ingredients which need need using up and also plan for using leftovers in some meals. I compile my shopping list while paging through the recipe books and then write the meals on sticky notes which I stick into my planner. This means I can move the meals around, but also reuse sticky notes so as to compile a list of recurring family favourites.
5. Get that Filing Under Control
Last year I filed all my paperwork in a box file without sorting it which means that important documents became a nightmare to find. This year I finally sorted all of last year's documents, and filed it appropriately and then ditched the box file idea from last year, instead filing any new documents that come in, once a month. We keep all documents for at least 5 years so use lever arch files with paper dividers for our filing. All receipts get spiked on receipt spikes which I buy in bulk on ebay and also get kept for 5 years.
6. Schedule all Renewals
Renewals always seem to creep up on me, so this year I decided to get on top of this at the beginning of the year. Filing all of last year's documents helped, as I was able to see when everything was coming up for renewal. I then compiled a list which included insurance (house, car, travel, pet), passports, mortgages, energy tariffs and breakdown cover and then put this into my digital and paper planners so that I could plan for these way in advance. Much clearer and much less overwhelming!
7. Keep Track of Spending
I keep track of our finances by tracking all of our incomings and outgoings on a spreadsheet. I compare this to our monthly budget, which allows me to see where we're spending a bit too much or where some savings can be made. Personally, I become less inclined to thoughtlessly spend money when the spreadsheet holds me accountable.
8. Buying Presents and Birthday Cards in Advance
I usually remember birthdays a few days before the day, which means panic buying on Amazon and spending a fortune in next day delivery costs. This year, I've bought birthday cards in bulk and a few age-appropriate presents in advance, especially for the numerous parties the littlies get invited to. I've also bought sheets of wrapping paper in bulk which negates the need for scissors when I need to do some quick wrapping.
9. Organise Makeup and Beauty Products
My mornings were often one mad rush and makeup on the school run was a bit of a hit or miss affair. Organising my makeup, brushes and beauty products into one area has definitely helped make getting ready in the morning a more streamlined affair.
My husband very kindly made me a makeup nook by placing some shelves in a linen cupboard in our bedroom. I've organised my makeup into Muji drawers, my brushes into acrylic holders and my beauty and body products near an illuminated mirror. Having everything I need to get ready in the morning in one place has certainly made the process much faster, and having everything visible means that I can tell when I have too much of one thing. What I love most, is that I can close the door on my makeup which keeps bedroom clutter to a minimum.
10. Schedule in Me-Time
When I am feeling overwhelmed, I am less likely to spend time on myself so I decided to schedule my me-time around the fringes of my busy day. I now set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier than I need to, so that I can meditate before I start my day and do daily yoga immediately after the kids go to bed. I find that even though I am feeling tired after the kids go to bed, doing a yoga session rejuvenates me and leaves me feeling a bit more relaxed. As a treat, I've also decided to book in a facial and massage at quarterly intervals so that I commit in advance to having some pamper time.
Let's hope that I end 2015 feeling slightly less frazzled than I did last year.