Organization Series: Part 2

After receiving such great response to last week’s post, we’re so excited to bring you our Organization Series: Part 2 — Planning your Family’s time!

With the new year starting back up, and all of our kids (and some of our moms!) returning to school, there is no better time to get organized and instill new habits than when we’re presented with a fresh slate.  Organization Series: Part 2 focuses this week on to-do lists, managing your planner and coordinating your family schedule.  Enjoy!

Juggling it All

I know, like me, many moms wonder how they are going to juggle working and/or staying home, kids in school, family events and outings, volunteer work, a social calendar, their husband’s work schedule, etc. It’s a lot!

And, for me, feeling too overwhelmed can be a stress trigger. Getting into a routine and creating habits helps me to have a healthier mindset.

I once read that accomplishing tasks actually produces endorphins, and endorphins make you happy! (And happy people just don’t go around shooting their husbands! Okay, I had to!)

Who doesn’t love Legally Blonde?

But seriously, simply organizing, creating habits, and finding a rhythm make it so that all aspects of your life work together. Whatever task you are doing, turn it into a habit and that habit into a routine. I’m a BIG fan of “to-do” lists. I personally write everything down in my planner, which leads me to my next part!

Utilizing a Planner

One of my biggest pieces of advice for how to stay organized is to use a planner/calendar daily!

I mentioned Emily Ley, and I LOVE her planners. I also love her philosophy and her purpose for creating her planners.

Emily states, “Prioritizing, simplifying, and being lovingly intentional with our time gives us the opportunity to celebrate the joy that’s found in the journey, not necessarily at the end of it. And when we uncover that coveted free time, we find it is truly possible to do it all.”

To me this means that if I am better able to prioritize my time and my responsibilities, I have more free time for the things and the people I love. I enjoy using a paper planner because I am a visual person and I like to see everything written down.

Electronic Planners

A brief word on electronic planners.  You can also utilize Google Calendar/iCal if you are an electronic person. I often use this for my monthly character trait lessons and scheduling meetings at work because of its ability to sync with my coworkers’ calendars and my electronic devices.

I love the aspect of the electronic reminders on my phone that remind me when I have a meeting I need to be at about 10 minutes prior. Of course, you can set the reminders to be earlier/later if needed.

Ashley’s Planner by Emily Ley

This is really helpful on those hectic workdays when I am not at my desk for long periods of time. If you have a SMART watch, your reminders will also sync to that. You can also utilize this for events, play dates, appointments, whatever it may be that you need to keep track of.

Back to my planner! (Because it’s what I love the most!) Every August is when I receive my new Emily Ley planner (or whatever academic planner you decide to use if not opting for a yearly that begins in January. Remember, it’s all about your lifestyle and what fits you and your family’s needs the most!).

Planning Ahead

Before I begin to use it, I sit down and sync my work calendar and Junior’s school calendar with my academic planner by marking all of the important days of the school year. (I love using washi tape to do this because it’s super cute!).

I also write in all birthdays and any events I know I have coming up that year.

Another piece of advice, you can never plan TOO early! I write in once a year tasks on the monthly calendar like when taxes or car registrations are due, a monthly home task or project, or when I need to update my renewals for work/when I have once a year reports that are due.

I’ll also write in reminders the month before so I will begin thinking about them.

Then, each month I have an ongoing “to-do” list on the left column of each month’s spread.

Ashley’s planner for August

At the beginning of every month, I write down what all I need to accomplish that month, personal and professional. You can always add to the list as the month goes on, or take off, because, “Grace, not perfection!” Life does not always go as planned.

Again, this is just my way of keeping track and planning for my family and I. Find a way that works for you, but know that having a planner or calendar somewhere that you will look at almost daily is so beneficial for helping you stay organized in your life. Plus, taking some time to plan allows you to give more thought into what you do.

One thing I have really enjoyed about Emily Ley’s planner is the daily aspect of it. Her daily planner includes a new, fresh page for each and every day.

Daily to-do list

This page has time sheet where you can fill in what all you have planned for the day, a space to create your daily “to-do” list, and lastly, a place to meal plan. AMAZING. Seriously.

Every morning when I get to work, I sit down and fill out this page for the day. I refer to my monthly calendar and monthly “to-do” list, incorporate anything else that has come up, and from there create my daily “to-do” list.

As I go throughout my day, I check off everything that I have completed. If I do not finish something, at the end of the day I just simply move it to the next day so I do not forget about it the next morning.

I really love this page because it allows you to incorporate time management into your day. I believe that time management and being realistic about the amount of time it takes to do something is really helpful in helping you to stay on track.

We are always under pressure to try and get more done in the same amount of time, or less. Having what I call a “time management mindset” allows me to focus on the important tasks, I am more efficient in my days, and almost always on time.

Be Realistic

I try to incorporate this mindset into everything I do, even in trying to get my family and I from point A to B.

For example, I hate being late. If I need to be somewhere at 10:00 a.m., I’ll first think, how long does it take me to get there? My family and I live about an hour away from just about anything we do, so I almost always account for an hour for travel.

Then, how long will it take me to get ready? To get Junior and his bag ready? (Be realistic! I always add on an extra 30 minutes!) So, I will probably need to start getting ready by 7:30 am. And my friends wonder why I’m not a last minute person!

Not only do I just enjoy planning and organizing for the clean feeling it brings, but I also think it is important for an overall healthy lifestyle.

Planning makes me a Happier Mom

For me, having routines in place each and every day and staying constant with those routines truly allows me to be less stressed with what all I have going on. I’m also not only more productive in a clean and organized environment, but I almost always know where everything is, making transitions and my days go a lot smoother (especially with the kiddos!).

Due to being less stressed, I also feel more relaxed. This is important to me as a mom. If I am not stressing over the laundry I let pile up, or that project for work I waited the last minute to do, I have more free time to spend with Junior finger painting in the drive-way or taking walks around our neighborhood, just overall I have more quality time to spend with family and friends.

Ashley coloring with her son Junior

By just spending those few minutes a day writing in my planner and organizing my thoughts helps me to feel that the overwhelming feeling I may sometimes have is manageable.

I encourage you to find a few minutes in each day to sit with your planner and/or calendar to plan your day, whether it be in the evening before bed or the first thing you do when you wake up, whatever works for you! You will begin to see the chaos run a little smoother once this habit becomes your routine.

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my organizational theories and how organizing my thoughts and planning for my days keeps me functioning and happy! I really look forward to sharing more organizing tips and tricks for the home and for the kiddos in the next two parts of the series. Again, I am always open for new ideas so please share!

Thank you for reading our Organization Series: Part 2!  How do you coordinate your family’s schedule?  Tell us in the comments!

Meet Ashley Rickert

Ashley and her husband, John, have a toddler together, John Jr., and a little boy on the way, Oliver! Both are originally from Texas, but brought to Hampton Roads by the U.S. Navy, where John serves. Besides being a mom, Ashley is also an Elementary School Counselor and loves to cook, clean, organize, craft, spend time with her toddler, family, and friends, Cancun, reading, running, yoga, and wine! This was her first contributor post and she was so excited to have it be for Hampton Roads Moms! Ashley’s advice to other moms in the community is to know they are not alone with the million responsibilities that we carry as moms, and encourages them to be intentional with their time in order to find joy in the journey, and to have a little grace when they are not able to do it all.

Other Articles by Ashley:

Organization Series: Part 1

Organization Series: Part 3

Organization Series:  Part 4

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