learning to be organized.

I love whiteboards. I currently have three in the house, one giant one in the kitchen, a smaller magnetic one in my bedroom, and another smaller one in the upstairs hallway.  I think as the kids get older, I will have whiteboards in each of their rooms as well.  They are my saving grace as I never really learned how to be organized and have to just kind of learn on the job, as it were.

I bought the first board because I was desperately in need of something larger than life that I would be forced to manage every day. My i-phone is great, but if it’s not in my hand, or if it’s at the bottom of my purse, I don’t hear the alerts so I can still miss appointments. The notepad app is brilliant, great for shopping lists, but  not great for my long term to do lists because I don’t naturally see it every day.

Oh, but my white board. I would make sweet sweet love to that thing if I could. Its primary function is as a weekly calendar, except giant. Every Saturday I wipe it clean and then write each day of the following week and all its relevant activities up. I consult my phone and normal wall calendar for the activities, and all appts are written up with a time of 10-15 minutes earlier than reality. This saves my ass oh, every week it seems.  The board also has a running shopping list on it which everyone adds to, as well as the kids need/wish lists, which I mostly ignore as they usually contain things like laptop!, guinea pigs!, BMX bike!, lots of Ben 10 toys!. I also write the week start/end dates and which bins go out.   I used to have our chore list up there as well, but scrapped the chore list in favour of a new system which I have been to  lazy busy to implement just yet. I also put the weeks dinner menu on the board, so I always know what I’m making and can avoid last minute panics and expenditures.  It can all fall down still, if I forget to put a particular appt in my phone or on the calendar, but I tend to manage this by always putting kids school functions into my phone as soon as I have a letter in hand/am told about them. As well as appts. that come in the post, etc. I try not to wait to put anything into my phone because I will forget.  For example- for one of my current degree courses, I put all the assignment due dates and tutorials in my phone the day I got the letter from my tutor that listed them. For my other course though, I didn’t get a letter so need to get online to get the info and put it on my phone, which I still havent done. This will bite me in the ass if I don’t do it soon because I have a day school coming up and in the days leading up to it, I will get distracted, it won’t be on the board and I will forget about it.  I also occasionally write little messages to the kids, and usually put whatever family activity we should be doing each day as well. I occasionally give it a good clean and reorganize it, which I’ve just done, so it’s kind of sparse at the moment.

A quiet week, which is good because April is jam packed.

(My daughter usually has a week stuffed with after school clubs, but had them all wiped yesterday when she was in a particularly assholey mood that I am particulary sick of)

I used to put my to do lists on the big board as well, but never really liked it. Why? Well, because 1. My kids take it upon themselves to add annoying things to it. I hate that because at the point where I think I have done everything on that days list, I come back to find they have added something to it, and frequently it will be something that legitimately needs to be done, and I will just feel guilty for not doing it. And the last thing I want to feel is guilty after getting through a days to do list.  and 2. I don’t like the kids knowing what I need to do. They don’t need to know about bills needing to be paid or phone calls that need to be made.   So, I’ve wiped my to do lists off the big board and they are on the smaller board in my bedroom. I do a daily list on one side, and the long term list is on the other. I also use it for studying, or when writing assignments, and it is great to have the info right there instead of having to rifle through a notebook for it. I also pop letters and forms that need signing or whatnot on it with magnets, as these would be lost from the fridge and would interfere with the purpose of the big board.

I havent written a new daily list since Sunday, which is ok, sometimes I simply do the same things day in and day out.

The smallest board in the hallway lists the kids morning routines on it. I’ve written each kids name and then their list of chores underneath. They are pretty much identical for the big kids, and the little one only has a few things on his. This is my biggest struggle, because the kids are horrible about going through and doing each item. And I have gotten to the point in my parenting journey where I do not want to nag my kids. Nothing bothers me more than having to constantly ask if they’ve done such and such. But, it is my lack of consistency that propels their own lack of giving a shit, so I really see it as a challenge to me to be a better mother. To enforce the rules and check to make sure it is done instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt.

This works well if I am up early to monitor it, but shockingly enough, it gets ignored if I oversleep.

These whiteboards have made a world of difference in how organized I am, but I still have a long way to go. I am terrible about keeping the house clean and organized, and I am awful about keeping bills/important letters/documents/papers managed appropriately. So, these are my next goals to tackle, and it really is about just not being lazy or letting myself become discouraged because of how much work there is. 15 minutes can make a world of difference to a living room that is heaving with junk and a kitchen that hasn’t seen a broom or some counter spray in days and days. Little steps. I just hope I can instil in my kids the importance of being organized so they don’t have to learn the same lessons in the same way I’ve had to.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. If I bought a white board to get organized, it would take me a year to remember where I put the damn thing!

    Reply

  2. Posted by The General (aka: Mommy) on March 31, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I am exactly the same. I insisted on making sure we had all the fixings and that it was hung pretty much immediately after we walked in the door. When I bought the smaller boards they sat on the floor of my bedroom for over a week before I finally got fed up and insisted they be hung up that second. In the house, if anything is going to get done it has to be done immediately, by force if necessary!

    Reply

  3. Sounds like you’re making good use of a system that works for you–the best kind of organization. And I loved seeing “CENSUS”! 🙂 I could very easily have lost that packet in the piles and forgotten all about it… “Fill this in on 27th March or immediately afterward,” I’m so sure.

    Reply

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