I've also been cleaning out lots of cabinets, organizing lots of closets, hiding lots of toys to take to the thrift store, and cleaning the things that don't usually get cleaned!
I just read some good organizing tips that I thought I would share with you. It's from one of my favorite blogs, www.lovethatmax.com, and I thought some of them were pretty good! I wrote a few comments in red.
Her top three time-organizing tips
• Stick with one kind of planner. "If you have things in multiple places—the wall calendar in kitchen, the app on iPhone, your to-do list—it's a recipe for confusion, doubt and inefficiency." I completely agree with this. I do have two, because I have a work and a home calendar. However, everything that is on my home calendar is also on my work calendar. I "sync" it at least once a week. It's also helpful to take my smaller work calendar to doctors' appointments because my hanging calendar is pretty big. I actually have a Mom's Plan-It Calendar that I absolutely love. It has a line for each person in the family (and two for Abby!!), which is a much better method than the color-coding I used to do!
• End every day by planning for tomorrow plus two. "One of the most common time-wasting mistakes is waiting till the morning of to plan for the day. By that point, it's too late—if there's a schedule conflict it's too late to manager your way out of it, if there's something you don't want to do you're stuck. But if you plan for tomorrow plus two, a three-day arc, you have context—you can see what's coming up, prioritize, rearrange smartly and make better choices. Plus you can carve out breathing room! If you're reading this on Tuesday, for example, tonight plan for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday." I wish I did this. I do check the calendar the night before to plan for the next day, but I don't really fully plan out three days in a row at home--I do for work because my schedule is usually crazy!!
• Batch wherever possible. "Group your appointments, errands and obligations to masterfully maximize time. Maybe this morning you could have sat and played with your kid. But you had one appointment, which killed the entire morning. If you batch these things, you can leave yourself large blocks of downtime for fun, family or yourself." I would love to do this, but sometimes that just isn't feasible. It's harder when the appointments are usually 2 hours away and you have to try to account for a long wait or a lengthy appointment.
Her favorite paperwork organizing ideas
• Keep paper where you refer to it. "If you tend to make calls and fill out forms in the kitchen, that's where you should store your paperwork. Look to where piles are and create a home information center. It's where you want to work—go with your natural habits." I need to do this. This is my biggest issue.
• Have a simple system. "Designate a file box, file drawer or hefty accordion file for papers, depending on the volume. Then create a color-coding system, which makes filing clear and fun. Color communicates more quickly than words do! For example, use green for financial documents, blue for vital documents, orange for fun activities. You can also separate adult files and kid files—just use a different color family. For example, Max info can be in fluorescent." I think I might do this to help keep the "piles" a little more organized. I'll get on it!!
Ways to avoid clutter/being featured on Hoarders
• Make a place for everything. "Busy parents often don't have a core system, so putting things away isn't easy. You want to go through each room and make sure there's a place for everything, so maintenance is a breeze. That means things are accessible and well labeled and what's in that room is what you use. No matter how messy the room gets or chaotic the day, cleanup will take no longer than five minutes, tops. It takes a day to a day and a half per room to organize a room, but it's worth the time investment." I'm really trying to do this in my playroom. It's completely organized now, thanks to two nap times and a late night after bedtime. Everything is labeled, but it's hard to get everybody to put things back where they should go...especially a little boy who can't read yet!
• Set up stuff for its next use. "Before you leave a room, set everything back in its spot. So when you come in, there's the Scotch tape!"
• Label, label, label. "Parents think they have to nag or force kids to clean up. But kids love order. In kindergarten, the teacher just announces it's clean up time, and the children go to it. Parents should shift their mindset—don't think of cleanup as punishment. The world's chaotic enough for kids. Make sure things are labeled with pictures if a child doesn't read, and have them participate. It's something any child can do, and makes them feel like they're participating and contributing. It's also grounding; the more chaotic our world gets, the more we gravitate toward rearranging our bookshelves!" I have a love affair with my label maker. :)
How to get more me-time
• Plan to recharge daily. "Moms like to joke that we need a two-month vacation. But we wouldn't need it if we just gave ourselves daily recharge moments. Have a short list of things that quickly restore you, rejuvenate you and recharge you in the most efficient way possible. Whatever it is—going for a drive, taking a bath, calling a friend. It's like a cell phone that you need to recharge every day. Without it, you're not recharging the battery—and you're not as good, as patient, as smart or as accurate. Think about this: You lose two to three hours a day of inefficiency when you're operating on exhaustion.
• Plan to recharge weekly, too. "This involves a larger amount of time, but recharges you like nobody's business! Make a list of stuff to do, then take that time for yourself.