Thursday, January 10, 2013

Operation's BACK!!!

It seems that these Operation Organization posts were really helpful to some last year or maybe some of you just like to read about organization.  Whatever the case, I have decided to take a look at some of the ideas from last year and share what worked and didn't work for my family and add a few new ideas.

One of the things I re-vamped last year to help keep our family organized was my family binder.  I have always had one, but it was not really serving enough of a purpose for me and so I changed and added a few things.  Here is a recap from this post of my family binder which I still love, but I have made a few changes for 2013.

It includes tabs for:

Calendars - This section included a monthly calendar for our family activities.  My Monthly Calendar was very helpful.  My husband and I keep separate planners and this was nice to capture all of our mutual activities and family activities for the month.  As things went on my calendar I also added them here so he could make a copy to add to his planner.  It seems redundant, but we both love having our own planners.

This year I got an actual hanging wall calendar from Shutterfly with pictures of the family because my daughter is at the age where she likes to see what is coming up and likes to add her own activities too.'s nice to look at pictures each month from the previous year.

This section also included my Weekly Family calendar which listed all of the activities we have by day.   This was really more for my husband than me since I have our routine memorized, but he doesn't so he can look here to know what is going on.

My Family Weekly Calendar

Routines- This section included a list of to-do activities for each day.   I used this A LOT in the beginning of the year and then let it slide over the summer.  I was far more time crunched last year with my son only in school 2 1/2 hours so this really helped keep me on track and be productive every day.  I also loved having the schedule is a plastic sheet protector and that gave me the ability to check things off as they were completed and gave me some sense of accomplishment.

Since my little guy started Kindergarten this Fall and is now in school full time, I have a lot more time on my hands so I don't really need this anymore and can just plan the night before in my everyday planner.   To be totally honest, I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants for the Fall because I was so busy with my business and now that things have slowed, I feel like my planner is working just fine so this section will go.

But....if you have little time to get your activities done, this is a great checklist.  It not only gives you the ability to check things off, but it also gives you (or at least it did for me) the inability to put things off that I don't like to do like grocery shopping.   When I had limited time I had to do it routinely each week to keep up.

I still grocery shop every week and now I can go any day so I'm not tied to a day.   If for some reason I don't get to do a big shop each week I can I run out to the store a few times a week for a small shop...that's okay.   I also re-hired my cleaning lady this Fall because I just couldn't keep up.   It has been WONDERFUL!!!!!  Don't get me wrong, I still have plenty of housework to do and cleaning, but it's now manageable.

I also used to do certain laundry on certain days.  Each person had a day that their laundry got done.  I still pretty much stick to the schedule because it's such a habit now and it's nice because my 11 year old who cares about fashion knows that if she wants something clean that she needs to have it ready for her laundry day.   It also made it easier for me to put it away when it was separated.  Call me crazy, but it works.

This section also included my morning and evening routines that helped me get things done to get the kids ready for school in the mornings and keep my house running in the evenings.   It was just a checklist of activities I did every single morning (ie. pack lunches, make beds) and every evening (ie. lay out clothes, run dishwasher) and it was VERY helpful!  Again, with so little time on my hands, I needed as many checklists as possible.

My Daily Routines

School- This section obviously contained all things related to school.  This section will stay pretty much as is. It has our school calendar, class lists with phone #'s, and any other important information as it relates to both children.  It helps to have it all in one place...that's the whole idea behind the binder in the first place.

Extra-Curricular Schedules- This section is pretty self-explanatory as well and will stay as is as well.   I like having these calendars all together so when I fill in my everyday calendar for the upcoming month, I can find all of the calendars in one place and just transfer dates and times.

Contacts- This has been great as well and was somewhat of a new addition last year.  I found the idea to put all of the important business cards in slots in a baseball card holder for a binder.   It works great.  Here's a picture of what I mean.  

Many of these #'s are already saved in my phone, but this is a great backup and a way for my husband to find the ones he might need as well.

Finance & Bills- Unfortunately this section is my most used section, but I have to say it has been invaluable.   I hate paying bills, but this has definitely made it far more organized in the past year.   I now have a place where not only can I track what has been paid or unpaid, but it has been helpful to track our spending.  This section has my Bill Payment chart for each upcoming month that I fill in as the bills arrive and then I stick them in the pocket divider right away to avoid losing them and having mail accumulate.  I take a look at it each week and see what is upcoming and then as they are paid, I check them off.   At any given time I can go and estimate what we will spend for the current month and plan where we need to cut back if need be.  LOVE IT!!!

Bill Pay

Meal Planning- Well, this is one of those sections that needs to be renamed.   I honestly tried the meal planning thing and admire those that can, but it's just not in the cards for my family.  As I've mentioned before, I have a son with tons of food allergies and my husband is a vegetarian so that leaves only my daughter and I to plan the same thing for and I really don't do it.

I always cook, but we kind of decide the day before or I decide and we go from there.  Sometimes I have to run to the store that day, but I don't throw away food and I don't think I'm spending anything more so that's how it works for me.

So what does this Meal Planning tab consist of....take out menus of course.   No that's not my idea of meal planning, but it is a great place to store them all together so I will rename the section for 2013.

Home Maintenance- I had great intentions of using this section to keep track of all of the things that both needed to happen to maintain our home and any additional things we wanted to do.  Didn't happen.  So this section will go.

My other essential item to keep myself organized and my family running is my everyday planner.  I shared with you last year my love of my planner from Erin it was.

So this year instead of making a big investment in a planner I decided to go with this one from Plum Paper.  To be totally honest with you, the jury is still out on it.  I certainly love it's price tag far more than my last planner, but I'm not sure if I don't like the layout of it's just different and I need to adjust.  I am a major creature of habit.

While it looks incredibly similar... I had grown used to the space on the daily view to write all of my activities and a box to check them off.  I like that sense of accomplishment as you can see :)  So now I just have to adjust to writing things in time blocks instead.  Regardless of how I write it, I am a BIG believer that when you write things down and plan your time out prior to the time existing, you accomplish more.  I have always been one for checklists even in my career and at the end of the day the unfinished items transferred to the next day at the top.

These 2 things- my Family Binder and my Daily Planner- are so crucial to me staying organized and keeps me from missing appointments and important events.  I highly recommend them both.  As I said before, the beauty of a family binder is that you can customize it to fit your family.   Before you put one together for your own family, I highly recommend looking around on Pinterest to see how others have done them and what they have included and then personalize it to what you think will work for you.  You can always change it, but if you try to copy someone else's model and it isn't customized to your needs I can promise you that you won't use it.

I do think, however, if you are scattered and constantly losing papers and important things a family binder of any sort will save you time and stress in the long run.  I use mine all the time and for multiple different purposes.

That is what works for us and I hope it has inspired you to create your own if you are struggling to keep on top of things and feel like you are always misplacing things and/or missing important dates and events.  I did find some other great family binders with other great sections that you might find helpful.

Ginny from Organizing Homelife - She shares some great free printables to help you start your own binder including:   a Contact List, Monthly Budget, and some great Cleaning Charts.

Marie from Blooming Homestead- She also shares some great free printables to help you create your own binder including: Birthday and Anniversary organizer, Menu planner and shopping list, and a prescription info. sheet.

Rebecca from The Inspired Organizer- More free printables and tons including: Grocery List, a Medical Log, Vehicle information and Insurance information.

So many of these ideas are great and you can use what works for you.  I have a filing system that I use for many of these items and reserve those things I use often and want quick access to for my binder, but make it WORK FOR YOU!!!

Hope this helps get you started off on the right foot to stay organized in 2013.  I will share some more organizational ideas that stuck for us and worked in 2012 and some new ideas as well over the next few weeks!

Until then...

Poshed Up

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