At times I like nothing more than to grab the nearest available person and fill their ears full of my "Woe Is Me" tales of exactly how many tasks are on my to-do list....I'm just one of those people.
But deep down I know that most people are well aware of how chaotic life can be. I am certainly not the only one with a baby to look after, a household to keep to a socially acceptable level of cleanliness and a job to do well enough to at least get paid.
We have so many time-saving tools at our disposal these days - smart phones with calendars that prompt us not to forget our Drs appointments, speaking electronic assistants who are there to type our text messages for us when our hands are too full to do it ourselves (thanks Siri!), and I struggle to think of anything in life that there isn't an "app" for.
I no longer even need to keep a mental note of my menstrual cycle - there seriously is even an app for that!
But sometimes I worry that I'm putting too much faith in technology and that maybe it's counter-productive.
I spend a good 30 minutes or so each day setting reminders on my phone for various things, double checking that reminders are set for when they should be, organising my spreadsheets and so on.
Lately I've taken a bit of a step back....I've been embracing the more simple approach.
No apps, no Siri, no annoying bleeps to let me know when it's time to take my medication....
I have been relying on a good old fashioned pen & paper.
And surprisingly....I'm finding it pretty soothing.
There's something about seeing things written down in front of me, in my own hand writing, that motivates me. I set myself that goal, and I WANT to achieve it.
Deleting a task from a "to do" list on a computer doesn't give me the same satisfaction as scribbling it out by hand.
My life as a blogger & freelancer, my life as a mum and my life as a housewife (of sorts) all require a certain amount of organisation.
I used to just wing it but seriously - the amount of stress that causes me is more than I can describe! - I am a Virgo, I NEED lists in my life to keep me sane and functioning.
For the past month or so, I have been finding life in general far less stressful thanks to this new organisation approach I'm taking so I thought I'd share it.
Now that Tyne is a little older there is less to remember but in the newborn days there seemed to be endless health visitor appointments, injections and so on to remember.
I have a weekly planner that we keep in the kitchen, where I write down any commitments we make - any Drs letters or appointments that come through are written immediately on the planner with the time and the contact number incase we need to call to re-arrange or get directions.
I do the same thing now that Tyne is older and we've started to attend more toddler groups - I find that my mind can become a muddle of what's on when - is it Rhyme Time on tuesdays or thursdays?! Does Mini Music start at 10 or 10.30?!
It's so much easier for me to make a note on my calendar detailing what class is on and on which day, what time is starts AND how much it costs (I get very muddled with the different prices and nobody wants the embarrassment of not having enough money and having to forego the tea & biscuits!)
I have a system in place for my household tasks that I'm pretty happy with.
I like to keep things to a level of clean that means we won't be expecting any visits from environmental health anytime soon but we also won't be featured in Good Housekeeping....I think that's a pretty healthy balance!
To achieve this, I have figured out that I need one DEEP CLEAN day per week - this involves lots of scrubbing behind the toilets, a strong odour of bleach in the air and more swear words than are probably entirely necessary.
I also need to have two "Surface Cleans" per week - this involves a quick spray of the kitchen & bathroom surfaces, a light flick of the duster around the living room, a massive burst of Febreeze and maybe even a little sweeping action if I'm feeling particularly energetic (#Rare)
Because I tend to feel at my least-stressed on Wednesdays (halfway to the weekend people! I can almost smell the takeaway!) this is my Deep Clean day.
And common sense dictates that my Surface Clean days should be spread evenly around this, so Sundays and Fridays it is.
So that's the housework taken care of.
The only other task that requires any level of thought is the shopping & meal planning.
One is used for my Weekly Meal Plan.
I cannot deal with the stress of "leaving it to chance" when it comes to meal times any more.
A toddler who seems to go from zero to ravenous in under 60 seconds (and WILL take a chunk out of your arm....) has been enough to terrify me into getting organised at dinner times.
I now make a plan of what sort of meals we will want to eat this week, go shopping with said plan in hand, pick up the items we need and then while I'm unpacking the shopping I make a quick note of expiry dates.
I then sit down and - using the expiry dates - plan out which meals we will have on which days.
That list is then on the fridge, ready to be checked each morning so I know what I need to prepare and what time I need to start cooking etc.
The other notepad is to be used whenever we run out of staple items that need to be re-bought.
When this list is not used - it all goes very wrong and I become ANGRY.
This week, for example, after I'd spent a good 25 minutes slaving over a hot oven preparing a nutritious dinner of hot dogs (Don't judge me) I discovered that....horror of horrors....there was no ketchup.
Some FOOL had used the last of it and NOT WRITTEN IT ON THE LIST!
If it's not written on the list, how on earth am I supposed to know that we need to buy more of it?!
Should my condiment-replenishing pyschic abilities have kicked in and alerted me to the fact that we needed to buy more?!
Or did this silly person (i'm looking at YOU Jon!) expect the Ketchup Fairies to bring a new bottle?!
Regardless...this resulted in no ketchup for my hotdogs and many hate-filled glares thrown across the dinner table in his direction with every mouthful of dry, bland hot dog.
Lesson to be learnt? If you used the last of it, WRITE IT ON THE LIST!
This is without a doubt where the biggest change has come in.
My work is my blog and my freelance writing.
There are certain pieces that HAVE to be finished by a certain deadline, there are certain reviewed products that have to be sent to the PR company by a certain date and then there are payments to keep track of, notes to be made of what e-mails have and haven't been sent and so on.
Recently I have started to stick to a schedule.
Instead of trying to do everything all at once when I sit at my computer, I do different things on different days.
On Mondays & Tuesdays, I write.
On Wednesdays, I set up my photography equipment and take photos of any new products I`m reviewing.
On Thursdays, I edit my photos.
On Fridays, I work on my YouTube videos.
That leaves me the weekend free.
I use another weekly planner to make a list of when my deadlines are, what posts I need to put up on which days and so on - I put a little tick next to them once they are written and scheduled.
At the moment, my schedule is full until the end of July.
I also use a notepad to keep a list of any paid work i`m doing, whether it has been completed and sent for approval, and whether I have received payment.
So there you have it.....this is how I manage to stay reasonably organised with the help of a simple pen & paper.
I am honestly finding things much easier having taken this approach, and I do think stepping away from too much technology was for the best....things were starting to get a bit TOO friendly between Siri & I. He is SUCH a flirt.
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