A lot of people say to me, “You must be so organised!” And it’s true, I am quite organised. I have lists, menus, folders, files, a diary and a place for (almost) everything. At least once a week I spend time updating my diary and to-do list, writing a weekly menu, checking the pantry and fridge for items I need to buy and otherwise getting organised. And every day I check my to-do list and diary so that I can keep up. Otherwise, all tasks are pushed to the end of the week and beyond, and eventually I’m snowed under and confused. This is when we resort to take-away, buying things at the corner shop or supermarket and generally wasting our time and money.
Recently I’ve let a few routines go by – I swapped housework for a social day last week and therefore my entrance and dining room floors are less clean than I prefer. I’m a little behind in some of my magazine columns because I’ve been blogging (the columns are written months before publication, and it never seems pressing until I see the word ‘deadline’ in my diary!) So this week I’m tackling a lot of tasks I postponed last week and the week before.
I’m nowhere near as talented at or patient with homemaking as Rhonda. I’d love to be, but with six children, homeschooling, the farm, a home-based business and my freelance work – I just can’t do it. And I’m not giving any of those other things up! The things I’m particular about are:
* a clean bathroom, especially the vanity (sink) and toilet once a day
* a clean kitchen including the fridge and pantry, wiped benches and clean dishes all day, every day
* empty bins as required, rubbish sorted, scraps to animals once a day
* clean clothes, no build-up of laundry as I have enough loads to do without a backlog, every day
* enough food for us all, and no wastage of that food, checked daily at lunch time
* clear floors so no one trips over or breaks anything, every morning and evening
* menu plans and shopping lists, weekly
* bills paid on time, noted and filed as they arrive
* reduced clutter, at least at each change-of-season
* do something in the garden each day – harvest, water, plant, feed, weed or planning
My downfalls are:
* major cleaning like ceilings and walls, even a complete vacuum and mop is sometimes a challenge
* folding and hanging clean clothes in wardrobes (I am responsible for myself, my husband and the younger two children only)
* wiping over cupboard-fronts, whitegoods, light switches, doors etc
* windows, washing curtains
* tidying the linen cupboard (who messes it up anyway?)
* tidying and cleaning the shed – only when I can’t stand the mess do I tackle this one
Knowing where my weaknesses lie is important. These are the things I schedule into my diary or to-do list or I’d never get to them. I prefer play to work, and life’s too short when the children are young to let some cobwebs stand in the way of a picnic at the creek!
My recommendation for anyone wanting to live more simply is to get organised and stay there. You’ll save time and money, tread more gently on the planet and still have time for play…
Here are a few of my favourite tools for an organised life:
* Organizing Junkie – Menu Plan Monday and other tools for bloggers – I find that joining in keeps me accountable
* Simple Savings – using the tips and especially the forum is fantastic for keeping me in the right mindset but challenged as well as for obtaining new ideas.
* Blogging – keeping lists of what’s in my garden and orchard, writing seasonal notes and monthly updates also keeps me accountable and is fantastic to look back upon.
* Lists – find a method to suit and use it. I currently use one of those 1-cent 64 page exercise books which can be found at the start of a school year (we keep a small supply for various uses, not just homeschool!) I divide each page into six, which is the right size for about 6-7 tasks/reminders a day. What I don’t do is transferred to another day.
* Menu Plans – we all must eat, and it’s getting more expensive each week. Menu Planning has saved my sanity and our budget. There are numerous online tools to help you, or just wing it using your usual fare fitted into your usual weekly schedule, with at least one back-up option in mind (a frozen or ‘quick’ meal to avoid the take-away trap!) Part Two of this series explains more about how I handle food for eight-plus people.
* Folders are my friend! I keep some paperwork I regularly refer to in those spiral-bound A4 refill books – one for recipes, one for the farm, one for general papers – lists, forms, catalogues and so on. No loose papers! I also keep larger 3-ring binder folders for financial matters – one for our home budgeting and bills, and one for my business paperwork.
* A place for everything. I try to think of the house as having ‘zones’. So the children’s stuff stays in their space, entertainment in the living area (games, TV, DVDs, music), anything to do with food in the kitchen, cleaning in the laundry, personal care in the bathroom, and we have a room for anything to do with homeschool, though it does tend to spread out to other rooms and bookcases of course. Home education is a lifestyle! I never go anywhere in the house empty-handed and teach the children to do the same. If something has strayed from its zone, we take it home on our way around the house during the day. This eliminates the need for too many big clean-ups, so is a good tool for us!
* Simply staying a step ahead – extra food in the cupboard, extra meals in the freezer, clothes washed before the hamper overflows, outings planned, money budgeted and everyone informed of what to expect, when (by way of a family calendar in the kitchen) – this preparation is my advantage.
I hope some of these ideas help. Maybe you have an organisation tool, website or idea to share in the Comment section of this post?
* Fourth in a series of five guest posts by Belinda Moore. Here are part one, part two and part three of this series.