8 January 2018

January - thinking about the year ahead and organising as much as you can

January, week 1 in The Simple Home

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. ~ Abraham Lincoln

January in Australia is pretty laid-back. It's summer time, the kids are on school holidays and many people take the opportunity to take a break with the family or sit in a cool room watching test cricket on TV. Cough, cough. 😉 In the northern hemisphere, winter has set in and even though life continues as normal, the weather encourages hours spent by the fire, with some relaxing and others remaining productive with knitting, quilting, mending or other quiet work. It's good for us to sit back and slow down with our family in the one place where we should feel comfortable and secure - our homes. January is a very good time to disconnect, in varying degrees, from the internet too. I have various accounts on social media and even though I visit those accounts infrequently during the year, I make a conscious decision in December and January to step back from them and clear my mind. I want to see my own and my family's priorities rather than have those thoughts diluted with all the noise that goes with social media. I stop blogging then too. I rethink my goals, work on strengthening my values and reconnect with my family and home, with no distractions. I use the time to organise the year ahead, think about what I hope to achieve and put as much in place as I can at this slow time of year. I know that if I use January to think about my year and organise as much as I can, the better off I'll be when I'm busier.

Home is the place where we can be ourselves, kick off our shoes and enjoy every passing hour. Home is important and whether you live in an ordinary house like I do, on a farm, or in an apartment, a caravan, an RV travelling country roads, a mansion or a tiny house, all our homes need our time and energy. They can withstand periods of neglect but all homes function better and support us more if they're well ordered and maintained.

Lists can help you clarify what you want to achieve and your calendar and the emails/messages it sends will remind you to get those things done.  If you set your calendar up with the information you have at hand now, then add to it over the coming months, you'll be able to concentrate on other things during the year and know you'll be reminded of birthdays, important events and that you wanted to clean the windows when the mild weather sets in.

There is no recipe for organising a house, no website you can go to to find the list of what you need to do. We all have to create our own unique list and it's always changing. Every home requires thought, plans, routines and organisation that suit the people who live there. For instance, I have lived in this house since I arrived here at age 49, in a few months time I'll be 70. We've moved things around, changed wall colours, blinds and curtains, installed new energy efficient appliances and lights, we've put up barriers so crawling babies stayed safe, put up fences and took them down again, changed a bedroom into a writing room, then a writing and sewing room and now a writing, sewing and ironing room. All those changes and more have been part of my lists and organisational strategy over the years and helped us do the work this home needs.

What work does your home need? This week we'll concentrate on organising ourselves in our homes so that we get things done but also have time to relax and spend time with loved ones.  Putting some time into this will make a difference during the year when you're concentrating on other things and you receive an email from yourself with a reminder to give your dog his flea and tick treatments. It will help you make time to make gifts, do running repairs on your clothes, or invite family and friends over without having to doing a major clean up before they arrive. Who knows what your changes will be. I only know that if you commit yourself to this, there will be changes, and every month you'll move closer to living a simpler life.

I used to have a much better memory than I do now. In the past I knew what I had to do, now I organise myself on my computer. In January, I set up my calendar for the year and add to it as the weeks go by. I use the clock for daily reminders and to set timers for myself. Most computer calendars have the ability to alert you or send emails reminding you of appointments, birthdays and various events.

This is a screen print of my current calendar.

I use a little notes app to take notes if I'm out but mostly I use a notebook and pen because I love to write by hand.  All my contacts are in my phone's contacts list but I have a separate list for family and friends just in case I lose my phone or the data is corrupted. All the business addresses I can find again in the Yellow Pages, the written list is kept in my Home Folder.  My calendar, times, notes and phone contacts are all synced with my phone.  Remember, this is what I do. I want to know what works for you too. You may not use a calendar or diary, if not, tell us how you organise yourself and remember birthdays, school holidays, immunisations, doctors appointments, sports days etc.

Just make sure you don't overdo it when you're planning your calendar. Most of us are full of energy and optimism at the beginning of the year and you don't want to set yourself up to fail. Be prudent with what you think you'll do. It's always an option to add to your plans later in the year.

It's a good idea to create a Home Folder to store the day-to-day details of your simple life. A folder will kept them safe and in one place. Add whatever you think is relevant to your Home Folder. I have my calendar print out, contacts list and health details such as immunisation dates and vaccination records, support groups, doctor's details and open hours, after hours doctor contact number, and information about health insurance.  It's also a good place for your menu plans, permanent shopping lists, recipes, weight and temperature conversions, grocery flyers, website details of bulk foods sites, farmers markets etc.

I covered an old three-ring binder with fabric and use plastic sleeves to hold the information. 

You can also store the following in your Home Folder so you always have your current information in one spot:

Budget and Finances
A copy of your budget
Gas, water and electricity bills - until they are paid or if you wish to keep them on hand to compare with previous and following accounts. If these arrive online, just print out a reminder for your folder and enter the due date on your calendar
Meter readings

School and after school
School curriculum
Letters from teachers
Term dates
Teachers' names for all your children

Cleaning instructions and recipes
Recipes for laundry liquid and soap
Recipes for all your green cleaners
Special cleaning instructions for any of your appliances

Knitting and crochet patterns
List of needle sizes in UK and US
List of knitting abbreviations
Yarn suppliers
Details of craft groups
Details of your craft accounts on Ravelry, Pinterest or Knitty

Warranty documents
New appliance receipts

Household inventories, list or take photos of the following:
Household furniture, cutlery and silverware, glasses etc
Appliances with model numbers and date of purchase
Electronics and technology - computers tables phones etc
Sports equipment
Outdoor furniture and equipment - mowers, pool filters etc,
Clothes, shoes and jewellery

Drawing of your current garden plan
Seasonal planting guide for your area
Ideas for next planting season
Seed, fruit and nut catalogues
Record of rainfall
Record of harvests
Mower maintenance

Pets and livestock
Vet details
Pet details
Livestock details
Recipes for pet food
Record of vaccinations, tick and flea treatments - these can be entered on your calendar as well

Gifts - homemade and purchased
List of your yearly gifts
List of gifts already in the cupboard
Gift ideas and patterns

And speaking of gifts, it's a really good idea to plan out who you'll be making or buying gifts for during the year. This will give you enough time to make something nice or add the expense of gifts to your budget so you have money put aside. I like giving a couple of hand knitted cotton dishcloths wrapped around a bar of my homemade calendula soap. It is always well received and I feel good giving a gift that I've spent time on.  Some of my gifts over the years are featured below.

You can also give cordials, jams, relish, aprons, creams, knitted hats, tote bags.  Look in Pinterest for more interesting ideas for homemade gifts.

So there we have it, friends. Use some of your time in January to start organising yourself through your calendar, set up alerts and emails, create a Home Folder and think about your gift list. These are all small steps that add up to a big difference. Please add a comment about what you're doing and if it's something different to this, describe what you do and why. I'm sure many of us will be very interested in looking at different ways to do our house and craft work.

Next Monday we'll discuss food and menu planning. The Monday after that our two topics will be customising your home and looking after your things. Our final January topic will be the ever popular routines.  In February, when the pace of life speeds up again, we'll move on to Your Money and Your Life. Then you'll look back on this time and be pleased you took the opportunity to organise as much as you could.



  1. Thank you for taking a sane approach to getting ready for the year. Last May, I found my year interrupted by cancer. Now I must include lots of appointments and treatments. I still have a home to make and keep. God bless you. Thank you for caring enough to share this with us.
    Laura Lane
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    Carthage, Missouri, USA

  2. Hi Rhonda, I am a list maker! I love lists! They work so well for me. Your journal idea is a wonderful way of keeping everything organised and readily available. I think it would work well for me and my lists! I tend to have too many "bits and pieces" of organisation. I love your philosophy about the nature of our homes and have come to appreciate ours so much more since retiring and really "being there" at home. Thanks for always posting such common sense and wisdom. Cheers Jo

  3. Happy Monday, Rhonda! I have both your books and I refer to them often. Sometimes for something specific and other times just to remind myself of wise words:) I don't use a calendar on my computer, I have a little $5 diary that lives in a magazine holder, along with my menu planning books and daily list book (old exercise books that belonged to my son). I find that I like having these things at my fingertips. I do have a home folder of sorts where I put craft patterns, articles I've cut out about the different veg I grow etc. I have already started to work from the list of gifts I keep in the back of my journal. I'm making a little stitching with perle cotton for a friend. It becomes a little wall hanging framed inside its embroidery hoop. The words I'm embroidering on it say, "be still". I find having a gift list really helps in ensuring that I don't end up spending $ on rushed, last minute gifts. Meg Xx

    1. I love the idea of the gift list. I’m always going to do it and then don’t and then kick myself because of the last minute present buying. Beginning of the year planning might work for me this time. Or I will be kicking myself again at the end of the year!

  4. My planning is similar to yours - I have a big organiser on the wall with pen attached and each family member( and the dog) has a column. There is a spare column for friends birthdays too.I carry a small diary in my handbag and a notebook in which I enter reminders/ things I need to do or buy for the house/ garden and telephone numbers. I don't use any technology for this - its all old school which I prefer.

  5. Thank you for your timely blog article. I would like to also take time to review the past year, and to actually think about what I might like to do or experince this upcoming year!

  6. Like you I use calendars-one for the house and the other for reminders in the garden. I have tried to avoid using the a digital format as having retired recently, I believe, at least for me, handwriting things is still important to keep the brain functioning- spelling, straight lines, sentences.
    After putting the usual information on my calendars and notebook, I want to align the information to my priorities for the year. For me this year its less wastage of resources and getting the gardens flourishing. I am making ginger beer, thankyou for the instructions, as I grow some ginger but I didn't freeze any lemon so have to buy some, $1.20 each. Having ginger beer on hand is a great refreshing drink but for me, only if it is economical. I have a mango tree as well. I have frozen cheeks for later use, made a few jars of chutney and plan to dry some today. So to my calendar, I will add reminders to freeze lemon and orange juice, as well as quarters of oranges and rind. Have a great week!

  7. Good morning, Rhonda. At the beginning of each year I use a calendar I look at regularly to record all birthdays. Tired of losing receipts for appliances years ago I now staple them into the back of the relevant instruction booklet which goes into a box so they are easy to find later on. These can be quite bulky so a box works for me. Enjoy the cricket ;-)

  8. I have already made plans for the coming year as my husband has Huntingtons Disease ( he is 47) and while WE and our current employers know that he is more than capable of still farming new employers are apprehensive. Our current employers are leaving the farming industry. SO I have already opened a Christmas Club account - not necessarily to spend on Christmas per se but as a little nest egg. The store cupboard supplies are building nicely and already have 6 months of some things in stock. We pay our bills in advance so are always in credit - eg the power account. This year when visiting our son and his family in Australia we gave him $ for the birthday gifts for the children- that way we are not buying them things they already have ( major frustration as the children are brought stuff constantly all year long) and we save on the postage costs. On top of that i am in save mode in case my dh does not get a job and we have to rent a house. On the farm the house goes with the job. We are between a rock and a hard place so to speak in less than 5 months time but i will do all i can in the meantime to get us into a better place once this job ends.

  9. I have a home journal which houses much of what you suggest,but I find it too bulky to use easily. So I have a small journal which I use as a Bullet journal (you can see some beautiful examples online but mine is very plain) and the calendar on my phone. I also have a wall calendar and the current menu plan in my kitchen/dining area. My recipies are being transferred to cards which sit in a timber box my son and husband made. Although I love the phone calendar, particularly if I am out and need to make appointments, I prefer simple low tech solutions for most things. Noni

  10. Good Morning Rhonda, I am a list keeper, on calendar for long term things and notepad (which I refer to as my "brain") for daily/weekly things, and would be lost without them. We have had a veggie garden for a long time but only recently I have started planning the planting on paper rather than in my head, now I am in the process of making a month by month chart of plantings, jobs in the garden, etc. to help keep on track. My weekly routine for inside my home has been much the same for so long I'm pretty sure I could run on auto pilot if necessary lol, though thanks to you I have learnt to be a little more flexible and kinder to myself. Have a lovely day x

    1. LOL Kate, I call it 'my brain' too! A while ago I couldn't find it for quite some time so you could hear me going trough the house 'where is my brain, I lost my head...' :-)

    2. LOL Annemarie, I like that :)

  11. I have my new Day-Timer all set up and ready to go - I'm a Virgo and I've always loved a good list! :-) I also have a binder on hand where I'm keeping all financial papers for the year. I've got a metal basket that holds everything until I have the time to organize all the bits & pieces. And a final binder for all the other bits & pieces that come up during the year. Birthdays are already entered in the Day-Timer.
    I live in an apt. so don't have the maintenance issues that others do - but rooms still need to be cleaned and de-cluttered on a regular basis. Yesterday I went through my pantry and a good chunk of my kitchen getting things sorted and shifted about - I'll concentrate on a different room each month -4 main rooms + bathroom + storage locker so each will get a major clean twice during the year and then it's just a matter of keeping it up.

  12. Good morning Rhonda. I use an iPad organiser for my calendars and reminders for birthdays and anniversaries. I have a recipe folder (used to use an app until it crashed and I lost all my recipes grrrr!), a finance/filing folder and my major organisational tool is a Box - large :) - of index cards. I have Mon - Sun and Jan - Dec dividers, plus a divider for each member of the family, finances, crafts etc. My menu plans are written on the cards for each season, my daily routines are on the cards, my garden activities and so on. Each day I pull out that days cards, and as tasks are completed, they go back behind the divider they are next needed for. I check my monthly cards each Sunday to plan for my week. This system may seem cumbersome to some, but it works for me.
    Enjoy your January. Kind regards, Gail

  13. Rhonda, something rarely mentioned anywhere. BACK UP files, notes etc. Use a stick drive, the cloud, Time Machine, whatever works for you. Once gone files and photos may be retrieved and may not be. I use Mac computer and iPhone and iPad. Time Machine backs up to external dri e and is easy toinstal. Devices are backed up to cloud or computer. When the external drive is full, it starts again at the beginning.

  14. Hello everyone. I love lists! I made lists at Primary school 40 years ago! They make my mind less cluttered and they give me a sense of quiet accomplishment when I cross some off the list. Note the word some😉I operate with a simple wall calender and an address book. I have a clear file folder that has pictures of things I like (mostly home and garden things). It also has inspirational quotes and writings. Your writing features largely in those Rhonda.
    I hope to make my own cards for people this year. I also intend to shop in op shops and 2nd hand vintage shops targeting loved ones interests and likes. This will be supplemented with handcrafts.
    I love your photos Rhonda, especially the knitting and aprons.

  15. I always start the year with good intentions regarding making gifts or budgeting for them but I almost always get to a couple of weeks before a birthday & have a panic because I haven't organised anything. I have never done a menu plan in my life, so I'm looking forward to having a try. Lots of great ideas from readers as well as from you Rhonda, thank you all.

  16. Love your new approach Rhonda and looking forward to take you through 2018! I thought I might follow suite and do the same on my blog but the way I do it. For example I do prefer a hardcopy calendar as I'm not allowed to take personal electronic devices to work. After trying different things in 2017, I'm now ready to manifest them and am so looking forward to this year! It's going to be great!

  17. Dear Rhonda,

    This is a great post to start with. Life runs a lot more smoothly when I am organised.

    I love keeping folders here in my house. I have one for the household, one for the garden, one for bills, two for recipes, one for blogging and one for birthdays and Christmas planning. They have proved to be well used through the years. I will be doing a blog post about them soon. I also keep a diary at home and in my bag, for adding important dates when I am out.

    I use a free or cheap calendar for marking down things and this is kept on my fridge. I can just glance at it whenever I need to.

    I also put a calendar in my bill paying folder so I can write when bills etc are due. I check this every pay day so I don't miss any payments. Using this method I can count ahead three months or whatever and put an approximate date for when a bill is due eg electricity or water etc.

    Thank you for doing this series, I am sure it is going to help many of us.


  18. I have a three ring binder that holds our budget and financial goals and my monthly bill paying sheets. It also holds internet account information and passwords. A few months ago I got a smart phone and put all birthdays, doctor's appointments, etc in the phone. It's nice to have that information at the ready when I am away from home, but I found that when home I need to have a paper calendar. I know, it seems like duplication to enter everything in two places, but that's what works for us. I have never been a menu planner but that has never been a problem as I keep a well stocked pantry and freezer. We do plan out home improvement projects, the cost, the time needed, etc. I have two main organization projects to tackle... paper and my craft room! Thank you for you suggestions, I am looking forward to following along on this journey!

  19. i am totally hopeless at organising myself; (Virgo here too!) i do keep a diary, which a friend got me started using many years ago, but all that goes in there mostly is my fortnightly pay (pension) & where i deposit them; also any appointments; market days, days out, etc;
    this year i thought i would start putting my list in it too of work to do around the house; so far this keeps failing as i keep getting side-tracked with other jobs! hopefully i can find something here that will work in my favour.
    great post as usual Rhonda :)) looking forward to the next Mondays instalment.
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

  20. Hi Rhonda
    I found your blog through your two books Down to Earth and the Simple Life. I loved them and I will really enjoy being able to follow along the chapters through the months on your blog and connecting with other people's understanding of your materials.

  21. I have a diary, wall calendar, menu planner notebook and a to do list. I'm old school, if I don't write it down, I'll never remember.
    I am in the middle of tweaking my home admin station... which is a little frustrating.. I don't have an office, so my kitchen bench has become the dumping ground/home station. I like to have these diaries etc on hand on the bench, I see them as I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen. It is the hub in our home. Any one have some suggestions on organising a end of the bench to a workable station??

  22. Lots of useful information here. My method of planning and things to do is mainly pen and paper. I have a couple of calendars - one for the appointments/things to do etc, and the other for pension dates/payments due etc. I also have a personal diary. Daily jobs tend to be listed either in a notebook or on a piece of paper attached to the fridge door - these will be crossed off as accomplished. I also have files for different things - would find it hard to fit things into one file, maybe I keep too much! I don`t have a menu plan as such, but am developing a file of favourite recipes and work out a few days meals in advance depending on what ingredients are available. Patricia

  23. I have started a ledger for all my out going and incoming money. Based on your writings years ago.I also have a diary with Jobs for the day weekly menu and other things that must be made up.Ginger beer sprays soap etc. Im looking forward to your monday thoughts Cheers Jellifus

  24. Thank you Rhonda. Beautifully written and so apt for the start of the new year. At the beginning of each year I purchase a new journal, something lovely for me to keep all year. This year it is a dark red, soft cover Moleskin. At the beginning of the book I list my goals or intentions for the year, split into categories of finance, health, home, wardrobe, travel, work, environment and relationships. In it I create a list for each month of the year, markers for a month well lived; small steps to incrementally achieve the larger goals eg bush walks in the cooler months and swimming goals in the warmer months, plus birthdays, gifts to make or source, festivals, concerts, friends to invite to dinner, etc. In my book I pin photographs and recipes, decorating ideas I have for the year ahead, a million different things. Like other readers, I find that if I write with pen and paper I am more likely to remember details. I use a free calendar from our local shire to write up the menu plan for the week which is displayed on the side of the fridge. Appointments, reminders, birthdays, etc are also recorded in my phone calendar to act as daily prompts. My system isn't static, it gets tweeked each year but it is easy and useful and smooths out my year ensuring that there are no unnecessary surprises.

    1. Gee I think I sent my reply to the person ahead of me.

  25. I always say “if it ain’t on my calendar, it doesn’t exist”. I put everything on my calendar - my nightly brain dump, reminders to buy supplies ahead of an event, every-5-year septic clean out maintenance, prayer requests...everything. Gail

  26. Great post Rhonda, have my computer calendar open . Thanks for the push!

  27. We have a yearly notebook type calendar for recording appointments and such and I do menus on a wall calendar. Then we have a weekly list that details out all the chores, appointments and anything else we need to remember for any given day. I fill that in on Sunday each week but we also note things on the next week's sheet as they come to mind. We have a planned out list of big projects that need doing and work at that as time and the weather allow. I keep a small notebook of gifts I have purchased for family members and have already begun picking up items for next Christmas. If I do not keep a list these items are forgotten pretty quickly. We keep warranty information and manuals and such in a filing cabinet. Most valuable of all though is the weekly list that keep us on track here.

  28. Rhonda,
    Thank you so much for sharing this!! I really need to start the New Year more organized. A organized home is a happy home!!


  29. I keep doctor appointment and other appointments in a 2 year pocket calendar. Phone numbers on my cell phone. (need to make a hard copy of these) SharonC in Kentucky, USA

  30. For the first time in many years, life has afforded me the quiet time I need in order to make plans for the year! What a privilege to be able to plan, instead of being tossed about as life "happens"! ~Lin

  31. Barb in Sth GippslandJanuary 09, 2018 7:42 am

    Hi Rhonda, happy new year. I too am a list maker, but currently my lists are probably a little different to most. Calendar is crossing off the days to my
    man's retirement - 13 days to go��. Also counting down till settlement on our property - 38 days to go and then, who knows. We are planning on doing a little travelling, with or without a caravan with a view to finding somewhere to finally settle in our forever home. Further North than here though as we are both finding the cold winters a little hard to bear as we get older. But first we're going to do a 6 week house sitting for friends whilst they are away - that will be a learning curve as they are in the busy suburbs whilst we come from the bush��. But my lists will include relevant birthdays, health checks and most important of all the upcoming event of my first grandchild in late April, so wherever we are then it will be a dash back to Melbourne. YSuch exciting happenings for us this year. I have both your books and hopefully before year's end I'll be settled in a new home and taking up all the good habits I've learned through your blog over the years. Have a great day.

  32. Hi Rhonda, thanks for doing this. I love the home folder idea and am glad that I have the time to set this up now as I am not working at the moment due to relocating. I love being organised and making lists! I have a calendar with sections for each person and space for birthdays too. I put everything on it, all appointments and school information and make sure I check it each morning. I also always have a notebook in my handbag. I like writing things down it helps me remember things. Nia

  33. I have loved your books and will enjoy following along. This year my goal Is to really take care of my self both physically and emotionally. I am a wife, a mom to a three year old, and a full time professor so over the last few years I have felt in “give” mode instead of self care. I purchased a Midori travelers notebook that holds all my books and pads in one place. I inserted one weekly calendar book for arranging appointments (including my daily scheduled one hour walk- sometimes on a treadmill when it snows and other times around a lake at work), a personal journal with space for my thoughts and musings, and a professional notepad for meeting notes and assignments. I find that my paper and pen version of planning keeps me focused on my goals, let’s me work through my worries on paper, and Kees me on track more than a digital calendar.

  34. I use my google calendar a lot, plotting in all the things I must do and making appointments for those things I know I'd like to do plus reminders. I plan ahead as far as I can. Once I've done that I can see if my ideas and plans are realistic and what needs to go. I don't print out the calendars mainly because the printer ink is so expensive. I rely heavily on the reminders and alerts.

    I also don't keep a home folder. I think I first read of a similar idea on Fly Lady but I could never get into it. It doesn't seem to work for me though I like the idea.

    I think I started getting more into home made gifts by reading your blog (thank you) and now give a lot of home made gifts when I do give gifts.

    I like your idea of stepping away from blogging and social media in December and January. I don't do this yet though I may in future. I've just stepped back in general but as the years go by I feel I need more time to get organized for the year, and to end the year well, so your idea appeals to me.

    I've read your blog for a few years now and I'm always inspired by it to keep on implementing home made and taking satisfaction and care in the running of my household. You've taught me to take joy in it whereas before I saw it as just something that had to be done daily without any real satisfaction. Thank you for that!

    Have a wonderful year in 2018.♥

    1. Google agenda is also my way to go. I made several different colored agenda's. When I put in an appointment I sort them by: work(red), personal(blue), volunteer work(green), medical appointments(black) and birthdays(roze). This gives me a nice colored overview so I can assess if the balance is right for the week. I have the agenda-app on my telephone. As I am the homekeeper and have a job at home I have to be really careful with my time. Since I started doing this a year ago I have way more internal rest.

      As most things which go in the home folder often are online and I don't want them to print out I needed a spot for that to. I use getpocket.com for that. I reserve different tags so I can find my information fast. The app is also on my phone.

      Foodplanning is not something I do already, except the few days ahead. I might learn a total new thing.

      I agree with Joyful that you bring back the satisfaction and joy of running a household. Thank You :-)

  35. As always, enjoying your blog, Rhonda! Thank you for your wisdom. This may seem like double work, but my system is to keep a very large monthly calendar on the kitchen wall; each family member is told that anything not on the calendar does not exist (similar to another commentor's sentiments above!). The "boxes" for each day are large enough to accommodate several different appointments, plus info for myself on what the menu plan is for dinner. I also put appointments into my phone calendar (that's what I meant by "double work") so that I know what's what when I'm out an about and can also get reminders that way. So far, this is working well for me.

    I am not naturally organized, and tend to resist being that way! But it's a incontrovertible fact that when I force myself to be more deliberate and planning-oriented, life is much easier and less stressful!

    NE Oregon, US

  36. Like the first commenter Laura, I too had my life interrupted last May by cancer. I am in remission now but it takes a while to get back into the swing of things. Luckily I had simplified my home a lot beforehand and I am slowly tackling more jobs as my energy returns.

    Rhonda, many thanks for taking the time to go through your book "The Simple Home", giving us more inspiration. Some years ago I started a home journal- don't know how I managed without it. I write birthdays and important dates on a wall calendar, as being 'older' I like paper and pen.

    Happy New Year to everyone and God bless.

    Lyn in northern New South Wales.

  37. Thanks Rhonda, inspirational as always, I'm really looking forward to this, what a great idea and so motivating. I'm interested to see what others are up to and share ideas. Made your soap the other day, my first attempt at soap making so that's another tick along the 'simple life' journey that I am on.

  38. I am loving reading everyone's comments - how inspiring you all are.

    I am a great list maker but that can mean I overdo it a bit and end up with lists all over the place. At the end of last summer I made a list of my lists! I wanted to look at all the places where I keep information. I came up with nearly 20 so it is no wonder I can feel overwhelmed at times.

    I did a little sorting out of the lists at that point but your post has inspired me to look at this again and trim it down a little more. I have just been slimming down my numerous Google calendars into something much more sensible and manageable and already that is feeling much better.

    I'm looking forward to more comments and the next articles!

    Best wishes for 2018 everyone.

  39. Hi Rhonda, thank you for your initiative and for inspiring me to be more organised. I was not sure if I could participate or answer here, but after reading your post of yesterday, I sprang into action! Like many, I have a large wall monthly calendar for all appointments, kids’ school and extracurricular activities and so on. It’s in a “high passage” area and helps us to be all on the same page as it is very visible for all family members. I double it with my phone calendar, it helps me when out and about or to add something when I’m not at home. I also have notes on my phone, like a permanent shopping list, that complement the system.
    I also have an Excel monthly budget sheet that I get up and running at the beginning of each year (I did it tonight!). I fill in all predictable invoices (mortgage, electricity, water, rates, car insurance/petrol/maintenance, etc) and also all estimates about groceries, kids school fees/activities. I enter all these amounts in black, and once the invoices are paid, I replace the amount estimated with the real one, in red. This way at the end of the year, I have a clear view of the real figures (in red) and can easily work out the black ones. Simple, but I find it very efficient and I always have a clear view of my budget, all year round. I can also work with the figures and tweak the budget where it needs to be. I’ve been doing this for 5 years now and it’s easy now that I can use amounts from years past and predict pretty accurately what will happen this year.
    In the kitchen I have a folder with recipes and all useful references, also usually saved in my computer. A little trick that has helped me many times: always write the reference or origin of the recipe at the bottom of the page. I also laminate most recipes as it’s easy to keep them clean and put them back in the folder after use.
    So this is my personal organisation system. Pretty basic and simple but it works for me. I’m looking forward to reading what’s coming up next week!
    Corinne in the BM

  40. I love making lists, that's how I keep on task with things and I don't worry about forgetting something. I use a binder to keep things organized.The sections that I keep are calendar, contact list, planned meals, daily journal plus a grateful journal. The To Do section has three subsections. First is what my personal, family and house goals are for the year. Then I break that down into months and then I keep a continuous daily list. This year I added a section for household and personal inventory, which I'll be taking through the year. I have taken inventory in the past when we have moved and I would code the boxes so I would know what was packed in each box. We use to move every couple years due to my husbands occupation, so not all the boxes would get unpacked each time, depending on the size of our rental. My husband and I share an online calendar which helps in knowing what the others plans are, like dr. or auto repair appointments etc. Rhonda, thank you for helpful and kind advice that you are always giving. This might be my first comment, if I've commented before it's been a long time ago.I'm looking forward to this series of blogs.

  41. This is such a good beginning..I'm really looking forward to this project.

  42. Thanks for this nudge! I need to plan my various ‘optional extras’ (mainly teaching commitments) through the year ahead so I don’t over or under commit.
    Working hard as a full time uk nhs clinician + mum of 2 to try and get the balance better this year - I think organisation of the year as a whole is key to this, and I need to put the time in this month.
    I’ve abandoned online planners and gone back to paper as I remember what I’ve written down so much better - and they’re so much faster to operate! I do have to double document a bit onto our work shared calendar - but I don’t use that to plan, just to state what I’m doing a couple of weeks ahead.
    I love the gift planning idea and am going to address that this month - I have the skills for some great home made gifts and I think much more thoughtful than the shops - but making stuff takes time and without a plan it won’t get done!

  43. Hi Rhonda. Thank you for your post. I guess, I ought to be better organized, but all those lists tire me out completely. It is not that I live hand-to-mouth, I have a calendar, which has the weekdays on one page, and on the opposite I can write x-tras: things I have to remember or do. In the calendar is also the birthdays of people I care for, vaccine tjek ups, etc. We keep the manuals for different appliances (dishwasher, food processor, whatever in a separate pouch in the kitchen. I sort of keep track of what we spend on the homepage of the bank, but otherwise I guess many would think I was a bit disorganized. We don't do meal planning, but go for special offers at the store and for what we want every day - in a modest way as we have both retired. We don't really miss anything, not being in a workplace makes getting dressed a lot easier (T-shirt, jeans :-)), nothing fancy, but sufficient and ok. But "organized"? I don't think I am. I will try to follow the advice on your blog though, as routines sound as if it could be calming in a way (especially cleaning, uggh), just to get things done ... I am looking forward to new posts from you!

  44. Thanks for this series of posts. I took a break from some social media accounts over the holidays.
    My 'command center' is located next to my recliner in the TV room. I am old school and do everything with pen and paper. I have a hard copy 18 month calendar. I include upcoming birthdays and appointments. In the last quarter, I have also been noting my spending each day. By writing down what I have spent, it helps me be more intentional in my purchases. In the back of the calendar, I have lists of phone numbers, addresses and passwords. The calendar I use has a notes column for each month. I use that column to record planned purchases and my to-do list for that month.
    I have a 3-ring binder that is sectioned off with page dividers. Some sections include: my budget, bank statements, craft projects, and planned purchases. I use the latter to document my research for any planned purchases in the year.
    I have a file tote for user manuals for my various appliances and tools. I attach the store receipt to the manual for easy reference.
    Finally, I keep the calendars for reference year to year.
    Thanks again for doing these posts.
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  45. Thanks Rhonda for this series. With a little one on the way and back to one income I'd be posting into your books.
    I did one of the DTE forum challenges with Rose. I really liked her approach towards routines and her wise words in general.

  46. Hi Rhonda

    Great post and fabulous advice - as always.

    If I may make a suggestion for an inclusion in the home folder - details about the locations of the gas, water and power mains and the fuse box. As they don't need to be accessed very often it's easy to forget where they and you don't want to run around looking for them in an emergency!
    I also keep a battery-operated torch near the fuse box, but a couple of candles and a box of matches would do just as well.


  47. So glad you broke it down Rhonda. This is a pretty impressive first week. I do need to make sure my contact list (phone numbers) are written or printed. Most are, but I know there are quite a few that aren't. Looking forward to following each week and seeing what I can incorporate.

  48. Great article and many wonderful ideas in the comments as well. I have never given enough time to planning for the year particularly listing gifts to make. Although I am great list maker there is lots of room for improvement! Menu planning and budgeting are a priority for this year. Thank you for doing this series Rhonda as working alongside everyone together is great for motivation and keeping on track!

  49. Just lots of lists here. We have a big notebook and make new lists when we've crossed off most of the old list. Its good to look back at what we've achieved too.

  50. I love that binder that you covered with floral fabric. It looks so pretty! I love to write things out by hand, too.

  51. I do not know where to put this comment. Ageing and organizing appear to be related to me. When mother died she left us with tons of stuff. Get rid of it. The stuff you think is valuable is just stuff. Give it away. Organize your stuff as you age by giving away or throwing away. Uncomplicate your life and the lives of your loved ones after you are gone.

    1. You are right burtbear. I have had to deal with the stuff left behind by two people. I got rid of much of it immediately after their moves and I've been slowly getting rid of the rest either throwing it out, giving it away or recycling. It made me appreciate that I need to downsize my stuff and I've also been doing that for some time.

  52. Hi Rhonda,
    Thank you for the time you are taking to help us, thanks also for the wonderful posts.

    I'm looking forward to working alongside everyone here and it's been really motivating to read all the comments. I'm a list maker and my calendars are much the same as many of you. I have a wall calendar in the kitchen which I use for 'at a glance' reminders of who will be where. Hubby and I also use phone calendars to send each other appointments or work related activities which might mean one of us will be late home or has an early start. Where I really need to work is on the home organization lists. I'm retiring in May and this seems a great time to begin this process.

  53. I'm loving this. I feel so connected to everyone here trying to bless our homes and our families. My idea for organizing this year is to write goals for each month. Simple little tiny bits that I can accomplish to see the big picture at the end of the year. Hope I stick with it and I get everything accomplished I want to. Fingers crossed! Thanks for starting this series.

  54. Hi RHonda, I have the pleasure of purchasing your two books on a visit to Australia last year, loved your country. I need to get Organised with gift making I have many skills just need to set time aside to do this, I made soap from your book and I am really pleased with it, I intend to make more. I have a home journal of sorts but need to tweak some parts of it. Thank you so much for all the effort you put in your blog, looking forward to mon

  55. Rhonda,
    I am very eager to get started with going through your book. I enjoy your blog a lot, and I am also learning a lot by reading the comments. I have tried the digital calendars but can't seem to stick with them, even though the reminders and alerts are nice. I always default back to paper and pen. They are like my security blanket. :-) I have had versions of a "home folder" in the past, but not for a few years. After seeing and hearing about yours, I am inspired to put one together now and I know it will be a big help with my home and family organization. I really like the reader's comment about keeping a list where the main shut-offs are for water, electricity, etc. We could have used this several years ago when we had a pipe in our attic freeze and burst, flooding the downstairs. We were frantically trying to find where the water shut-off was! We had lived in our home for fifteen years at that point and had never had reason to use the shut off, so we had forgotten where it was. We finally found it (in the middle of the front yard covered over in grass and snow) but not before a lot of damage had been done. Lesson learned. :-/
    Thank you for leading us through your book. I will look forward to Mondays a lot more now!

  56. Hi Rhonda Thanks for doing this. I have your first book but ran out to get the next one so I can follow you through the year. I love the idea of taking a year, it has really taken the pressure off and I will let some things go as I know I will get to them later in the year rather than just feeling despondent about them now.
    We had a family discussion last night about what work needs to be done in the home to make it a comfortable and functioning place. The kids/teens had great ideas including a fix it day and a freezer and fridge monitor. I'm not even quite sure what that entails but am keen to let them at it!!

  57. Hello Rhonda, so looking forward to this journey through 'The Simple Home' Thank-you for doing this. At the moment I have Down to Earth and The Simple Life Home from the Library while I wait for my copy of The later to arrive in the mail to arrive in the mail. Do I need to read Down to Earth before I start The Simple Home?? Cathy S


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