Organizing a busy mama

October 17, 2012/Coaching

How to stay organized

Anyone else have trouble with organizing their week? I have a confession to make… you can do what you will with it, except beat me over the head with it.

My mind doesn’t work anymore.

I mean, it still thinks about things and can put together a coherent thought (although I’m much better in writing than in real life!) but other than that, it’s tired. It broke when I was pregnant with Ryan. While I keep wondering if it will someday make a reappearance, I’m not holding my breath. Instead I’m learning some new coping mechanisms.

One is list making. Now I know what you’re saying… you’re saying that I’ve always been a list maker. While that’s true, my list making has evolved. I used to keep lists so I could keep track of everything swirling around in my head… get it on paper and make myself a little less crazy. I used the list to remind myself of everything I’d accomplished (yay, me!) and was known to add things to the list I’d already completed just to have an accurate picture of all that was getting done.

Now a days, I write a list because things don’t stay swirling in my head, they flit in one side of my brain and out the other, sometimes never to return again. If I don’t capture it while it’s there I may never deposit the checks in the bank or renew the car registration (note to self: renew the car registration!). I need a list to tell me what to do.

There’s are lots of ways to keep lists. You can buy a day planner, download free printables from sources all over the net, or use my favorite system: the 25-cent composition notebook from Walmart. It’s cheap, it’s easy and most of all, it offers the flexibility a once-structured-broken-planner like me needs.

To start things off, I write down each day of the week with corresponding appointments. You might ask why I don’t just simply look at my calendar. And this is where I’ll remind you that my mind doesn’t work anymore.  Normal people look at their calendar and remember they have appointments. I found I was missing appointments because in my haste, I’d look at the wrong day, or not notice the arrow switching an appointment from one day to the next. Giving myself a “Week-At-A-Glance” (WAAG) page in my notebook helps me take the time to look for all the nuances I was missing before.

I like to write this page out the Friday or Saturday before and use it as a jumping off point for the following week’s menu. Sometimes I write our meal plan directly on this page, other times I use a separate sheet of paper. Either way, it helps me know what’s coming up in the days ahead.


On the flip side of my WAAG I write down any deadlines, projects, or things that need to happen ASAP. Then add a few things off my long-term list that need getting to. When I was young and only had one child, I’d write “Monday” on the top of the 30 item list. Now I write, “This Week”.
This week
On the following pages, I write the day and choose a few things from the master list. Many times other tasks will be added, but at least I know I’m getting things done off the master list. Sometimes I don’t get everything done…. these items either get postponed indefinitely, or get transferred to the following week’s master list. Rarely do things not get done after two weeks.
When a week is over, I fold all the pages from that week into one centerfold so when I open my notebook I’m always on the current week.
I’ve been using this system for awhile now and it’s really helped less things fall through the cracks. There’s no expensive system I have to keep up with or some intricate new way to put the same old stuff down.  While I use my wall calendar and make a few notes on my iphone, having a physical pen and paper still does the trick for me. What system works for you?

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Comments (5)

  • Michelle Tomasello / October 17, 2012 / Reply

    On the upside, you have excellent handwriting! I like to use Google Calendar to plug in my appointments, schedule, birthdays, and dates. The program sends me updates to my phone a week in advance, the day before, and an hour before.

    I have a paper meal planner that I use to plan meals a week out. This forces me to look at the calendar for our schedule and plan meal times accordingly.

    There is my beloved chore list that I plan a week in advance as well. It helps me to be flexible and not freak out about getting things done.

    I have a printed homeschool schedule for my preschooler that I use more as a guideline for our daily structure. I have our basic activity times mapped out, but then keep the activities open to my choice of what project we will work on from a list of subjects, games, and activities.

    I love the digital options we have these days! Besides having my actual Google Calendar on my Tablet, I also have my to-do list with categories, and my grocery list ap. that syncs with my hubby’s phone so he knows what is needed in the pantry for pick-ups. The grocery ap. we use is Out Of Milk and we love it!

    Keep up the good work and don’t get discouraged with having less mommy brain than usual. It happens to the best of us. 🙂


  • jersey girl / October 17, 2012 / Reply

    The one place I haven’t gone digital is with a calendar. I need the paper. I have to write it down. I need to see it BIG. Every July I buy a new “student planner” and customize it to fit my needs. We also have a family calendar in the kitchen. I use that to track activities/projects/parties for the boys and for things my husband needs to be aware of.

  • Dot / October 17, 2012 / Reply

    Post-its. I keep one long one with what I need to accomplish and little ones for each day so I prioritize what I can get done that day. It kind of works… lots of little papers everywhere hehe

  • Allyson / October 18, 2012 / Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Lisa / October 22, 2012 / Reply

    Hubby uses Google calendar for all our appts and his military appts as well so if I need his help with the kids or anything I can know if he has meetings or what not.

    I love to make lists, my problem is that I usually make those lists on scrap papers and when I speed clean I end up chucking those papers out. I like the Comp book idea and I will try to do that.

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