It’s hard to say.
Does life slow down as we roll into the holidays because school is lighter or off and Christmas music is playing or is it more of a hubbub because of all the holiday extras?
Whether it’s because now we have some more head space to think about just what our problems have been this school year or because with the holiday extras we realize our need for better organization, there’s no denying the phenomenon: January is all about organization because of December.
Whatever it is that’s going through our minds in December, the January magazines and sales all in white and chalkboard feel like the answer.
Let’s do a little preemptive mind-sorting and maybe even list-refreshing now and not wait for Christmas chaos to drive us to buy all the containers and labels and new planners.
I released Simplified Organization, my signature ecourse, four years ago now. Hundreds of women have worked through it, putting their own spin on the practices while applying the principles to their lives. Today I thought I would share a handful of helpful stories and tips from Simplified Organization members that will help you see that organization doesn’t mean trying to fit into someone else’s box. Organization means being prepared for your own real life.
on planning the night before
Doing the evening examen and writing the daily card then has been so helpful!! Even though I’m tired at night, having it done for the next day has been crucial. If for some reason I don’t do it the night before, I wake up without any direction for the day and it derails the whole day.
on brain dumps
I have a storage clipboard where I can keep paperwork, a notebook or pad of paper for notes/brain dump, a pen, etc.
I don’t brain dump often, but when I do, I like using a mini-legal pad. The best part? Ripping it off and throwing the paper away when I’m done! Cathartic. (I don’t keep old brain dumps. Too much clutter.)
I actually prefer ubiquitous capture, though. When I think of something, 90% of the time, I can put the idea straight where it goes: like a task on Remember the Milk, a list or note in Keep, or an appointment on the calendar. This is why I like being digital because it’s all on my phone everywhere I go (without any clutter-y papers). I avoid the “vortex” by not having social media apps on my phone.
I use Google calendar on my phone (it’s so nice to have when I am out and need to schedule an appointment) AND the remind feature is SO nice, too. ? I also use the app TickTick on my phone as a task manager/reminder. I have a lot of recurring duties with my job (music director at my church) – people to email every week, bulletin announcements that happen on a yearly basis, and things like taking out the trash out to the street (not good to forget that one! ? ). One thing I like about TickTick is that you can organize things in multiple lists – so I have things organized by vocation:
- musician (for my job)
- educator (for homeschooling stuff)
- personal (pretty self-explanatory)
- business (for things I help my husband with for his business)
In TickTick you can also set up recurring reminders (every day, every week, every month, custom). I have a monthly wall calendar on my counter for the month overview and to keep things visible for our family.
Three things that are working semi-well, but that I hope to get better this month while I work through Simplified Organization again, are the weekly overview, daily card, and my routines.
on trying again
I can remember over 9 years ago using a ringed half notebook with dividers labeled with my responsibilities/jobs/hats. I made lists (sorta like a brain dump) and I tried to pick off the most important things. It was so overwhelming! One day, I stopped. I was pregnant with my third child; homeschooling my 8 year old; my Dad, who had dementia, was living with us; my sister was guilting me with endless drama; and my son had therapies. I was so overwhelmed that I became stuck and I completely shut down. That was a difficult phase of my life, but the Lord gave me the strength and hope to hang in there.
He promises in Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul, therefore, I will hope in Him.”
About 4 years ago I came across Mystie’s website. I was looking for a way to pick up the pieces and truly organize my life in a way that honored those many responsibilities that the Lord had given me to do. I wanted so desperately to be faithful and experience success no matter how small. I wanted God’s way of doing things. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Now I experience progress, even if it is at a snail’s pace. I can climb a little quicker out of the pit without gasping for breath! I still fail – a lot, every day, but I have learned from Mystie that each time I fail, it is a wonderful opportunity to run to the Lord and grow to be more like Jesus! He helps me pick up the pieces over and over again. This progress, no matter how small, does add up over time and does bring glory to God. Thank you, Lord!
Don’t give up!
on motivation & habits
Telling myself that coffee, chocolate or a treat gives me energy wasn’t the truth. The Truth is it gave me a spike of energy followed by a crash and less energy.
Practicing telling myself the truth in a verbal way has been a recent epiphany.
I instead tell myself (I have written down statements that positively support my health goals): “I drink cold water when I want to feel refreshed. Water is so important to my health and mental clarity.” and “When I am feeling sluggish or I am reaching for a cup of coffee I will first pour myself a large glass of water and move my body. When my heart rate increases more blood flows and I have more energy.”
We tend to think that if we just get rid of things that we would automatically be better, but we need to replace the “bad” or the unwanted habit with the good or a better choice. Having a plan doesn’t mean I follow it all the time perfectly. Some days I need more coffee. But writing down potential stumbling blocks and creative solutions will help when difficult days come. Reading these plans or goals and statements regularly helps me stay on track (I read them daily).
For a while my goal was to drink one really good cup of coffee without re-heating it or drinking it cold. I made myself sit and enjoy the one cup. This helped me be more aware and delight in a good thing. Sometimes we just need to reset our bodies and our minds. Renewing our minds transforms us, telling ourselves the truth and practicing self-control are ways we can honor and glorify God on a daily basis.
When I am tired and struggling I need to turn toward Christ who is my joy and my strength. Not another cup of coffee.
on interval planning
Intervals aren’t about doing the everyday. I have to homeschool or clean my house or cook every day. No matter what. That’s not interval, that’s life. I have to do the laundry and attend weekly meetings. Those aren’t interval things. Those are daily. Intervals are for bigger things, more nagging things. Intervals are for things that sit on my to-do list for months and months until they become EMERGENCIES and I literally have to stop the laundry and cooking and school to finish them.
So, I made daily task lists, and I made 4 interval goals for my first interval. They were: 1) start school on time every day, 2) schedule dental and vision appointments (tasks sitting there for months waiting for an emergency), 3) finish all the paperwork for our FSA, 4) Make a Menu Plan, write it on the calendar, and SHOP for it.
That was it. The rest was either daily or it was just sitting on my brain dump list waiting for me to get to it. Maybe.
And it worked. I didn’t finish all my interval stuff, but I made HUGE progress. Way more than I would have made if I hadn’t set those things up as interval goals. Plus, I accomplished many of my regular brain dump to-do things. Lots of them. Because I was seeing success in the interval stuff.