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I have blogged about this before but I get asked this question often so I thought I’d post again. Besides, as I write this up it helps me simplify and consolidate my system in my head – which is a good thing.
My diary, my control journal (a Flylady term), my organiser, my homemakers notebook: regardless of what you call it – I have a system that keeps all my notes and to-dos in one place helping me with all the different responsibilities that I carry. Many of the commercial diaries or time management systems are around the idea that you have a business life and then you have a home life, that weekends are uneventful times, and that your day is divided up into 1/2 hour slots where you make appointments. But that isn’t my life. I wanted a system that stopped me from compartmentalising my life and yet keep me on track.
When I began to put this binder together I found it helpful to know what I wanted from it: I wanted to be able to carry it with me like a diary, I only wanted one place for information (not another diary, calendar, list filed or kept somewhere else). I remembered back to another time when I used to have a system like this but the binder became so heavy it was impossible to carry with me so this time I considered a5 size binder for that reason but the time factor of reducing everything to a5 made it not efficient. The solution was to be careful what I put in it. It was to be used on a daily basis, not a place to store papers. It was to keep me efficient not something that required a lot of time to maintain.
I use an a4 size ring-binder with dividers. Here are my divisions:
· Daily to-do – I use <a href="http://simplemom.net/daily-docket/" target="_blank">simplemom’s daily docket</a> as my template though I have tweaked it to suit me and my brain (and what needs to be remembered). My daily docket includes my daily routine (on the left side) and (on the right) Heart focus, Priorities, Commitments, Menu, Lessons, Online activity.
· Discipleship plans – Discipleship covers all areas of a child’s life. This is where I keep my notes – heart training, lifeskills, and study lists (assignment sheets and study routines)
· Office Lists – office to-do lists (both Master list and current to-do) as well as my office routine schedule – this keeps me on track with office work for both family and business (much like my housework routines do). I also keep notes of ideas for a blog post or article I want to write here.
· Menu Planning – this week’s menu, freezer and pantry lists, list on quick to make meals, list of the meals my children can prepare or want to learn.
· Shopping list – I keep this list in a separate tab than the menu planning so the children can find it quickly and add to the shopping list. I have a shopping list typed up by shopping isles but I let the kids just write a quick list on blank paper as they run out of an item or need something to be bought and I transfer it to my organised shopping list the day before I go shopping.
· Housework rosters and chore lists (For both myself and the kids)
· Lists: Birthday dates, gift ideas, phone numbers,
· Calendar – a block style monthly calendar that has all my commitments recorded – reoccurring as well as one-offs.
· Blank paper – I like to keep blank paper in the back of the binder as well. This is for those times that I want to take notes. I am trying to discipline myself to keep everything centered in this binder, reducing bits of paper here and there.
My binder sits on my kitchen table and only gets put away when we have visitors – it then goes in the office. Wherever I go it goes (well, maybe not to a wedding, but it does go to Church with me) It is my diary so I need it with me.
Every Sunday afternoon (or evening) Pete and I have planning time where we set to and plan our week and let each other know what we are doing. My diary helps me through this process.
· I print off another set of daily to-do lists and fill in the Commitments, Menu and Lessons sections for the week. I refer to all the sections of my diary for the relevant information. I have found that if I write these things in by hand weekly, I am a lot more in tune with what needs to happen rather than printing off routine checklists each week.
· I find that it works better if I leave Heart training and Priorities to write up on the day or night before so I can keep in tune with what is really important.
· The rest of my planning session is spent preparing any lessons that I have listed for the coming week and these are kept to a minimum.
The big question is – do I follow it? Well, yes and no. It is there as my guide. My best days are the days that happen closest to my plan but life happens! I reckon you need somewhere to start from, a base from which you can be flexible. Flexible isn’t to be without a plan, flexible is holding onto that plan loosely.
But a willingness to be flexible has to be in balance with a willingness to work hard, and apply self-discipline. I know my life on paper looks different than real life. I try hard to get them to match and yet I want my plan on paper to include the goals that I am striving towards. I am working hard at using my time wisely, using my time for its intended purpose.