Because of my own ADD, organization is not my strong suit. Though I have yet to master organization, I’ve discovered some key pieces that certainly make life easier!
Master Calendar: My cell phone is actually one of those pocket PCs, so I have e-mail, MS Word and Excel, plus calendaring and contacts all in one place. The down side to this is that it is my brain, so if I misplace it, I’m done for. However, I sync it with my computer so that I have a back up. The nice thing is, I can print out labels from my address book for cards, etc., and don’t have to do the extra legwork. If you don’t have or don’t want a souped up phone, there are tons of great options out there:
MS Outlook: Most programs work with it, for e-mail and calendaring.
Google Calendars: They now even offer an option to personalize it for your own domain, if your family has it’s own website, a trend that is becoming more and more popular. You can also use iGoogle as your computer homepage and see your calendar there.
Yahoo Calendar: Before my “brain” phone, hubby and I had our own private Yahoo Group, and I put everything on the calendar with reminders that were sent via e-mail.
Cozi Central: I love this program! It’s got a gorgeous interface that has a screensaver collage for all your favorite family pictures, and tabbed and color-coded calendars for family members. It has desktop and web-based versions, and you can print calendars, or share them online.
My Corkboard: It’s more of a desktop bulletin board than a true organizer. But, while you are online or on your computer and something occurs to you, you can “pin” it up to remind yourself. It has tons of customizable add-ons, including to-do lists.
Bins: The concept of bins has revolutionized the way I think about life, laundry and the pursuit of tiny pieces of toys! I have a friend that I used to tease because she ironed her underpants! Now, maybe you do that, and if so, my apologies, but again, I am organizationally challenged, so someone that organized throws me for a loop! Instead, I have beautiful fabric bins (most of which were $5 at IKEA; the ones for the kids, even less at Target). The bins for the kids are labeled with words and pictures. After laundering, I create a pile for each child. They then put socks in one bin, underpants in another (again, why fold them…no one sees them!), undershirts in another, jammie tops and jammie bottoms have their own bins. The only things that get formally folded or hung up are things for church or nicer clothes.
Then, there are bins for the toys, also labeled. They put all blocks in one; all cars in another, and so on. We also use the same concept for homeschool. Each day of the week has its own bin, labeled. Each child has his or her own colored folder for work. Pencil cases, etc. are also color-coded.
Catch-all bins: Again with the bins! There are several “catch-all” bins throughout the common areas of the house. There are also “transport bins” for taking toys out of the common areas into their rooms and vice versa. There are several bins in each room that are general purpose bins for larger toys, or ones that don’t have enough to be classified or are hard to classify (and frankly, if it’s off the floor, I couldn’t care less if it’s in the right bin or not!).
Designated spots: My son has autoimmune Type 1 diabetes. He has several blood sugar monitors (some are back-ups that go in the parent’s cars), and he is supposed to keep one hanging on its tab in the hall. It may not always happen, but it is his responsibility. For our outside homeschool classes, the children have work folders given to them by their teachers. Those, also, should have a “fixed spot” usually on a bookcase in their individual rooms.
This may sound like I am incredibly organized, but you have to realize that it’s a lot of work to create your own system that works for your own individual family (that may need to be tweaked until you get it right, or as things change). Additionally, once the system is in place, it only works as long as it is adhered to!
Hopefully, this has given you some ideas to use in helping your family stay organized and on track!
Photo credit: Marie Stroughter