Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The secret weapon that keeps me organised

As a stay-at-home Mum, I don't have a job description telling me what to do each day. Being the creative type that I am (one who likes to jump from project to project depending on what takes my fancy), I quite enjoy choosing how to spend my days.

However, I'm mindful that children require a certain amount of routine and predictability to feel secure. I'm also aware that I can stretch our budget further by menu planning and having systems in place for using our leftovers and deciding what groceries to buy. And as a blogger, I feel responsibility for posting good, regularish content on this blog.

So what's my secret weapon for staying organised, despite being a naturally disorganised sort of girl?

Friends, I'd like you to meet my clipboard.
Oh clipboard, how I love thee.

Yes, this simple clipboard has helped bring clarity to my days and weeks. Here's how I like to use it (so far):

Fill it with recycled paper
I fill it up with bits of paper -  sometimes the reverse side of used paper, sometimes paper that's a bit too crinkled to go through the printer - whatever I find lying around the house.

Menu plan on it
Once a week I write up a menu plan on the clipboard. Because the clipboard has a firm base, I can write this plan anywhere - eg. in an armchair, in bed, while watching Lily take a bath.

If I'm extra organised, I first use a page of my clipboard to write up the ingredients that need using in the fridge, freezer and pantry, and plan my menu around these.

At the moment I'm using our iPad to search for recipes to base my menu plan on, because the iPad is easily transportable, has got a whole bunch of ebooks on it, plus I can use it to search the internet for real food recipes like the ones posted by me and other members of the Nourished Living Network.

On my menu plan I also make note of what ingredients I need to prepare or defrost for a recipe so I don't miss a critical step early on.

Once the menu plan is complete, I stick it to our fridge so I can see it any time I'm in the kitchen and actually do remember to get out meat to defrost, or soak beans or flour the night before.
A list of leftovers in the fridge, and this week's menu plan.
The other page you see stuck to our fridge is a list of leftovers currently sitting in the fridge. As soon as I put a leftover in the fridge, I write down what it is on the list. This helps me keep track of what's in there and makes sure food doesn't get wasted. Once something's been used up, I just cross it off the leftovers list. 

Simple, but effective.

Brain dump
This is probably the single biggest improvement I've made to my organisational capabilities this year. And it's thanks to Simple Mom's ebook, One Bite at a Time - 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler. Whenever I feel like there's a to do list swirling around in my head that I'm having difficulty keeping track of, I dump it all down on a piece of paper in my clipboard.
Add caption
This gets the swirl of thoughts out of my head, so I stop stressing over it, and gives me somewhere to keep track of all the things I want to get done.

I either use the brain dump as my to-do list, or base a separate to-do list off it which I write up in my diary. I haven't decided which method I prefer, although I'm leaning towards using the clipboard brain dump method for everything as it seems to suit the way my brain works, and only involves one set of writing.

One Bite at a Time goes into a lot more detail about how to do an effective brain dump, along with 51 other tools for getting organised. It's one of the ebooks I most highly recommend.

Lily's shopping list
Lily also shows a fondness for my clipboard. I quite often find it covered with her shopping list written in crayon:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^ (AKA marshmallows)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^ (AKA marshmallows)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^ (AKA marshmallows)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^ (AKA marshmallows)

Do you think she's trying to tell me something?

Linked to Patchwork Living Blogging Bee.


  1. You may call yourself organizationally challenged, but it looks like you've created a great system for getting all your ideas out... And to have a running meal plan like that is a distant dream for me. Although we don't eat out and I never waste ANYTHING, I do struggle with putting meals on the table (and frequently end up frazzled as a result). You have inspired me to start putting some of my thoughts down on paper. THANKS!

  2. I have a few little clipboards laying around , I will now dig them out:0)
    A great idea.

  3. I can't help but notice you didn't purchase marshmallows in your last shopping trip. Did I not write it enough times in your diary?

  4. I love the clipboard idea~ ! I do similar things with lists and my menu planning, but the clipboard makes so much sense - gonna have to adopt that idea!

  5. Omg you are a woman after my own heart! Except I don't have a clipboard I have a reporters notebook and I love nothing more than sitting down on the sofa in the evening with my notebook and recipe books and the laptop and work out my meal plan & shopping list for the week. Good idea about writing down things to do in advance like soak beans etc. I seem to always forget to put the damn easy-yo on the day before when I need to make a yogurt dressing! Great blog xxx


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