Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Secrets of the slightly organized

Make that "only slightly organized".  I'm a busy person and if I didn't make some attempt at being organized, nothing would get done.  For awhile I've been meaning to put together a post with links to some of my older posts about planning and organization, with the idea that it might be a help to homeschooling moms and other busy people.  But time constraints have prevented me.

A good place to start might be with considering the why of planning and goal setting.  This post, More thoughts on goal setting, from January 2015, will help you consider your overall purposes in life -- the why behind what you do.   If I am to bring glory to God with my life, then I need to use every moment to maximum effectiveness -- a lofty goal that I fall far short of every day.

I shouldn't, but I tend to get a little bit annoyed when people ask me what I do all day.  This post -- Just Busy -- from 2015 gives an idea of just what I'm busy with.  The only thing that has really changed since then is that I no longer have the responsibility of caring for my dad.  We do help my husband's mom with things occasionally, but she is still somewhat independent.  Also, she has other children and that responsibility is shared among them all.  The eldercare, though, has been replaced with responsibilities for his estate, so I am still spending an hour or two a day working on that.  And any references to making gifts and such -- I have much less time for that than I used to, so don't do much (if any) crafting in a given day.

This 2013 post, Where did it go? resulted from taking a look at my week to see just where it had, in fact, gone.  If you ever find yourself wondering that about your own week, it can be very valuable to sit and ponder just where the time has gone.  Looking honestly at this has really helped me purpose to use my time wisely.  This quote from Elizabeth George in A Woman After God's Own Heart is in that post, but it's worth copying and pasting it here, too:

  "God’s mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great!  So every morning remember that your goal is simple: you want to have just one good day of living your priorities.  Then keep focused on following God’s plan for your life for just this one day.  For just one day, try putting first things first.”  By God's grace, I intend to do just that today and every day this week!

Lovely graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Thinking about goals and accomplishing more of them, from 2012, tells what happened when I realized I wasn't accomplishing as much as I once did, and how I began to solve the problem.

A weekly calendar page, from 2008, tells how I designed the weekly calendar page that I use.  This is an invaluable part of my planning, as it shows me a picture of my entire week.

Every morning I then take a small note pad and jot down what the priorities for my day must be.  I suppose the list is usually ten items or less, but if I fit in more activities, that's fine too.  And then I like to make a time schedule for the day, just so I fit each priority in at the most effective time.  This really helps me to get things done in a timely way -- for example, to be sure I've allowed enough time for preparing a meal or getting ready to go somewhere.  It also helps me to schedule important tasks (like those  that require thinking clearly) for earlier in the day when I am fresher, and no-brainer tasks like folding laundry for the end of the day.  I tend to schedule my day in half-hour increments, but I don't stick rigidly to those times.  I just use the schedule as a guideline and stay pretty flexible.  Remember, if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time!

If you can't face the idea of a time schedule, certainly you could start by just making a small list for each day's priorities.  Just considering what the priorities for each day must be is a huge help.  Start by listing things you must do,  like scheduled appointments, commitments, or kids' activities, and preparing supper or doing laundry.  If you can also find time for other things, good for you!

Another practice that has been a huge help to me is planning menus for each week.   I plan my menus at the same time I make my grocery shopping list, and I plan most of the meals around what's on sale that week, plus what's on hand in freezer, fridge, or pantry.  Having a plan means less scrambling around at the last minute for getting a meal together, and it prevents takeout or drive-through meals so often (though these measures do occasionally have their place).  In thinking about menu planning, I think this topic is worthy of its own post, so I will try to do that later this week.

Hope these simple thoughts are helpful to someone.  I am by no means a time-management expert (quite the reverse, in fact), but if I made no attempt at managing my time, I would be accomplishing even less than I do.  And we do realize God wants us to use our time wisely, for His glory, so let's be inspired to do just that!


  1. You do have lofty goals and get much more done in a day than I. Of that, I am sure!

    1. Oh, I wouldn't be too sure about that, Vee! You strike me as being a pretty efficient lady!

  2. Your post is wonderful. I read EVERYTHING. It is funny because last week, I decided to record my day...I mean everything. I wanted to see what I was doing with my time and hoped that by recording it all I would learn where I was wasting time and why I couldn't get done each day what I wanted. I am still going to do that for a couple of weeks to see if anything helpful shows up. I used to think I was so organized and so productive. I am organized for the most part, but I fear I will find that I have just too much that I am trying to accomplish and that I need to tone it down. I have some non-negotiable things such as the Bible study time. That keeps me sane. This summer I slouched on the exercise and I realize that needs to go to the non-negotiable list as well. Anyway thanks for tips and I just ordered the book by Elizabeth George for cheap. If it is as good as the other one you recommended I should have purchased it ages ago. Great minds think alike Mrs. T.

    1. Sandy, I am glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, so true, exercise and Bible study belong on the non-negotiable list.

      One thing that you need to remember about your own season of life is that not only are you looking after your mom, but you are also looking after several houses. Think about it: your regular house, the cabin, and the farmhouse. No wonder you feel as if you're spinning your wheels. You are juggling a lot.

      I wholeheartedly recommend ANY of Elizabeth George's books. Life Management for Busy Women and God's Wisdom for a Woman's Life are both fantastic resources for time/life management as well.

      Glad this post was a help to you!


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