Planning separates the hapless house from the happy home. We've got four tools for keeping an organized and efficient home.
The Four Tools for Planning
A basic plan for an organized home meshes four powerful planning tools: checklists, to-do lists, good habits and a family organizer. Together, they form a framework that saves money, saves time and cuts chaos at home.
1. Checklists These are simple-to-follow reminders of the routine tasks of each day or each week, month or season. Checklists cover recurring jobs: cleaning chores, personal care, exercise routines. They cut through mental clutter and distraction, and make clear what needs to be accomplished each day. Checklists promote delegation and family teamwork. Are the children busting to spend Saturday at the park? The morning checklist sets out the chores that need to be done before the fun part of the day can begin. Once the list is completed, bring out the picnic basket!
2. Master To-Do Lists What checklists do for recurring tasks, to-do lists accomplish for one-time chores or larger projects. Can’t sleep at night because your head rings with thoughts of what you need to do, want to do, must remember? Large or small, entrust clamoring “mind clutter” to a to-do list for a good night’s sleep. Working from a Master To-Do list, you’ll record a mix of nagging jobs, little reminders, home improvement projects, and personal goals. Moving Master To-Do list items to a running to-do list breaks down big projects into achievable tasks, and integrates those tasks into the coming days, weeks, and months. Tackling projects via the organized approach of a to-do list takes your aspirations out of the mental clouds and makes them happen.
3. Habit Checklists and to-do lists organize efficient living, but they don’t get the work done themselves. How do you follow through on your good planning? Enter habit: the secret engine of an organized life at home. Once formed, habits are like the little engine that could, pulling family members along in their (orderly) wake.
Encouraging good habits and banishing bad ones is key to streamlining life and routing chaos and disorder. Best of all, habits are self-sustaining. Once you form them, they will work for you without further effort. Bring a brace of good habits to work for your organized home. As you plan, incorporate checklist items or to-do entries into existing routines to maximize the power of habit. Household planning Is as critical as planning in any other area of life. Winging it leads to disorder, chaos, and stress. Planning is a powerful tool for an organized home.
4. The Household Notebook What’s a blockbuster tool for a well-organized home life? A family organizer: a personal planner for the household. I call it the Household Notebook, and no home should be without one. The Household Notebook is a simple three-ring binder that contains all the information needed for daily life in an organized home, in an easy-to-find, easy-to-use format. It’s a family calendar, an address book, and an information resource all in one. The Notebook is designed to corral all the handouts and schedules, sticky notes, and slips of paper, and give back answers: when is the soccer tournament banquet? What is the telephone number for the choir director? How much will it cost to order pizza for Friday night supper — and what’s the number to call?
Flip it open to a listing of emergency numbers for the babysitter. Use it to keep product manuals organized, to stay on top of sports team practices, and track each day’s checklists. It will be home to the to-do lists, the family calendar and the checklists that bring order to the household. The family calendar will keep all household members on the same page for appointments and commitments.
Finally, give your planning tools a home by creating a family information center, a central location for household planning and information. The family information center works for everyone in the household, and is a valuable resource for babysitters, helpers, or extended family members. With a central location for paperwork, it’s a simple matter for anyone to locate a take-out menu, call this week’s carpool parent, check dates for upcoming events, or figure out what’s for dinner from the weekly menu plan.