You may have guessed by now that I like checklists! Maybe because I wish I were more organized and always think there should be a tool to help me out! I have found that I'm far more productive if I write things down on paper instead of cluttering up my brain with lots of "can't forget" items.
One of the things that has worked well is my weekly calendar. I enjoy browsing the store's Daytimer/organizer section but not much seems perfect for a homemaker. I don't need a rigid daily schedule as I rarely have appointments and when I try to schedule my day to the minute, I just get frustrated at all the interruptions. Monthly calendars were too small, and the weekly calendars were just not real helpful.
Thanks to my husband's spread sheet skills, I designed my own weekly calendar. I've used it for over a year now and wouldn't change a thing. I wanted to have a place each day to list the things that specifically had to be done that day, such as appointments. I also wanted a place to record our evening activities. In addition, I thought it would be nice to have room for menu planning so I could see in a glance what my week contained and those days that I'd need a quick or crock pot meal. I added a "To do" list where I recorded the things that I hoped to accomplish sometime during the week. This gave my week direction but also the needed flexibility to work around children and the unexpected events that our frequent a mom's life. My calendar also has a small section for a memory verse for the week. This is underutilized as I rarely write down a verse and when I do, I forget to look at it! I think the only hope for me for memory work is a tough accountability partner!
I made the calendar on a 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet. After photo copying enough sheets, front and back, for one year, I cut the sheets in half. Ed spiral bound the sheets together, making it a small sized calendar that fits well on top of the microwave. It could easily be carried in a purse, as well. Did you know that you can make up any kind of pages that you wish and take them to a print shop to get them spiral bound? At least, they'll do it for you at Copyquik! Another option would be to hole punch your sheets and put them in a binder.
My calendar is used hard. By the end of the week, the entire page is full of notes of some sort! If you call me, I'll probably be standing with a pen beside my calendar poised to take a message! If I don't write things down immediately, there is a very real likely hood that it will never be recalled again! I don't know about you, but this pregnant mommy brain needs all the assistance that she can get!
This calendar/planner idea actually grew out of a weekly habit that has been slowly forming the last several years. Every weekend, usually Sunday night after the children are in bed, Ed and I try to take time to sit down together and plan our week. Even though I don't consider our schedule hectic, it has been so good to look at our plans, discuss our personal goals for the week and "get on the same page". Sometimes Ed helps me evaluate what is truly important and what needs to be "left go" on my "to do" list. Other times I find that something that wasn't important to me is a priority to him and I can put it to the top of the list. I would not say we had poor communication skills before, but allowing a specific time to do a little planning has sure helped alleviate some misunderstandings! I would highly recommend it to any couple!
Back on the subject of calendars and planners, I recently found DIY Planner at http://www.diyplanner.com/docs. This site has tons of documents and templates that you can print out, hole punch, and place in your own binder notebook. (Or spiral bind at your local print shop.) And it is all free!
Find more ready-to-print calendars, menu planning list, chore chart, grocery list, and much more at http://www.donnayoung.org/ And they, too, are all free!
Graceworks Planners at www.hisgraceworks.com offers many different planners for the Christian woman. I've never used these but I've admired the beautiful layouts and feminine designs of their products for years! Just looking through their website may give you ideas of what you might like to include in your planner.
If you'd like to begin a new calendar or planning system. I'd recommend printing off a few sheets now and try them out! By the first of the year, you'll have a good idea what is working for you and what adjustments need made! Just because we are homemakers does not mean we can't become more effective with the use of some good tools!