6 Random Tips for the Organizationally Challenged

The Organizing Challenge

Organized Homeschool mom plans her day with a plannerI don’t know whether some kind of momentum builds from taking down the Christmas tree and decorations, or if we’re eager to start a new year on the right foot, or if we just start getting antsy being cooped up inside, or a combination of all three catalysts, but January seems to be the time of the year when we all start thinking about organizing, scheduling, and just generally getting our lives in order!

If you’re like me, you’ve been binge cleaning (whether or not you see much in the way of tangible evidence) and looking around your house for ways you can stash the clutter a little better…a desk here, an Ikea cube unit there, a shelf or two over here.

In my little tribe on Facebook, many moms share a similar struggle to me: getting organized and following through on plans. I can’t say I have all the answers or have conquered this struggle yet, but I have learned to manage my “disability” over the years and have discovered some tricks and ideas that have worked for me. So I want to share those with you!

  1. Ask God First
  2. Install (and use!) the ToDoist App
  3. Find a Homeschooling Planner That Fits Your Style
  4. Get Rid of the Broken Shoelaces
  5. Handle Mail and e-mail Immediately
  6. Keep a Gift Bin

Ask God First

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 16:9: “A man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” It’s a reminder that, while planning is good, it’s really God who directs each day. So, doesn’t it make sense to just go ahead and consult Him first?

I usually try to pray through my to-do list every day while I’m still in bed. I also pay attention to what God puts on my heart first thing in the morning. Often, even before I’m fully awake, I will hear the Lord speak to me about things I need to do that day.

Install and Use the ToDoist App

Once upon a time, I tried a daily to-do list. I would write it out in the morning, get to about half the items that day, then keep it for the next day and add more. It ended up a big, long, never-ending scribbly mess! Then I tried transferring to a new paper each day. Do you know what it’s like to write out every single item that I didn’t complete on a new sheet? Depressing, that’s what! I didn’t need to slowly and painfully write out my failures each day.

But, the alternative was not good. With no list, I forgot about so many important things I needed to do! (It’s not cool when you forget to pay bills, for example.) Then I finally found the ToDoist app on my phone – there is a desktop version that syncs with the phone app too so we can stay organized everywhere! I love it because I can move things around from day to day instead of looking at scribbles and feeling frustrated by all I didn’t get to. Somehow the neatness of it is helpful to me…and the ease of moving things. Try it and see if it works for you!

Find a Homeschooling Planner that Fits Your Style

In case it’s not horribly obvious, I am a Type B person. I hate planners and planning in general, and I’ve never found one that I was in love with. So, naturally, I just created my own! The Lifeschooling Vision Planner is designed for extremely flexible people like me…but it’s also adaptable to those who require a little more structure. I love it! During the month of January, it’s included in a full kit of lifeschooling resources for an amazing introductory price!

Another great planner is the Beyond Blessed Planner by Ana Willis. This planner has it all! If you want to organize your entire life on paper, this one is for you. Includes sections for homeschool mission, annual goals, monthly goals, monthly spending tracker, meal planner, pantry inventory, food journal, water intake, and so much more! It truly is all-encompassing. And the best part is it’s filled with Scripture from cover to cover.

If you just need a basic, down-to-earth daily planner for the budget-conscious, check out the Best Homeschool Life Planner by Christine Zell. It will give you just enough guidance to not become yet another burden to keep up with. It includes an attendance record, monthly and weekly page spreads that include reading and field trip logs, and customizable bullet pages.

Whatever your style and personality, do some research and find what works for you. If it doesn’t work, don’t force it! Move on until you find the right fit. It’s important to find something to help direct you through each homeschool day.

Get Rid of the Broken Shoelaces

I am the classic, “But I might be able to use that someday” girl! Over the years, I have learned that it is burdensome to hang onto everything because it’s a reminder of all the projects and ideas that I can never find time to get to. If you’ve owned it for a few years, it’s time to get real with yourself. You probably won’t ever use it. Plus, maybe you can pass it on and bless someone who can!

My friend Barbara is great at this! My youngest son even picked up on it and talks about how Mrs. M. is always getting rid of stuff! Once when she came over to help us organize and purge, I “reasoned” with her that I could use some of these things and that I didn’t want to waste them and end up needing them someday. “Well,” she said, “I love to bless others with things I’m not currently using. I just always pray that God will bring that type of item back to me later if I end up needing it, and so often He has done that.” Her response really helped change my thinking in this area! Sometimes hanging on to things is a lack of trust for God to provide in His timing.

Handle Mail and e-mail Immediately

Okay, confession time. I don’t do this…at least, not with my e-mail. But I think it might be time! I currently have over 50,000 e-mails sitting in my inbox. (Ridiculous!!) I was very inspired the other day when my mother-in-law told me that the high executive she used to work for at a large national bank (I believe he was #3) left at the end of each day with an empty inbox. How freeing! He went through e-mails right away, handled them, and then deleted them. Sounds like a New Year’s goal for me!

I am much better with my paper mail, however. It comes in and I immediately put it all where it belongs. I’ve stopped trying to read every catalog and sales ad. If I don’t have time and it doesn’t pertain to my life right now, it goes right in the garbage. Gone are my early married days of piles of mail all over the house!

Keep a Gift Bin

I stole this idea from my mom who always kept a stash of children’s birthday gifts at the top of her closet when we were young. If we got invited to a birthday, we just “shopped” that bin and never had to worry about rushing at the last minute.

I do this now and it’s very helpful to me since I am so disorganized by nature! Not only does it save me at the last minute when I realize Sunday morning after breakfast that there’s a church baby shower, but it also saves me money since I can pick up items on sale at any time. (Or even re-gift unwanted birthday or Christmas gifts…shhhhhhh!)

Start Somewhere – Even if it’s Not Perfect

Even if you feel you have so far to go with scheduling and organizing your life, I think the important thing is just to start somewhere and find a rhythm. Once you get one little area consistent, you can move on to bigger goals.

I often think of the verse, “Despise not the day of small things.” Sometimes we have to just start somewhere, even if it’s not perfect. I’ve spent years trying to get my act together, so if you struggle as I do, I feel your pain! 😆 Celebrate the little successes and don’t beat yourself up for being imperfect.

Remember, God made you who you are for a reason. Just because organizing isn’t your strength doesn’t mean you can’t still be a successful homemaker and homeschooling mom. God sees your efforts and He does not reward us based on performance. He sees your heart and He meets you where you are and fills in the gaps. Aren’t you glad? I sure am!

 

About the Author: Danielle Papageorgiou has been homeschooling, or “lifeschooling,” for 18 years (she counts birth as day 1!) and runs a blog, LifeAsALifeschooler.com. She has a passion for helping other homeschoolers learn how to homeschool in a way that does not compete with family life, but actually enhances it…homeschooling done in a spirit of freedom, not legalism. She believes that each family is unique and God has placed in each child special gifts and desires that He wants to use. The verse that guides the Papageorgious in their pursuit of lifeschooling is Matthew 6:33, “But seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and ALL these things will be added to you.” (Emphasis mine). Danielle has been married to her amazing husband, Jon, for 20 years and they have three talented and fun children, Konur (18), Elleina (15), and Korban (8).

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