Thursday, December 31, 2009

Planning My Life

I love organizing and planning- a fresh new calendar, a color-coded schedule, a well organized to-do list. I'm a little strange, I know. It's easy for me to sit down and plan. The tricky part is implementing that plan into real life! I'll share a little about my planning methods. Most of it has come from some great books I've read- maybe you'll add them to your 2010 must read list!

What's really important to you? What do you want your time and money to say about you? I've learned that each of us has a most productive time of day. Into that time slot is where we should put the activities that fall high on our list of priorities. For me, my high production is in the morning. If it's after lunch, the day's over! So, it's into the morning that I put spending time with God, school work with the kids, and one chore that HAS to get done. A great book that helped me sort through my priorities is A Woman After God's Own Heart®by Elizabeth George. I read through this every couple of years to keep myself on track.

Daily Schedule
There are some things that you know will happen at about the same time each day- meals, car pools, work, etc. These fall into a schedule with very little thought. But now it's time to add the other activities based on your priorities. Think about your most productive time of day and start from there. Don't fill it all up with things to do. Remember to add "transition time" (putting coats on the little ones), and down time- when you can just play with your kids or get out a book you've been meaning to read. the day should have it's own ebb and flow and the more days of your week you can get to look like each other the easier it will be to follow. I loved Managers of their Homes by Teri Maxwell for helping me figure out a schedule that works for me. I've also enjoyed the FlyLady website for cleaning help.

There are so many out there to choose from! I love a calendar that gives you lots of space to write things. This year I'm going to try the Mom's Plan-It Calendar It divides the grid into space for each family member and retains the calendar look.

A planner is important for the times you're standing at the clinic trying to schedule the next appointment. Essential for me in a planner is a week at a glance, space for a to-do list, and a monthly view. I'm really enjoying Amy Knapp's Christian Family Organizer which even has space for a menu plan and a "tearable" grocery list. The Christian version also has a space to record prayer requests.

Our monthly budget is put together in a similar way as my schedule. What are our standard expenses?- house, utilities, insurance, etc. The rest of the money is then alloted according to our priorities- food, gas, clothing, savings, giving, date night, babysitter, fun money, etc. There are times in life when there's no room for fun money, and that's a season that must be gone through. There are a number of computer programs out there that can help you track your spending. If you've never done a budget before, I recommend keeping track of all your expenses for two months. You'll see how things fall into a pattern. Once you can see where your money has been going, it should be easier to figure out how to allot it intentionally. Maybe you don't really need to eat take-out twice a week and you can put more money towards something else. Or you can turn that second take-out meal into the date night you didn't think you could afford and let the kids eat mac and cheese! We went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and loved it! Envelopes are a great method of controlling your spending.

Every time something "new" starts up I re-evaluate all of these things. The start of a new calendar year has many people looking around themselves desiring to make changes. Being intentional about how I spend my time and money means that I'm more likely to make it happen in real life. These are the tools and resources I've found particularly helpful in the past few years. What are your favorite tools? Do you have a favorite resource? How do you make it all work?

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