I love to plan…but I’m bad at it
I am one of those people who loves organizing stuff. Closets, drawers, desks, files…nothing makes me happier than taking a mess and making it look orderly. I am equally fond of trying to organize my thoughts and my schedule, although that’s usually a lot less successful. I write out lists – to do lists, ideas for blog posts, upcoming events that I don’t want to forget – and I inevitably lose them before I’ve had a chance to cross anything off. I start the year out with a planner…and by February, I’m so far behind in it that I give up. I have a dozen half-used journals in the bookcase, as well as a couple that I’ve abandoned online, and a Google calendar that contains about half of the events I need to remember to go to. I’m the mom who’s at Wal-Mart the night before the Christmas program buying the kids new shoes, because I just realized the program is tomorrow and no one has anything appropriate to wear. I’m the one who forgets “watch week” at gymnastics and always has a negative lunch account balance. I’m the reason why dentists’ offices call you the day before your appointment. I have ALWAYS been absent-minded, and it drives me crazy. I remember going to a sleepover as a kid and being teased because somehow, all I remembered to bring was a book to read and a toothbrush. (Who brings a book to a sleepover?)
What I usually do wrong…and what I’m going to change
So, this year, my goal is to get better at managing my schedule. I am going to stay on top of my to-do list, show up on time for things, and keep all of my brilliant thoughts and blog ideas safe until I can use them. Now, I’ve obviously tried to do this before with limited success, and I think I know why I’ve failed:
- I try to do too much. Journaling several pages a day, recording everything I have to do in several different places…I get overwhelmed by how much time it takes, so I just give up altogether.
- I use too many tools. I have journals, notebooks for to-do lists, meal plan worksheets, planners, electronic calendars…nothing is ever updated or complete, and it’s all way too much to carry around with me.
- I don’t like the way any of it looks. I think the artist in me would be more motivated to use a notebook or planner if it looked attractive and I took more pride in keeping it legible.
Does this sound like you? I think we set ourselves up for failure by making this too hard, and by expecting to do it all perfectly. Busy moms need a system that’s easy, quick, and enjoyable, or it’s just going to be abandoned. If you want to join me in simplifying (and beautifying) your daily/weekly/monthly planning process, keep reading. Here’s what I’m going to try:
- I’m whittling my tools down to two: my Google calendar and a (paper) planner. I like the Google calendar because it can send reminders to my email and phone, and I can’t lose it. As long as I can find an electronic device and remember my password, I’ll always have access to it. If you don’t have a Google account, you can sign up for one – totally free of charge – at: https://accounts.google.com/signup/v2/webcreateaccount?hl=en-AU&flowName=GlifWebSignIn&flowEntry=SignUp. You will be assigned a gmail (Google email) address, but you don’t have to use gmail if you don’t want to. You’ll get access to all kinds of stuff, like Google Calendar, Google Drive, and even YouTube. Google’s Calendar isn’t as fancy as some of the family scheduling tools I’ve tried (like Cozi, for example), but I already use gmail, so I love accessing my calendar and email in one spot.
I like a paper planner planner because I can do more with it than just record events (like write a to-do list, or a blog idea), and because it looks pretty. I found a planner online that’s beautiful, and simple, and it even has the weekly Mass readings and saints’ days pre-recorded: http://catholicmothersuk.wixsite.com/home. It’s from the UK, so the bank holidays aren’t always relevant for me here in the US, but I don’t really mind that, I guess. It has some great ideas in the back for celebrating saints’ feast days, as well as some Catholic prayers and even some recipes.
- I’m giving myself 30 minutes every Sunday to sit down and get everything scheduled for the upcoming week. I’m not going to try to keep a daily journal, or record how much water I drink every day, or anything that doesn’t feel absolutely necessary. My goal is to get all the events on the calendar and in the planner, schedule out at least three meals per week in advance, and jot down all of my ideas and to-do’s as quickly and simply as I can.
- I’m trying to remember that, while God wants me to be effective as the manager of my home, He also wants me to be receptive to His plans for me and my family. I can plan and plan and plan, but at some point, I need to just trust that God is in control and will take care of us – if I let Him. As the bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
What about your plans for the New Year? How are you keeping yourself organized in 2019? Share with us in the comments!