Working Backwards……to get it done!

Have you ever found a system that works for you…and when you share it with someone else they LOVE it!!!

Ok…well…hold your hats!

First of all, I love my new Erin Condren planner that my sister in law purchased for me. I’m not a super “decorative sticker/tape” person but I definitely have decided that pen and paper is best for me, so I decided to give up my phone calendar and stick with this one.

If you decide to look into this planner, please use my referral link so I can score more credit to purchase cool new “things”…(wink.wink). I’ve got my eye on a few things…

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Here is my link…

I mean…how cute is this personalized cover of my crew….

However, as much as I love my planner, this post is more about the process than the planner. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am not a super organized person. I leave the beauty of organization to those skilled at it like Iheart organizing and Abby over at Just A girl and her blog.

However, I do have a process that I have found keeps my world from crashing in around me.

And…it involves working backwards.

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Depicted in the photo above, on Sundays evenings, I usually sit with 5 post it notes for the week out in front of me. If my week/weekend is super busy, I will put all 7 days of the week in front of me. Simply put, I work backwards.

I think of everything that needs to be done for an event or for the week, and then space it out throughout my week so I don’t feel overwhelmed. 

For instance, on Friday, of this week, I have my weekly co-op in which I teach 2 classes. So, on Monday I will make a note that I need to send an email to the parents of my students reminding them about any work/reminders for Friday. I had my son draw me up a quick picture today (Monday) of his cake that he will need to make for his 50 states project on Friday.  I will also try and figure out the kids’ lunch menu so I can grab stuff either Monday night or Wednesday morning when grocery shopping. Wednesday, I also will note that I need to have my daughter and son work on their rough drafts due for their IEW writing class. Thursday night, I will have all the children pack their bags for the co-op and they get placed at the front door to head out in the morning. Thursday night, I also write up a quick “thing to do” and place on my kitchen counter so I know what I need to grab in the morning. I place all lunch boxes on the kitchen counter and non-perishable lunch items in their lunch boxes. This also allows me time to “think ahead”. I often ask myself “Do I have something that I need to give someone I will see at the co-op?” If so, I will add these items to my trunk on Wednesday or Thursday night.

Sounds simple, right??!! But…it’s a gamechanger!! 

If you are used to leaving everything for the last minute, you really don’t allow yourself any time to be of service to others. When I was writing my list a few weeks ago, I remembered that my sister in law (who had just had a new baby) might need a ride for her two older children to the co-op. A simple text to her earlier in the week allowed me to tweak my morning schedule on Friday to pick up her children, without any burden on myself or my family. In addition, you always want to be prepared for the occasional stomach flu or flat tire that can set you back a day or two.

This process also works through the regular week as well.

I have my schedule “set” so that I maximize my time to be the most efficient. As a parent, I understand the need to juggle multiple schedules, and yet still get everything done. A couple of months ago, I made a list of all the chores/responsibilities that need to be completed in a week. Then I sat down with my postit notes and tried to figure out the best possible scenarios in which I could “commit” to those things.

I promise, it works!

It’s just like a great puzzle…you need to make sure that everything has a time and place when it is completed. Otherwise, you will begin to realize that your bathroom shower never gets cleaned or your front foyer never gets steam mopped. (I’m certainly not speaking from experience here…haha)

An additional piece of advice to my homeschooling mom friends, this year was the first year that I had two “set” days that I was “running around” and two days that I was pretty home bound. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I am home. I have set up my children’s school schedules so that I can do the most instruction on those days. They are also the two days that I “power through” my laundry, and kitchen duties. We have family meals that require a little more prep and time on those days as well. In contrast, on Tuesdays, my day starts at 9:00 with piano lessons, then adoration, off to chorus, and then dance class. I pull into my house around 6:15 thoroughly exhausted. However, on Tuesdays, because of all the children’s activities, I easily spend hours waiting for them. My “thing to do” list on Tuesday includes multiple errands in the van, office calls, quick emails, and reading. While the children load up multiple bags of dance attire, piano books, and chorus music, I heave my large 31 bag full of stuff to do as well. For me, this is a great time to reference my Master List of things to do; “pin” a few new recipes on Pinterest; or clean out my email inbox. I usually enjoy grabbing the children a quick lunch and hitting a park for some quick outside fun!

My advice would be to plan your errands around where you are headed or have to be. Every Tuesday, I drop off my husband’s dry cleaning and/or pick up his dry cleaning after adoration. It’s literally right down the street. He appreciates the errand, and it requires little work for me. The post office is on the same street as the parish church, where the girls take piano lessons, so I add any packages or mailings to the list for that time. Additionally, I keep a bin in my trunk with any store returns that I have to make. I tuck the receipt in the bag, so that I’m ready to return it.

If you’ve had a system that you’ve tried, and it isn’t working for you….give this a try! This system of working backwards has only proven time and time again to keep me from being overwhelmed, and to feel at peace.

I hope your organizational efforts are fruitful!

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