Tracking Your To Do List

This morning I’m going to talk a little bit about my To Do list and how I handle it. Back in August I posted about how I use the Toodledo app on my iPhone in conjunction with their free website to keep track of my to do list. This method is still working for me and I love it. Personally, I love the convenience of being able to access and update my to do list either from a computer with internet access or from my iPhone.

Now I know that not everyone out there has an iPhone so I wanted to share a few other options with you. If you still like Toodledo, you could always keep your list online and then print it off daily. This method would work with any of the free online to do list applications too.

The method that I used prior to switching over to the iPhone was to keep a small to do notebook. This was a small notebook where I had a page for each day. I would write all of my to dos on the appropriate page and cross them off as I completed them. When necessary I would rewrite items onto the next day. This method is definitely old school, but it does work. The biggest thing is that you have to carry the notebook with you so that you can refer to it so I would suggest a pocket size notebook.

How do you keep track of your To Do list?

Come back later this afternoon to see more about how I track goals for my Household Notebook.

Getting the Household Notebook Back on Track

Way back in August of last year I started posting about my Household Notebook and how I was getting it organized. Between our move and a rather miserable first trimester my progress on my household notebook stopped. Now that I have been feeling a lot better and we’re fairly settled into the new home I’ve decided to get back on track with our household notebook. I really feel that this is an important tool for us and I want to get it together.

A lot of the information for my household notebook is maintained in my iPhone, but I do also keep an actual notebook full of information too. I love keeping certain information on my iPhone because it is always at my fingertips, but the household notebook is not just for my reference. That means that there are pieces of information that need to be maintained in an actual physical notebook. The idea behind this is that if we ever needed to evacuate for some reason, we could grab the notebook as we head out the door and have all of our important information with us. It’s also a reference for my husband in case something ever happened to me. Since I handle a lot of the daily details of running the house and the finances he would be lost if he had to suddenly handle these details and I wasn’t around or was unable to pass these details on to him.

You can look back at my original household notebook post to see the topics that I have already covered. I may even go over some of those topics again if I have something new and worthwhile to say on them. Otherwise I will try to stick with covering new information. This week I’m going to work on my Goals and To-Dos because this is a timely topic for me. To see how I handle tracking my goals and to-do’s come back next Friday. Every Friday I will have a new household notebook post and let you know which topic I will be covering the following week. If you have a topic you would like to see covered, let me know.

Household Notebook – Calendar and Schedules

Household Notebook Banner

If you’ve been following along with my Household Notebook series, by this point your notebook should be filling in nicely. There is still plenty more information to be added, but progress is definitely being made.

This week I’m going to talk about Calendars and Schedules. This is a very important section because it is the key to keeping your time organized.

Here are some items that I keep in my Calendars and Schedules section:

  • My personal calendar
  • Calendar from any clubs and activies family members participate in
  • Calendars for each family member (these can all be on one calendar)
  • Birthday list
  • Calendar of Events from any local attractions your family is interested in

For our own ease of use, hubby and I use Google Calendar. I love it because we can see each other’s schedules and even update them if necessary. I also have my Google Calendar sync with my iPhone. You can see my previous post about that here. It is very convenient having complete access to my calendar from anywhere.

On my calendar I also block off time for various tasks. If you looked at my calendar you would see that it is almost completely booked during the week. I like to block off certain times for various tasks and use that as a guideline for going through my day. Since I’ve started doing this my stress level has dropped significantly. One of the recurring tasks I have set up is a nightly family dinner. I use this task as a reminder of what meal I’ve planned and a trigger to remind me to take the necessary items out of the freezer in the morning. You can read more about that here. I’ve found the reminder feature in Google Calendar to be very helpful.

It’s nice to have a Birthday List in date order of all your friends and family. I also have recurring events setup in my calendar for each person’s birthday. Then, a week before their birthday Google Calendar sends me an email reminder. That way I have time to pickup anything I need prior to their actual birthday (gift, card, etc).

I just wanted to note that I realize this post is later than I originally said it would be. Things have gotten a little hectic with our upcoming move so I had to scale back my blogging a bit. Since I expect them to stay pretty busy for the next few weeks I won’t be posting my next Household Notebook post until October 13th. Please come back then and join me for the Budgeting portion of our Household Notebook.

Why Do I Journal?

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Since I’m asking about personal journals on today’s Aloha Friday post, I figured I would give a little bit of information on why I choose to keep a personal journal.

I have been keeping a personal journal since I was in college. That was quite a few years ago now and I’m still keeping one today. I do want to make it clear that I am talking about a personal written journal here and not a blog. I love my blog and enjoy writing here, but there are some things that you just can’t say publicly. Those are the things that go in my journal.

There are so many benefits to keeping a journal. The biggest benefit I have found though is that it allows me to work out various issues in my head. In a way, it’s like talking to a good friend about something. Sometimes you just need to get the issue out there and once you start talking about it you get the solution worked out as well.

Journals are also great for recording memories. Occasionally I will go back and look at some of my old journals. It always amazes me how many things I have forgotten since I wrote that entry. Sadly, I wasn’t very good about keeping a journal immediately after my daughter was born so I’ve lost a lot of those memories. If we ever have another child I plan to try to do better with this.

My journal is my outlet where I can say whatever I want to and not have to worry about anyone getting mad at me. It really does help to keep me sane and happy.

My Command Center

DSCF1374When I first saw that August’s Monthly Organizing Round-Up over at I’m an Organizing Junkie was on your Command Center I thought that I didn’t really have one so I couldn’t participate. Then it dawned on me that I do have a Commander Center; it just isn’t the typical location specific command center you immediately think of. My Command Center is a combination of my Household Notebook and my iPhone. These items keep me organized and sane. Without them I think I would be completely lost and possibly even have a nervous breakdown. Yeah, I have a bit of an addiction to organization. Chaos and clutter stress me out. Just ask my husband if you don’t believe me.

Both my Household Notebook and my iPhone are works in progress. I’m always looking for ways to be more organized and to literally have all the information I could possibly need right at my fingertips. Right now I’m in the midst of updating my Household Notebook and I’ve even been running a weekly series on it. So far I’ve updated our Family Mission Statement and our Contacts. Obviously there is a lot more information to be updated. Here is a list of all the information that will be in there once I get it completed:

  • Family Mission Statement
  • Calendar and Schedules
  • Contacts
  • Goals and To-Do
  • Gift Planning
  • Family Members
  • Budget
  • Finance and Account Info
  • Insurance
  • Menus
  • Cleaning
  • Car Maintenance Log
  • Household Maintenance
  • Home Inventory
  • Pets
  • Family Fun

My second and most commonly used resource is my iPhone. I have become so addicted to my iPhone. You can now get apps to do just about anything you want and if you can’t find an app that will do it, it is possible to make your own apps. I haven’t gotten into this yet, but oh how I would love to try this. Anyway, here is some of the information that I have available on my iPhone:

  • Food and Exercise Log
  • Spending Log
  • Price Book
  • Shopping Lists
  • Notes
  • To Do List
  • Freezer Inventory
  • Store Card Numbers
  • Book List
  • Banking
  • Gift Lists
  • Goal Tracker
  • Inventory

As you can see, this is a lot of information. I don’t know why I have such a need to have it all with me, but I do. Thank goodness for my Household Notebook and iPhone.

This post is being linked to the Command Center Organization Round Up at I’m An Organizing Junkie. There are a lot of good links with some great ideas over there, so I suggest checking it out if you have a few minutes to spare.

For September we’ll be organizing our purse or bag, so you can watch for my post on that towards the end of the month. And for that certain someone, you might want to watch for some purse organization tips.

Household Notebook – Family Mission Statement

Household Notebook Banner

This week I worked on our Family Mission Statement. I feel that this is a very important part of your Household Notebook because it helps to focus your family priorities. When you have a valid family mission statement that applies to everyone, you are all able to focus and work together better.

Simple Mom had two great posts in July on creating a family mission statement. She walks you through the process step by step and really does make it as easy as possible for you. Here is the link to her Create a Family Mission Statement post and the link to her Share Your Family Mission Statement Post. I highly recommend both of these posts.

Once you have your family mission statement completed, I would put it inside of a page protector and have it at the very front of your Household Notebook. This way you can be reminded to what is important to your family every time you open your Household Notebook. This family mission statement will also help you when we get to the section on goals.

Here is the Family Mission Statement we created:

As a family, we will:

  • Cultivate a deep relationship with each other.
  • Work together to ensure that each family member can achieve their full potential.
  • Take care of our health.
  • Be generous with our knowledge and resources to help those less fortunate then us.
  • Be lifelong learners.
  • Live simply.
  • Encourage truth, honesty, kindness and independence.

This is the first time I’ve created a family mission statement, so it may get tweaked a little in the coming months, but I have to admit that it feels good to finally have this in writing.

What about you? Have you created a family mission statement? If not, start working on it today. And if you do have one, pull it out and review it. I plan to review ours annually.

You can find links to all the articles I’ve written on Household Notebooks on my original post. Be sure to come back next Tuesday when I’ll talk about calendars and scheduling.

Did you get your Contacts updated and into your notebook? If so, let me know in the comments. And if you posted about it on your blog, be sure to include a link to your post. I’d love to see how everyone else is progressing with this project.

Household Notebook – Contacts

Household Notebook Banner
To start out this week’s Household Notebook post I have a video of the notebook and supplies I’m using for my notebook.

You can see that you can easily start your Household Notebook with supplies that you probably already have around your house.

This week in the Household Notebook series, we’re going to talk about Contacts. I feel that it’s important to have a current list of all your contacts in one place. This way, in an emergency you can easily grab one list and have all the necessary contact information. In our house it’s also helpful because my husband is not good at remembering where I keep things. By having all this information in one place it makes it easy for him, especially if I’m not around.

I like to keep all of my contact information in Google Contacts. This is my personal choice because it automatically syncs with my iPhone. I can easily add contacts from my phone or on the internet. If I can type someone’s informtaion right into my phone while I’m talking to them I don’t have to worry about losing the slip of paper it was written on before I record it. Plus, my contacts are automatically backed up and accessible to me anywhere. Then, after I edit my contacts, I can easily print a new list and add it to my Household Notebook.

To keep my contacts organized I have them seperated into three different categories, family, friends and businesses. Depending on your situation you could have more or less categories. Choose categories that will work for you.  The friend and family categories are pretty self explanatory so I won’t go into detail on them, but the business category is a little broader. I like to keep the contact information for any business that I regularly do business with and may have to call. For example, I have my insurance agent, our doctors, dentist, mechanic, vet and so forth listed in there. I personally keep the contact information for my bank and other financial institutions in the Finance section, but you may want to include them here. You also may want to include the information for any food places you regularly order from. I keep these in the Menu section along with a copy of their menu, but some people prefer them to be in the contacts section. Just remember, there is no right or wrong way to keep your Household Notebook. It’s all about what is going to work for your family.

Google Contacts is not your only option for tracking your contacts. There are plenty of other programs that will work for just as well. You could use Outlook, Word , Excel, Google Docs or various other programs. And hey, you could even go old school and just write out your list. Whichever method you choose, just make sure that you keep a copy of all your current contacts in your Household Notebook.

Your assignment:
This week your assignment is to get your Contact information together and organized. Try to verify that you have current information on everyone (name, address, phone, email, etc) and then add the list(s) to the Contact section of your Household Notebook. Next week I’ll have another linky up so that if you post about how your track your Contacts you can link to your post.

Did you post about your notebook or this project? If so, add your link to the linky. Just please add the permalink to your post and not just a link to your homepage.

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Starting a Household Notebook

Selling your house really forces you to look at all the “stuff” in your life and start reviewing it. While I’ve been going through my house I’ve found all kinds of old “stuff” that we no longer need or use. That stuff is all moving on to new homes. I’m also amazed at the number of unfinished projects I’ve been finding. One of those projects is my Household Notebook. I have been saying for several years now that I’m going to get my household notebook in order. Yet it never seems to happen. I think this is because the task seems so overwhelming. When I sit down and look at the list of information that I need to gather I get overwhelmed and the project quickly drops.

While cleaning this week I came across the Household Notebook that I started back in 2005. Yeah, four years ago. And I know when I started because of the dates on several of the papers inside. In some ways it was a blast from the past looking through this notebook. There was contact information in there for doctors I no longer see, an old goals list, account information for accounts I no longer have and so forth.

So this week I cleaned out my notebook in preparation for really putting together a household notebook. I know, I know, this didn’t work for me in the past, so why do I think it will work now? Well, this time I’ve decided that I’m going to make my household notebook a combination of an actual physical notebook and my iPhone. I’m already storing a lot of information in my iPhone so I might as well make as much use of it as I can. But I do feel that the actual notebook is necessary for certain items too.

This week I’m preparing myself to take the baby steps necessary to finally create my household notebook. For the first step I cleaned out my old notebook. All of the outdated information got thrown away. Any old information which I think will be useful for my new notebook is still in there. As I get to the appropriate sections I will update that information as necessary.

I’ve also put together the list of sections that I want to create in my notebook. Since every family is different, the sections that I have may not be appropriate for you. To get an idea of some of the common sections for household notebooks, you can get a summary here. The sections that I plan to stick with are:

Now you can probably see why this task seems so overwhelming to me. My plan right now is to tackle one section a week until this is done. Some of the more involved sections might take a little longer, but that is my general plan. Each week I will post to update everyone with how I am doing and which section I tackled. Why not join me? Having a Household Notebook is a great idea for keeping your family organized.

Your Assignment: For those of you that wish to join me in creating a Household Notebook, your assignment for this week is to find a notebook to use. I personally prefer a 3 ring biner with an inside pocket that zippers. Check around your house first, but if you can’t find one there you should be able to pick up something you can use at one of the many back to school sales going on now. Next week I will add a linky so that everyone who is following along can link up and share their progress.

For more Tackle It Tuesday, head over to 5 Minutes For Mom. And don’t forget to come back next Tuesday to check my progress.

A Journal To Keep Me Sane

I started keeping a personal journal when I was in college. I’m talking about a private hand written journal here. When I started my journaling it was a way for me to cope with various things that were going on in my life at the time. I could write out all of my frustrations and not have to worry about anyone’s opinion. It was my therapy.

Over the years my journaling habits have evolved a lot. I now write about all kinds of things, but my journal is still my sounding board. It’s a completely private place for me to work through whatever issues are bothering me. I also keep all kinds of notes in there and snippets of some dreams I’ve had. Really, I write about whatever is on my mind.

During the course of the many years that I have been journaling, my writing habits have varied a lot too. That first journal actually took me a couple years to fill. At one point several years ago I was able to completely fill a journal in a week. There have been times when I haven’t written for months, but for the most part I do write daily. The biggest adjustment came after my daughter was born. For months I simply did not have the time or the energy to write in my journal. Now I’m finally making time for it again and it feels good. I had forgotten how much daily writing helped me. Now I make sure that writing in my journal is on my to do list. By taking the time to write and clear my head every day I tend to have a much more positive outlook on life.

If you’ve never tried personal journaling, I suggest giving it a try. You can write in whatever is handy. Right now you can get spiral notebooks really cheap at various stores, but if you prefer a more “typical” journal you can check your local bookstore to see what they have. For your first journal I’d suggest sticking with some fairly cheap. You don’t want to spend so much money on it that you’re afraid to actually write in it. Wherever you write, don’t be afraid to jump right in and start writing about whatever is on your mind.

For more Things I Love Thursday, head over to The Diaper Diaries.

Time Management

One thing that I seem to have issues with is time management. What can I say, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get done everything that I want and need to do. I know I’m not the only person with this problem, but when you’re in the thick of it and feeling overwhelmed it can sure feel that way.

Anyway, in an effort to get my time management under control, I am starting a new system for allocating my time. For the next few weeks I’m going to try assigning different tasks to different nights. This way I can spend the precious time after my daughter goes to bed and before I go to bed concentrating on one thing instead of running around like a nut trying to get done as much as I can. (I can vouch for that method not being the most efficient)

I haven’t finalized my schedule yet, but as an example I would spend Monday night working on my blog, Tuesday night cleaning up the house, Wednesday night sewing and so forth. Has anyone out there tried a system like this before? If so, how did it work for you? Or do you have another system that works for you? I would love to hear thoughts and ideas on this. I know I can’t be the only person out there with an issue like this.

For more Talk About It Tuesday, head over to the Lazy Organizer.

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