Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Managing My Time, part 1 of 2


Do you ever feel like you're just jumping from one thing to the next without time to think? Without being able to keep track of planned events and making sure that you're energetic and ready for them when they happen? Do you have a place for important papers and information where it can be located quickly and easily? Are you able to utilize those 5 minutes that you suddenly have, without wasting them just trying to think of how to use them? *chuckle*  Do you manage things like grocery shopping so that it can be efficient and easily manageable; and home maintenance with vitality and the help of the family? Well these things are very possible...and so much more.  *smile*

So far I have written over 47 posts for you on the organization of home and family.  *smile*  Amongst these I have been asked many time how I manage my time at home with a large family.  So in this post I'll share with you t why it’s valuable for moms to manage their time, and then how I do that using my desk, a calendar, a day planner, how I organize reading material, grocery shopping & errands.  After I published this post the first time a dear friend asked what my strategies are for organizing bills, mail, and coupons, and I realized I should have included those as well!  So in part 2 I cover those additional ways I manage my time.



If we desire to live life ON PURPOSE we can budget our time just like we would our finances.  Deciding in advance how our time should be most wisely spent, and creating a plan for how to manage our time with all the dynamics each day encompasses.  Working proactively rather than reactively through our days, weeks, school years, summers, seasons of pregnancy or with a newborn at home, etc...  But we only have 24 hours to work with.  

When I think the amount of time I have in a day I've learned to envision it with boundaries, since 24 hours if the limit.  *smile*  But still it can feel like we don't have time for rel-life to happen while keeping up with the important or unexpected things that come along in every day. Things like a child (or several children!) that needs extra behavior and character training one day, someone getting the flu, 4 kids needing their diapers changed simultaneously, or even the nice opportunity to join friends at the park on an unexpectedly warm, sunny day.  And my hyper-responsible, first-born self says, "How am I possibly going to fit in a trip to the park – without letting go of important responsibilities – and when I’m already maxed out?"  ...But my heart says, "...But playing with the kids at the park is important, too..." 

Well sometimes the problem is being maxed out by clutter, disorganization and a general lack of clarity about what we should be doing.  It's okay - don't pull your hair out.  *smile*  We actually do have the time we need to take care of the extra things that come up, the problem is that there is no way of getting the time together into large enough blocks to be useful. The time we lack is in the cracks of disorganization.  (While this post is about how I manage my own time directly, if you want more information about how I manage our home and family, please see "You Cant Have Your Cake and Eat It Too".)

Below is a visual my husband created of how a day looks when it lacks organization and planning.  This person just doesn't have time for anything.  Her activities are actually spilling out of the day’s boundaries into the next day and she's having to make compromises in the important areas in order to handle the urgent things that come up.  This equals stress - guaranteed.  And not just for Mom, but for her husband and children as well.
 

While it certainly is possible to simply have more things in your life than one day can fit, most of the time it is a matter of organization and prioritization.  The answer can be found in re-capturing all the time that is lost in the cracks of disorganization and clutter.  When things are organized they fit together within the confines of a plan.  The right amount of time at the right time can be laid out in advance so that I know what I will be doing at about any given time of the day based on our family's schedule.  Some think this sounds like prison, or bondage, or just plain unrealistic.  But the truth is that freedom lies within taking charge of our days and activities. When we plan in advance then we don’t expect 28 hour days out of ourselves, and time is not wasted.  We have time for all of the important things (and by this I’m including relaxation and play, Bible study and peaceful, adequate amounts of sleep) – and even have a little time left over.  This left over time is called “margin” and it is for the little bumps that come along and try to crash my day.  And believe me, they will always come. 
Here’s an example from a morning a few years ago at our house filled with “bumps”.  The girls over slept their alarm clock in the morning, so now the oatmeal that Karen (12) loves to fix for us is not started, young kids don’t have their water bottles filled or vitamins out and they’re asking repeatedly for a drink, people are needing to shower at the same time and arguing about who should be able to go first, and young kids are not productively and happily occupied with breakfast but instead are getting out tons of toys which will need a big clean up now before we start homeschooling for the day.  Tyler (2) has pooey pants and has wriggled his hands down into his diaper and now has those contents on his hands while he is touching toys – major clean up now for not only him but the 17 toys he’s touched, etc…  Maybe you can relate.  *smile*  Not my favorite beginning of a day.  

When everyone is up on time in the morning, kids are dressed and ready for the day and sitting at the table with everything they need (water, vitamins, food), no toys are out, no one is bored and sticking their hands in their diaper, and we clean up breakfast in a timely manner and move smoothly into school.  *Aahhh*  Much better.  But when bumpy mornings happen, with some margin in our schedule we can re-group and get back into our plan without the stress of missing a large portion of our school time and other important things and spiraling in to more chaos as things progress.  If you look at the next picture you can get a vision for how eliminating the wasted time in a day can equal more than enough time to do what we want and need to with some left over for the extras.



Our refrigerator door is Organization Central for the family (Click HERE for more on home organization.), and my kitchen counter is Organization Central for me personally.  *smile*  It’s not ideal to have my desk be on the kitchen counter near the sink, but in our current small house this is what I have so I make it work, and it serves it’s purpose.  I personally only have so much working-memory space in my head available for managing our large family so everything has to be written down or printed out to be remembered – my counter “desk” is the place to keep it all organized. 


Flat on the counter I keep an 8x10 spiral notebook as my “To-Do” list.  It is organized into three categories:  people & places to CALL, things to DO, and places I need to GO.  This way if I have a few minutes available I don’t have to read through the whole list to find something I could take care of in the next 5 minutes, I can just skim the section of phone calls I need to make, for example, and quickly select one; instead of spending those 5 minutes just reading the list trying to decide how to best use those 5 minutes!  *chuckle*  (I even had this organized notebook idea published in Marriage Partnership Magazine once, kinda fun. *smile*)  I cross items off my list as they’re completed.  When the notebook page is full in any of the 3 categories and there’s no more room to write down additional things, then I re-write the page with only the remaining items that are not yet crossed off.  Occasionally something stays on my list for months and never gets done as I’m prioritizing my time, and that’s okay.  Sometimes it just keeps getting re-written on new lists until it’s done, and sometimes I decide that I’m just not going to do that thing after all and it drops off.
Beside the note book I stick post-it notes of things that must be taken care of today, or notes of things I need to recall quickly.  (Side note: I do get flack from sweet friends who tease me about being the post-it note queen – just because I always keep 5 different sizes of post-it notes on hand in our desk drawer.  *chuckle*  They’ve even given me post-it notes as a gift!  I love-love post-its – lists and notes that can’t escape me because they’re stuck down!  Yay!  Brilliant design!  They’re all over the house.  Anyway…)  Examples of what I use post-its for on my counter might be a reminder note that one of the children is to miss a privilege for however many days for a poor choice they made, or a note that I need to call my mom to discuss the family birthday party coming up this weekend.  Easily pealed off and thrown away when it’s completed.

I have a vertical file box for all of the paperwork I need on hand (file drawers are in the garage for all other paper work).  Now I’m not a pile person, but for some reason if I turn what would be a pile and stand it up vertically it doesn’t look like or feel like a pile any more.  *chuckle*  Go figure.  So this box holds things like recipes I plan to try or ones I’ve taken from my recipe binders (Organizing Recipes) because I’m planning to prepare them that week and I’ve already shopped for the ingredients.  Stickers for homeschooling rewards.  A pen (that big pink daisy is my happy pen – just makes me smile), pencil, and a highlighter for quick and easy access.  Extra copies of the consumable charts that the children use (See Charts and Lists for more on this).  Papers of online resources for buying modest clothing (Modest Dress for more on this), or for help with the girls’ crocheting.  A “Children’s Catechism” (which we started teaching but haven't taught the children completely yet but still hope to).  A website print out of some music I’d like to buy some time.  My Cuisinart food processor manual and Blendtec manual for quick reference. A list of things I need done around the house so when someone desires to earn some extra money, or someone “earns” an extra job for more practice in serving with a good attitude *wink-wink* then I have those ideas on hand.   “Medical Release Forms” for when I need to leave any of the children with someone other than my husband, brochures from about 6 local malls so I can reference what stores are available there, what the phone number is for that store, and what times they’re open (to avoid wasting any time at the mall and avoiding going there at all costs unless an item I need is there for sure and even held for me *laugh*).  And other such papers.  My box even has picture frames for photos of our children.  I love it.  


There is a little mini vertical file stand for things that are in process right now; especially smaller items that would get lost in the bigger file box.  For example, receipts I need to hold on to, the library print-out list of books we have currently checked out, print outs of anything I’ve ordered online so I can make sure to watch for it’s arrival, a gift card to be used, etc.


Between the larger file box and the wall, I stand up reading material I’m working on.  A couple books I’m reading or plan to read soon, the chapter book I’m reading aloud to the kids at night, the current Taste of Home’s “Simple & Delicious” magazine to look through for new recipes. This is a source for excellent recipes, quick and simple yet very tasty, and with photographs of every recipe!)


Beside my counter is a wall calendar that serves as my month-at-a-glance day planner.  I used to use my actual day planner for this but it was too much trouble to be pulling it out and flipping to the correct month all the time, so I changed to a darling wall calendar which I just love.  All appointments, birthday or holiday reminders, guests coming over, what days the fish were fed, when the library books are due, kids can check the date for their school work, and younger kids can learn all about calendars by using mine – everything for the family goes here.  It’s kept in one place so I cannot accidentally double-book anything because plans were kept in more than one location.  I write most everything in pencil, because when plans change I like to erase them completely; for my calendar I don’t like to see a mess of pen ink where things have been changed, I like to see simplicity – it makes me feel calmer, not overwhelmed or confused.  I write birthdays very small in red ink, and I write when books are due at the library in blue so that those two things stand out (and neither 0f these things will change), but everything else is in pencil.  I circle appointment times so that I can see those at a glance easily and they stand out as well.  When I write something down that will happen in the morning on a certain day, I write it at the top of that day’s box on the calendar; if something will happen in the afternoon, in the middle of the box, and in the evening, at the bottom of the box.  If the calendar is uncomfortably full of activities or stressful over a week or a few weeks then I’ll sometimes put a penciled ‘X’ over a weekend or two after that to remind myself not to plan things on those days.  I need to be sure our family has the rest we need, and make sure the kids have enough of Daddy & Mommy that they need.  My husband has been good over the years to periodically remind me that I’m not a victim of our schedule – it’s totally in my control, I can make it whatever I would like.  *smile* 



I do still have my day planner, it just no longer holds our family calendar.  In it I keep two sets of address & phone tabs:  one set for friends, and one set for businesses.  This way I can keep track of businesses phone numbers and the times that they’re open so I don’t have to spend time looking them up more than once, and I don’t waste time making trips to stores that are closed.  (Hate that.)  In a pocket of the planner I keep directions to places I go (where I haven’t driven myself at least 10 times so that now I remember how to get there exactly *laugh*).  I have business card pockets for Doctor’s business cards.  And at the back of the planner are four tabs for additional information. 

- A “Loaned Out” tab for listed items like books or messages on CD that I’ve loaned out or borrowed, so I don’t have to rack my brain trying to remember where that book went that I loaned out months ago when another friend borrowed it.

- A “Gift Ideas” tab for keeping track of gift ideas for each person in our immediate family.  As ideas present themselves I always write them down so I don’t have to try to recall those great ideas later.  We always strive to buy each other and the kids something they really need or would like to have, not just any ‘ol thing.

- A “Businesses” tab for keeping track of extra details from certain businesses, such as The Picture People:  the name of the gal who did a great job of taking our large-family photo; or information on Jungle Play Land:  the address & phone number, times they’re open, prices for several different age groups, and information on the membership we purchased.

- A “Misc.” tab for more random information such as a list of books I’d like to read; a list of educational videos we’ve enjoyed from the library; the authors names of our favorite children's books at the library; the phone number for our local Animal Control (we’ve had dangerous dogs in our neighborhood); or a list of ideas on how to throw a wonderful ladies tea, which I wrote down when we attended a church who did this often.
 
I also intentionally manage my time with the weekly errands and grocery shopping.  And by the way this errand can be done efficiently, without wasting time, with enough energy so that you're not dragging (because you got enough sleep at night), and thoroughly enough that you rarely need to make extra trips because things were missed.  *smile*  Our family uses a “Master Grocery List” on the refrigerator for keeping track of what needs to be purchased at the store that week.  This is a list of all of our staple one-stop-shopping needs:  food, diapers, household items, etc.  I write in italics beside some items how many of that item we need and what brand we buy, so that if Bob does the shopping for some reason that week then he’ll have all the information he needs.  When we run out of an item someone simply highlights it on the list.  This way I don’t need to waste time creating lists each week that contain mostly the same regular items, and by skimming the list before shopping I can make sure nothing was missed which would then require an additional trip to the store – total waste of time I could have spent with my family.  I also write down the ingredients for the dinner recipes I’m planning on making that week.  Items on the list are also put in the order of how we find them in the store so there is little if any back-tracking (i.e. front of the store to the back of the store).  (See our post "Charts and Lists that Save My Sanity" for more information on this.)  This also helps me quickly locate an item on the list when I need to highlight it, because I know which items are near each other (i.e. at Costco, the string cheese is right after the baked breads, so when I skim the list on the refrigerator and see the bread items listed I know the string cheese will be listed immediately after that). Click on the list below to enlarge it if you'd like.

You can have energy with your jobs at home!  *laugh*  And you can involve the children so that they help maintain cleanliness and order. It does not have to, and should not sit on mom's shoulders alone. To leave it up to mom solely is not good form mom or for children.  You can have motherhood with vitality!

To enable the children with their individual responsibilities we have several charts and lists on the refrigerator to help me manage my time with them as well.  Once kids have been carefully instructed and taught to do a certain job, and I’m confident they know what to do, I do not waste a ton of time repeating myself every day re-explaining the details of the job they have before them – they reference a list or check list for this.  (See our post "Charts and Lists that Save My Sanity" for more information on this) For example, when they have the responsibility of cleaning up the kitchen after dinner what does that mean exactly?  I can tell you it means different things to me than it does to our teenagers.  *chuckle*  So I make a chart with the details for them to check off, and they learn to pursue excellence in their work. And instead of listing on my fingers and saying, "Have you done...have you done...have you done...", all I have to say is, "Have you checked off your chart?"

When we have a continual problem of a child “forgetting” the reasoning behind certain family rules, and I’ve explained it to them over and over and over again yet they’re still not “remembering” why that thing is important, then I make a list and they get to copy it down to help them retain the information.  This helps them recall why we do what we do. *smile*  Here’s an example of a list they get to copy down (the number of times is determined by their age and ability) when they’re continually tossing clean clothes into the laundry hamper:


Also on top of my counter I’ll keep any small projects I need to work on, such as mending, thank you notes to be written, or small toys that need to be glued.  I don’t like piles of things, but if they’re not on my counter then they’re not “on my plate” so to speak and they don’t get done.  Sometimes I’ll intentionally make a pile of clothing items that need mending, for example, right in the middle of my counter because then I’m inclined to get it off of there and I complete what I’ve been putting off! *chuckle*

I completely rely on my “desk”/counter to keep us all functioning smoothly.  Unfortunately the older kids do see it as a place to get lots of information, too, so I’m often chasing them away and forbidding them from asking a hundred questions about what they read!  *smile*  Not that it's secret, but I do reserve the right to change any of the information on the calendar at any time, and do not desire to re-explain the changes to the masses and deal with so much disappointment.  I just tell them that they’re on a need-to-know basis and right now they don’t need to know. I reassure them that  I’ll tell them things that pertain to them when the time is right.  

So!  *smile* If you're feeling stressed and need your time better managed - first breathe into the bag.  *wink*  Then I encourage you to look forward to your future plans of organizing your time with hope!  If you’re reading this and trying to imagine where to begin towards creating a more organized life style, I encourage you to pick just one strategy to implement at a time.  Don’t take on so much change that it takes all of your energy just to try to remember how you wanted to use each tool or strategy, because that will likely bring feelings of "I can't do this", discouragement, or confusion.  When the one strategy you choose is comfortable, then choose another one if you need to.  Give yourself grace.  *smile*  And I’d love to answer any questions you may have about how I organize my time.

Blessings,


34 comments:

  1. Again, thank you for all the help! It's so nice to get advice; the other families I know that are "larger" are either disorganized or don't homeschool, so your honest example is priceless! (By the way, my son is now only a nice schedule; he is happier and my sanity is restored!)

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  2. Oh thanks Jennifer! =) I'm so glad that you've found encouragement from our blog. And I'm SO excited that your little man and you are enjoying your days so much more with a schedule in place! yay! Good job, mom! That blesses my heart. I'm excited about all of the additional blessings I'm confident you'll continue to discover as you go along in a routine for your week. I'd LOVE to hear more as you learn. Blessings!

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  3. Wow! Thanks for the reminder and I appreciate the organization tips on the counter by the phone. I have a similar system, but it is not nearly as neat. Really like what you did.
    Keep up the God work.

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  4. Thanks, Lori! You keep up the good work, too. =)

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  5. Once again, my friend, you have highlighted why my life aggravates me so much sometimes. ;)
    My piles are still horizontal and in more places than I care to count, plus there is nothing cute organizing it all. I am happy to say, there has been much improvement, but honestly what I would really like to do is completely pitch at least half the contents of my house! I do not know why we hang on to some of the things that we do, but one day very soon you may see a large pillar of smoke in the sky ...just know that it will be coming from the enormous burn pile of our JUNK! My ultimate goal is to NOT end up on an episode of "Hoarders". *If you haven't seen this show, you might want to watch with a brown paper bag in hand---for when you hyperventilate---the clutter and chaos is beyond comprehension!* Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas! :)
    *hug*

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  6. Ha ha ha ha - love you, Sand. Thanks for encouraging me to share ideas. *hugs* You know...one day I could maybe come up there by myself and if you feel the need, I could hold your hand while you purge things you no longer need. I'll be the angel on your shoulder saying, "Let it go...c'mon...you can do it..." ;) and then I'll drive away the large plastic sacks in our big van and you'll be burden-free! =D

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  7. Oh my ...yes, PLEASE!! Did you just say come up here by yourself??? ;) I would love that! I think I need someone that is not me to look at my home and help me organize my home. An objective third party who can look at my stuff and say PITCH IT!
    :) (I am still hanging on to baby stuff, but that is another story!)

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  8. I'm amazed at how low tech you are in your systems. Whatever works for you is all that matters.

    Life in a Shoe just documented her learning curve getting an android phone that you might enjoy: http://inashoe.com/2011/03/my-phone-is-smarter-than-me/#comment-44808

    I plugged your blog to her and her readers. :)

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  9. SANDRA - Bob said he'd love it if I would come do this with you! I've done this before - organize and declutter, I have so much fun, so it's a mutual blessing! When I've been home this week or so maybe I could come up? I'd like to come while Bob is home so he can be with the kiddos. I'm so excited!

    JAY - Thanks for your thoughts. *smile* It's true, very low tech - paper of all things. *chuckle* But affordable, and attainable by everyone. We'll move me in to a laptop some day.

    I'm eager to read the link you sent, thanks. And thank you for pointing others to our blog. Blessings!

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  10. Hi Jay!

    Thanks for taking time to read and comment on Erika's post. We really appreciate your support and arrowcollectors.com!

    The interesting thing about your perspective is that you are a highly-trained expert in being organized and for your profession you must have the tools you use to keep up with your clients and other business contacts. With posts like these Erika is hoping to encourage people who do little or no organization now to try and get a hold of their home and family life by implementing some level of management and then building up from there. I'm not sure very many people could climb the learning curve from no organization to smart phone/ipad etc. in one revolution. Certainly there are some but for most, especially those who already have a family going and perhaps even a large family might be more likely to start something sustainable by starting with a piece of paper on their desk/counter and a wall calendar to keep track of things.

    Thanks for mentioning Large Families On Purpose to Kim over at Life in a shoe. I like her blog a lot and we always appreciate any name dropping we can get. lol

    Thanks again for commenting!!

    Bob

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  11. I am so doing this. Like, today... Love the notebook idea :) You're so smart, sister!

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  12. I just had to mention that when you posted your charts and lists posts, I immediately made a "Master Grocery List", a "Morning Chore" chart for my son(who seems to forget every day that the dogs have to be fed and given fresh water) and a "How to clean the bathroom" list for him. I have to say the Master grocery list is a hit with the entire family!! They love just highlighting things and I like not writing the same things down every week. The morning chore chart is fantastic. My son likes it and he doesn't forget certain chores (like the dogs being fed) any more. And then the how to clean the bathroom chart-my son LOVES this! what a simple idea with profound results. He takes it into the bathroom with him and he has yet to be sent back in there because of something he missed. I like this post, I may need to make my own command central in the kitchen too since I'm sooo into copying you!! ha. ;)

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  13. LAUREE - Ha ha! Yay! Wonderful! I'm so excited for you and your family! =D Thank you so much for telling me. Posting ideas such as these are so worth it even if I could just encourage one person. Blessings on your efforts!

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  14. Erika, this is GREAT! We just rearranged our kitchen and my Costco drawers that were used for the same purpose had to be relegated downstairs. Now I'm lost! I need to set up something like this... perhaps my hubby will see that it's not clutter on the countertop, as long as I'm able to keep it from sprawling onto the dining table! If I can't see something, it's like it doesn't exist. I need my lists, current shopping ads and a few other things within eye sight or I will simply forget about them.

    A couple of questions - how do you handle your incoming mail? I don't know if you handle the finances, but I'm wondering how you organize bills, coupons, things to call on/consider, etc. I love having the recycle bin handy while I'm opening mail, but unfortunately not all of the mail is appropriate to go in there. ;) I tend to let those types of things pile up in my Command Central and then before I know it, it's Clutter Central. I'd love any additional tips you have to share. :)

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  15. TRINITY - Oh! Of course! Thanks for pointing out those "systems" that I missed. We're on our way out the door right now, but when we come home I'll edit this post and add in a couple of paragraphs and "print-screen" photos on how I manage bills, mail, and coupons! =) Thanks! Also, our next post within the next couple of days involves creating a food pantry for a kitchen that doesn't have one, and re-organizing our kitchen, if that would help you, too, since you're already working on that! Perfect timing!

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  16. I am still reading through your blog and really enjoying it. And....I am totally adopting your "CALL" "DO" "GO" to-do list - LOVE IT. I had a similar "to do" list in place, in that I have a spiral notebook and would jot down what I need to do, cross it off when done, and re-do a new list when I ran out of room. Never thought of actually categorizing it, though! (Duh) This is much better and easier to read through. I am totally low-tech, too. I have a "smart phone", but there is still just something about having a paper list right out there to taunt me everytime I pass it by.

    I think having more than the "average" number of kids pushes you to become more creative - and I thank you for sharing and allowing the rest of us to benefit from your wisdom! :-) I love your organizing ideas and tips. Your detailed photos are very helpful and inspiring. The organizing tips are my favorite part of your blog! I think you should write a book!

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  17. TANYA - Yes, having more kids has definitely pushed us to become more creative! LOL I'm so pleased you've found good ideas to bring more smiles to your day! *hugs* We'd love to write a book some day; we'll see if the Lord brings that to be. I think this is the Lord's way of "walking me through" the process of doing so, as taking on a book writing right now would totally overwhelm me - but I can do posts in small chunks. ;) Blessings on your day today!

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  18. thanks so much for your blog! I find that as my family grows, I have a hard time making my systems grow. Ex: Needing more shoe bins, hooks for jackets, dressers, school space and files, etc.
    A growing family is always changing.. it's complicated! I also have underestimated my boys' ability to do certain chores. Just last week I went to a talk given by a mom of 11. She shared some of her chore secrets, and I implemented the next day. As it turns out, my kids are so much more capable than I imagined.. and I was encouraging laziness in their lives and stress in my own as I let them be receivers and not givers. Anyway, I appreciate your blog, tips, and inspiration to keep at this crazy life ;)
    God Bless,
    Katie (Mom of now 8 boys!) in MI

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  19. So enjoyed reading this post. I too have my desk on our kitchen counter & I was encouraged how I could better organize it. Thanks!

    I recently found your blog. Thought it was fun to see you live in Wa. I live in the Yakima Valley. Maybe we'll run into each other at the Christian Herritage Conf. :-)

    Blessings to you & your family,
    Maureen
    web.me.com/boisselle

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  20. Ok...I have clearly been following the wrong blogs,lol. I love this...you got me!

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    1. LOL - You're so cute - well we're honored! =)!

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  21. So, I am a mom of 6 (so far) and wel also have a small house (1150sq ft). I think it would be easier to do a family closet if we had a finished garage. Maybe that will be my husbands next project. We just bought this places 6 months ago and downsized from 2600 sq ft, on purpose. We also gained almost 2 acres of land. I was very organized, but this year has been a tough year. You are helping me get motivated. I love your ides of making lists of the house rule :why we do what we do. I think it would help my oldest girls (ages almost 8yr and 6 yrs) remember. Thank you for the lovely blog. I'm a no frills no fuss, get things done by the book, or at least close to by the book mama. I very much enjoy your way of thinking and humor. Thank you!

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    1. Blessings on your efforts. =) And just FYI, we didn't have a finished garage either, my husband finished just the closet space for us but the rest is enclosed, insulated and has drywall but not "finished" like the closet part is. You can do it, too.

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  22. Another repeat... Any new blog posts?

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    1. Danielle,
      Well I've been asked many times to repost the foundational posts especially since there is over 170 posts and many people don't see that older material or even know whats there/available. And, we wrote the foundational ones first when we started the blog 3 1/2 years ago and they really need to be rewritten/updated. So I've been putting my time into that. I'm really asked for the same information all the time, so reposting and updating certain older posts seems wise. And I haven't had the time for new material in this current season of life anyway. I've felt the Lord moving me in this direction for a little while. Sorry if you're disappointed.

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  23. My command center looks a lot like this in that i "pile" vertically! Does make it look better doesn't it!? I wanted to share how i do my to do list though since it's a bit different... it's in quadrants... my husband taught me to do it and i LOVE it!...

    These are the quadrants...
    1. Urgent & Important,
    2. Not Urgent but Important,
    3. Urgent but Not Important, and
    4. Not Urgent and Not Important

    This is how I've been organizing my task list for about a year now. I went off it for a while and resumed the chaos... not getting things done I should have been getting done, and working on things that were fun, but not necessary! Anyway... I liked your "love" for post-its... I love them too! My task list, in the quadrants, is organized on post-its... only i have a stack of post-its taped to the page in the binder. i use the last couple notes and run a piece of packing tape over them onto the page. Then i can just peel a note off when it is full. I go through many notes in the #1 section! haha! and my #4 list has been there for a while now. In fact, i see some things on there that I don't even feel are necessary anymore and can take off the list even though I didn't do them! Love that about this system! Anyway... this system saves me from having to rewrite lon lists of to-do's when pages get full since i never have to rewrite the #4's and the #2 & #3 lists rarely get filled to overflowing. So rewriting is less than it was when i used a single page.

    Well... that was verbose! But, that's how i do it! I wish I could include a picture of my little "command station" and a closeup of the "to do lists". Hopefully I explained well enough!

    Here's a website that describes how it works... http://sidsavara.com/personal-development/nerdy-productivity-coveys-time-management-matrix-illustrated-with-xkcd-comics

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  24. Erika,

    Thank you so much for your blog. I have been reading your posts for a couple of years now and your organizational tips have been a great help. I am not naturally organized, but your systems work great for me. We went from zero to four children in less than three years through adoption and birth, so I needed all the help I could get.

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  25. I am literally just enlarging your pictures and copying your layout :P We just moved into a (bigger) house from a small apartment and I've been meaning to put together exactly this sort of kitchen counter command center. This post gave me the vision/motivation to actually get it done! Thanks!

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  26. Hi Erika,
    Thanks for the motivating and inspiring blog post. Because of this, I too have purchased the book from Titus2, and my husband has been reading it aloud to me in the evenings, after the kids have gone to bed. We have not yet read through the whole book, but we've taken a few safe actions already. You can read all about it here, let me know what you think! I would appreciate some feed back! http://holytempleunderrenovation.blogspot.ca/2014/05/making-butter-fun-and-useful.html

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  27. Hi again Erika :)

    actually, please have a look of what I am going through. I mentioned you on my blog post as the "pioneer" homeschooling mother of many kids. I'm on my way to an organized home, not there yet, but I do home to be there some day!!! SOON! :) here are a few posts on my de-itemizing, scheduling process! Feels like a life time... any tips? http://holytempleunderrenovation.blogspot.ca/search/label/Organized%20Home

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  28. This is a wonderfully simple system, I love it, thank you for sharing the systems that work for you. I'm curious where you got your vertical file organizer? I've been looking for a desktop organizer like yours that can fit a full page laying down horizontally and all I've found are the small ones meant for pens and smaller notebooks.

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    Replies
    1. Well I got mine at Target but I haven't seen the same one any more. But they may have something similar now. But also I've seen many similar designs that are pretty at Office Depot and Office Max. =)

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  29. nice tips, thank you for sharing what works for you. I have found with my own seven children who all have their own needs, appointments, and such that it's never going to be an easy life, but a little organization certainly helps.

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