Last year raced by in a whir of crazy chaos for me. I am normally a calm, relaxed kind of person, but for the first time I started feeling overwhelmed and had that constant sense of playing catch up. My usual level of organisation was lost amongst it all.
On top of my ‘day job’, wrangling four kids and helping run this site and a small business, I took on a bigger volunteer role at our local football club. The kids also seemed to be doing more extra-curricular activities: football (soccer), swimming, Taekwondo, summer soccer, Little Ballerinas… And I signed up for two different summer soccer leagues myself which just aded to the madness.
I love the busyness and fullness of my life and of course I bring it all on myself, but that disorganised feeling started stressing me out and wearing me down. Once I was in that mode it was hard to stop and pull myself out.
By the end of the year I was exhausted. The school holidays have been a welcome relief: I love not having things to do, or places to be. And no sport! I have even managed to find the time to read a few books which is my definition of pure luxury.
But it won’t be long before it all starts up again so now is the perfect time to stop and re-evaluate. Although I’m not one for resolutions, this year I have one: to be more organised.
This is my 6-step plan to get organised, control the chaos and make my days less draining:
Start Meal Planning
Menu planning is the key to being more organised. It stops you running around when it isn’t necessary. Going to the supermarket more than once a week is, to me, a sign that I haven’t planned things very well.
We are catalogue-junkies in our house and I generally plan my shopping list around what’s on special, so it makes a lot of sense to menu plan around the specials too.
Our family’s meal repertoire is fairly limited so our menu plan will always be pretty simple (at least until the kids start getting more adventurous). I will plan for my favourite kind of meal – leftovers – for days when I know I won’t have much time, like swimming lesson and training nights. We also tend to eat more elaborate meals on the weekend when I have more time and have fast stir-fries and pasta during the week.
We’ve started adding our menu plan to a weekly planner and using it to create our weekly shopping list.
Go old-school: Get a real diary
A big problem for me last year was the death of my iPhone. Along with all my contacts I lost all my appointments and important dates as well. You can also experience issues with upgrades and syncing issues. So the first thing to do is grab yourself a good organiser.
Write down everything
When you fill in your organiser, start basic – birthdays, anniversaries, school terms – and then start to dig deeper. The more you write down, the less likely you are to double book or forget things. It’s also a bit of a brain dump: writing down all the day-to-day tasks leaves less noise in your head. As well as helping you get organised putting pen to paper has also been proven to have a positive impact on individual wellbeing.
Schedule as much as you can
I always feel a bit silly when I admit to diarising things like housework, but it really does make life flow a little easier. Rather than having a general feeling of ‘I should be doing some stuff’ I know exactly what I’m aiming for each day. This then leaves more time and brain space for more interesting things.
Plan your exercise goals
The less I exercise, the more stressed I feel, so this is a big factor in trying to get organised for me. I’m aiming to write down my exercise goals for the week ahead – and doing it weekly means I can factor in other commitments, weather constraints and other things that can throw a longer term plan into chaos.
It also makes me more resolute to live up to my goals, rather than general thoughts of ‘I must do some exercise this week’ occurring to me randomly through my day.
Keep your organiser with you
Put it in your handbag, refer to it any time you commit to something, and write your appointments down immediately. Its a good idea to note all of the upcoming dates as soon as school newsletters come out too.Even note down reminders in the days prior to the appointment if you need to remember to prepare something for it – whatever you need to remember, write it down.
In essence, trying to get organised for the year ahead means planning and scheduling as much as possible. Which sounds quite boring, but actually leaves more time for the fun stuff.