Growing up my mom decided to organize our family using a giant wall calendar. It was located near our back door entrance which was also our main traffic area. If it wasn’t on the calendar then it was very unlikely we’d remember to follow through. These days a paper calendar works for a few but with families on-the-go and last-minute plans changing it’s likely that more people will find digital calendars necessary for at least some aspects of an organization strategy.
Staying organized is an ever-evolving process. As a coaching family our life cycles in seasons, which means we are constantly transitioning from one type of schedule to another. Even though our seasonal rhythm makes sense to us, I haven’t found a one-size-fits-all organization strategy that I can buy off the shelf like my mom was able to do each year with the giant wall calendar.
Picking an Organizational Strategy
Organization strategies are only as good as one’s ability to implement them, so it’s important to take the time to figure out what systems work best for you and implement it slowly. It takes several weeks to develop a habit. If you change everything at once you may have trouble remembering where you have re-homed things. Give yourself grace as you finalize your steps. It may take a few months to fine-tune things. You may find that something works during one season that doesn’t work during another. That’s okay!
Identify Your Pain Points
The first step is to organization is to consider your pain points.
- What are the most overwhelming, stressful, or frustrating parts of your week?
- What times of the day do you find yourself with too much to do?
- What are the things you are always forgetting?
- What can you delegate that you are choosing not to delegate?
- What do you need to remove from your calendar?
- What do you want to add but you haven’t found the time to do so?
Incorporate Your Life Statement
If you don’t have a life statement or a family mission statement this is something I encourage you to spend some time writing. I cover this in my book and there are tools and templates available to help you think about what this might look like. You don’t have to finalize a statement before you start implementing organizing strategies. The simple reason to incorporate your life statement is that it builds in margin. There are a lot of things I would love to do that don’t move me toward my calling or life goals. That doesn’t mean that doing them is wrong. It also doesn’t mean I should avoid them altogether. However, if I’m constantly frustrated that I’m not making progress in achieving my goals then it’s time to take a serious look at what is preventing me from moving forward.
In most cases we are our worst enemy with distraction and busyness!
Next, take time to breakdown your day into 30 or 60-minute increments. Here is an example of what my block calendar looks like. It’s broken down by color. Dark green is exercise, purple is a community weekly Bible study.
The best part of creating a block calendar is the opportunity to see everything in one location from start to finish. You will notice my calendar has a lot of white space. Those times are intentionally included to remind me to rest.
Your block calendar will also help you embrace a realistic perspective of what you can and can not take on when you are asked to volunteer or increase your workload.
Digital vs. Analog Tools
I’ve found that for our family digital is best, especially apps that update in live time. Whether my husband is on the road or at work, we don’t have to remember to update each other. Having apps that update in live time is vital. Google Calendar is always a better option than a paper calendar when I need to ensure Ordell shows up at the right location at a different time. Updating the calendar appointment allows me to include address, time, and set an alarm reminder.
Google Calendar (color-coded of course) means we all have access to what is scheduled. By including the location in the calendar appointment we can easily trade who is driving the kids around without needing to give directions.
Google Keep allows for shared lists. We have a grocery list that we can both add things to when we think of them. This drastically reduces the time spent trying to remember what it was I was asked to get “the next time I’m at the store.”
Plan to Eat is recipe storage and meal planning all in one. It works seamlessly with online recipes and also stores images. You can also add recipes manually.
Airtable is where I build my content calendar, social media strategy, track client tasks, hold research for content, track our budget, and I’ve recently started to transfer from Google Keep and Plan to Eat to holding everything in Airtable. This free app also has a desktop application. Everything updates in live time and it syncs with Google.
Facebook Business Suite the ability to schedule posts for Instagram and Facebook without actually accessing the platforms or the apps is the best things Facebook developed in 2020.
While digital apps are great for collaboration I love using Powersheets or Powersheets Wild Cards for my personal goals. Writing things down solidifies them in my mind and helps me to process them in a different way.
I’ve also found that a to-do list where I can put everything I need to do for the day on one sheet of paper helps me clarify the day and order my tasks for all the different people I work with throughout the day. As I juggle due dates (short term and long term) I can check off the tasks as I accomplish them and move things that I’m not going to complete. It’s motivating to check tasks off when days are busy and it feels like I’m wading through Jello.
Since I work at home I’m going to try using a wall calendar this year in addition to the Google Calendars to help our family see the big picture with upcoming events.
As you can see, as your family enters new phases you will find yourself adjusting your strategies as well.
Where Should You Start?
Answer the questions I’ve posed today and hop on Pinterest or the App
Regardless of what you do to implement structure and organization into your weeks, it’s worth the time and effort to set things up for long-term stress reduction. Making sure everyone knows what is going on is a great start.
Looking for a quick guide? Check out my free download here! You can also learn more below!
This article was originally written in January 2019 and has been edited and updated for freshness and accuracy in December 2020.