Disorganization is an expensive habit. When you’re constantly looking for your keys, or have no idea what you’re going to make for dinner when it’s already 4 p.m., you waste time and money.
Everything from how you manage your laundry, organize your home, or plan your meals can benefit from creating some system of order.
Creating A Meal Plan
With raising 5 kids all under the age of 9, along with homeschooling, running a small homestead and working part-time, being organized is a necessity for Laura Beth Rhodes of Montana. And one of the potentially most challenging areas is keeping up with the meals and making sure the food budget is under control.
For Rhodes, the most logical course of action was creating a meal plan for a month so she only has to do a big grocery shopping endeavor once a month. Not only does this save a tremendous amount of time since “running into” the store for a last minute meal preparation easily eats up 15 to 30 minutes (and consider doing this 3 times a week), it saves money by limiting impulse buying.
She said it took 3 and a half hours for her to create the menus, including the recipes and grocery lists. Yet, now when she prepares to head to the store, she can simply cross-check her list and compare it to what she has in the pantry to know what she truly needs.
While once a month might be too long for many people, planning meals for a week and simply shopping once a week still save time and money. Jot down your favorite meals, create a grocery list and develop your own system to reduce the money you spend, along with the time you waste trying to figure out what you’re going to make.
One of the keys to making this program work is an organized pantry. Have everything grouped together – pastas, sauces, baking needs, canned goods – and on display so it can be easily seen makes it easy to see what you need. Nothing is shoved in the back where it’s not visible. This means building shelves that allow you to see everything. It is money well spent.
Taming The Laundry Pile
Like a Sisyphean task, the laundry never seems to end for most people. It’s easy enough to toss in a load or two a day, but putting it away is always a daunting task.
Rhodes suggests a laundry basket for each member of the family. When she pulls the clothes out of the dryer, they immediately go into the appropriate basket. And when she is making a trip upstairs, she will grab a basket and take it to the child’s room. Older children can put away their own clothes.
And for stray socks, a simple line in the laundry room with clothespins is an excellent way to snag a loner and hang on the line until you spot the mate.
An Organized Office
Junk mail alone can clutter a desk. Rhodes goes through all of the mail immediately upon arrival, tossing what is unnecessary and putting any bills or important correspondence in a basket. Once a bill is paid, there is a place for it in a file drawer.
Equally important is adequate space in a file cabinet, with labeled files, to keep papers readily accessible. Everything must have a place so you don’t have to spend time searching, plus it prevents a mountain of clutter that deters productivity.
Each season requires different outdoor gear. Before winter hits, Rhodes says she goes through all of the hats, gloves and boots to determine who needs what, what’s too small, and what needs replacing now. This way no one is caught off guard when the first snow flies.
Every person in the family has a color-coded bin for hats, scarves, gloves and mittens, as well as for shoes and boots. There are names above the coat rack for the coats and jackets so everyone has accountability. She believes a workable organizational system is one every member of the family can do. If everyone knows what is expected of them, they’ll adhere to the system.
Knowing What You Need
Rhodes says one of the most valuable tools is a small notebook she keeps handy that tracks the things they need or have. If her family is looking for particular books, she jots them down so she can look for them at book sales. She also knows what clothes each child needs, including sizes, so she can pick them up on clearance. By keeping track of these things, she saves money by taking advantage of sales.
Being organized allows your life to run smoother because the planning is already done. Utilize these tips to devise your own system. The time it requires up front pays dividends in the long run.