Apr 14, 2010

10 Tips on Managing and Organizing Your Life & Time

Does the above image look all too familiar to you?  Yeah, it does to me too!

Being a mom is time consuming enough, how do we manage our time?  Between kids, housework, family, work, cooking and just life -- There aren't enough hours in the day!  I find that being a single mom, especially, is very difficult.  It's challenging.  I have had to come up with some easy ways to keep myself organized. Unfortunately, it wasn't too easy at first, but it definitely helps me stay organized. 

1. Coupon Organizer/Binder: I just take an ordinary binder from the dollar store & seperate it into different sections. (Dairy, Produce, Baby, Pet, Frozen Foods, etc...) Use trading card sheets and label them by manufacturer or sub category you wish to use.  Put each coupon into the appropriate sleeve.  Honestly, this saves you so much time at the grocery store.  Your coupons are right at hand when you need them.  I also use envelopes with holes punched into them so they fit in the binder to organize Target coupons, Walgreens, Catelinas, CVS, etc...  It definitely keeps things separate so you know where they are when you need them.  I also have an extra sleeve in the front for store/discount cards.  Easier than digging in your purse/wallet!  Folders can hold coupon policies or current week flyers.  Make sure to keep binder paper in there for lists!  This is honestly one of the BEST things I have ever done.  It cut the time of my shopping trip in more than half!!

2. Checklists: This is something that is also very important in my life. I get overwhelmed VERY easily when I'm doing something, so having things organized in front of me is a major plus. There are so many tasks that need to be done and even tasks within those tasks.  (i.e. Cleaning.  I make a checklist of things that need to be done when I am cleaning, and I make sure to list them in order of importance.)  I also make checklists for packing for trips, packing a diaper bag, shopping at grocery store, running errands, putting together a party, safety, etc... Checklists can be used for many things and they're very useful -- they reduce stress!

3. Create a cleaning schedule: I have tried cleaning the entire house in one day - IMPOSSIBLE!  I decided to create a cleaning schedule so I don't overwhelm myself.  Just take it day by day and write the schedule down.  Small cleaning can be done in between, but major things such as cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, mopping the floor/vacuuming or sorting out toys.  Definitely schedule on the cleaning schedule.  It really does help with reducing that terribly overwhelming feeling when you are starting cleaning.

4. Family Binder: What would go in a family binder? Phone numbers for friends/family, school contacts - It is so much easier to have these numbers at hand than sorting through papers or a phone book when you need to call someone right at that moment.  A calendar - Keep that months calendar in there so you can flip to that at the beginning of the day to ensure an easier way to see all you have to do.   Checklists - Definitely keep these in there as well.  Bills to pay, tracking your budget, invites to parties, school notices, AND YOUR WEEKLY MENU/RECIPES!

5. Weekly Menu: Very important as well.  PLAN AHEAD!!  Don't stress the day of what you're going to eat for dinner, lunch, breakfast, etc...  That wastes time.  Make a menu plan at the beginning of the week.  Do the shopping that day or the day after making sure that you get the right amount of food for what you are going to cook.  Also pull out the recipes for what you plan to make so you have those right at hand.  (Stick them all in the Family Binder. ;) )

6. Everyone Must Chip In:  We know back in the day the woman did the housework and cooking and the man worked to bring in the dough.  Not so much these days!  Everyone really should chip in with the chores.  Husband, kids and even the dog if he was talented enough. ;) Ha!  It's very important that you can split the chores between all of you - Washing dishes, taking out trash, etc...  It relieves the stress on you yourself and also teaches your kids (oh and your husband!) responsibility.  There are ways to make things more interesting for your kids as well!

7. Cook Extra: If you have time at the beginning of the week, try to make some extra meals and freeze them.  I sometimes do this when my kids are napping or playing quietly.  When it's time for the meals, just take them out of the fridge, finish the preparation and put them on the table!  I do this when I have the time because it's just a lot more helpful.  Especially when you're doing activities with your kids and driving here and there.  Life gets complicated.

8. Keep Important Things At Hand:  Keep a little wall organizer near the door with important things such as keys, important notes, mail that has to be sent, cameras, extra socks, keep shoes near the door in a basket or on an organizer, back packs (after homework is done of course!) or your purse.  Just so when you're walking out the door, you know where those things are rather than spending extra time looking for them.  

9. Donate / Throw Out / Store: The last tip is really to just stay organized by throwing things out.  If you find a toy that has missing pieces, don't just keep it around hoping you'll find the other piece.  Chances are you won't find that piece and that toy will sit there useless until you remember you still haven't found the pieces.  I really hate to throw things out, but I used to keep everything until I realized it wasn't possible to do that anymore.  When it comes to clothes, if your child outgrows something (or if you do!) either put it in a storage box/space bag for your next child or donate/sell it.  Don't keep it in your closet because it will make it more challenging to actually find the size you really need when you need to find something to wear.  

10. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF: This is VITAL in my staying organized.  I need to take at least one day for myself per week or every other week to regroup.  Go out with some friends, go see a movie, send the kids to grandmas and just spend some time with your husband...  It's vital to your sanity as well.  :)  When your kids are around, you do everything for them.  You have very little time for yourself.

This post is part of a blogging contest from the TwitterMoms community. There is a chance this post could be randomly selected to win a $50 Target GiftCard, so wish me luck! For more details, you can view the contest page here (http://icomp.ly/IconApps).