Tuesday, 20 January 2015

5 Essential Ways to Finally Get Organized

We are three weeks into January (and almost at my birthday) and I feel that I have little to show for myself. Since just after New Years sickness has settled in over our home. Last week Brandon had strep throat leaving him out cold for several days and me taking care of him. This week a cold thought it timely to attack me and I have been fighting to keep up my usual pace.

It feels that since Christmas the busyness has picked up slowly and steadily, like an old train pulling away from the station. Life has become lively again, and after a couple weeks of couch hopping and Christmas cookie indulging it was welcomed.

Although I am enjoying getting back in the swing of things, my problem comes with a single solitary thought that hits every morning:

What shall I do today?

Okay, I know, a bit anti-climactic. This is normal right? Shouldn’t I figure out what is on the go? And why in the world do you think of the word ‘shall’??

I’ve thought of this question often since my Pippi long stocking days. I would turn on this cartoon as a child and feel that the world was my oyster – she could do anything, it was just a matter of her narrowing down all of her adventurous options. She would ask herself this question as she listed off her choices: flipping pancakes, dancing, lifting horse above her head (yes, she had a horse named horse - brilliant). You can find the theme song here.

The problem for me is that this question already demonstrates that I am behind. I don’t lead a life that affords whatever adventure I could possibly imagine for the day. It isn’t a blank slate. I have responsibilities, commitments, and things that need to be done. It’s not a case of worrying or fretting over these things, it is simply about a need for healthy productivity.

And so, as I lie in bed late into the morning, trying to take a personal day so I can finally kick this cold, I feel resolved that I need to change, I need to get organized in a fresh sense. I need some loose parameters surrounding my day so that I can actually use my time wisely.

Maybe you are in the same place, maybe you had wonderful new years resolutions of living with purpose or getting more organized. Maybe this has yet to come to pass... 

I’ve collected a few helpful suggestions that I hope to implement in the coming weeks. Feel free to give them a try and let me know how they go for you!

1// A Daily Morning Routine

This is something that I used to have down pat (see my post here) but has unfortunately fallen to the wayside since we moved... 5 months ago! I need to begin working out the time that I will commit to getting up to in the morning and how I will integrate a few important things into my morning. The start of my day cannot be the most rushed and chaotic part of my day.

2// Weekly Meal Plans

I’ve been chatting with a friend about this lately, and even though I don’t have a large family, as the cook of the house, I still need to be aware of what we are eating and when. Too often over the past number of months I haven’t thought about dinner until I am pulling out the bread to make sandwiches since we have a meeting/work/event to head to and not enough time to actually cook.

Apparently this also saves money!

3// An Outline of Each Day

Between my work schedule, class schedule, and church schedule, I do find myself with a rough outline of what my week is going to look like. The problem comes when I need to pick up a shift, actually get my readings done, do an assignment, or schedule in meetings. That is when I find myself go-go-going and crashing. On those days I stay up much too late trying to unwind as Friends re-runs play in the background.

I am realizing that I actually need to pencil in when I am going to read. When I book a meeting. When I am going to go to the bank, pick up groceries, or have someone over. It needs to not just find itself in my memory but slotted into the week. By doing this, I will be able to actually accomplish more and relax more because I will be aware of my down-times.

4// A Bedtime Routine

Too often I am finding myself starting to snooze on the couch as I unwind after work or church. I pry myself from under the blanket braving the cold air and move as quickly as possible from couch to bed only to fall asleep seconds after my head hits the pillow.

I know, for any insomniacs out there, this sounds like a dream.

Instead of lazily pushing myself to my wakeful limits, I need to start setting a time for bed, having a routine, and maybe actually picking up a good novel before I close my eyes.

5// A husband who will do this routine thing with me

Okay, I must admit, this one is going to be easy. Brandon has already set the pace. He is already working to implement almost all of the above suggestions. The strep throat threw him for a loop but even in the few short weeks that he has been working within a set routine I have seen change. He is out of bed before I am, he is diving into devotions differently, he is eating better. He is setting an example of what I want to strive towards.

But perhaps the most important element of him already setting the tone is that I will not have to try to do this alone.

Make sure your spouse and your family has access to your schedule. Communicate about it. Share your plans. This will help not to create unwarranted expectations where your plans and schedule come before the needs of your family. Make room to relax with each other, set a time to go to sleep that both of you can follow, give each other space in the morning... work together in this process of organization!

For more information on getting organized, meal planning, and some fun printables check out some great ideas on Pinterest. There are free calendar printables (here), helpful tips on meal planning (here), and great blogs (here) that can help get you started!  

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