Time management. It's so important, isn't it? How we manage our time and what we do with it says a lot about who we are and what we prioritize. Right now I'm in a stage of life where spare time is very limited. I'm sure many of you can relate. Since baby #3 came into my life (and completely rocked my world both for good and bad!) I have been on a quest to figure out a system that will help me organize my time and make the most out of every minute.
First I'll state the obvious. I use a planner. I actually bought two this year. Not because I need them both, but because I bought the aqua one on the left and then the cover was bothering me so I went back to Target and bought the green one which is identical to the planner I had last year except it's smaller. I needed something that would fit in my purse. I'm only using this planner for two things: to keep track of appointments and random activities, and to write specific to-do's for each day. Things that I have to do that day that are time sensitive (make a certain phone call, take Ellie to a birthday party, doctor appointments, etc). Everything else in my brain gets dumped here:
I shared this binder with you in my post on paper organization, but I've changed things up a bit since then.
This was how it used to be organized...
Week at a Glance - On the first page in my binder (you can kind of see through the red folder above) I have the days of the week listed and set activities/things I need to remember. These are things that always happen on that day each week. Examples: the days my girls have library and need to take their books to school, the days they have activities like dance and gymnastics, the days it's my turn to do pick-up because I carpool with neighbors. I glance at this page each night before I go to bed to remember the set in stone things for the following day. Then I look in my planner to see if there are any additional appointments or activities (there always are!) that fill up the rest of my day. Now I know what the next day looks like for me. This "week at a glance" page helps me a lot. Now there will never be a time that I space a weekly activity or forget that I have after school pick-up. My brain isn't cluttered trying to remember the details of each day. It's written right in front of me!
Shopping for - My next tab is titled "shopping for" and this might seem a little crazy to some of you but here's my deal. I'm not good at meal planning. I'm not one of those people who can plan out a weeks' worth of meals and only go to the grocery store once. I go to the grocery store about every three days which works fine for me because it's close by and easy to pop in while the girls have dance class or after I take them to a friends' house. My other issue is that I buy my groceries/household items at three different stores - grocery store, Target, and Costco. I also always have items I always need/want at the mall and other random places so here's what works for me:
Sticky notes! I always have four on a page. These are my "running lists" of things I need to buy. The great thing about using sticky notes is that when it's time to make a Target run I can just pull off my Target sticky note and toss it in my purse so I don't forget anything. I know this wouldn't work for someone who has a long list of groceries, but like I said, I go often so this works for me.
Current Projects - A list of the current projects I'm working on. These are things that I'm focusing on right now so currently I have my "to organize" list on the top page and a few other projects that are in the works on the following pages.
When Kole is napping and I find myself with a little free time, I glance at my planner to see if there is something that HAS to get done. If not (or once those to-do's are checked off) I turn to this "current projects" section of my binder and work on something here.
Future Projects - Any time I have an idea for a project - a gallery wall somewhere in the house, a lemonade stand for the girls, what ever it is - this is where I write it down. Just ideas for now. But someday they will be moved to "current projects."
Post Ideas - This is where I tend to "dump my brain" the most. Ideas for blog posts are always popping into my head. When I'm exercising, when I'm driving, when I'm typing another blog post! The ideas are never ending. Finding the time to implement all of my ideas is another story. But at least I have a set place to write them all down!
Post Schedule - This is a category I'm trying for the first time this year. The two areas of my life I'm NOT organized in - meal planning (cause I hate cooking so planning to cook just isn't appealing) and my blog! I am so fly by the seat of my pants where this blog is concerned. I never know what I'm going to post until I sit down the night before. I look at my recent pictures and somehow always manage to come up with something. I know bloggers who are so organized! Have their posts planned and typed out a week or two in advance. Wow. That would be nice. While I don't think that will realistically happen for me (and in some ways I enjoy blogging present time anyway) I would like to be a little more organized in this area. I just have a blank calendar page for each month in this section of my binder where I can jot down an idea of what to post each day.
Birthdays - I like to keep a list of each month and any birthdays I need to remember. I know this information pops up on facebook and your cell phone and all over the place, but I like a written list in my binder so that I can plan ahead. I glance at it at the beginning of each month so that I know who I need to get gifts for and when I need to deliver or mail them.
Miscellaneous Information - I always have a "random" spot in my binder for those extra items that always pop up. I love my current tab dividers (from Target) that have a folder included on each one so that I have a place to store any papers/forms I need to keep close by. This is where I also have a list of my goals for the year.
That's it for my time management binder! I know this is custom to me and my needs, but hopefully it still gave a few of you some ideas for how you could make something like this work for you. I'm a firm believer in dumping your brain out on paper! Life is busy and I've learned I just can't rely on my memory for everything. If something doesn't get written down, it doesn't get done.
And since we're talking binders, here are a couple more I also keep close by:
I have a spot in my binder that reminds me of birthdays and other days I want to remember, but last year when I saw this book in Hallmark I just couldn't resist buying it.
It has tabs for each month of the year.
And of course there is my home decor binder that I LOVE looking through and adding to.
(Full post on my Home Decor binder here.)
It's kind of like Pinterest - only old school. :)
What can I say? I'm a binder girl. They really do help me manage my time. For more tips on time management, you can check out this previous post I wrote. It includes some other tips that have really helped me make the most of my time. And on that note, time to wrap this up! I have a "current projects" list that needs my attention while a certain someone is sleeping!
Have a great week everyone!