These are the three tools that I've used for many years to help keep my days organized and running a bit more smoothly. It's nothing earth-shaking here I'm sharing but just the simplicity of a calendar, to-do list, and a weekly menu plan.These are the three tools that I've used for many years to help keep my days organized and running a bit more smoothly.
I always think these are probably tools our grandmothers used back in the day. Every business seemed to give away free calendars, and most meals seemed to be eaten at home.
My grandmother always had a list going on what task she was going to get to each day, and I had a dear aunt who kept a notebook with all the things she needed to accomplish. In it, she kept gift lists and menus for various events along with her daily to-do list. She was probably my first example as a young girl of how to keep my days organized.
I'm thankful for examples because as I always share it can be overwhelming learning how to care for our homes and families. Anything that makes my job easier I'm all for! I'm just going to walk through how I use these three tools.
Before cell phones, I just used a wall calendar. I may have a purchased one now, but in our early years, we always used whatever free one we got from a store or business. Now I utilize Google Calendar, and I'm so thankful for the shared calendar feature. Our family keeps a shared calendar and then we each have our own personal calendar that we still share with one another.
I love knowing what my husband has going on, and he appreciates being able to see my schedule too. You can use this tool well by putting your cleaning schedule in it, and you can skip my paper menu planner I'm sharing about below and even put your meals in it if you like. I just still have a personal preference for paper.
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I love the ease of Google Calendar for recurring events and especially birthdays and anniversaries so you can set up reminders ahead of time. I utilize the notes feature well in it for various appointments and make sure I put addresses in it if I'm heading somewhere new.
I use the Google Calendar app for my phone, I've tried others but keep coming back to the ease of how it works. I do appreciate the reminder feature and use it quite frequently for appointments that I may tend to forget.
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I just need to stay in the habit of checking it at night before bed and again in the morning, so I don't miss things. I still utilize a wall calendar, but it's not as detailed as my Google Calendar.
I have a separate calendar set-up in it for my blog scheduling too.
For my regular readers, you know how much I love my to-do list. I have a post on ten things I love about it. It's probably going to come up on a podcast soon lol.
Related Post: 10 Things I Love About My To-Do List
I said “free” in the title of the post, and I'm sticking to it. I know technically you had to purchase paper or notecards, but I'm just saying you can use whatever you already have on hand. If you're like a paper junkie and like me, you already have tons of notecards and notebooks in your arsenal. Notecards have been a favorite of mine, but in the past, before I had a physical planner, I just used a notebook as my aunt did. She took it everywhere with her, and it was a smaller 5″ x 8″ one.
But you can also write your list on a whiteboard or chalkboard at home too.
I usually write my to-do list for the next day at night before bed. It just takes so much off my mind, and I wake up with a plan ready to go. I carry over what didn't get done that day for the next day. I like to pick at least three items as my top to get accomplished if possible.
I utilize my calendar app to check appointments, and I do keep my cleaning schedule and morning and evening routine printed out inside a cupboard so I can see at a glance what I like to get accomplished each day. It rarely all gets accomplished each day, but it keeps me focused and productive.
Without a list, I just don't function well. I get easily distracted so for me having a plan for the day is a huge help. I'm not naturally organized or motivated, so I've learned tools to help me work through my day.
I do use a physical planner, but this didn't' start for me until Franklin Covey came around and now I've become a planner junkie for years, but it isn't necessary. Even with my planner I still keep a separate to-do list for each day on a separate sheet of paper.
My family modeled this one for me as a young girl, so it just became a habit for me. Flylady drilled this one in my head too. As a new bride, I used to menu plan monthly and still grocery shop weekly. Now I just plan my menus weekly, and I do save old menu plan sheets to work from for quick ideas.
I still love my lists I've made one of our favorite breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks to draw from. This is a handy list to have on hand and one I encourage you to sit with your family and put together. Mine is just typed up in Word documents and printed out and kept in my Homemaking Binder. That way everyone gets their favorites in there, and you have easy ideas.
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I calendar and menu plan on Sunday afternoon or evenings, so I just sit with my weekly menu planning sheet and start plugging meals in working on leftovers too.
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I always keep an emergency dinner on hand for those nights when things don't go well. Ours tends to be rice, beans, and salsa.
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My menu plan has not just saved me time but money too. We do a better job of getting rid of leftovers, and we are also more intentional in getting others over for dinners during the week. I keep my schedule up on the fridge so everyone can see it and I give it a quick glance in the morning to see if there are things I need to prep ahead of time for dinner. It's good to check the day before too in case you have to set out meat in the fridge to thaw.
There is no way around it to be organized with your days you're going to have to take some time to plan. I do know the time you take will be well worth it. Remind yourself always that we can plan all we want but the Lord ordains our days. This doesn't mean we don't ‘t take the time to plan though and be good stewards of the time He has given us.
Your family appreciates you more than you can imagine and I know that as I now have grown children who realize what it takes to care for a home and family. It is work. I know we don't do it for their appreciation, but the hope is that we always have hearts that desire to do all our work as unto the Lord.
If you need a bit more help encouragement in your homemaking, I'd love you to join me at the 5th Annual Homemaking Ministries Online Conference – the Deep Dive Summit. There are four areas to be worked through each day of the conference (Sept 25-28th) – In the Kitchen, Homemaking Routines, Family Life and Our Identity in Christ. You can watch it live online or anytime after it goes live. It's yours forever!
You can get all the details here or click on the photo at the bottom of the post too.
One last thought to leave you with and it's from Elisabeth Elliot on reminding us only a few things are important and what is on our to-do list. I don't know where this quote is from but it's been a keeper and a good reminder for me:
“I have been thinking of something that stifles thanksgiving. It is the spirit of greed—the greed of doing, being, having. When Satan came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, his bait was intended to inspire the lust to do more than the Father meant for Him to do—to go farther, demonstrate more power, act more dramatically. So the enemy comes to us in these days of frantic doing. We are ceaselessly summoned to activities: social, political, educational, athletic, and yes—spiritual. Our ‘self image’ [deplorable word!] is dependent not on the quiet and hidden ‘Do this for My sake,’ but on the list the world hands us of what is ‘important.’ It is a long list, and it is both foolish and impossible. If we fall for it, we neglect the short list. Only a few things are really important, and for those we have the promise of divine help: sitting in silence with the Master in order to hear His word and obey it in the ordinary line of duty—for example, in being a good husband, wife, mother, son, daughter, or spiritual father or mother to those nearby who need protection and care—humble work which is never on the world’s list because it leads to nothing impressive on one’s resume. As Washington Gladden wrote in 1879, ‘O Master, let me walk with Thee/In lowly paths of service free…'”
~Elisabeth Elliot (emphasis above mine)