Monday, January 3, 2011

MY Organization Techniques....

Start with just one thing at a time. It has taken me a few years of doing the same things every week/month/year to get into the habit.

To keep our bills in check I have a main calendar that I use to circle expected paydays...for the whole year. Then I write a list of every bill that I know I will have every month of the year - rent, electric, water, insurance, internet, phone, etc...Then I group the bills by their due dates - rent & phone are due at the first of the month, insurance, electric, water, etc are due towards the end of the month. Most months we only have two pay periods so I then split the bills between the two pay periods, and write down which ones to pay when, how to split them, etc so that we have roughly the same amount of $$ coming out of each paycheck... As soon as the bill comes in the mail I open it and write down the exact amount on my calendar, then put the bill itself in a basket that usually hangs on the wall behind my monitor...only bills are allowed in that little basket. On payday I pay all the bills that I have written on my calendar before we spend anything out of that paycheck - I stay on top of the bills and paying them first keeps me from spending that money on something else. Even if I do something like split the rent between two paychecks, I pay the partial amount the day the check deposits.

As soon as any appointment is made I write it on the calendar. Every Sunday or Monday (since Brian usually knows his schedule by Monday at the latest for the following week) I write down his work schedule, compare it with the kids' school schedules, doctor appointments, extra activities and Brian and I map out everything else that needs to be done that week - shopping, etc...and try to get trips into town condensed to just one trip or combined with a different trip...such as him picking up something on his way home from work so that I don't have to go into town for just some piddly item.

I also write down all of my school assignment due dates in my calendar so that way its right there in front of me ...taunting me...

I use a red ink pen to write down the bills that are ink for doctor appointments & scheduled activities...and black ink for my school assignment (it was purple ink until I realized today that I have lost all my purple ink pens)

Every night before I go to bed I again look over my calendar and make a list of everything I need to do in town if I have to go into town and take that list with me so I don't forget anything.

I have a decent upright freezer so instead of making daily/weekly trips to the grocery store I spend the first of the month cleaning out my fridge of leftovers, etc and I have Mikeal right down items on my shopping list as I see that I need them, as I'm cleaning the fridge, that way I don't forget as many things. The next day I basically do the same thing to my pantry cupboard-organize it and wipe it out, call out needed items while Mikeal writes them down for me.

Over the next day or two I take inventory of how much food I still have in my freezer & pantry and how many meals I can get out of the food in there, and make a tentative menu...basically I figure out 25 dinners for the month, since we RARELY go out to eat...then I write down any other groceries I need to make those meals. Then only go shopping once for the main stuff...I'll then spend a day preparing a lot of the meals-generally it takes me about 5 hrs to prepare, in advance, 15-20 meals to just stick in the freezer immediately then thaw when we're ready to eat it (depending on how the month goes). I always have a few 'simple' dinner supplies on hand for the nights I either forget to set something out or just really don't feel like cooking. I generally always go grocery shopping on the 10th of the month - just a day I picked - and if for some reason my schedule doesn't allow for me to go that day... I nearly always have about a week's worth of meals 'leftover' either in the freezer or pantry.

I also keep a filing cabinet right next to my the top drawer I have hanging folders for each person with different keepsake types things in the folder, a folder for the current year that has three folders in for receipts, one for paycheck stubs, and one for miscellaneous things that I need to keep up with (insurance claims, student loan stuff, etc)..., a folder for vehicle information - title, tag paperwork, etc. -, a folder for other legal paperwork - birth certificates, marriage license, etc... In the bottom drawer I have a folder for all appliance/electronic paperwork and then each year I take the folder that's full of receipts & pay stubs and move it to the bottom folder and add the tax paper work after it's been some point in time I'm going to decide if I'm going to start shredding the paperwork that dates back to 1998, when I started working....

To keep up with housework, etc...well, I'm still working on that for the most part. That is mainly this year's 'tackle' since I have the rest of it fairly well down pat. It has taken roughly 5 years of practice to get the system down in such a way that works for me and my family....and even then once in a while things fall through the cracks. The most important thing I have found is that when things do fall through the cracks to just jump back on it to get back on track. The more often you jump back on the track the longer you'll stay on track. Make it a HABIT! ...and when someone like my husband makes fun of you and says you're being OCD and such about it just remember ...if you're not OCD about keeping yourself on a schedule then he won't have any clean socks to wear to work....

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