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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Organization: My most useful lists

January is considered a month of fresh starts, cleaning out, and organizing.  Though I haven't actually done any of those things yet, I do have high hopes too soon.  (Tabby, Hunter, and I have been battling stomach flu the last few days.  NOT exactly something to make you feel very productive.  Nor does it give me a clear head for thinking - so if what I write is "off" please forgive me!)

Each year I like to read one organizing type book - just to see if I can pick up any new tips and get gain fresh motivation.  Recently a dear friend told me about a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  She gave me the highlights, but I want to read it too, so I put in a request to my library.  I'm still waiting on it, but my anticipation is growing as I am hearing about this book about every where I turn lately!

Anyone that knows me well knows that I am a List-Person.  So today I wanted to share a few of my lists that have been very useful in helping me to be more efficient and organized.  'Cause every little bit helps.

NOTE:  I know these pictures aren't the best.  If you want to see one more clearly, I'd be happy to email you a pdf.

The first is my grocery shopping list.  On my computer, I typed up a list of the things we typically buy, putting them in the order that they are found in my normal shopping route through the store.  I keep a printed copy up on our refrigerator at all times and whenever someone in the family needs something or notices we're about out of something, they can just circle it on the list.  When it's store day, I grab this list, write on or circle anything else I decided we needed, and go!

A basic packing list for trips is a big help too.  I started this when Lilly was still alive.  There were so many little essentials and back ups for her that would have been dangerous to leave home with out.  I was so nervous about forgetting any of them, that I finally sat down one day at the computer and listed them all out and saved that document.  I ended up adding basic lists for each of the children and me too.  It is such a help when we do go anywhere - I just print those pages out and add on anything else we need for that particular outing.  Then I mark each thing off as I pack.

"Are you going to pack us?!" - Billy, Pippi, Nutmeg, Christa
Last year I got so tired of my desk being covered with sticky notes and other scraps of papers with lists of all the things I didn't want to forget to look up or handle online.  Some were priority and others weren't and it was just a big mess.  So finally I made a "computer to-do list."  I got a half-sized clipboard that I had, and used half-sheets of paper.  I typed up my basic form on the computer and then hand wrote in the rest.  And ... of course I had to embellish by adding a little picture to the corner of each.  :)  I've tweaked the categories some and as of right now I currently have:  research, check on, check on Ebay/Etsy, create, backup, print, blog ideas, and classes.

I have found it a big time saver to have Tabby's chore lists pre-printed for each week, as many chores remain the same, depending on the day.  I can add on anything additional or delete with my pen.  I worked for awhile to come up with a format that didn't make her feel overwhelmed by looking at the list.  (Hunter's chore lists are still just handwritten each morning on paper as he has less to do and they change a lot more than Tabby's do.)  I broke Tabby's chores down into morning and afternoon, inside and outside:

Tabby likes when I add extras to her list - noting if it is a legal holiday and also whatever the "wacky day" is.  (See this link for the 2015 listings.)

A couple years ago, I put together a "Home Management" binder.  This put a lot of useful information at my fingertips.  I need to re-do it some though, including giving it a more interesting name!  But it currently houses tabbed sections containing lists of: projects, books, goals, chores, my Trisomy 18 ministry, benevolence, etc.  I also have several of the business card page protector sheets with the business cards of repair people, etc. that we want to be able to contact easily.

The one problem with my above binder was that it has gotten so big that I didn't like it for daily handling.  And that was an issue because in the front, it housed my daily to-do lists.  And I wasn't happy with those daily lists.  But then enter the ...

 Isn't "daily docket" just a cool name?  So official sounding.  :)  I got the idea for my "daily docket"  from Trina Holden.  A couple years ago she did a series of blog posts on her home management binder.  Her post on her "daily docket" section was the answer to my problem!  I followed Trina's basic format and added in things to personalize it for me.  And of course I had to add a little embellishment to each page.  (Oh how I love google images!) I divided up my sections as:  priorities for today, homemaking, home education, on the computer, paralegal work, food, and misc.  I also have a brief list of the daily routine, a section to check off how many glasses of water I drank, if I exercised, and a chart to try and remember the 5 love languages for each of my kids. I can not tell you how much this has helped me organize my days and stay focused!

usually my pages have a lot on them! I like to write in black and cross off in blue

I have 4 weeks printed out and each page is in a page protector.  I use WET erase markers to write on the pages.  At the end of the month, I just take a damp cloth and wipe the pages off, then start all over.  Of course I could just keep re-printing new pages out, but there is something about the feel and look of the page protectors, and writing with the wet erase markers, that I just prefer. 

I also keep these pages in their own binder, along with a tabbed section at the back with calendars.  (The calendar for the school my husband works at, the Christian calendar, and my handwritten lists of birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)  This notebook stays open in a place I walk by a zillion times a day.  Even though it stays open, I just had to make a special cover for it:

Finally, the last thing I want to share is not a list, but it is something helpful for paper management.  As sadly, I am a paper hoarder.  (I still prefer paper form over electronic form.)  Oh yes, I have places to put said papers but getting them there ... that can be another story.  (Homeschooling mama with 3 kids on a little farm = constant interruptions.)  Last year, I read several blog posts on Organize 365 about "The Sunday Basket."  Ahhhh ... it seemed to be the answer to my paper piling problems.  Instead of a basket, I used an organizing utility tote from Thirty-One, an open top filing box from Staples, and a bunch of hanging files.

Now when I print something out, rip something out of a magazine, etc, - if I don't have time to deal with it properly, I just drop it into the right folder in my bag.  Some of my categories are: animal care, apothecary, business, classes, crafts, home/decor, garden, homeschool, misc.  This saves sooooo much time later because things are already grouped and I don't have to re-sort stacks of papers before putting them away properly.  Plus it makes things look so much neater.

Note that you are supposed to go through your basket/bag once a week (hence the name "Sunday basket") and put things away. Ummm ... confession. Sunday hasn't worked for me, nor any other day.  Yet.  My papers are all nicely sorted and patiently waiting.  Can I get one more day of the week please?

As seen on our chicken's to-do list:  scratch, peck, eat, repeat.
I still have much, much more in my life I need to get a better hold of.  But these lists have proved to be some powerful helps for me.  Maybe one or two can help you too!  And if you have any ideas to share with me - please do!

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." - Proverbs 19:21


  1. Oh sorry to hear you guys are sick:( I added the book to my amazon cart my best book have been recommendations from you;) I love your ideas for list I start list over and over but have a hard time following my own systems. I really need a grocery list because I spend WAY to much time at the market. Saying a prayer yu all feel better soon!

    1. Thanks Tesha - I was sick enough to not actually write a list for several days! But I guess I finally did write about lists! ;) Having my grocery list in order of the store aisles really helps us get through quicker. Though I'm still there longer than I wish! I look forward to reading that book too - my friend said some is sort of weird but it has such great principals to glean from.

  2. Daughter, I was so exhausted after reading this post that I have to go to bed! You sure didn't get your love for list from me... :-)

    1. No, but I did get the notebook gene!

  3. You were always a list maker! Love those goats! Feel better!