Running two businesses while simultaneously running a household, hosting events, and managing volunteering endeavors, well, I have to be organized, or my life will disintegrate. Imagine me to be the Yoda of planning and organization (about the same height but less green and WAY more fashion forward!). I find that efficiency, schedules, multitasking, and a lot of caffeine keep me on task and in charge of my life on a daily basis. If you feel like you’re drowning in your day-to-day life management, here are some bits of advice from a lady boss who rocks it every day at 200%:
#1. Utilize Tools
My Google calendar is like my virtual assistant (who is very naggy, by the way). She’s everywhere with me: on my computer, on my phone, on my iPad. I enter EVERYTHING into my calendar from dinner reminders (thaw this, prep that) to play dates, to birthdays, to conference calls, to PTO meetings, to dying my hair. My calendar looks like a unicorn and a rainbow had a baby and it exploded… well, that sounds dark and wrong, but regardless, it’s a colorful plethora of organizational management.
If you know you can’t remember things or don’t want to take up valuable space in the front of your brain… use a calendar with reminders. I like to set birthday reminders for two weeks in advance (giving me time to buy and ship a gift) and another for that same day in case phone calls need to be made as well. Dinner planning also takes a great deal of forethought: thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator for two days, start crock pot meals 8 hours ahead of dinner, initialize the rice cooker 45 minutes before… so yes, dinner reminders are green and are utilized accordingly (see Sub Section A: Advanced Meal Planning for details on how to rock your weekly meal planning).
People who know me are aware that if I forget something important… I must be deathly ill or dead and to call 911.
#2. Be Efficient
Being efficient is much easier said than done. My motto is always “There is no time like the present” (and “If you want it done right – and right now – do it yourself!”). I know that if something pops into my head that needs to be done, I do it at that moment, regardless of how busy or tired I am. Procrastination and failure are NOT in my repertoire.
If you are able to multitask without letting anything suffer, then by all means, multitask! When my kids get home from school, I help with homework while simultaneously making dinner… and for an extreme morning person, it takes all that I have left at the end of the day not to burn the food… or my kids, but most every night, everything gets done, and it gets done well…. not well done.
Grocery and meal planning are a HUGE part of my weekly efficiency. I’m not sure how most of you feel about multiple trips to the grocery store or trying to make a last-minute decision about dinner, but I find that making more than one trip or not planning ahead to be highly inefficient and usually wasteful of time and food. (Again – refer to Sub Section A: Advanced Meal Planning for further details.)
#3. Keep a Schedule
Schedules and planning are my life. Most of the time, my life is planned out two months in advance. Play dates and date nights are booked a month in advance, birthday parties are planned 4-5 months in advance. Weekly, however, what keeps my household in order is my mental scheduler…
- Be the first one up, makeup, workout, shower, fix hair, etc.
- Get kids fed and take to school
- Make beds and set out clothes for the next day
- Start laundry (if need be – which there usually needs to be)
- Thursdays are wash sheets and remake beds day – ick. I’m usually exhausted on Thursday evenings after four loads of laundry!
- Prepare evening snack (in my case, this task is cutting grapes)
- Empty dishwasher and clean up kitchen
- Put pajamas in convenient location for bedtime prep/bath time (I’m not a night person, and I know that so I prepare ahead of time to help my evening self out)
- Sit down at my desk(s) and work
#4 Know Your Weaknesses and Compensate
For me, I know that I’m a morning person so I try to get any heavy thinking done in the morning. Menu planning, intense work projects, conference calls – that’s morning business. Laundry folding, physical chores, mindless tasks… that stuff is for afternoons and evenings. Unfortunately for me, dinner is in the evening so I still have to focus through that and then zone out.
If you’re someone with a terrible memory (like myself), I use my calendar for everything. Don’t be afraid… no one will see your silly notes to yourself.
I also know about myself that if I sit down for more than 5 minutes to relax, I might not get back up… that’s why I try not to sit down unless I have to in order to work. If you’re of the same mindset, then you need to accomplish as much as you can while you’re up and moving around.
Sub Section A: Advanced Meal Planning
I despise going to the grocery store – yes, I have issues. Making a list and sticking to what’s on it will help you not to buy things you don’t need. Here’s how I go about planning my weekly menu:
- Thursday morning I take my recipe box, my folder of weekly recipes, my grocery list, my menu list, and I sit at my computer to check my calendar for events that may influence dinner choices (play dates, Boy Scout meetings, work widow time, entertaining, etc.). Then I check the weather (in case grilling is an option) and the weekly ads at the grocery store.
- With all of that information fresh in my mind, I plan out a variety of main dishes to keep it interesting:
- Seafood, pasta, breakfast for dinner, take-out/delivery (aka Mommy’s night off), chicken, beef.
- Note: you should always leave one or two take-it-or-leave-it meals on your weekly menu in case plans change, and you need to swap out one of your other more complicated meals.
- I also try to include a fresh item on the plates for every meal, even if it’s pizza night or something from the frozen section night. A little fresh fruit or a side salad helps to reduce the mom guilt.
- While I plan the menu, I write down on my grocery list the ingredients from the recipe that I need to buy. Then I scan the ad for anything else that might make the week’s menu more flavorful (special fruits or treats on sale) or favorites that can be stocked up on.
- Then I make sure I’m accounting for regulars: milk, OJ, eggs, yogurt, bread, cereal, blah, blah, blah. In order not to miss any of the essentials, I do a mental rundown of the day with meals and snacks and think of what I need.
- Last but not least… I rewrite my list on order of the store’s layout. This step is key to your efficiency!
- Selected recipes for the week are stored in my weekly recipes folder in order of when they will be prepared… a bit of pre-efficiency for the not-a-night person.
Yes, I hate this part of my week, but I’d rather do it all at once than suffer death from a thousand cuts all week. BONUS: no one needs to ask me what’s for dinner because it’s on the dinner menu ON THE REFRIGERATOR! (Well, the little one can’t read so he asks.)
I know not everyone can, or wants to go at 200% every day all day like I do, and I wouldn’t expect you to if that’s not who you are. However, if you can introduce a little of each of these tips into your daily life, I would be happy in knowing that I could help you ease some of the burden that we as moms bear with so little appreciation. Now, go tackle your day like a boss!