Friday, July 31, 2009

Household Organizer

I have been trying to slowly reorganize my household binders, and while I have a long way to go, I am going to try to share what I am doing. For the sake of full disclosure, my house is a mess right now, we have not followed a real routine at all this July, and I am so far from being able to keep my house in order it is not even funny! But, I am also striving to do better. I am slowly figuring out the things that will work for my home, my schedule and my life. I have heard many people say "I am not a list person" or "I am not into scheduling my life." I realize each of us has different personalities, but one of the concepts in MOTH is the idea that as a full time mother and housewife, my job is to run my household. My husband gets up every morning and works hard all day, I should do the same. When I approach home organization from that perspective, then I see the importance of creating a plan for accomplishing my job. No business would be very successful without a plan of action, and no employer is effective without a good job description. I would not try to run a business without evaluating and implementing effective methods, and if I decided to just play it by ear, I would probably fail very quickly. So, I am learning to look at maintaining my home as my job. I was first introduced to the whole "household management binder" concept through the FlyLady website. I started my "control journal" in a huge 3" binder. It was way too much - and was not very useful in the ways I needed. I think my first problem with FlyLady is the name "control journal." I quickly realized that control should not be my goal - every time I read that word I was reminded of how much trouble we cause ourselves when we try to control our lives. I like to be in control, I like to think I can plan my life, and have control over what happens. I know in my heart I cannot, and so I decided that my notebooks needed to have the goal of learning to live life in harmony with the church, letting God be the control and guide. With that in mind, I chose to use plain white binders that allow me to customize the cover of each with a saint and prayers. I have tried to find ways to remind myself throughout this binder to offer each and every task to God. So, my main notebook, my Rule of Life as it were, looks like this:

For the cover I chose the icon of Mary and Martha because I feel they are the ultimate example for us as women in learning the balance of life. They represent the practical needs in life, with the reminder that while these are all important, they are not the goal. Every time I pick up my binder, I am reminded that I must remember the one thing needful. The Bible and the church teach us we are to pray without ceasing, one of the most difficult tasks we are given in my mind. It is interesting to read The Way of a Pilgrim and follow his journey and the very structured and studious way in which the pilgrim approaches his goal of prayer without ceasing. He seeks prayer of the heart very purposefully, following a plan. With that in mind, I have spent a good deal of time finding saints and prayers that are meaningful to me and my daily tasks, and trying to incorporate them into my day in a very purposeful way. The back cover page of my binder has a prayer for mothers, and the prayer before commencing a task.

Within the binder I have four sections:
The first section is labelled Daily Routines and Reminders. Here I have a copy of my Daily Rule created using the Mother's Rule of Life as my guide. I also have a simple morning and evening routine. These are my goals, they do not always get done, but they are there to help remind me of what I am striving to make a habit. I also have my year at a glance documents filed here, along with my monthly bill payment schedule form. My year at a glance pages also include all birthdays and anniversaries. I am constantly updating these pages, and I have found it really helpful to have the reminders, especially for things like when my flowers are blooming. If I am going to have a baby shower or birthday party, it is nice to see at a glance which flowers I will have available for cutting. The bill payment page has each bill typed in on the day it is due. When I mail that bill, I use a highlighter to mark it as paid. At the end of the month I can just wipe the highlighter off and start over.

The second section is the Basic Weekly Plan. Here I have the kids karate and gym schedules filed, then I have my cleaning routines. I have a "laundry day", a "cleaning day", a "kitchen day", and an "errand day," and after each of those sections a list of things to be done on those days. I do not do everything on those lists every time (actually, I have not done anything on those lists in a month! but, that is why I am posting this, to get myself going again), I just try to work from that list doing a few within my allotted cleaning times on those days. I started with the FlyLady zone concept, tweaking it for me, and I am still working on checklists for each room.

There is a section for Emergency Numbers, where I keep important numbers, business cards and a print out of the FlyLady's Control Journal Step #19. I have learned the hard way that it really is important to know ahead of time who you will call if you have a household emergency - since when the flooding (in our case) or other emergency occurs, you don't have time to call around and get references or estimates, you take whoever answers the phone and gets to your house the quickest!

The final section is my favorite. It is titled Personal, and it is where I have my personal mission statement, Fr. Thomas Hopko's 55 Maxims for Christian Living, a letter my husband wrote me last Christmas and a list of reminders similar to the advice in my previous post. These are there to encourage me, to help me focus, to remind me of what is important. I would like to say I look at these every day, but that would be a lie! That is, however, my goal. If you can begin your day with prayers and a look at your mission statement, you can't help but be better focused on what is important each day. I also have a small notepad tucked into the pocket of the binder to keep track of errands I need to run, items I need etc.
This notebook does not contain food sections the way FlyLady does, because I have 2 separate notebooks (one feasting and one fasting) in my kitchen for that - I will post on those later. I also have my teacher's planner, and I am working on a series of notebooks similar to Mary's Cycles of Grace (though mine are not nearly as pretty :). Sounds like a lot of binders, I know, but the school planner stays in the school room, the cooking notebooks are on my pantry shelf with my cookbooks, and the main binder floats through the house with me (I like to keep it in my room to start my day, then take it to the kitchen to look over cleaning chores).


Susan Sophia said...

I finally printed this post and read it. Thank you so much for writing this. I needed it. I love the first paragraph about this being our job. Sometimes I just wish I had a "boss" that checked in on me to make sure I was staying on task. It's so hard sometimes. I've discovered I am a "list person" and awhile ago when you posted your daily routine with "blocks" for school I took that idea from you am using it now. I really like it. I have my day divided into about 5 major blocks of time and a to-do list for each block.
I'm rambling now. What I really just wanted to say was...Thank You!!!

Christine said...

Thank you for this post. I loved it the first time I read it, and tonight I am loving it again. I really like how you compared your husband going to work all day and you staying home all day. I have been looking at "being home with the kids" as more of "my job" this week...and will be coming up with my own plan and checklists! Thank you for the inspiration and motivation! Just what my home needed from me!

Alicia said...

Wanted to add my thank you for having this here. Many of us used things from old Evlogia site. It's good that your very practical reflections, resources, and experiences are still here for us.

Alicia in New Zealand

Anna said...

Alicia - thank you :) my postings are a far cry from the resources she used to offer, but I am glad you find them helpful. I hope to someday soon go back through my notebook posting and fill it in a bit more.