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).

Special Replay: Facing the Fall

Facing the Fall - Making Plans for the Next Homeschool YearSince Ashley and I were talking summer, we thought we would also talk about the thing that comes right after summer… THE FALL. It seems that as soon as July 4th passes, my brain immediately turns to the fall and making plans.

Over the years I have learned a few things that help me as I face the next school year. We talked about that today on the show.

1. Pray – Get alone and reflect on last year… what worked, what didn’t. What was challenging for the children? For you?
2. Prioritize – Set priorities for your family this year. What will you focus on? What will your kids focus on? Anything unusual happening in your year such as; building a house, having a baby, moving to New Zealand?
3. Plan and prepare – Know how you work and plan according to that. Gather materials, create spaces and work on a routine your family can follow.
4. Pass on the rest!!! Say it with me…. NO, NO, NO. So many people grab at homeschool moms because it is assumed that homeschool moms have tons of free time on their hands. You must so know to the extra noise… making meals, babysitting, leading bible studies, etc… There is a time for all of that, but it isn’t now.

Fall will be here before we know it. I hope you are looking to this new school year with your blessings, I sure am!


Find a way to #sayyes today.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my podcast and leave a review on iTunes!!!

Thank you to The Homegrown Preschooler for sponsoring this Podcast! Check out the blog post Kathy mentioned, Farmhouse Schoolhouse, to read more about A Year of Playing Skillfully.

Also, to thank you for listening, you can receive a 10% discount on any purchase at

The Homegrown Preschooler by using the code, THEREALKATHYLEE.



HSHSP Ep 171: Planning Homeschool High School

This week on HSHSP Ep 171: Planning Homeschool High School.

HSHSP Ep 171: Planning Homeschool High School. Successful homeschool high school years start with planning. Here are steps to build your confidence for homeschooling high school. #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #HomeschoolPlanning #PlanningHomeschoolHighSchool #HomeschoolSuccess #7SistersHomeschool

HSHSP Ep 171: Planning Homeschool High School

Homeschooling high school can feel intimidating before you get started! Vicki remembers when her oldest was in middle school, she was so nervous about homeschool high school that she gathered a group of homeschool moms together to have weekly prayer and resource sharing. The confidence they gained from the process gave them the courage to move forward (and some of them ultimately began co-oping together).

One thing Vicki and the rest of the 7Sisters discovered is that they feel SO much better when they get some solid planning accomplished. Join Sabrina and Vicki for a quick, lively discussion about planning homeschool high school.

Here’s the first and most important thing to know:

There’s not ONE right way to plan your homeschool high school year (or all 4 years of high school).

But if we follow this simple journalism-style framework, it will help! WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW!

The *Who* of planning homeschool high school

While this may seem obvious. You’re homeschooling your teens, that’s who! But, as you know, in homeschooling, the entire family is involved or affected. As Sabrina says, “There a multi-dimentionality to homeschooling high school”. Ask yourself

  • Who all will be homeschooling this year?
  • What is each family member’s educational experience?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are their learning styles?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are the parents’ strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are their teaching styles?
  • What are their interests?

Remember: There's not ONE right way to homeschool high school. High school curriculum and teaching styles should be as individual as your teens and your family.

The *What* of planning homeschool high school

This is the bulk of your planning! Give yourself time to pray and sort this out. Make sure to include your teens in the process. Remember:
There’s not ONE right way to teach the subjects in high school. The joy of homeschooling is teaching in the order and with the curriculum that best suits your family and your teens. Here’s a helpful post with no-fail steps to choosing curriculum.

You’ll also love this encouraging episode of Homeschool Sanity about choosing curriculum.

What do you want to teach this year? There’s not one specific order that you much use to teach History and Language Arts/Literature. There is flexibility in the order of Sciences (although many people teach Biology before Chemistry, often 10th and 11th grades). There is only a little flexibility in the order of Maths (Algebra 1 comes before Algebra 2, unless you use an integrated math).

Here are suggestions for the order of research paper writing during high school.

Here are suggestions for an order of Literature topics for high school.

What curriculum do you like to use? What works for your teens learning styles? Are their curricula that you can’t stand (Vicki has a difficult time with books that have no photos…she needs entertainment! SO even though her teens might be ok with a bland-looking text, Vicki goes for those that include pictures.)

What courses will you need this year for the transcript? These will get priority in your planning.

How much academics can your teens handle. Non-college-bound teens don’t need to do overkills on numbers of courses or levels of rigor. College-bound teens (especially if they are aiming for competitive colleges) will need more courses and more rigor. Be sure to leave unnecessary stuff out but don’t over stress you and teens.

The *When* of planning homeschool high school

There’s totally not ONE right way to handle the homeschool academic schedule. What works best for your family this year?

  • Block scheduling?
  • Year round?
  • 30 week year?
  • 4 day week?

Choose the best schedule to fit your family’s needs. Homeschooling is a lifestyle choice! Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is mom working full time or part time? If so when? Working at home or out of home?
  • Is a family member on shift work? Does the house need to be quiet so dad can sleep on some days?
  • Are you morning people or night owls?
  • What extracurriculars will your homeschool high schoolers be involved in? (How much car schooling will you need to do?)

Sit down with a calendar. Write in the musts. Fit the curriculum around it. (Really…but just make sure it gets done, of course.) Include your teens in the process!

Get some GREAT tips for scheduling in this interview with Melanie Wilson of Homeschool Sanity Podcast!

The *Where* of planning homeschool high school

The location-style of your family’s homeschooling is important in your planning. Remember: There’s not ONE right location for homeschooling high school. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a dedicated school room? Do you have a dedicated homeschool space? (Vicki and Sabrina both found out that no matter what they planned for *education location*, the entire house was the school room. Their houses are full of bookshelves mixed with other stuff, couches laden with school books, sprawling teens and guitars. That was right for their families!)
  • You MUST remember this: There is NO such thing as a Pinterest-perfect homeschool house!
  • Where are you connecting with other homeschoolers for group learning (online, none, local)?
  • Where are your teens doing internships (if any)?
  • Where will mom *sit with* on courses that need one-on-one time?
  • Where will a tutor work, if needed?
  • Who needs privacy and space?

The *How* of planning homeschool high school

The *How* refers to record keeping: How are you tracking your homeschool high school credits?

There’s not ONE right way to keep records, of course! Here are some ideas:

  • Sabrina uses plastic file box for ongoing projects and ungraded papers. She moves completed papers and projects to a master portfolio.
  • Vicki uses yearly portfolios to keep important papers, tests, log sheets for credits, certificates, etc.

Important records we recommend keeping include:

The *Why* of planning homeschool high school

If you don’t know WHY your are homeschooling high school, you shouldn’t be planning! Clarify your WHY! Here some of our WHYs:

God is leading in this direction and we have weighed the costs and are ready for the sacrifices. (At least as far as we can know at the time. The rest is trust in God.) Carefully and prayerfully examine your WHY so that you will have confidence in God’s direction.

WHY shouldn’t be: I want to have perfect kids. As our friends the Fletchers, of Homeschooling In Real Life, say: God is in charge of the outcome, not us!

We have found that homeschool high school years are the best years yet!  Go and be empowered after you enjoy this discussion with Sabrina and Vicki.

Your teens will enjoy 7SistersHomeschool.com’s curriculum. We share the curriculum that we’ve designed and homeschool high schoolers have vetted for years. It is NO-busywork, adaptable to varying interest levels and abilities. We aim for teens to LIKE what they study in homeschool high school!

Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor -Overcomer Movie

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HSHSP Ep 171: Planning Homeschool High School

HSHSP Ep 171: Planning Homeschool High School

Join Vicki and Sabrina for a who-what-when-where-why approach to planning homeschool high school years.

Help! My Daughter’s Getting Married

Planning a Wedding

Finish Well Radio, Podcast #076, with Meredith Curtis on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio NetworkIn “Planning a Wedding,” Episode #076, Meredith Curtis interviews two brides-to-be, Aisha Palm and Jenny Rose Curtis, who are planning their weddings to amazing men of God. The exciting thing is that they both live in the same house—the Curtis homestead! The ladies discuss the excitement, challenges, and tasks that are living through as they prepare for romantic days to come.





Proverbs 3:13-14 by Laura Nolette and Powerline Productions, Inc.


Powerline Productions, Inc.

Being World Changers, Raising World Changers!

We offer books and ebooks to help you homeschool to the Glory of God!


Show Notes

Meet Aisha and Jenny Rose

How long each girl has to plan the wedding

A little about the engagements and the grooms.

Goal in Wedding Planning

Each lady shares her desires for her special day and what things they want to do in the ceremony and reception to honor the Lord.

What All is Involved in Wedding Planning

Basics of planning a wedding: venues, dress, caterer, flowers, photographer, cake, wedding party, colors, and theme.

Ladies share their biggest surprises about planning a wedding, as well as their biggest challenges so far.

Memories in Progress

There are memories in the making as they move forward toward their big days.

Couples Growing Closer to Jesus

Growing closer to Jesus is what matters to each young women and her fiancé and they share things that are doing to grow as couples closer to Jesus.


Jenny Rose and Aisha share advice to ladies who are planning their own weddings.



Before the Vows are Made by Pastor Mike and Meredith CurtisReal Men 102: Freedom, Courtship, Marriage, & Family by Meredith CurtisGod's Girls 103: Courship, Marriage, and the Christian Family High School Class by Meredith CurtisGod's Girls Talk About Guys, Virtue, & Marriage by Meredith Curtis

Wedding Planning

HSHSP Ep 131: How to Handle Homeschool Countdowns

This week on HSHSP Ep 131: How to Handle Homeschool Countdowns.

Homeschool Highschool Podcast Ep 131: Handling Homeschool Countdowns. Feeling stress with deadlines coming for your homeschool? Here's how to handle it! #HomeschoolStressManagement #HomeschoolHolidayPlanning #7SistersHomeschool.com This photo shows a surprised woman holding a large clock.

HSHSP Ep 131: How to Handle Homeschool Countdowns

What to do when you feel a countdown coming on…

  • Vacation is coming!
  • Christmas is coming!
  • SATs are coming!
  • Missions trip is coming!
  • Portfolio reviews are coming!
  • College applications are coming!
  • Graduation is coming!

Are you ready enough? What if you don’t get everything done? What do you do?

Start with self-care. Really! It’s like putting your own oxygen mask on first.

Talk to your kids about managing pressure and stress.

Also, take Kym’s advice: Remember, there are some wrong ways to handle stress.

  • Ignoring your stress
  • Taking your stress out on other people

Take Vicki’s advice: Teach your kids the 3W’s

  • What am I feeling?
  • Why am I feeling that way?
  • What am I going to do about it?

Here’s more information from Vicki.

Find an appropriate person to talk about the stress. Also teach your kids the 6 degrees of separation of relationships. This helps your teens know who to talk about your stress. Read this post from Vicki Tillman Coaching on how to discern who is safe.

Then write down what you’re going to do about the stress! It helps you be accountable.

  • In a marble composition book like Sabrina does
  • On your phone like Vicki does

Remember: Apologize when necessary. It’s okay (and necessary modeling).

Enjoy this fun episode and also check out this episode for teens and crunchtime crazies.


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Watch the trailer here!

HSHSP Ep 131: How to Handle Homeschool Countdowns

Destressing the Holidays

Destress HolidaysDestressing the Holidays

Podcast #37

Join  Florida Parent Educators Association’s (FPEA) Chairwoman, Suzanne Nunn for a discussion on making the holiday season more manageable and fun. She offers tips and suggestions on making the most of your holiday season, Thanksgiving-Christmas.

Please join us as we travel along this journey on our podcast adventure. Let’s get connected! Learn more about the Florida Parent Educator’s Association and homeschooling in the beautiful state of Florida.

Please visit www.fpea.com to learn more about who we are!


Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor!

We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor Sony and their new movie, The Star, the Story of the First Christmas – Coming in Theaters November 17th!

Visit TheStarMovie.com to learn more.

Planning Your Homeschool Year

planning homeschool yearPlanning Your Homeschool Year

Podcast #34

In this episode,  Florida Parent Educators Association’s (FPEA) Chairwoman, Suzanne Nunn talks to Hannah Kartagener about planning the homeschool year. Listen in for tips and advice on how to play your year from veteran homeschool moms.

Planning some times involves planners! Something we love at FPEA. This year, FPEA introduced a new homeschool life planner – the Live Free Planner.  It sold out quickly!  Be sure to pick one up at the FPEA Store in the Convention hall  in May!

Please join us as we travel along this journey on our podcast adventure. Let’s get connected! Learn more about the Florida Parent Educator’s Association and homeschooling in the beautiful state of Florida.

Please visit www.fpea.com to learn more about who we are!