Monday, February 27, 2017

Keepers at Home & Menu Monday: Well Planned Day How-To

Over the years I have used various resources for planning.  From plain and simple notebooks to full-on pre-arranged planners.  From small purse-size types to larger regular sized ones.  Each method seems to work for the season I am in and I tend to know it is time to switch things up when the method begins to collect more blank pages then used ones! (I tend to like efficiency from my planners!  I know, I ask a lot)

This is what led to my current method of planning... one I have used for a few years now and I discussed in some detail last week.  I had been using The Well Planned Day pretty consistently.  It was one of my most looked forward to purchases at the start of each school year. One year, however, I had to weigh out the price against the need.  Our budget was limited and, as I assessed the "need" I realized more empty spaces were piling up in my planner then used ones.  With skill an knowledge in Microsoft Word and Publisher I knew I could easily design a planner page more functional for my personal needs in this apparent evolving new season of my life.  The result has had various adjustments over the last few years, this is the latest model:
(Click on Image for FREE download)

Last week I shared WHY having a well planned day/week is so important. I included pictures of  my weekly overview list and bulleted out the "pros" of having life in order.  I also promised I would share more how-to this week... so here we go!  Oh, and since it is also "Menu Monday", consider this a recipe for planning!!

#1 - Binder (or whatever you use for scheduling)
I mentioned last week how I was trying my schedule on a clipboard for the week because I also use a binder for our homeschool records and having TWO binders on the table amidst our school books and supplies was becoming cumbersome....
Left is Homeschool, Right is Homemaking

The clipboard worked great.  I am still using my binder though.  It holds subsequent week's sheets, miscellaneous info and so on.  (I'll detail this in a minute)
left is front, right is back
Normally I use binder clips to clip my list to the front (on top) of the binder.... I will go back to that method when the school year is over.  This is actually a plain white 1" binder and I used scrapbooking paper slipped inside the clear sleeve to decorate.  The back is a montage of some great mom and home sayings from my page-a-day Mary Englebright calendar I had last year. (Please forgive my funky pictures, I'm still learning how to work my new camera!)

As you can see, this binder is the kind where you can fold back the cover, a real convenience at times.  It even has easy open latches so I can easily open the 3-Rings with the flip of one thumb while holding a stack of papers in the other!

I also like the double pockets in the front of the binder, they help me store items without them flopping everywhere.  Tall things in back, shorties in front!

#2 - Set-up
You may already have a pre-printed planner - that's great.  Use this set-up for ideas on how you can make your current planner work most efficiently for you.  I have taped in pockets to back covers and re-labeled tabs on some of my old pre-printed planners.

As for arranging a Planning binder, it really depends on your family's needs.  As you can see above, I like pocket dividers for holding important info pertaining to sections... in the case of my front pocket, I have items pertaining to overall homemaking (return address labels, letters I need to reply to, etc.)

Under the initial pocket is some loose-leaf paper.  Then the red tab marks the calendar section.  You can see I have white dividers for the months of the year with the last few dividers being used to house blank to-do pages like the one pictured on the clipboard at the beginning of this article.

Subsequent tabs are labeled for extra chore lists, blog tidbits, and household misc.  The final tab marks a birthday and gift list area.  When my youngest played basketball last year I used one of the tabs to keep track of volunteer hours and team schedules.

#3 Scheduling
I usually sit down by Sunday afternoon and plan out our week.  Sometimes I set up my plans on Saturday if I have time.  I jot the kiddos' work schedules down, make note of necessary to-dos either on their dates or in the general section to be filtered in as time allows during the week.  I also look over the previous week's list and transfer anything which was not completed.  I file the old list with it's respective month in the binder and viola.

In total I may spend 5-10 minutes planning and it brings sooooo much peace and organization for the rest of the week!

#4 Leaving Margins
This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT step of all.  Once upon a time I might have been one of those women who planned EVERY MINUTE of the day... even my resting time was situated to be productive!  And in that once upon a time I may have gotten a bit overwhelmed!  I may have had a husband who said something like "Sometimes you need to be OK with NOT having a plan" and I might have gotten upset with him for just not getting it.  Once upon a time, I might have realized he was right!

Margins are vital because without them, you have no room to really live.  Schedules are important, plans have a purpose (as discussed last week) but these can become an idol if we are not careful.  All of life isn't meant to be fit into neat little boxes.

You will notice, other then the schoolwork plans, my list above is pretty bare.  Some weeks I have more written in.  Right now, however, with everyone getting over being sick I am nervous to plan too much just yet.  But even on busier weeks, I try to leave blanks in spaces and be completely willing to move things around so I don't freak out over an impromptu stroll through the park or a last minute call from a friend on her way to visit.  LIFE happens in those margins and I don't want to be so busy freaking out about misuse of time or things not getting done or going the way I planned, that I miss it.

We should never be too busy to fellowship or too busy to minister.  The fellowship of the body of Christ and reaching out to neighbors and lost ones should take high priority whenever possible (I know, it isn't always possible). 

How do you schedule margins?  Be brutally honest with yourself on what is truly vital within each day and within each week.  This honesty will reveal your anchor point. 
  • Laundry - yeah, we all need clean clothes
  • Dishes washed each day - naturally
  • Working with your kiddos - if you homeschool or public school, your kiddos need you
You get the idea.  Those are non-negotiables, though some also have flexibility in WHEN they get done. 

Then there are...
  • Scrubbing the Floor....
  • Washing the Curtains....
  • Cleaning the oven...
 ... all good plans, however, unless you are sticking to the floor, your curtains are odorous or your stove is about to catch fire... these can go on the schedule with the ability to be moved around should something more urgent arise (and I don't mean urgent as in the next episode of your favorite show).  More like; friend calls you haven't seen in a while or needing immediate help, a neighbor is sick and you want to take them soup... fellowship and ministry urgencies is what this flexible schedule is for.

Yes, some plans have to be duck-taped on our daily schedules and CAN NOT move.  We should be able to say "NO" to people wanting us to sign up for, or go DO, more than we feel we can... but we should also say "NO" to ourselves sometimes and instead opt for margins; for slow walks in the bright sunshine, for butterfly kisses and long deep gazes, for cocoa and a bonfire on a chilly night, for movies and cuddles at the end of a long day.  Leave Margins and remember to take time each day to live there for a little while!

Food from last week...

Pasta with cheesy bread-sticks.  I use a simple pizza dough recipe, roll it out on a greased baking sheet, spread with Parmesan and Mozzarella and bake.  Finally, I slice the 'bread' into strips.

 Leftover Chicken, Cheese, Broccoli and Cauliflower for lunch on the deck (we had a warm wave last week)

Grocery shopping was done this weekend.  Once a month I usually buy a big chub of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage at Costco.  Typically I just crumble fry it, cool and split into packages and freeze.  We will have eggs and sausage (usually in omelet form) for Sunday breakfast before church each week.  This week, though, I decided to make biscuits, fry patties and then some eggs for Sausage and Egg Biscuits.  I still cooled, packaged and froze the rest of the crumbled (multi-tasking!)

Menu for this week...

- cereal and blueberries
- eggs
- fresh bread with butter and jam
- left over biscuits

hubby: sausage and rice
me and kids: leftovers, grilled sandwiches, grilled tuna sandwiches, mac-n-cheese


Hot Dogs (kids), Salad (hubby and me)


Chicken Stir Fry

Beef Roast and Veggies
I have a crazy easy, melt-in-your-,mouth, beef roast recipe:
Peal and halve carrots, clean and quarter potatoes, throw in the bottom of slow cooker
Peel and slice half an onion, throw that in too
Sear Beef roast on all sides, lay that on top of veggies
Pour one whole packet of Onion soup mix over the top of the roast, gently patting into top
Fill crock with water until about halfway up the side of the roast (top of roast should NOT be submerged)
Shake into water about 1-2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Cover and cook all day

You can use the broth to make gravy just before serving.
Chicken with Parmesan Sauce over Roasted Squash with a Green Salad
Sort of like Fettuccine with a twist

Open-top Burgers with Veggie Straws

Possibly Chili... definitely something with beans
What are you doing and cooking this week?


**Next week I will be sharing about cloth napkins as per a promise I made in comments over at Making A House A Home.  Be sure to check back!

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