Organizing My Home, Like My Career: 3 Tips to Save Time and Money
I’m an EXTREMELY organized person…at work. I’ve worked as a TV producer for over a decade and on a number of occasions, co-workers have referenced my level of organization – which I credit for saving me more time and headaches than I can quantify. The interesting thing is, very few people in my personal life would ever count this as one of my strengths (especially my sister who constantly revels at how often I lose my keys or forget to buy what I need at the store).
Well, a few months ago, when work became even more time consuming than it already was, I realized I needed to do something to make running my home easier. And I think I had what my friend Oprah calls, a light bulb moment, and I realized that I could save a lot of time if I just implemented the simple organizational skills I use at the office – in my home. I know! Duh! Right?
Here are three essential ways I translated my office skills into household efficiency skills:
1. Write it all down.
Work: At the office, I keep a running list of notes and action items on a notebook that is always in my purse.
Home: I bought a large peel and stick dry erase board and but it on my apartment door. There is nothing worse than repeating over and over to yourself that you need dish soap but forgetting it once you get to the store because it wasn't on the list - or worse – not having a list. Despite my affinity for my iPhone, nothing beats writing something down. So anytime I think of something I need to do or buy, I jot it down. And when I am heading to the store or running errands – I snap a picture of the list with my beloved iPhone, and go off that when I am shopping.
2. Plan ahead (and then write it down).
Work: A producer’s mantra is, “plan for the worst and hope for the best.” And while planning for the worst, I find nothing more helpful than organizing all of the details of a project on one sheet of paper – and then executing that plan.
Home: A mother’s mantra is also, “plan for the worst and hope for the best.” So the logical next step is to take the planning I used at the office and do it at home. Shhhh…don’t tell anyone, but here is my big dork confession - I actually love planning. In fact, the more I do it, the better I feel. The most useful plan I have created is a weekly one for dinners.
For the past couple years, I was suffering from what I like to call, “a full closet but nothing to wear,” syndrome. I’d come home every night from work and despite a full fridge, I felt like I had nothing in the house. Then at the end of the week, I’d end up throwing away spoiled food because I'd forgotten I'd purchased that head of broccoli or those peppers.
A weekly meal plan has stopped this headache. On Sunday, I usually go grocery shopping and as I'm unloading the bags, I write out my menu for the week (on the dry erase board noted above). It's nothing extravagant, but it's one less thing I need to think about when I get home from work during the week.
Now, when I get home, I can just implement my plan and get to work making what I know is already in the apartment. And bring leftovers for lunch the next day. Not only do I save time by not staring blankly into the fridge, but no wasted food and takeout, also means no wasted money.
3. Sleep when you can (after planning ahead and writing it all down)
Work: My job has blessed me with the experience of working every shift imaginable, and given me a chance to stay up for days without sleep (I think 3 is my record). This deprivation of sleep has taught me one very important thing - the huge importance of it. When exhausted, making simple decisions becomes nearly impossible, and everything has the potential to send you into a tearful fit. I learned very early on, that after the hard work is done, there is nothing more helpful than hitting the sack.
Home: When I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, I am a better mom and a better manager of my home – which means my memory is functioning, and my tolerance for toddler tantrums is much higher. On the nights that work allows, I have learned there is no shame in putting my daughter to bed at 8:30pm, and then putting myself to bed directly after. That way, I have a full tank to handle whatever unforeseen mom marathon is around the corner.