March 14, 2016

Tools for Staying Organized – Part 1


Today’s post I decided to do something a little different and focus on some of the tools and apps I use to stay organized. When you have family that includes 2 kids and a dog, are self employed and essentially run the household, too, it’s not easy to stay on top of everything that needs to get done. Have you seen pictures of those gorgeous and perfect looking “Command Centers” in people’s houses on the web? Yeah, well, I don’t have that in my house. Ha! In my kitchen I have 2 spots I call “Command Centers.” One is the kitchen island and the other is in the corner by where the house phone is and I keep my purse. It’s that fancy. 

My way of staying on top of everything is with the help from various lists and apps I use on a day-to-day basis.


1. Daily Calendar

Long ago, I stumbled upon the calendar below. Yes, I realize it says “Daily Calendar” but I basically use it as my running “House To Do List” so I keep it on the kitchen island since that’s my 1st “Command Center” spot. I put things on it that I tend to take care of related to the family and home and not really business-related to do lists (those are by my desk in my office). I like it because it sets up the categories for me. Here and here are other free printables that would do the same thing as the one below since mine isn’t readily available but you can also search on Pinterest and find a ton of various options. All you have to do with any printable is download it once, save it to your desktop and just re-print as needed. 


2. Dinner “Calendar”

I try to do my grocery shopping for the week on a Sunday. Before I go to the grocery store I try to pick out which recipes I’m making for dinners that week. That way I don’t go to the store and just buy random food. Then, when I come home, I write down by the day which meal I’m making on the calendar below (found here – it’s the “Blank Calendar”). I do this based on a 5 day week because I don’t tend to cook on the weekend. Yes, sometimes I switch which days I make what or one evening gets really crazy and I abandon my plan and we make eggs for dinner but you get the idea. Planning = Good. (Truth: This does not happen every week because I’m not perfect but it’s a goal I start off with every week ).


3. Running Grocery List

I have a magnet board by my Command Center #2 and that is where I keep the running grocery list, on a notepad. Any time we’re almost out of an item or I use up an item, I write it down on the list so I don’t forget.

4. Sticky Note Pads

I keep Post-It notes in a basket with pens in my Command Center #2. I use Post-It notes for more immediate lists like ‘MUST CALL TODAY AND CAN’T FORGET’ type lists just in case I don’t take a look at the main list on the kitchen island. Other times I may write down a few key tasks that I can’t forget to do that day or the next day (for ex. bring snack for kids soccer practice) and I leave this on the edge of kitchen island where I can’t miss it. Also, I use the Post-It to jot down small grocery lists of a few extra items I didn’t buy when I did my main shopping for the week and then I tuck the note into my purse so I don’t forget it.

5. Extra Note Pad by the Phone

I have this spiral note pad that is set up in 3 sections – Shop|Call|Do. Sadly, the company doesn’t exist anymore that made it but the key is that having an extra note pad by the phone is helpful for when there’s a message and a phone # needs to be jotted down, or a small “shopping” list comes up with items you don’t know when you’ll get to buying or aren’t urgent but need to keep track of somewhere (for ex. flea and tick meds for the dog) or it’s a place my housekeeper writes down the cleaning supplies she needs for next time. Whatever it is, it’s always smart to have an extra note pad sitting out.

6. Fridge Calendar

At the beginning of each month, I print out the calendar from my email (that is synced to the one on my phone) and hang that on the fridge. It has birthday’s, activities, appointments, etc. so I can see how the month looks laid out. I find this to be extremely helpful for so many reasons but the main one is that every time I open the fridge, I take a glance at it which practically ensures I don’t forget any important events. (Note: Don’t forget to hand write any additions to the calendar once it’s up).


Everyone has their own personal preferences for which apps they use for what but here are the 2 main ones I use:

1. Evernote – this app is great because there is a desktop version of it as well and it will sync with the mobile app. For me, when I’m home, I prefer to do everything from the computer that I don’t need my phone for. So, I often keep the Evernote program open on my laptop. This app/program has a lot of features and options but I use it in it’s most basic form – just for lists. I keep my running Target list here (you could do this with your grocery list instead of the old fashioned note pad), my list for Trader Joe’s and other random information that I want with me at all times that usually has nothing to do with food. Ha!

2. Any.do – this app is helpful for me because I’m the kind of person who is visual and likes to plan my errands and appointments out by the day. So this app allows me to assign my errands and appointments to the day and visually see it without having to open the calendar. Also, you can set reminders for the tasks, too.  At the beginning of each week, I put in everything for that week only (with the occasional task I could do at any time but isn’t urgent). Then you can cross out the tasks/appointments as you do them which is the BEST FEELING EVER.

These are just some basic tools to help anyone get and stay organized. How I stay organized at my desk and other aspects of my life I’ll cover in future posts. In the meantime, I have a Pinterest board called “Cleaning and Organizing” that may be helpful to check out.

Hope this helps and feel free to share any other tools or apps you use that have been helpful to you.


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