Monday, January 5, 2015

Organization? It's In The Cards

by Kris Fletcher

So here we are, folks - the first Monday of a brand new year, which means that in all the ways that counts, the year starts today, right? This is the day when we gird our loins, hit the floor, and try to remember how to do a push-up. Or we toss the sugar bowl. Or vow to get organized. Or, sometimes, stare blankly at the calendar and wonder who the heck stole 2014 away from us when we weren't looking (please tell me I'm not alone in that one ...)

In any case, I couldn't do a push-up to save the whales, and my sugar bowl is surgically connected to my hips (which explains way too much right there), but if you, like me, are hoping to make better use of your time this year, then hey howdy hey, I have a suggestion for you. It's a radical system based on - wait for it - index cards.

I know, I know. App developers all over the world are weeping at this suggestion. But sometimes, going old school works. For me, this is one of those times.

This system is not my own creation. I've adapted the approach spelled out in excellent detail in Sidetracked Home Executives, by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. If you're looking to get a handle on household chores, they're the women to keep you on track.

I wanted to organize my household tasks while also getting a handle on my writing, promotion, and family responsibilities. Spinning off of Young and Jones' system, my first step was to sit down and make an index card for everything that needs to be done on a regular basis: clean out the fridge, cello lessons, blog updates, change the sheets, update my financial records, etc. Step two is to sit down at the beginning of the month along with my calendar and file all those cards into a file box set up with dividers for each day of the month.
Each evening I pull the cards that have been allocated to the next day, read them over, and make sure I have everything I'll need to accomplish the assigned tasks. Then each day, I work my way through the cards. (My favorites are the ones that say Sit down and read for half an hour.) When each card's task is complete, I file it where it needs to go next - tomorrow, one day next week, next month. 

The nice part about this system is that I don't have to worry about having 329 things to do in a week. All I need to do is get through today's cards. The rest will wait. To me, that fact alone makes it worth the time of organizing and filing the cards.

I'm always looking for ideas to better manage my time. What do the rest of you do to stay on top of life?


13 comments:

Mary Preston said...

I'm a big believer in old school. I still stick notes on the fridge & write all over the wall calendar in the kitchen. It works.

kris said...

Mary, thank heaven for those wall calendars. That is still the place where we all write our appointments. If it's not on the calendar, the chances that it will actually happen go down dramatically!

joye said...

I took a Time Management class in college and the one thing that stuck with me was
Do not use your time twice.
It means to think in terms of bundling up your small jobs into one big one.
Only handle a piece of paper once and do with it what you would finally do with it. If you get a letter and you put it aside to read later, this wastes time. Deal with it at once. Read and toss or file.
If you have errands to do, do them all on the same day and plot your course.

Those are the kinds of things I try to do and it probably saves me time. I really haven't measured that.
jwisley8@me.com

kris said...

Joye, I've heard that suggestion before and it makes such sense. Not always as easy to do as we'd like, but yeah - I think it can pay off big time.

Kaelee said...

We write post it notes on our computer. It's a system that works for us as long as we remember to enter things in the first place.

kris said...

Kaelee, aren't those computer post-its great? I love dashing something onto one of those until I can add it to the proper file. So handy!

MJ Compton said...

I recently resurrected my Day Timer. (Stop laughing!) Unfortunately, many of the forms I used to use are no longer made, thank you technology. But I used that Day Timer to organize my life when it was so chaotic I couldn't breathe without looking at it. Life has changed, obligations have changed, but the need to stay on time of a million tasks remains the same, and the Day Timer does it for me.

Snookie said...

I am totally not organized, but have had to manage my time better lately as my two sisters and I are the sole caregivers for my mom. My sister set up a google calendar so that we could fill in the times we are available to stay with my mom who now needs 24/7 care. All the dr. and therapy appointments and other miscellaneous things having to do with my mom are posted on the calendar. So the three of us from three different households can keep track of things.

kris said...

MJ, hey, if it ain't broke, etc etc ...

Snookie, what an excellent solution. How wonderful that you and your sisters were able to find something to make even this one little piece run smoother.

linda s said...

I wish I had the patience to file papers and itemize the tasks in my life. Love your system.

I have a notebook by my place at the table with separate pages for days of the week. I use it for all the things that must be done by a given date. And the calendar - essential to co-ordinate 3 households, shifts and days off, and events. Analog, I'm afraid. Totally long hand.

kris said...

Linda, there's a reason written/ paper systems remain so popular - they're easy to use and they WORK!

bn100 said...

use a calendar

kris said...

Calendars work!

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