disorder2order blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

3 things to do before the new year...

My favorite day of the year will always be December 31st. There is something so exciting about knowing that the next time I wake up, it will be a brand new year. 

I love December 31st, not just because it's the last day of the year - but because there are 3 specific tasks that I tackle on that day. 

I can always count on December 31st to accomplish these few simple, yet important tasks. It's probably not a big deal to you - but to me it's what keeps our family organized. Often taking me anywhere from 2-3 hours of my day but so worth the time spent! Want to know what they are?

New Computer Files: It usually takes me about 30-40 minutes, but I take the time to create new file folders and/or documents for the new year. I review my current files on my computer, updating dates or creating an updated version of each document. If I have annual folders (i.e. photo files), I create the new folder so I'm all set to go when the year arrives. Taking care and organizing your computer files (Simply Fabulous Tips) is as important as your paper files... imagine never cleaning out a paper folder... ever. Leah over at Simply Fabulous Living has some great tips on how to get that done...

Purge Paper Files: My favorite task of all. This usually takes me about 60 minutes (I like to reminisce about the past year... things we purchased, trips we took...) while I sit on the floor, put on Pandora and sort through the paper files. We organize our files by month; so it's usually the 12 monthly folders plus a few miscellaneous files (i.e taxes, insurance, house papers etc.). I pull out each folder, sorting out important documents, memorabilia items I want to keep such as birthday cards or notes and things to toss. Piles look like: keep, shred, toss. All the files get put back into the drawer, empty and ready for the new year.

Shred. Shred. Shred: This task speaks for itself - I shred it all taking anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on the pile. Still listening to Pandora I sit until it's done. Usually, we add the shredded paper into the compost bin (assuming it's all just paper) to get a little extra something out of that useless paper.

For me, starting the year off with a clean file drawer and my computer documents ready to go is worth every minute. Here are a few inspiring new year posts that I have enjoyed... Ellen Faye: Set yourself up for 2013, Aby Garvey: 3 questions to achieve your goals, and The Organising Queen: My year end goal process. Enjoy!

What do you like to have done before the new year begins?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

5 secrets to meal planning

It's not a secret that I am a little obsessed with meal planning. If you ask anyone in my family - at some point on any given Sunday, you will find me curled up with my schedule, grocery circular and menu list planning out our next two weeks of meals. It's become a simple habit that is as natural as brushing my teeth or doing my laundry. 

Now, I will tell you that you have to dedicate some time to this process. It's taken me the better part of 3-4 years to perfect my system - but for me, it works! Some people have to plan for health reasons (Plan to Eat), to loose weight (Skinny Mom's Kitchen) and some plan just because (What's For Dinner?)... For me, it helped me to find a balance between time, money and sanity...

1. Have a Meal List. About a year ago, I created a list of our favorite meals. Every time we try a new meal and we like it, it gets added to the list. You will never have to wonder what to cook or what the family likes. Having a list of the meals the family likes saves you time!

2. Shop the Ad + the Pantry + the Fridge. Always start with the things you have, the things that are on sale and then go from there. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how quickly your week will fill up when you start with the basics. Shopping before you actually hit the store will always save you money!

3. Use Your Schedule. When planning, ALWAYS know what your schedule is. If you are working late, have a busy day and know you need an easy meal... account for that in your planning. Document your meal plan on a family calendar so that you don't get asked 10 times that day "What's for Dinner?" Planning your meal time will hands down - save you time!

4. 3+1+1+1+1=7. I try to incorporate the following routine into our week: 3 White Meat meals + 1 Meatless+ 1 Red Meat + 1 Casserole + 1 New Recipe. Again, simplify the process by making the choices easier and ultimately save you time during the planning process.

5. For Goodness Sakes - Make a List! Without a list, it's virtually impossible for me to know what you need. It's an opportunity for overspending, impulse shopping and wasteful purchases. Do I need to say that this will save you money

Need list help? Check out ListPlanIt or the many apps available for your portable device. 

Still stuck? Post your questions in the comments happy to help! Happy planning!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Me and my planner... a love story!

Let's take a walk down memory lane shall we...

Do you remember the days of the Palm Pilot Professional? For me, this was the ultimate time management tool. I would sync my calendar, contacts and tasks with my computer; and my little device would track where I needed to be and what I needed to do each minute of the day. I had every contact phone number, address, and birth dates all at my finger tips. I was a directory of information for myself and the people in my life.

Then, my whole life changed. I had children. My time management system no longer worked. Instead of tracking meetings and social events I was coordinating play dates, doctor appointments and grocery lists. I was struggling (i.e. things were missed, and/or forgotten). The Palm no longer fit into my life.... We had to break up.

As my kids got older, and my work schedule increased; so did the demands of our schedules. Now... here's where the problem solver in me kicked in....

As an early "tech" savvy user, I felt clearly that I needed a smart phone for my calendar/contact (this was of course pre-iApple days), but at that time I could not justify the cost. Also to consider, I have always been a list maker and liked writing things down - it's a little cumbersome at times, but I remember things when I write them down. So clearly, I need to research a new planning system.

Enter the MomAgenda... I quickly found myself in love with this planner. It had the right amount of space to track my many activities (and my families) as well as keep a quick reference of contact information and my weekly tasks. Paper and I are like old friends. We love each other and will never fail! Perfect. Right? 

This worked well for a while, but I have to admit, I was getting tired of carrying over various pieces of information from planner to planner. There had to be a better solution...

Lets flash forward to about 2011 when Apple entered into my life (yes it took me that long and no, I still don't have a smart phone)... when I decided to invest in an iPad! My whole life changed. 

I felt (and still feel like) that my time and life are finally at one with my universe. I have integrated my calendar/contacts back into my computer/tablet. No more transferring information from year to year.  

I still use a pen and paper for my tasks and that's a perfect fit for me. It keeps my on track (remember, when I write things down I can better remember things) and I get great satisfaction from crossing things off my list.

So you see... the moral of the story is that nothing lasts forever, but things that work always stick!

So please tell me... what works best for you?