Nobody has ever accused me of being organized. There is stuff, like trash, in the bottom of my purse from months ago. I forget my share of appointments and yesterday I found an orange crayon in the back pocket of my jeans… while I was at work. My success in career is due to love of people and relationships, not paperwork and calculations.
I’ve discovered, to my dismay, that in order to accomplish what I want to, I’ve GOT to have some level of organization and planning. If I had my way, I’d fly along through life from one coffee date to another, looking people in the eyes, laughing, sharing, talking and having a grand old time. I’d wear cute aprons every day while baking biscuits in my self cleaning kitchen for my adorable children and interesting friends. There would BE no behind the scenes.
Yeah… dream world, I know. Life takes at least a basic few strategies to keep things running. All you organized types are like “Duh…” but hey, I’ve learned a few things the hard way. Here’s my organization and planning for butterflies. Social ones, you know.
1) Make stuff the night before. Specifically coffee, a plan for wardrobe, and any miscellaneous items required by your calendar. Ya’ll, I had to replace my coffee pot, and I wasn’t picky. My main requirement? Programmable. Every night, no matter how tired I am, I set my darling programmable coffee pot. Every morning after exercise, it rewards me with the smell of fresh coffee as I walk back in the door. I pour a cup and head upstairs to get in the shower. (What? You don’t drink coffee in the shower? Pssht. Yes you do.) Then, I head to my room where I’ve set out or at least planned what I’m going to wear. The precious, precious minutes this gives me every morning are peace. Peace when I would otherwise be measuring coffee grounds, pouring water, digging for shoes, and trying to find the dress I want in the dark. Peace before I wake my children and pass the point of no return into the fray of our busy days. I see this not as organization, because organization doesn’t matter to me, but as a treat to myself. I give myself this gift and it feels like a warm bubble bath to my soul, not another task to be completed.
2) Make a menu, and a grocery list while you’re at it. I’ve written in detail about our grocery strategy. We’re probably a little more involved in this than most because we have a chef and a culinary student in the house. Still. We are too busy to stand around every night wondering what to eat, and too busy to waste our lives wandering up and down the grocery aisles, falling for every end cap display ripoff and bright, shiny package. And we are too predisposed to diabetes and heart disease to eat fast food every night. (In case you didn’t know, fast food is ANY chain restaurant. Any.) We make a weekly menu at some point on the weekends that gets us through the following weekend, making use of what we pick up at the farmer’s market and what we have in the pantry and fridge. While we’re jotting down our menu, we also list items we need to pick up at the store if there are any. We make it a family affair and we start to have fun and look forward to what we’ll be making that week. My husband usually stops at the grocery on his way home. Chefs love grocery stores, and we can take advantage of the slow time of day at the store.
3) Empty your car of trash when you get gas and stuff when you get out. This is so cheesy, and I know you of the organized species are laughing, but it works for me. There was a time when stuff would be piled in my car and one big clean out would take forever. I once was rear ended, totaling my car and the trunk wouldn’t reopen. I lost a basketball goal, two large bags of mardi gras beads, a pair of shoes, several of the kids toys and some important paperwork. I somehow, probably thanks to Flylady, got in the habit of grabbing a couple of pieces of trash every time I leave the car, and of using the time at the gas pump to also make use of the trash can next to the pump. According to my husband’s standards, (think military precision) my car still isn’t clean, but there’s nothing growing in it, and I can find everything I need, and if I get rear ended and can’t open the trunk, I’m cool. It may not look freshly detailed all the time, but it functions and there are no projectiles. I can pick up somebody on the fly for a lunch or coffee date and I’m not embarrassed about the pile of garbage beneath their feet.
4) Run your appliances. Every day. For so many years I went easy on my appliances. As if I could hurt their feelings or ask too much of them. Not anymore. I make those things WORK for me. Our washing machine and dryer work seven days per week. We find that one load every day keeps us ahead of the laundry avalanche that five people can produce. It works but the trick is to do it every day. There was a time when my laundry was a ROOM of shame full with waist high piles. Sometimes to catch up I’d spend a day at a laundromat. NO FUN! One load every day and NO MORE wasted days trying to burrow out from under laundry overwhelm. Our dishwasher pulls double shifts all the time. It runs every night and sometimes again in the afternoon. I’ve already told you about my coffee pot. My phone reminders work hard to tell us when it’s time to move to the next subject, time for me to get to an appointment, and what’s coming up tomorrow. My crock pot slaves all day or sometimes all night. It’s like having a butler and a maid. If you’ve got those workhorses, USE those babies!
5) Delegate. To your kids. Our daughter, 16, takes care of the laundry (one load per day start to folded), sweeps and mops the kitchen. Our son, 11, does the dishes and takes out the trash. Our 4 year old can make his bed, pick up toys, help wipe things, and put away his laundry. This accomplishes several things. It makes mom and dad’s evenings WAY less stressful. It gives us ALL more time to play on the weekends. And it teaches my kids basic skills. I won’t be releasing children into the wild who cannot care for their own households. More on this philosophy later.
6) If people offer to help you, let them. Every Sunday morning church meets at my home. Every Sunday morning I make breakfast for everyone who attends. This usually means at least two pots of coffee and one extra dishwasher load. It’s not unusual for someone to arrive for church, grab some cups and start pouring coffee out of my kitchen. Or after we’ve finished, someone else often loads the dirty dishes in my dishwasher or wraps up the leftovers. Sometimes they take out the trash. If someone loves me enough to offer his or her help, I say yes if possible. That way we have more time to spend together rather than me alone in the kitchen. I’m learning to be too busy being a happy woman to be a super woman.
There you have them. The top tricks of a seasoned plate spinner. These are hard won lessons, the results of a messy mom’s war wounds. Now all you out there with the gift of organization… give me YOUR best tricks.by