Tag Archives: organization

Step 4 of Organization: The Ultimate Planner part 1

3 ring binder (opened)

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The particular step took me a couple of months to put together.  It sounds like A LOT!  But you take things one at a time.  Just add one or two templates at a time and use them for a couple of weeks before adding another.  Once the routines are established, you’ll be referring to the planner less and less.  Remember, this is for people who have NO routines or organization. It takes work to get there.  🙂

Step #4:  Putting together and using a planner

This step has taken a few trial and error practices to get to the halfway point where I now feel comfortable sharing what I’ve compiled.  Basically, its a planner that has EVERYTHING I need all contained in a neat little binder.  It stays in my room in a specific spot unless I’ve packed it in my backpack/purse to refer to while I’m out.  I used a combination of the Flylady’s tips (she calls it a control journal) and a professional day-planner I found online that is specifically for people with ADHD but costs over $70 so there’s no way I’m going to get it.  Here’s what you’ll need to start.  What templates you use is up to you but I’ve shared the links of the ones I found and are using as well as uploaded the ones I made myself.  Just click on the links!

A binder (I’m using one of Xan’s unused 1 inch black ones)
Page dividers.  The amount varies to how many categories you want.
Non-glare sheet protectors (Somewhere under 10)
ABC dividers for the address book
Dry Erase Marker and a pen
Different templates to do your planning.

Then you assemble it all together and, most importantly, USE IT!  Some of the pages you’ll want to put in a sheet protector so that you can wipe it clean each night.  For example, some of the chore lists will be most effective if you can mark it off.  It helps save paper so you don’t need a new page each week/month/or day if you put the day planner in one.

First category is my To-Do list.  In the empty vertical slots, I write in phone calls, errands, e-mail correspondence, cleaning, tasks, misc.  When I write an item for me to do, I put an x under which category it falls under.  Grocery shopping is categorized into errands.  Calling my mom back is in phone calls.  This system helps me to group like activities together.  ie, I find myself at the laundromat with nothing to do but wait for my clothes to dry.  Since I have my phone on me and lots of time, I can go down the list of phone calls I’ve been meaning to make.

I also printed out a couple extra sheets I use specifically for project to-do’s.  You know, those things that are extra, making a quilt or whatever.  I keep these next to my goal limit sheet.  I made this sheet to remind me not to juggle to much.  I got this idea from a recent talk I gave in church based off of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf‘s recent conference talk, Of Things That Matter Most.

Next category is my daily planner and monthly planner.  Quick side note.  I have 2 huge whiteboard calendars in my room to let me see the current and next month.  This is where I write my work schedule, appointments, trips, ect.  I use this in place of having a week by week planner.  My daily planner – which I only use on days I feel like I need it, otherwise I just stick with my routines, chores, and wall calendar – I found here from kristinsguide.com.  The power of Google! You can find just about any kind of planner that your looking for.  Don’t settle.  Find one that works.  Here is my Monthly Template and my Yearly Template that I’ve also found.  I mostly use the monthly calendar in my binder to write stuff in when I’m out and about, then transfer it to the wall.  Not really sure if I’m going to keep it yet.

The morning and bed routines I’ve listed in a way where I can track my progress over the course of a month.  I specifically have done this because I’m TERRIBLE at sticking to routines and habits.  I’m hoping through this method, I can identify patterns and improve.  This sheet will eventually be in a sheet protector, but for now, since I’m tracking the progress, I’m keeping them on file over the course of a few months.

Here is the day by day assignment where it follows the pattern that our grandmothers did where each day of the week was assigned a household task: Monday was a wash day.  Tuesday was ironing.  And so forth.  Only, with more modern applications.  This method helps each day have a focus and ensures certain tasks get done when needed.

Then, to ensure there’s never a need for spring cleaning, we have our zone assignments.  I have 5 sheets down at the bottom to mark the 5 different zones.  Most months are spread out over 5 weeks.  Zones 1 and 5 will often overlap and need to be done in the same week so I picked the 2 smallest zones.  The first week of the month we do zone 1.  Week 2 is zone 2 […] week 5 is zone 5.  The first 2-4 months I think are going to be the hardest because I have to start from a fairly messy start.  It’s not too cluttered, just a lot of places that haven’t been cleaned for some time.  But, if these zones are done consistently, they are quickly done and one can keep their house very clean with minimal work.  That’s the theory…  This will be my first week to try it since I just put together this page today.  Since it is the 3rd week in December, I’ll start off with zone 3 which is bathroom, spare room, and office.

I’ll have a seasonal cleaning list in here for things like checking for expired food in fridge and pantry, rotating food storage, flipping guestroom mattress, putting up and down the A/C unit… ect.

The next few parts that I need to develop for the control journal are the emergency contact and plan page, family/friend address book, compile all my food storage lists with 72 hour kits and all that jazz so that I can actually GET the stuff to put it all together in some organized fashion, a birthday/anniversary calendar, and whatever else I want in the book.  The Flylady says some people like to have a section with their favorite quotes, pictures, or happy memories.  Maybe you’ll want a some type of money management, calorie tracker, Menu planner (I use a whiteboard in my kitchen), or some other category.  This planner is for you so make it yours.

Keep a look out in the next few months for The Control Journal part 2

Also, if you’re interested, I noticed the Flylady has a holiday control journal you can check out here.



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Third Step to Organized: When in Doubt, Throw it Out

My sink is clean.  My routines are getting done 90% of the time.  And I’m ending week number 3!  If I can keep this up for just another month, this will be the longest new habit I’ve ever purposely gotten myself to learn that I can remember.  (Yeah… that’s how bad I am!)  Or maybe its a problem with my memory….     anyway…

What’s next?  Tossing junk out and de-cluttering the home. What do we do to minimize all the clutter?  A few things.  First we start with the rules.

1.  Form a new habit of getting rid of it before it starts. Anytime you buy something new, throw out a similar item.  If you buy new sneakers, immediately throw out the old ones you are replacing.  If there is nothing old of a similar item, then throw out two unrelated things.  (I make the exception with books, movies, or anything where we are adding to a category that we WANT to grow.  But that is just us.  I don’t think we have enough stuff to get rid of to not have exceptions to the rule.)  NO EXCEPTIONS IF YOU HAVE ROOMS THAT HAVE NO FLOOR BECAUSE THEY ARE PILED WITH STUFF!!!  That defeats the whole purpose.

2.  Know where the nearest donation centers are and what types of things they accept. This will help you know what to throw straight into the trash/recycle bins, or what to put in a box to take out to the car.

3.  Don’t think too hard; when in doubt, throw it out… or box it for the season and see if you can decide later. Have you used it in the last 6 months?  Does it still fit?  Do you still like it?  This method goes with those unwanted gifts, too.  You know all those things over the years that people have given you that don’t fit the decor of the house, doesn’t fit, never read, broken,  so you have it boxed up… yeah, those!  If you aren’t going to hang it, wear it, or use it for its purpose… THROW IT OUT!  Those you’re afraid to offend are not going to see it sitting in the box either*  (And people, don’t be too offended if someone doesn’t like your gift.  We’ve ALL done it.  Most of the time it is the THOUGHT and EFFORT that counts more than the gift itself.)

Not too many rules, right?  Easy to remember. But, wait!  What do we do with the clutter we ALREADY HAVE???

If your house is really bad than I would recommend what she calls the 27 Fling Boogie.  Basically, everyday grab a box or trash bag and quickly run through the house and collect 27 items to trash or donate.  This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes!  If there is a room that you can’t even enter because it has THAT much stuff in it, don’t stress.  Include it in your daily throw-out with a minimum of 5 items each round.  It may take a few months, but you’ll have that room back for use with very little effort on your part.

If your house is fine but could use a little work than I would recommend sectionalizing the place.  Choose 1 spot a week or month or however often you feel is necessary and declutter that one area.  Choose small areas that you can go through in less than 20 min. You could choose the computer desk, your craft drawer, the kitchen table, the pantry, pots and pans, movies, ect.  If those areas are really bad, break it down even further.  If your craft drawer is more like a craft center, then choose a specific craft or specific drawer, and JUST do that.  Set a timer to make sure you don’t get carried away.  Unless you have the whole afternoon to kill.  Then, GO FOR IT!

Remember! The whole point of the exercises is to do a little here and a little there.  We are learning habits.  If you go too big and get it all done too quickly, it will just build up again because you didn’t have enough time to make it a habit.

So far, for me, I’ve gone through my shoes, my clothes, and rearranged where I put my cooking books (back in the kitchen, thankfully).  Next stop:  I’d really like to organize my study space.  I don’t really have ONE place.  This has resulted in my ‘study materials’ to be spread all over the house.  Some by the bed, some on my desk, some in a few corners, some on the kitchen table…  Talk about clutter, right?  I’d like to keep everything by my computer but I only have one of those small computer desks.  SUGGESTIONS???

*Disclaimer:  I apologize to whoever has given me gifts that I no longer have.  That includes all those cute little Valentines from elementary school, or mass Christmas presents from middle school.  I’m sorry.  I really am.  But each of them was very appreciated!


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Second Step to Organization

I can say, honestly, that I see a difference in just 2 weeks of reading This book and following its steps.  I modify them a bit as I go, but its working.  Where did I leave off last time?

First Step to Organized

Oh yes.  The first 4 steps.  How am I doing with that?  I give myself A for effort and A- for performance.  Not too shabby, I would say.  I’ve noticed a few things.  I’ll mention one.  My counters stay significantly cleaner and the dishes usually immediately go in the dishwasher or get washed and dried because I am focusing on keeping the sink clean.  She suggests wiping it down with windex and making it really shine so you can see your face in it.  Sorry!  I’m not into that.  I just like the way it looks when there are no food scraps and I know I’ve recently swished it around with our dish scrubber w/soapy water.  Clean and sanitary.  That’s enough for me.  That way, if I drop a grape in the sink while washing them off, I don’t have to throw the grape out.  Just rinse it off and plop it in my mouth.  I would NOT have done that before with my sinks even had you paid me!


The second step that I’ve taken from the book is setting up a morning and an evening routine.  LOVE IT!  Why?  Because Xan suggested that I do this when we first got married and every time in between that I complained I had no habits and no routines and why was I so incompetent at routines???  Unfortunately, the routines never stuck.  In retrospect, my routines were too elaborate and time consuming.  But her steps, are easy and already polished through thousands of user’s trials and suggestions.  They’ve been working far, far better for me.  Here’s what I have set up:

Bedtime Routine:

start tomorrow’s to-do list
check calendar and menu board
kitchen: sink, sweep, swap towels
straighten: couch, mail, put stuff away
vitamins, brush teeth, wash face
lay-out tomorrow’s clothes and anything else I need in the morning
read, pray, sleep


Halloween 06 Gothic Costume. My new look, maybe???


Morning Routine

No snooze button when getting up
shower, wash face, brush teeth
dressed, hair, make-up
scripture/conference study
empty dishwasher, clean sink and counters
check on cats (food, toys, litter)
check calendar, update to-do list
breakfast, vitamins
dinner prep (if needed)
e-mail, facebook, blog

Sounds kind of lengthy, I know.  But a lot of these stem from all my previous attempts so I thankfully didn’t have to start from ground zero.  I’ve been using the routines for about a week now.  HUGE DIFFERENCE!  Mostly from simply feeling like I have a bit more control over the day.  And when emergencies hit, like our car getting locked in 4 wheel low and needing to go to the shop, or realizing we’re out of clean darks or whites, I’m ready to take care of it THEN.

PROOF???  2 things.  1)  Last Tuesday, one of my days off, I had one of my depressed days.  You know those days that you feel tired, sad, and uninterested for no apparent reason at all?  It was one of those.  Yet, I still found myself slowly pushing through my routines.  I even did a few loads of laundry!  And while I still felt sad, I didn’t feel down on myself for not doing anything all day… because I DID do something.  It wasn’t a lot.  Most of it WAS just sitting around watching tv or whatever.  But it WAS something.  2) I have most of today off.  Normally, I put off ALL errands, cleaning, laundry, ect to do today because I rarely find time to do them on workdays.  But, NOT TODAY!  Which means that I have time to do larger projects.  Like clean the mold off of our bathroom ceiling and watch the episode of Big Bang Theory I missed from being at work.  I actually have GUILT-FREE FREE-TIME!!!

*Disclaimer*  My house isn’t perfectly clean yet.  The desk and many other corners and surfaces are still cluttered.  Larger cleaning projects, such as mold in the bathroom I mentioned, still need tackling.  And budget and other tasks still left months behind.  But those steps come later.  For now.  I’m learning habits.  Something my mother DID try to teach me.  I just didn’t realize that she wasn’t simply trying to torture me with daily chores and lists and check offs.  LOL!  Thanks for trying, though, Mom!  You’re the best!


Mom dreaming of retirement!



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First Step to Organized

I have been inspired lately to make some changes by my ever increasing frustration at my inability to maintain an organized and clean home.  Catching up on my blog reading, one post in particular caught my eye.  It’s from a good friend back in college, Kelli Lund, and her recent post A House of Order.  I loved the simplicity of the idea to list the chores and spread them out.  But I was feeling the need for something more.

Yes, I am that lazy.  I wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do and how to do it.  I didn’t want to take the time to make my own list.  What if I forgot something?  How often do I need to clean this or that?  How do I fit this around my sporadic work schedule?

What to do?  Buy a book!  I sat at Borders and looked through all their books.  This one was my favorite.  Not only does it have a reasonable price, $15, its pages were simple and not cluttered with information and tips.  It is applicable for a disaster house, or just a messy house, like mine.  It works with kids, or without.  Whatever it was that gave me the feeling, “This is the book,”  I now am committed and am going to work my way through it.  I plan on writing down my steps and progress and hope it helps any of you out there looking for more tips.  Her website is here.

First Steps:

1.  Shine the kitchen sink
2. Get dressed and put on your shoes
3. Hair, makeup, accessories, ect.
4. Decent bedtime with plenty of rest

Having written that down.  I am off to deep clean and scrub the kitchen sink, I am already dressed and done up for the day.  I need to find a pair of shoes I can wear around the house (sounds odd but thousands of women who have tried it, swear by it.  I guess its worth a shot.  The theory behind it is that it makes you feel like you’re more ready for the day.  Better than pajamas, sweats, or slippers, I guess.)


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