Whether you can't remember family birthdays, need to revise for an exam, or plan a massive party, all you need is a few organisational tips and you will start to find these tasks easier. I love organisation: lists, spreadsheets, apps, colour-coding, diaries, post - it's. ...you get the idea. Therefore I thought I would share some of my time management and organisational tips, which I found helped me feel a bit more on top of things.
LISTS ARE YOUR FRIENDS!
I am not a daily list writer, but do like to use one for when I plan a big event or task. I planned my DIY wedding with the help of a spreadsheet and monthly lists which broke down what we had to do. We picked a venue with no catering, decoration or equipment, so there was a lot to achieve. We were working under a strict budget and to top it off, it was all organised in two languages.
|You can see it was a BIG venue! Link to blog post HERE|
When you plan something using lists, it is important to jot the steps down and then break them down into smaller stages. For example to make invitations, you will need to: research what you want, buy resources or hire someone, make them, write text, and post them. These are all separate stages and broken down like this you can better allocate a timescale to them.
When planning over a number of weeks or months having a master list is handy. You can then take your monthly targets from it. This is also a fluid document which you can add to in case of problems or new ideas. Once I have my master list (either scribbled roughly in a notebook or on Excel), I then make a bigger list to display.
You can see on this example for our daughter's Christening and first birthday party, that each task has been colour-coded as 'must do' (red), 'should do' (orange), and 'nice to do' (green). I also wrote down who is responsible for what, as it is a task involving me and my family. Once stuck up, we can both work independently of each other and our priorities are set. While I would prefer to do the green tasks, I know the red ones are more important.
The template I use can be downloaded here. Also, for those of you planning a wedding, you can download a copy of my master spreadsheet here (where lists, budgets and contacts can be kept together.
You can also keep your lists electronic with handy apps like Evernote or Any.do (which I am trialling using on a daily basis and so far quite like).
MEAL PLAN AND SHOP SMARTER
There are lots of lovely free meal planner sheets on Pinterest (you can check out some of my favourites here), but even if you just use a pen and paper it will help you write an effective shopping list and hopefully cut down food waste and also binge buying. Before meal planning, I check the stock cupboards and freezer to see what we have. I then plan a couple of meals to use up leftovers, even if it does mean making a quick veggie soup. I will then write down the dishes we fancy for that week and delve online or in my recipe books for the remaining inspiration. I also check if we are overspending on expensive ingredients. If steak is on the menu one day, there will be a couple of budget dinners added in. Once I have the meal ideas, I check what we need for breakfast and lunch and make a list. I then STICK to it when shopping.
I made a chalkboard for our weekly meal planner and update it once a week. I write out the final 'menu' when I get back from the shops and have checked the use by dates. I also underline items that need defrosting or that we still need to source. You could also make a homemade wipe board for the cost of one photoframe and a whiteboard pen!
I intend to take this to the next level soon, by making a month of meal plans and then making an online shopping list for each week. This is so I can do an online order quickly, should we have a really busy week, or in case of illness. If you are interested in having me share these, let me know.
When I lived alone, I used to meal share with my bestie. We took it in turns to cook for each other or made double the amount to freeze and exchange, cutting down on waste and half of the weekly cooking. In a house share this is even easier with one person cooking, one meal a week, with a different person on clear up. This means buying and cooking one dish and clearing up once...easy and cost-effective (if you are not a fuss pot that is!)
NEVER FORGET A BIRTHDAY OR BILL
You can be super lazy (like me) and shell out for a company like Moon Pig to schedule all of your important cards and send them or you can do a diy version (I promise Moon Pig have definitely not sponsored this post or asked me to mention them!). I have started to go online once a year; choose and write my cards, them schedule them to go out. Once you have typed in the address once, it saves it for you (and activates a reminder), so your work is not doubled each time.
The DIY alternative is a concertina file, where you write and slot in bought or made cards, written and addressed into the corresponding month. A post-it on the front with the date means you will just need to check the folder once a month to see what needs to be sent. Bills, renewals, appointment reminders can also go in so that you can easily find what needs to be paid or arranged.
5 MINUTE TASKS ADD UP.
Making a cuppa or dinner? Empty the dishwasher, wipe out a drawer, empty the bin, reorganise your spices. Popping out shopping? Take out the bins, recycling or stuff to donate to charity. Bought a load of new jumpers? Then check back through all of your old ones to make sure that they are still being worn, or whether they need to head out to the charity shop. Use your waiting time more wisely and everything starts to look a bit tidier. For any parents out there reading this, you will know that there is a constant trail of mess wherever your children go. Before we leave one room to destroy another, I try and take 5 minutes to scoop the toys into a basket or tub so that I don't want to pull out my eyes when I walk back in again. I think this works as a general tip though - if it takes less than 5 minutes to tidy away what you are doing, then it is worth taking the 5 minutes to do it. These little jobs will mean that it is much quicker to do that weekly (*cough* fortnightly) clean, as you probably won't have much tidying to do.
CONCENTRATE ON WHAT YOU ARE DOINGThat really DOES mean no social media or TV. I can't actually do this one without a bit of help; I keep pausing writing this post to check my Twitter chat and it really isn't helping me concentrate. I should have switched on my motivational app Forest which encourages you to avoid procrastination by using the time you are doing something to grow a virtual tree. If you stick to the time and don't use your phone, then you end up with a new addition to your forest, but if you do give up, then it dies and you end up with a twig. Reading that back, it sounds a bit bizarre, but I guess it works for me! Seriously though, stuff gets done quicker and more efficiently when you aren't being distracted from every angle.
So there are my not so revolutionary, but hopefully helpful tips on hacking your life to be a bit more organised. What do you use to keep yourself on track? Share your ideas below and I will be sure to add them to my list of organisational ideas.