Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Staying sane during busy times

How do you stay sane during busy times?
I feel like the past 4 weeks have been a blur. My husband and I both had surgery during a 2-week window, and we also started potty training our toddler around the same time. I went away for a weekend to attend a wedding, then we all went away for Thanksgiving, and I feel like I've been catching up ever since. Or is catching up an elusive, unattainable balance?

Whatever the case, the holiday frenzy seems to be hitting me early this year. So back to my main question - what keeps you sane during busy times? For me, it has been to get out some of my organizing tools that I haven't used since the end of the summer. I'll share some details on those in this post.

Weekly Organizing Spreadsheet
I tabled my old standby, a one-page printed Excel spreadsheet that a friend shared with me when I became a stay-at-home-mom. I keep it in a clipboard near my computer, and the clipboard is a bright color that is easy to spot if it gets piled upon. That happens a lot, unfortunately, thanks to my paper organization problem! I date each day at the top of the sheet, using one page per week, and write my to-dos, meals, cleaning to-dos, shopping/errands, etc. Please open the attachment to view a sample of this spreadsheet. Tailor it and print away!

I've also gotten out my tote bag and placed it where I see it each time I leave the house. Again, for some reason with all the craziness I haven't been doing it. Since getting it out again last week, I returned a few items, did an ATM deposit, and took some books back to the library. How was I getting by without it?!

Gift Planning Spreadsheet
As we head into the holidays, I'm also using a gift planning spreadsheet. I blogged here about how we're doing a gift exchange on one side of the family this year, and I'm excited about that. But when November comes around each year, I'm generally overwhelmed by the fact that we have 6 family birthdays in the 8 weeks leading up to Christmas! Those coupled with our regular Christmas gift giving and the coordinating of a gift program I do for a ministry organization tap me out. Oh, and did I mention that my toddler's birthday is also in December? There's a party to plan each December, too!

Check out my version of a gift planning spreadsheet. In it I track names and wish list items, prices, and items yet to buy. I print this every 2 weeks to keep myself current and place it in my purse. That way it's with me when I'm out; I certainly can't keep it all in my head.

Meal Planning
I've fallen off the band wagon with meal planning during the past few weeks, but I follow my blogging partner A.'s menu plan when I don't have the energy or creativity to come up with my own. I also maintain a "Meals We Like" spreadsheet that is a simple list of meals I know that we all like in the event that I have absolutely no ideas. Which happens a lot at this time of year!

Let us know what works for you!
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