Welcome to the little corner of our home that I call my "blogging nook." Really it's my space for writing and home management and everything else reminiscent of work that I do. Even though I'm often working at the dining room table (to keep an eye on the kids) or on my bed (the comfy place to relax when the kids are napping), this is where I keep supplies organized and can sit when I need to get in the zone for work.
This is my everything work-related post. Well, what's working for me in this moment. I'm hesitant to share this with you lest you think I have it all together--it all seems to fall apart more often than not. But having a system to return to is essential to quickly getting back on track.
How do you fit in blogging time when you first and foremost have fulltime work or home-upkeep or childcare or all of the above? The short answer is: I don't. There are only so many hours in a day, and I am terrible at choosing how to spend mine. Planning ahead has been my best effort in a solution.
I feel most inspired with good ol' pencil (for all the changes) and paper. I absolutely love the Greenroom line from Target. They have just the colors and prints and papers that make this beginner feel inspired to grow. Much of my brainstorming is not well organized, but the part that is is the year-long (yes, a full 12 months) editorial calendar that I keep clipped to the front of my padfolio (pictured above).
Categories are written down the left side, and months are written in 3 columns across the page. As I fill in post ideas in line with the category and month, I've been erasing and changing a lot. I love that at one quick glance I can see ideas I already have in mind for the coming months.
Blog Post Schedule
Yes, those scribbles are from my little guy getting a hold of my planner. Happens all the time. I'm just glad it was pencil this time and not the Sharpee like it usually is.
After I decide the next month's posts, I start scheduling them into my planner's calendar on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
When it comes to writing the actual posts, my goal is to write two weeks in advance. Sunday is my time to get ahead on this. I still have yet to reach this goal, but I have been able to work on the coming week at least. This really frees up my week to focus on the kids, stuff around the house, and my other writing projects. I still use some of their naptime in the afternoon for blog-type stuff, although my goal is to focus that time on other writing (i.e., an upcoming e-book).
Guess what. Besides writing on this blog, I also write for pay. What?! I know, it still surprises me every now and then. The work, however, can easily get lost behind the blog stuff I want to do, the house stuff I need to do and the family stuff I long to do. So, I motivate myself with a Greenroom padfolio specifically for organizing my current freelance writing project. (With two young kids at home all day, I can only take on one project at a time right now.)
The paper clipped to the front of the padfolio is where I take notes of where I have left off with a project. There is a lot of back and forth and lots of little pieces to it, so it's essential that I stay on top of it all. This work happens everyday for an hour or more, usually around 9 in the morning--after doing our wake-up routine, and before we head out of the house or really get into our day.
I handle most of our budgeting and meal-planning and other home management type tasks. This has less to do with my staying home full-time, and more about it falling into my area of strengths.
Budgeting is sometimes a pain, but it's an absolute must for us getting by on one income. (The writing I'm doing is moving slow enough it doesn't count as an income... yet.) I do our full month's budget at the beginning of each month (the main man gets paid monthly). This keeps us in the black throughout the month. I then spend a few minutes updating and balancing our budget weekly to be sure we're still on track with our zero balance budget.
I will be sharing more about our budgeting details the end of this month (scheduled for the 27th). So check back in for more about that :)
Meal-planning is great. On the not-great list are my picky kids that won't eat half the things I put on the monthly meal plan I made a couple years ago. I still do a weekly meal plan and grocery-shopping, usually on Sunday. We try to avoid miscellaneous midweek trips to the store. This little bit of planning each week does wonders for helping us stay in budget, eat healthier, and keep things streamlined through the week. Now if I could just get the kids on board with adding a little more variety!
I've shared quite a bit about our meal-planning with Veggie Meal-Maker in this >> 7-day "i heart meal-planning" series, and I have more I'll be sharing next month. (Currently scheduled for Mar. 25 :)
Chores are a challenge for me. There's something about cleaning up crumbs fifty times a day that finally makes me throw in the towel and say, "Who cares; a few crumbs never hurt anyone." Sometimes this backfires when those few crumbs build into piles of clean clothes needing folded, dishes ready for the dishwasher and a toy-cluttered living room.
The most effective solution I've found has been to make use of 10-minute pockets before and after meals, and before nap and bedtimes. I've tried to keep to a weekly cleaning routine to make sure floors and bathrooms get scrubbed, and to keep me from drowning in a sea of laundry. It just doesn't ever last very long. Within a couple weeks (often a matter of days), I have to spend a whole afternoon playing catch up.
How do the above pieces all come together into my daily routine? Well, they don't always.
I take a very broad approach to balance. Like the seasons that can go from extreme Winter to a more pleasant Spring to the extreme Summer to a more pleasant Fall and around again, I feel like life (or my life at least) does the same. Highs and lows, focus moving between projects and people and daily tasks. One season may be too focused on one thing (it is rare that my home would be clean while enjoying lots of family time and launching a major writing project), but all together, it balances out.
Organized lists in my sweet little Greenroom planner and a routine to fall back on definitely help. This particular planner is meant for a student, so I used the class schedule form in the front to outline what a great day might look like. (Breakfast, baths, and chores done by 9, work for an hour, run errands or get the kids out of the house to play, home in time to clean up and make lunch, etc.)
I use that daily routine as a basis for planning my day. I write specifics into my daily planner, forming 3 columns for each day. One column each for morning, afternoon and evening. This way I can write which part of the freelance writing project I plan to work on, which chores I'll focus on that day, even the workout I'll do at the gym, or what needs my attention on the blog.
This offers me a little grace, because I used to write endless lists that included everything I could ever hope or wish to get done in the day. But often I couldn't finish the list even if I had a week to do so. Filling them into my planner by morning, afternoon, evening helps me think more realistically about what can be done in those pockets of time. Is it really likely that I'd scrub the entire apartment in one morning in between working and caring for the kids? Doubtful. But cycle laundry through? Now that I can do.
Oh, and showering ends up on my daily list more often than I care to admit. In case you need to not feel so bad about your own list ;)
Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. | Col. 3:23
Is there one tool that helps you keep organized and get things done?
Linked up with Jen's home office month at >> iHeart Organizing.