Ten ways to be more a more organised mummy (or Daddy)
Are you always late, forgetting birthdays and the last one to hand in the letter for the school trip? (Back when school trips were a thing) yep that was me too. Personally, I’m blaming the ‘Brain fry’ that comes with each and every baby and the overwhelm that parenting and life can bring.
When you have new little ones, this is the last thing you should be worried about, but as the looming date of returning to work appears on the horizon and you have a toddler and a primary schooler in tow, you are really going to benefit from being at least a bit more organised.
I’m often heard shouting ‘I need a PA’ and one day when I can afford it, I shall have one and no doubt I will drive her up the wall! In the meantime, I’ve had to make a humungous effort to become more organised and this is how I’ve managed to improve my organisation:
- Be early, even if it’s just a few minutes
- Make a list and make sure the first thing on the list is to check the list!
- Schedule everything into Outlook – yes everything
- Give other people/colleagues deadlines
- Don’t’ procrastinate on being perfect
- Do a regular de-clutter
- Make sure everything has a place
- Print off next days list/diary and pin it in front of my desk
- Do the nursery/school bag thing at the same time each night
- Schedule in some planning time
Now, it really might not bother you if you drop a few juggling balls from time to time, but with three kids (all with their own schedules) and two businesses to run, I was fed up of letting other people down, but mostly myself down.
I sat down and thought about all the areas I was dropping those circus balls and made a list. I then thought about what I needed to do prevent these annoying things happening and realised how I could help myself:
- Be early. Always one to just do that last little task before leaving the house, I’ve now made more of an effort to leave that last task and do it later. I’ve been leaving earlier for appointments and arriving about ten minutes early, which gives me a few minutes in the car for a quick phone check and breather. When I look back at the times I arrived at job interviews and school appointments bang on time or late. It makes me sweat and blush with embarrassment. I used to drive my friends mad! I feel calmer now and much more in control of my emotions.
- Make a list and then make sure the first item on the list is to check the list! I now use an app, which has a desktop version too called Trello. There’s both a free and paid version and it syncs to your phone and desktop and it’s awesome! Always guilty of making a list and then not checking the list until a week later, the top item on the list is ‘Check the list’ seriously it works. I also have ‘Today’ Urgent, Medium and Non-urgent lists. Surprisingly, items on the not urgent list barely ever get done. At least they are out of my brain though!
- Schedule everything into Outlook, or whichever calendar facility you use. Mine syncs with Desktop, phone, Teams (Absolutely essential on post-Covid society). I literally block out hours of time for tasks and for things that need doing regularly, I put the blocks on repeat. Please forgive me here super organised people who already do this kind of thing, but I’ve had so long away from an office having babies, I just forgot how to be organised.
- Give other people deadlines. Sometimes within my work, I’m waiting around for people to reply and get back to me with answers, or information. I realised that while I was waiting for them get back to me, I was procrastinating and so I decided that if I gave them a fair deadline, it gave me the chance to park it in my brain and get on with other things, knowing that by a certain date I’d get the information I needed or I could then chase them after that date. It’s worked a treat!
- Stop Procrastinating and striving to be a perfectionist. I just want to clarify here that this does not have an impact on the quality of my business, but what I am trying to do is just get on with things even when they are not 100% perfect. A few examples are; Allowing the boys to leave the house in an outfit I wouldn’t be seen dead in, letting that email go, even though I haven’t quite found the right font or image, or using a different brand of paper or card, even if it’s not perfect for me (nobody else would notice, please ask Karen on that one!)
- Regularly decluttering. My husband often gets caught in the firing line of my decluttering, especially when I’m instructing him to declutter the garage, his wardrobe or his man shed. With three growing boys I’m always decluttering and I just love that feeling when the charity bag arrives through the postbox and I can scratch around for clothes, toys and random kitchen item to pop into, tie up the bag and leave at the end of the drive to be collected. It’s like proper therapy, it feels so good!
- Make sure everything has a place. Now, this is the hardest one of all. I might have a place for things, but there is no way the kids do! I now have boxes, drawers, compartments and shelves that just have one specific or one type of thing in that place. That way when the kids ask ‘Where are my socks?’ I can say ‘In your sock box’ or ‘In your ironing pile’ They are slowly learning where that is because it’s the same place each time and hopefully becoming less dependant upon me, which is my ultimate goal!!!
- Print off my diary for the next day and have a wall planner. Having a wall planner for the year is awesome, so at a glance, I can look at any month and see what’s going on. However, I have yet to discover any wall planner that holds enough room for the 176 tasks I have in my life each day. I have now taken to printing off my outlook schedule and posting it on the wall in front of my desk. As soon as I drift off and start dreaming of new clothes, puppies and next year’s holiday and can glance at the schedule and it helps to keep me on track!
- Do the nursery or school bag at the same time each night. I was that parent that was phoned by the school because Henry was the only child not going on the school visit, or the only parent who’d dressed their child up as a vampire in full face paint on a day when it wasn’t fancy dress up. (That really did happen!) Now at the same time each night when we are doing spellings, timetables and reading, I get the boys to check their bags for letters. I’ve got to admit that since the school have started sending out more information via email that helps, but I’m getting there and haven’t managed to send them in PE kit on non-PE days yet this term, which is a massive plus for me lol!
- Have some planning time. If I was back at school now, but with the wisdom of my years, I’d been asking the school to teach on the life skill of planning. It’s taken me years to set aside time for planning. Now I block schedule it into my Outlook and it gives my brain a breather allowing me to plan for the next few months. I can highly recommend it!
This is what has helped me, but it will most likely be different for you. Maybe start with making a list (yes another one lol) of all the disorganised areas of your life like I did, and see what you can do to make them a bit more organised.
Good luck and please let me know if you have any tips, my goodness I need all the help I can get!
ps, It gets a lot easier when they go to secondary school 😉