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Category Archives: Week 14: Organizing Time

Organizing and Simplifying my Calendar

A few days ago, I crashed.  I had virtually made it to the end of an extremely busy season when I felt I absolutely couldn’t make it another day. My poor loving husband happened to call me at a particularly bad moment when it all came spilling out.  Because I am married to the nicest man in the world, he gave me the day off. I picked up Martha Ramsland’s Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay that Way. In the first chapter on organizing your calendar my problem was revealed: “Calendar overload exacts a heavy price, which is why it’s often not worth the ‘big push’ to attend to everything and please everyone. A calendar without breathing room wears any normal person out, so guard your calendar to reflect the pace of life that you can personally handle. Discouragement and fatigue may be a reflection of a time schedule out of balance.” She suggests that in order to avoid this burn-out, you need to schedule at-home time — at least 2 weeknights (Monday through Thursday) and 1-2 weekend evenings (Friday through Sunday). As I looked back over my calendar, I realized that for the past 3 months we had 0 weeknights and at most 1 weekend evening at home due to sports practices, church activities and other various things that came up. On top of this I’m homeschooling, trying to organize a home and blog about it, trying to maintain a household (cleaning, meals, laundry. . .), training for a half-marathon, and maintain a certain number of daily on-line work hours. I realized I needed a change; I needed to simplify our calendar.  So I came up with the following plan:

1) Simplify (somewhat) my homeschooling – I am going to spend the summer on the quest for different curriculum.  What I currently use requires a lot of involvement, preparation and research from me. I came to the conclusion, after talking to a homeschooling mom I greatly respect, that it is okay to let someone else who has already done this successfully, do some of the work for me. It’s okay to buy a prepackaged curriculum that I trust. I can still put my mark on it.  With 3 kids at 3 different levels and a very busy preschooler, it just might save my sanity.

2) Simplify our sports schedules – I’m still working out exactly how this will look, but having practices every night of the week and games all day Saturday just doesn’t work for us. My husband and I are looking at sports programs like Upwards that seem to be a little more consolidated with all ages on the same nights, or possibly having our children stagger their participation. I’d love to hear from someone else on this . . . how do you keep your activities with multiple children at a sane level?

3) Re-schedule my Runs – I like to run at least 2 half-marathons a year.  It keeps me running and challenges me with longer distances, but I need to think about all that is going on in our lives when I schedule a run. I was starting to stress out about getting long  runs in and taking away our one free day as a family in order to complete it. I had to re-evaluate and decide that I don’t need to run this particular race.  Rather than forcing a spring-run into our schedules, I’m now planning for one this summer when the schedule is much lighter.

4) Clarify my work schedule – I am mostly a stay-at-home mom, but I work for a standardized testing company and have a 10-day (give or take) period of on-line scoring after a test is administered.  During a scoring session I commit to a certain number of hours and in order to get those in I spend every spare minute on the computer – 10 minutes til dinner? I’ll score a few papers.  I get tired, and the kids, house and my husband get neglected. I’ve decided to schedule undisturbed work hours each day; hours the family knows I am working (most likely when their sleeping or otherwise occupied), then stop and spend time with the family when my hours are complete.

5) Simplify my organizing – This blog is fun and it is my accountability for getting myself organized, but it is just that – fun. I need to make sure that when things get busy I’m not taking time from my family or work just so I can make a blog entry. Sometimes I may only blog once or twice a week and that’s okay.

6) Schedule down-time/family time – My calendar needs to include down-time at home with the family. In addition to reducing the number of activities on my calendar, I need to schedule in time with the family and my husband so they aren’t neglected.

7) Protect my Quiet Time – I know I’m too busy when my devotion time starts getting neglected. Why is that always the first thing to go? It shouldn’t be! When I miss my time with the Lord, everything else gets off. I need to keep my daily appointments with Him first.

We’ve all heard that the typical American family is over-scheduled. I never thought it would be me, but apparently I am typical. It’s time to go against the norm and put our sanity first.

Project Updates

There is still one day left to enter my giveaway! Click this link to enter.

It’s Monday. Did you create a Monday “Master List”? I did! There are a couple resources I like for creating schedules or calendars. For a digital/online version I like to use Google Calendar.   It is a calendar that can be personally modified.  I was even able to type recipes for my menu items and make them click-able (only appeared when clicking on said menu item). One of my favorite features is the capability to share with those you choose — make it sharable with your hubby and he can add his schedule to yours! And of course you can sync it with phones and tablets. If you prefer a hard copy you can write on, I love this one from iHeart Organizing.

Find the free download here. This was a perfect “Master List” form for me with my over-view of the week, a spot for a master to-do list and even a place for my menu. I filled it out and added it to my home-management binder for easy access.

I also have an update on my recipe binder.

I can’t say it is completely finished because it is one of those things that will remain a work-in-progress.  Here is an over-view of my layout:

At the front of my binder I placed my favorite meals list.  This is a list, described in an earlier post is my quick reference for meal planning and a guide for finding a favorite recipe.

I used binder dividers to create the following recipe categories:

1 – Breakfast

2 – Lunch/Kid-Friendly Meals

3 – Beef/Pork

4 – Poultry

6 – Meatless/Fish

7 – Vegetables/Sides

8 – Breads

9 – Snacks/Appetizers

10 – Dessert

11 – Cookies ( I love cookies so they have their own spot rather than being added to dessert)

Within each section I added two pieces of colored card-stock — one blue and one yellow.  Behind the blue card-stock I added our favorite recipes that are worth repeating. Behind the yellow card-stock I placed recipes that I have collected and want to try.  After I try the recipe I will either add it to our favorites or toss it. I won’t keep a recipe we won’t eat!


I slid recipes cut from newspapers or magazines, printed from the Internet or even written on recipe cards into page and photo-protectors.


Currently, it all fits in one binder. Eventually I will have to add more binders as I add recipes.

The next couple weeks are exceptionally busy for me, so my organizing theme will be organizing projects to be completed in 30 minutes or less.  I’ll post my first project tomorrow. I have some ideas, but I’d love to hear from you . . . what organizing task can you complete in 30 minutes or less?

A Season Master Schedule

My theme this week is time management. I am in an exceptionally busy season right now, and in order to fit everything into the 24 hours we are given, I need to have my time organized. A couple days ago I wrote about Marcia Ramsland’s “Monday Master List” tip. I gave it a try and I’m keeping it. It’s a great time organizing strategy. But, I decided I needed to go one step further and create a “Season Master Schedule”. This is an over-view of all the general activities I both need and want to accomplish throughout the week and the time I must or would like to allot to them. It is an over-view of the daily routine I would like to create for myself and my family. Most time-management “gurus” agree that establishing a routine is the best way to manage your time effectively. If you do the same thing at the same time over and over, it becomes habitual and you avoid the periods of wasted time trying to figure out what to do next.

I call it a “Season Master Schedule” because it involves activities that only last for a season, or a period of time. For example, right now I am entering a season of spring sports for my children, a spring musical they are also involved in, along with a seasonal work schedule for me. The master schedule I set up now will need to be changed when these activities end in a couple months.

I began with a list. I listed everything that must get done — the practices, my work-hour commitments, those things I cannot miss.  Then I added my wish-list of what I would like to get accomplished. At this point I kept things relatively general because what I am creating is just an over-view of what I want my weekly routine to look like.  Then, using a free print-out from I Heart Organizing (why create it, if someone else already has?) I started to plug in the must-dos in the time slots they must be done.


With that accomplished I started on my wish-list, beginning with my greatest priorities first. I tried to be realistic with how much time each activity would take and to even give myself a little do-nothing time (you never know what might come up). I had to concede that my wish-list may have been a bit too lofty and leave a few things out.  Here it is, my Master Schedule, a weekly routine as it will be for the next month or two.


Note that I wrote in pencil. I find that I never truly know how things will work until I’ve actually lived it. What looks good on paper doesn’t always translate as such to life. It is very likely I will have to erase and re-work things as I go. How do you organize your time? I’d love to hear your input!

A Well-Timed Email

One of my favorite organizers is Marcia Ramsland. I have subscribed to receive her organizing tips via email. They only come once a week and they are always sooo good, so I pay attention when I see it in my inbox. Today’s happened to be a time-management tip, which is my theme this week. One tip is to use “A Monday ‘Master List'”. This is basically an ultra-to-do list of real things you have to do.  She explains, “A Master List is a categorized list of Actions you need to take that are more than things that can be accomplished in one day. It is a list that you create to clear a desktop of paperwork or to clear your mind when you feel overwhelmed.” Her suggestion is to create it on Monday because we are “most creative and ambitious at the beginning or the week. . .”, and to make it a priority to get through it by the end of the week.

I say this email was well-timed, because I had just begun to create my own sort of “master list” today, which was starting to get a little to detailed and complex. I like this approach — it’s simple, straight-forward, and easy-going — just my style. I’m going to try to pick up a new habit this week — the Master List habit. (Check out the complete article here).