My Erin Condren Life Planner

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I know I have talked about it before, but today I am going to talk about how much I love my Erin Condren Life Planner.
Isn’t it adorable? Not only can you pick your pattern, you can pick your colors, your personalization, and even add pictures! It makes it so much more fun to use a planner when you love the way it looks, silly as that may seem!
It not only looks pretty, but it functions great, too! It has sturdy tabs…

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A monthly calendar…

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Weekly calendar…

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Notes pages…

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Places to record birthdays, anniversaries, important numbers, addresses…

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A pocket for papers…

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A pouch…

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And stickers to make your calendar even cuter!

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Now that I am done with my totally non-compensated plug for Erin Condren, let me show you how I use my planner. Every week on Sunday, I fill out the next week. Today, I will do it on Thursday! I write all of my appointments down as I make them on the monthly calendar.

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The weeks are laid out in morning, day and night grids. There are spaces for goals and to do in the margin.

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I will admit, I don’t use the grid as morning, day and night. I write all of my appointments in the morning block. I try to remember to use different colored markers for my family members. I got to use the cute stickers for no school, dentist appointment, mani/pedi, game, yard sale, and concert this week! How exciting, lol!

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Then I use the center section for tasks, including my regular weekly schedule for housekeeping. I use the bottom block for menu planning and blog planning.

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I use the goals section for tasks I need to get done that week. I write the list there, and then during the week I transfer them to the middle section as I schedule them. The to do section I use for things I need to buy that aren’t regular grocery items, like dog food at the tractor supply, or a tuxedo jacket for my oldest son’s orchestra.

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I love it!

Kary

*Sometimes I link up at these parties…

Monday: Skip to my Lou, Between Naps on the Porch, Jam Hands, Home Stories A-Z, How to Nest for Less, Today’s Creative Blog, Thrifty Décor Chick, Not Just a Housewife, Boogieboard Cottage,Time Warp Wife, Chef In Training, The Ivy Cottage Blog, Holly’s Stamping Addiction, Serendipity and Spice, Homestead Revival

Tuesday: Bowl Full of Lemons, Organize & Decorate Everything, Primitive and Proper, homework, Tilly’s Nest, Elizabeth & Co., Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Project Queen, Sugar Bee Crafts, Time Warp Wife, Coastal Charm, The DIY Dreamer

Wednesday: House of Hepworths, Shabby Creek Cottage, Ivy and Elephants, Someday Crafts, the 36th Avenue, Southern Lovely, seven thirty-three, Semi-Homemade Mom, The Real Housewives of Riverton, lil pink pocket, Stone Gable, No Minimalist Here, A Creative Princess

Thursday: The Coloradolady, Common Ground,Five Days Five Ways , My Romantic Home, Delightful Order, Imparting Grace, My Repurposed Life, Liz Marie Blog, Redoux,

Friday: Tatertots & Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, Six Sisters Stuff, Serenity Now, Whipperberry, Nap Time Crafters, Sew Many Ways, Fox Hollow Cottage

Saturday: Positively Splendid

Sunday: Alderberry Hill, Flour Me With Love, Stone Gable, This Gal Cooks

Paper Management

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Paper management can be daunting. All of us have had the mad scramble looking for a permission slip at the last minute. Here is the system I have finally settled on, that seems to keep me pretty much on track.
1. Inbox: one basket that serves as the primary holding spot for all incoming paper.

2. Control Journal: has a section for schedules, where I keep orchestra schedules, sports schedules and rosters, a school calendar, and anything else I need for easy reference.

3. Action File: a file for daily, short-term filing. Use an action file to organize bills for payment, papers that require response, and information that must be filed. I use an accordion file for portability, but you can also use a table top file.

4. Basic Files: a household’s working file system. These are files that you use weekly or monthly. Basic files hold medical insurance records, credit card statements, and bank statements. Use basic files for routine activities like bill paying, tax files, medical information and home maintenance. I keep these in the top drawer of my filing cabinet.

5. Classic Files: archives for long-term file storage. These are files that you only have for reference. Copies of tax returns and insurance policies, homeowners’ records, medical records, and copies of legal documents belong here. I keep these in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet.

6. Keepsakes: things I am keeping for my scrapbooks and memory files. I keep these in separate boxes for each child.

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Using an accordion file or a small tabletop file with hanging folders, label your categories. I use the Getting Things Done method, so mine are labeled like this:
Inbox
@buy
@call
@church
@computer
@go
@home
@paperwork
@pay
@kary
@riley
@cooper
@outbox

I like the Getting Things Done system because of its use of contexts. When I am running errands, I look in my @go section. When I am at the computer, I do things behind the @computer section. I can make calls waiting in car line, and do my paperwork and pay bills at my desk. You can make the system fit your needs.

I have one file folder in the front of each drawer of my file drawers labeled “to file,” as well as one in the front of my basic files labeled “keepsakes.” Every Sunday, I file what is in those files in the appropriate folders. For now, we are going to talk about daily maintenance.

Here is how my system works.
1. I put my mail in my inbox, on top of all the paperwork from the boys and my husband. Train everyone in the house to place any bills, receipts, school handouts and forms, general mail, coupons, any paper, into the inbox.
2. Every day, review each item sitting in the household inbox.
3. Decide what to do with each piece of paper the first time you handle it.
4. I keep calendars, schedules, and phone lists in clear page protectors in my control journal.

Here are some examples:
Flyer about mountain property goes in the trash
Handout about a field trip for Cooper goes in @cooper
Orchestra schedule for Riley gets hole punched and put in my control binder behind “schedules”
Flyer about music lessons that has a website I want to check out goes in @computer
Application for passports goes in @paperwork
Printout from a website for a project I want to make goes in @home…
401k statement goes in my “to file” folder in my classic files
Program from an orchestra concert goes in “keepsakes”

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I keep my action file in my bag that I take with me when I run errands, that has my planner and my control journal journal in it. I love the portability. Every Sunday I go through my action file, decide what needs to be done this week, fill out paperwork, mail bills, and write down in my planner what needs to be acted on. Then I file all of the paperwork in my “to file” folders. Otherwise, I would have piles and piles of paper on my desk, and tons of things I would forget to do.

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Cleaning Schedules

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Let’s talk about cleaning. I can remember when I was growing up, my mother would do spring and fall cleaning. Now, there are things about being a military family that were good, some bad. Looking back, I realize that one good thing about moving every two years is that your house can only get so dirty!

Anyway. I am not down with the big cleaning. I theoretically agree with the cleaning methods that suggest that you keep a rotating schedule through the year. Note my use of “theoretically.” I love this idea, but I am not great at sticking to it. Everyone has their preference, and you just need to find one you like, and stick to it as best you can!

Here are some of the best methods:

Flylady: Flylady uses a Zone method, with detailed printable lists.

Home Routines: this is an app that I have on my iPad. You can adapt this for Flylady or any other routine you like.

Time Warp Wife: everyone must already know how much I love her daily and weekly schedules.

Clean Mama: I really love this website. She had awesome schedules, printables, tips…if it is about housekeeping, she has it covered!

iDream of Clean: this is great website that has 31-day challenges…

Organized Home: this website has been around a long time, and is a great resource for printables, cleaning schedules, and tips on household notebooks.

Somewhat Simple: she has an adorable cleaning box she made with tasks on cards inside…

You can check out my Pinterest board on Home Management for more ideas…

Kids’ Routines

Kids’ Control Journal

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Today was the perfect day to prove to me how important the routines in my control journal are. I am one of those people who can usually get by without an alarm clock. I set one anyway, but almost every day I am awake before it goes off. My teenaged son had to wake me up this morning! He was up on time, and when he got out of the shower he noticed I wasn’t up yet! Yikes!
Thank goodness for the fact that I had most of the boys’ lunches packed except for the sandwiches, the coffee made, the kitchen clean, backpacks and musical instruments by the door, clothes laid out….even though I was running almost 30 minutes behind, everything still went smoothly.
By showing everyone my routines, I don’t want anyone to think that this is how things actually run at my house! The routines in my control journal are just how my day would run if everything was perfect! Every single day things happen that throw me off schedule. I try really hard to stick to them as closely as possible, but I don’t think I have ever had a single day that went totally according to plan.
I showed you my daily plan on Day Two, and my weekly plan on Day Three. I have applied the same plan to my lucky sons!

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I have told you how I used the Flylady system. She even has a downloadable control journal for kids! I tried it with my boys, and I don’t think it lasted an entire day. I have tried binders, clipboards, checklists on the fridge…I finally gave it up. I keep a copy of their routines in my control binder, and I check it off for them. Routines are a great way for kids to learn to be organized and responsible! Not to mention the fact that it helps them get their mom up on time when they are on schedule and she isn’t! Here is a copy of their control journal if you would like to try it for yourself!

Grocery Planning

When I first quit working, I went a little nuts with coupons. I had a coupon binder, and would spend hours a week clipping coupons and filing them in my baseball card pages. I don’t even want to think about how many times my binder got dropped and I had to put it all back together. Finally, I admitted that I was not happy with my system. I have now gone to a method that works a lot better for me.
Jenny from Southern Savers has a method that I adapted. Here is my system:

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Once again, I used a Thirty-one organizing tote. I like to store my stuff in these so that I can take them in the car, or work on the couch, by the pool…
My coupon system consists of my coupon files, a clipboard for my lists, my control journal, and my coupon organizer. I keep twelve weeks of inserts. I buy two papers, and my father usually has three or four, and he gives me his inserts.

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Each week when I get my new inserts, I take the back file, throw out the inserts, scratch out the date, relabel the date, add the new inserts, and place the file in front. I also have files for store specific inserts. See, last Sunday, 9/30/12, is in the front. I took the file from the back, 7/1, threw out the inserts, scratched out the date, relabeled it, put my new inserts in, and moved it to the front.

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I have a template that I made for grocery shopping by aisle. I keep blank copies of this on my clipboard, and I also have a copy of this that I have filled in with items that I seem to buy every week, here. Milk, eggs, bread, sugar, lunchmeat, paper plates, dog food, orange juice…I keep this list in a page protector in my control journal to refer to every week so I don’t forget our staples.

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So here is my grocery planning process.
1. Each week I go through my refrigerator and freezer and make a list of meat and vegetables I have on hand and need to use.
2. I look at the calendar for the upcoming week, and use the list of available ingredients to start planning the meals for the week. I like this menu planner from Alchemy Junk. Some days I can cook a roast, and some days we may have to grab a sandwich between cello lessons and lacrosse.

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3. I take a copy of my grocery list template and write down what else I need to complete the meals.
4. Then I take my copy of my staples grocery list, and fill in what I need from that list.
5. I add whatever we have added to the dry erase grocery list on the refrigerator.

Now it is time for coupons. I use Southern Savers for all of my couponing.
6. I go to her site and make printable lists of what is on sale at my grocery stores. I will admit, I will go to three grocery stores and CVS some weeks, if the prices are right! I love a bargain! I check to see where the best prices are on the items already on my list, and add what I am stocking up on to my list. I use different colored highlighters on my list so I know what to buy at Bi-lo, Publix, Ingles, CVS, and as I am doing this I write down which coupon insert the coupon is in.

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7. Then I go to the filed inserts and clip the coupons I need. I then file my clipped coupons in my coupon organizer.

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I keep the front slot empty. It is labeled “this trip.”. The next slots are for Publix, Bi-lo, Ingles, and CVS. After that I have slots for restaurant and service coupons. I file the coupons by store, then when I am in the store shopping, I add the coupons for the items in my cart to the front slot. If I don’t use the coupons I clipped, I add them to the back slot of my organizer.

I used to drag my huge 4-inch binder with me to the store, and now all I take is my clipboard and coupon organizer. Maybe I miss out on some great deals, but I still manage to save around 50%, and that is good enough for me!

Another thing that really helped me was putting all of my shopper cards on a separate key ring:

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So, what do you think? Was that explanation as clear as mud?

Kary

*Sometimes I link up at these parties…

Monday: Skip to my Lou, Between Naps on the Porch, Jam Hands, Home Stories A-Z, How to Nest for Less, Today’s Creative Blog, Thrifty Décor Chick, Not Just a Housewife, Boogieboard Cottage,Time Warp Wife, Chef In Training, The Ivy Cottage Blog, Holly’s Stamping Addiction, Serendipity and Spice, Homestead Revival

Tuesday: Bowl Full of Lemons, Organize & Decorate Everything, Primitive and Proper, homework, Tilly’s Nest, Elizabeth & Co., Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Project Queen, Sugar Bee Crafts, Time Warp Wife, Coastal Charm, The DIY Dreamer

Wednesday: House of Hepworths, Shabby Creek Cottage, Ivy and Elephants, Someday Crafts, the 36th Avenue, Southern Lovely, seven thirty-three, Semi-Homemade Mom, The Real Housewives of Riverton, lil pink pocket, Stone Gable, No Minimalist Here, A Creative Princess

Thursday: The Coloradolady, Common Ground,Five Days Five Ways , My Romantic Home, Delightful Order, Imparting Grace

Friday: Tatertots & Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, Six Sisters Stuff, Serenity Now, Whipperberry

Saturday: Positively Splendid

Sunday: Alderberry Hill, Flour Me With Love, Stone Gable, This Gal Cooks

Weekly Plan

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DAY THREE
So you should now have a rough draft of your daily routine from yesterday. Today we will work on the weekly plan. Here is where I start to stray from Flylady.

Flylady’s weekly plan goes like this:
Monday: Weekly Home Blessing (big cleaning day)
Tuesday: Free Day
Wednesday: Zone Cleaning and Partial Desk Time
Thursday: Grocery and Errand Day
Friday: Paperwork and Misc., Date Night
Saturday: Family Fun Day
Sunday: Renew Your Spirit Day

I do like having each day of the week to do certain tasks. Flylady likes to have Monday as the day where you do a big clean, then you spend 15 minutes a day in the current “Zone.” There is a detailed explanation of this here. I like this method for detailed cleaning, but as far as regular cleaning goes, I prefer the method used by Time Warp Wife.

Here is the Time Warp Wife method:
Monday: bathrooms
Tuesday: bedrooms
Wednesday: kitchen, grocery planning
Thursday: floors and dusting
Friday: errands
Saturday: outside chores
Sunday: rest

Everyone’s life is different. Right now, I don’t have a job outside the home, so what works for me now is not the same thing that worked for me when I worked three night shifts a week in the ER. Grocery shopping and errands may need to be on your payday, and you may need to have more free days and double up on others.

Here is my weekly plan:

MONDAY : BATHROOM DAY
Clean tubs
Clean mirrors
Clean sinks
Clean toilets
Mop bathroom floors
Empty bathroom trash cans

TUESDAY: BEDROOM DAY
Wash dog bed
Change sheets
Organize clothes
Mirrors and doors in bedroom
Dust and polish furniture in bedroom
Vacuum bedroom floors

WEDNESDAY: KITCHEN DAY
Clean out pantries
Clean out fridge and freezer
Make inventory of freezer and fridge
Deep clean counters
Wipe down appliances
Run coffeemaker through dishwasher
Mop floor
Make menus
Make shopping lists
Clip coupons

THURSDAY: DUST AND FLOORS DAY
Dust
Sweep
Vacuum
Mop
Vacuum couches
Riley: get trash together

FRIDAY: ERRAND DAY
Library
Post office
Publix
Dry Cleaner
Ingles
Bilo

SATURDAY: OUTSIDE DAY
Clean out car
Wash Mollie
Straighten mud room
Make dessert for Sunday dinner
Check status of boys’ fingernails

SUNDAY: WEEKLY REVIEW (THIS IS FROM GTD, I WILL EXPLAIN LATER)
Gas
CVS…get newspapers
Transfer dump
Review Toodle-do
@computer
Clean computer
Sync pictures
Sync iPod and iPad
Sync Kindle
Clean desk
File papers
@paperwork

Here is a page of my weekly plan:

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So set it up how it works for you. Do the same thing you did for the daily routine. Take 7 sheets of paper, label them Monday-Sunday, and start making a rough draft of your weekly plan.

Kary

*Sometimes I link up at these parties…

Monday: Skip to my Lou, Between Naps on the Porch, Jam Hands, Home Stories A-Z, How to Nest for Less, Today’s Creative Blog, Thrifty Décor Chick, Not Just a Housewife, Boogieboard Cottage,Time Warp Wife, Chef In Training, The Ivy Cottage Blog, Holly’s Stamping Addiction, Serendipity and Spice, Homestead Revival

Tuesday: Bowl Full of Lemons, Organize & Decorate Everything, Primitive and Proper, homework, Tilly’s Nest, Elizabeth & Co., Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Project Queen, Sugar Bee Crafts, Time Warp Wife, Coastal Charm

Wednesday: House of Hepworths, Shabby Creek Cottage, Ivy and Elephants, Someday Crafts, the 36th Avenue

Thursday: The Coloradolady, Common Ground,Five Days Five Ways , My Romantic Home

Friday: Tatertots & Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, Six Sisters Stuff, Serenity Now, Whipperberry

Saturday: Positively Splendid

Sunday: Alderberry Hill, Flour Me With Love, Stone Gable, This Gal Cooks

Daily Routine

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Day two!
OK. So yesterday I talked about getting your supplies together. The Flylady has her own series on how to set up your control journal, and you can find it here. Mine started out exactly like hers, but it has changed over the years. Her dividers are:
Daily routines and reminders
Basic weekly plan
Menus and grocery list
Address book
Personal section
Emergency numbers

Whereas mine are:
Daily (my daily routines)
Weekly (my weekly routines)
Calendar (handouts and schedules for reference)
Shopping (my buy price lists and permanent checklists, more on this later)
Menus (monthly menu plans, more on this later)
Church (Bible reading lists, etc. )
Budget
Health

You will have to decide what works for you.

Now we will get started on your first section: Daily Routines. What do you really need to do every day? Flylady has a whole section on setting up daily routines here. It is different for everyone. I have things that I do every morning, every evening, and every night before I go to bed.

MORNING
Feed dogs and cat
Empty dishwasher
Make lunches
Make bed
Breakfast
Breakfast dishes
Thaw dinner
Put clothes in dryer
Garden chores
Pick up clutter
Clean sinks, and counters
Weekly chores (THIS IS FROM TOMORROW, WEEKLY PLAN)
Fold clothes
15 minutes in Zone (FROM FLYLADY, THIS WILL BE COVERED LATER )
@HOME (THIS WILL BE COVERED WHEN I TALK ABOUT “GETTING THINGS DONE”)
Treadmill
Get ready

EVENING
Cook dinner
Dinner dishes
Start coffee
Sweep floor
Dinner tomorrow? (JUST A REMINDER IN CASE I NEED TO GET SOMETHING OUT TO THAW)

BEFORE BED
Clear out hot spots (FROM “FLYLADY”)
Pick up living room
Shine kitchen sink and counter
Dishes in dishwasher
Lay out dishcloths
Start dishwasher
Start washer
Charge electronics

If I follow this plan, my life just runs a lot more smoothly. As you go about your day, make notes about what you are doing. I like to think about my family being able to use it to keep things going when I win a vacation in the Caribbean. For now, just write it down on a piece of notebook paper, one for each routine. I now have mine typed up and in page protectors. Then I just use a dry erase marker to check them off, and I wipe them off at the end of the day.

Here is what my CJ looks like right now:

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I had better get to it! Tomorrow we will work on setting up our Weekly Plan.

Here are some other great links about binders:
A Bowl Full Of Lemons Home Management Binder
i heart organizing household binder
The Nest Effect Home Management Binder
Clean Mama Homekeeping Binder

Kary

*Sometimes I link up at these parties…

Monday: Skip to my Lou, Between Naps on the Porch, Jam Hands, Home Stories A-Z, How to Nest for Less, Today’s Creative Blog, Thrifty Décor Chick, Not Just a Housewife, Boogieboard Cottage,Time Warp Wife, Chef In Training, The Ivy Cottage Blog, Holly’s Stamping Addiction, Serendipity and Spice, Homestead Revival

Tuesday: Bowl Full of Lemons, Organize & Decorate Everything, Primitive and Proper, homework, Tilly’s Nest, Elizabeth & Co., Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Project Queen, Sugar Bee Crafts, Time Warp Wife, Coastal Charm

Wednesday: House of Hepworths, Shabby Creek Cottage, Ivy and Elephants, Someday Crafts, the 36th Avenue

Thursday: The Coloradolady, Common Ground,Five Days Five Ways , My Romantic Home

Friday: Tatertots & Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, Six Sisters Stuff, Serenity Now, Whipperberry

Saturday: Positively Splendid

Sunday: Alderberry Hill, Flour Me With Love, Stone Gable, This Gal Cooks