Tag Archives: Family

Launching a New Week, Part Two

My last post discussed how I use a “Weekly Launch” routine to prepare for a new week. Most of what I wrote yesterday wasn’t specific to my Filofax. Today, I will share how I sit down to set up my planner for the week.

I have three paper calendars or agendas, in addition to the dry erase weekly calendar I shared yesterday. Each serves a distinct purpose.

  1. Stapled monthly calendar – This calendar holds every event I need to track for our family. It’s thin, so I can carry it with me easily. Since this is the family calendar, the large size of each calendar square works perfectly for me. I use color to distinguish who does what…
  2. My A5 “Week on 2 Pages” layout – The WO2P tracks my personal schedule for each day. It gives me a chronological plan, and I omit activities that don’t impact what I’m doing or where I need to be. For example, if my husband is taking my daughter to swimming, I don’t include it in my personal schedule; it goes on the family calendar, though. I also include time-specific tasks. In between the two-page spread, I use a piece of lined paper for tasks that can be done at any time during the week. For 2014, I’m trying the layout with boxes, rather than the vertical lined days. Fingers crossed!
  3. My A5 “Month on 2 Pages” layout – I use the MO2P calendar to track my writing tasks for each day. I’m basically my own boss when it comes to working on my dissertation proposal, which is good, but I tend to run into trouble staying on track if I haven’t identified a purpose for my writing sessions. On Sunday, I set different goals for each day of the week to ensure I keep forward momentum. I wrote about this in detail in an earlier post.
  4. The weekly dry erase calendar – This calendar is not really for planning. It’s a communication tool. My husband, kids, and sitter refer to it to see what the day looks like for everyone. While my Filofax and calendar are personal, this is for the family. Plus, when I fill it out with my husband, we note scheduling conflicts and resolve them on Sunday by adjusting plans as needed. There are no unfortunate surprises like me having a late meeting and my husband being at the dentist when one of us needs to take our son to soccer, only to realize it the day of…

On Sunday, I manually “sync” them before I coordinate schedules with my husband or meal plan. It’s important to have a sense of the week before meal planning, because some days are more hectic than others. I plan the easiest meals for those days. Also, if we’ll be out for the evening, I know I don’t need to have food prepared that night.

I begin by making a cup of Jasmine Silver Needle white tea and laying out everything I need. This week, I have to mail a birthday card , so I pulled out my greeting card organizer and stamps as well.

Getting settled

My monthly calendar, A5 Malden, card organizer with stamps and Washi tape, laptop, paper supplies, and tea

Once I’ve hunkered down, I refer to my monthly calendar so I can complete my WO2P personal schedule for the week. I pull out events that need to be done each morning and afternoon/evening. Then I generate a list of tasks for the week that can be done at anytime. I also check my e-mail for any follow-up tasks that I should put on my calendar or task list.

Each night, I review my schedule before bed, making any changes as needed…including tasks that pop into my head. That’s my final “brain dump” (or in GTD terms: “mind sweep”) for the day. Establishing this routine helped eliminate my insomnia, because I no longer have a mental list scrolling through my head once I turn the lights out. I can rest easy because I’ve written down what needs to be done, and I can let it go until tomorrow. I put my Malden on my nightstand and refer to it every morning before I’m even out of bed.

I should mention that this week is pretty light for me since the children and my university are still on break. My son, however, has several projects that are due when he returns next Monday, so I added a Post-It to remind myself to nag him a bit 🙂 In the “this week” section, I’ve also added a few personal goals I’d like to keep front and center.

Once I finish with my daily schedule, I move to planning my academic writing on my MO2P. I don’t have a sitter this week, so it won’t be as productive as when my children are in school.

Jan1 writing

My writing schedule…I only plan one week ahead for this calendar. This allows me to be flexible.

Once I’m done scheduling my week, I’m ready to plan meals and coordinate schedules on the weekly white board I described in Pt. 1). If I am very concerned about remembering an appointment, I may add a reminder into my phone.

All told, this process takes me about an hour. I consider it an investment in the week ahead. It’s not just an exercise on paper; I’m mentally rehearsing for the week ahead. The Sunday routine allows me to strategize how to make the most of my time, and I no longer forget appointments or tasks.

What about you? Do you have a Weekly Review or Routine?

Launching a New Week, Part One

I know some people consider Sunday a day of rest, but for me, it is the day to prepare for a new week. That translate to a busy day, but the effort pays dividends all week long. In this post, I’ll explain how my Sunday routine includes several tasks that prepare our family for a smooth(ish) week. Part One is about the routine itself. On Tuesday, Part Two will focus specifically on my Filofax.

WL1

The first half of my list for the Weekly Launch routine

My Sunday mornings are basically reserved for church and getting the kids to choir practice/youth group (all at different times). Once church and associated activities wrap up, I dive headfirst into planning the week and completing several tasks. I call this my “Weekly Launch” routine. I begin with a list stored on OmniFocus (a task management app). I don’t put the list in my Filofax because they’re set on repeat with reminders in my phone. Personal preference, mainly. I took two screenshots, because the list doesn’t fit all in one screen. 

I don’t necessarily do the list in the order you see. I usually empty my e-mail inboxes while I’m watching TV in the evening. By doing this, I have been able to avoid returning to a ridiculously cluttered inbox (One I remember vividly…who wants to open their e-mail to see the number 1,487 next to their Inbox folder?). I mark messages that have info relevant to my calendar and refer to them as I work with my Filo and calendar later in the day. If I neglected to reply to an e-mail, I take care of it then and there. I also tidy my office, refill my vitamin dispenser, plan meals, and create a shopping list. I post the menu on a dry erase weekly calendar posted on the fridge so the kids know what to expect and Brian can help prep if he gets home before I do.

I write the weekly meal plan on the fridge so that our kids know what's for dinner.  By the way, if you're wondering about the "statistically significant" magnet, it was a gift the professor gave the students at the end of our required stats course. Math humor.

I write the weekly meal plan on the fridge so that our kids know what’s for dinner. If we are eating out or attending a party, I’ll note that on the board, too. By the way, if you’re wondering about the “statistically significant” magnet, it was a gift my professor gave the students at the end of our required stats course. Math humor can be terrible, but I thought the sentiment was sweet…plus, it’s a reminder that I survived grad school stats after not having taken a math course for over fifteen years! 

The calendar review with my husband is very important for our whole family. It doesn’t help to have a great schedule worked out in my Filofax if other people in the family don’t have access to it, so I posted a dry erase weekly calendar in the kitchen above the phone/charger shelf. The central location means we pass by it several times a day. On Sunday, my husband and I pull out our individual calendars (his is on his iPhone, mine on good ol’ paper) and we fill out the board together. The real value of this routine is the conversation we have. If we notice conflicting appointments or meetings that affect childcare, I make a note to tell our sitter or we make other arrangements. We also know when to reschedule appointments. In the past, we used to catch the schedule conflicts halfway through the day of the events, which meant a mad scramble to adjust.

Weekly Calendar

As you can see, I don’t bother color-coding here. I have room for writing things out, and it takes less time to use one color. While I post appointments for my schedule, my husband only posts activities that might affect the family (e.g., early/late meetings or days off).

The second half of my "Weekly Launch" task list.

The second half of my “Weekly Launch” task list.

Other Weekly Launch tasks include cleaning out the car and filling up the gas tank. While I’m out, I’ll stop by the ATM if I need any cash for the week. I try to write one letter to a family member while I’m waiting for my kids at choir practice and/or youth group. This summer, I began writing to nieces and nephews after finding some old letters from my grandmother and realizing how much my kids enjoyed receiving mail at camp. Now that I think about it, doing this on Sunday is a lovely way to reflect on what is happening in our family’s life, as well as connecting with people I care about…Snail mail is a beautiful thing! 

That about wraps up Part One. Part Two – a post about setting up my Filofax for a new week – will be Tuesday.

My Weekly Launch routine brings me a lot of comfort. I’ve been doing this for over a year, and I’d say this is a key component of my organization system. When I go to sleep on Sunday night, I feel better knowing I’ve set our family up for success. Rather than flying by the seat of our pants, we all have a sense of the week ahead. There’s gas in the car, I have empty inboxes, and my husband and I are on the same page. Naturally, we have to make adjustments when the unexpected occurs –as it always does — but this is something that truly works for our whole family. If only my routine for dealing with incoming paperwork ran as smoothly!

 

A NON-Filo Post on Organization – The “Plan to Eat” Menu Planner

As I’ve mentioned in a few posts, our son’s health issues prompted our family to attempt eliminating gluten and dairy from our diets. It’s still too early to say whether this will be effective, but it took a lot of energy to track down meals that would work for our family. I decided to try the 30-day free trial of Plan to Eat, a menu planning website. Since I was starting from scratch, I have only entered recipes that are gluten and dairy free.

Many of the people who use paper planners like organization tips/planning tips in general, so I thought I’d share my experience with a new way of planning our family’s meals. You don’t need to be trying a special diet to make use of this site. Anyone can benefit from meal planning.

I love this site! Its drag-and-drop menu planner is fabulous! I appreciate the ability to create custom grocery lists (including adding/removing additional ingredients and selecting the time frame) and quickly import recipes from websites. I’ve been using this for over two weeks, and I will be subscribing. The “cooking view” for individual recipes was an unexpected bonus, and the tags for recipes are a lovely feature. Sometimes the web importer has difficulty, but it’s a relatively simple process to correct using copy and paste. Because I don’t want to violate author’s copyrights, I mark recipes as “private” when I transfer them from a cookbook I own.

If you’re looking for a good menu planner that is digital rather than in your paper system, you may want to check out Plan to Eat. The video on their site gives a good overview of the features.

*Edited to add: Just used it again to do my weekly shopping…and I was surprised to realize that I can assign different items on my lists to different stores (e.g., Trader Joe’s, Costco, etc.). What a cool feature!

*Note: I am not affiliated with the folks at Plan to Eat, other than as a new user…and I was not asked to post about the site or compensated in any way.

Carrying My A5

There are a lot of Filofax users who swear by the Personal size, declaring the A5 too big to lug around when they’re out and about. I’m an A5 girl at heart, so I thought I’d share how I manage to carry my Malden around with very little fuss.

I suppose that “too big” is a matter of perspective. Be warned, I’ve been a mom for over 14 years and was a teacher before that. Carrying around monstrous totes — or even crates of paper and books for lesson planning and grading – makes my current purse seem almost dainty. I’m sure if you’re 20 and not used to carrying around diaper bags and other parental accessories, this may not qualify as a “small purse.”

Purse & Malden

Purse loaded

I had no idea when I purchased the Malden that it would go so beautifully with my purse (a find from a TJ Maxx). I’m not a matchy-matchy girl, but it’s actually a lovely combination. It works well if I’m at the university, having coffee with a friend, or running errands. Nice, but not fussy.

Now that my kids are older, I don’t have to carry around supplies as if I am a survivalist preparing for the apocalypse; it feels so liberating! It used to take 20 minutes of packing and 15 minutes of kid-wrangling to make a few errands.

Below are the contents of my purse for a typical trip around town. When I’m writing somewhere, I transfer these items over to a tote that holds my laptop. On the rare occasions I want a smaller load to carry, I can just use my separate calendar and my phone. If I’m really living on the edge, my phone case holds a few cards, so that’s as slimmed down a profile as I get. The mom in me would never go out without my ID, a credit/debit card, or my insurance card! All in all, I don’t find the A5  the least bit cumbersome as a planner, though sometimes I prefer to use just my monthly calendar.

Purse contents

My wallet, monthly calendar, travel tissue (a winter-only item), my A5 Malden, pen bag, polka dot makeup bag, lip balm (that’s the weird ball thing), and a reusable grocery bag for when I decide to stop by the store. The side pockets hold my keys and cell phone.

Kid Favorites – Fruits and Veggies (and a few legumes for good measure)

As our family prepares to alter our diet, I am seeking input from the kids about which fruits and vegetables they want with their meals. It will be a big adjustment to cut out dairy and gluten for a few weeks, so I’m trying to make our meals as appealing as possible. You may not be trying to make any adjustments to your diet, but if you have children, it might be nice to keep in your meal-planning section so that you have a variety of healthy options at a glance. Heck, maybe you don’t have kids, but you want to generate a list for yourself! Healthier eating is a frequent New Year’s resolution. No matter the case, it may make grocery lists easier to generate.

Last night, I sat down with my son and asked him to rate fruits and vegetables on a scale of 0-3 (0 being “don’t even bother trying to make me eat it” and 3 meaning it’s a favorite). Fruits and Veggies

From there, I transferred any items that weren’t zeros onto A5 grid paper. I marked my son’s favorites with a star. This morning, I ran through that list with my daughter, and made notes, marking any of her favorites with a blue star. There are also a few notes for me to consider in the space below. Now I know what’s fallen out of favor (tangerines used to be our “go-to” snack, but they’ve become less of a treat) and what will be devoured in their lunch boxes. I also discovered that my daughter seems more enthusiastic about fruits and vegetables in general (note the prevalence of blue stars!). That, or my son is a tougher grader. Most of the items on this list he rated as twos.

I realize that some parents feel their children should eat whatever is served, but we’re trying to be mindful as we ask the kids to give up some beloved foods (even if temporarily). As I type this, however, I realized I omitted cucumber. I may also go in and add a few foods that Kevin turns his nose up to, but that Sophia likes (e.g., cantaloupe). You’ll also notice the lack of leafy greens, but I’m planning to ease them into that 🙂

This section of my Filofax is serving me well as I make some big changes in our house. I’m considering making my Holborn A5 zip a temporary home for dietary stuff as I do more research and food testing. Meal plans, favorite new recipes, and more…I’ll see how much I end up writing.

New Section to my Filofax: Trying a Special Diet

My 14-year-old son has been experiencing some gastrointestinal issues, so we have been advised to try eliminating gluten and dairy from his diet for several weeks. This is a daunting experiment, especially during the holiday season. We were advised that it is particularly helpful when the whole family tries this at the same time to make it easier on our son. He’s willing to try anything to see if it helps him feel better, but my 9-year-old daughter is a picky eater. This means we have several things to consider:

  1. How to avoid a sense of “deprivation” to a family that loves cheese (and gluten, but the dairy-free part will be the trickiest, I think)
  2. How to make our teenager’s lunch appealing enough that he doesn’t “cheat” by getting non-GF/DF food from his friends’ lunches
  3. How to appease the palate of a child who is not very adventurous about food
  4. How to track our son’s symptoms to see if this effort is worth continuing
  5. How to make this manageable, given our busy schedule

Enter my Filofax. It will take a fair amount of planning to launch this special diet, and my Malden is the perfect home for all of it. I set up my work space with everything I need.

Planning

I’d like to keep an informal overview of my son’s treatment and tests so that I have the dates and notes to help refresh my memory when I speak with different doctors (below).

To help with the transition, I’ve been scouring the Internet for sites that post gluten- and dairy-free recipes our family will enjoy. I’m sure I’ve missed several, but I will keep this Post-it pasted on the back of the divider for his health section so that it’s the first thing I see. It can easily be changed or updated.

Records

 

My other research — something I’m just starting — is a list of foods that don’t have hidden dairy or gluten in the ingredients. Thank goodness for the Internet, because many groups and bloggers have posted which brands/foods are “safe” for people with food sensitivities. They all caution that manufacturers can change ingredients without warning, so I know I’ll have to keep looking at labels, but this should help me generate my grocery list. I like the idea of keeping this in a binder, because I’m sure we’ll discover new items to add, as well as which items to remove if they are flops.

I plan to keep a food diary when we start next week. We’ll use this to track what my son eats and how he feels.

Food Diary

I’m starting to compile a short list of meal ideas so that when I do my weekly overview on Sunday, I’ll be able to plan our meals. I’ll use the page to track which ones are worth cooking again and which ones are flops. It’s clear not all GF/DF meals are created equal.

Tonight I plan to show my son and daughter lists of fruits and vegetables so that they can name which ones they would like to eat more often. I have a sense of their likes and dislikes, but this diet will be much heavier in fresh fruits and veggies. It will help to make a list for my Filofax so that our meals are as varied as possible. I know we’ll be cooking a lot more “from scratch,” so I don’t want to expend too much energy staring at a blank grocery list.

My A5 Malden is a great place to plan a major diet change. I’m not sure if this will make a noticeable difference for my son’s health, but it will certainly be easier because I have organized key resources to support our efforts.