In this season of my life, I often feel like I’m in constant GO! mode. I’m helping to manage a business, a household, a jam-packed family calendar, and a 3-year old… all while growing another human. (Surprise! Baby girl is due in February and I’m in full-on nesting mode.)
I’ve always been a fan of organizing and having solid systems for productivity, but now it’s an absolute necessity for maintaining my sanity. These are some products and systems that keep my days running (mostly) smoothly.
OBSESSIVELY PRODUCTIVE: AT WORK
BASECAMP: I sing the praises of this project management software to anyone who will listen. If you are a business owner and you’re not using Basecamp… why not?? Basecamp helps my partners and I communicate with each other without having a million emails to sort through, it helps us to stay organized with work tasks for various projects and clients, allows us to loop our clients in to organized discussion threads, and makes it so easy to refer back to an old conversation or project with such ease.
DROPBOX: another useful tool for running a business with partners who are in different locations, Dropbox is a great cloud storage service. One of my favorite features is that it allows you to restore old versions of files for 30 days — in case you accidentally saved over something you didn’t mean to or are faced with a corrupt file — or forever if you pay extra for the Packrat add-on (which I think is 100% worth it and has saved me on multiple occasions). It’s still imperative to have backups of important files elsewhere, but Dropbox has helped us to keep our business running productively day in and day out.
ONGOING EMAIL ORGANIZATION: keeping a low number of emails in my inbox is something that has become imperative to my workday productivity. I use Mac Mail and go through my inbox probably a few times a day to file away emails that have been responded to/addressed, and delete Basecamp notifications that have been read/addressed/responded to. Doing this constantly ensures that I’m not accidentally missing an important email or task, and it keeps me super productive. If I miss a day or two of organizing/deleting, I’m buried under emails that don’t need my attention, and I feel generally overwhelmed.
SIMPLIFIED PLANNER: Having a pretty planner certainly makes it more appealing to keep my workday organized. I have the weekly edition of Emily Ley’s Happy Stripe Simplified Planner (currently sold out, but there is also a daily edition), and it’s perfect for me. Each day has space for 7 tasks to check off, which prevents me from unrealistically piling too many to-dos on my plate. The cover is durable and holding up really well four months in… and of course, it’s happy and colorful, so it makes me want to use it!
LEUCHTTURM NOTEBOOK: I’ve always used Moleskine notebooks for taking notes and sketching, but I’m now a Leuchtturm convert. I have the Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook A5 hardcover with dotted grid, which is great for sketching and note-taking alike. I also love that the pages are numbered (in case you need to be able to easily refer back to something), it lies flat without having a spiral binding that gets in the way, and has a ribbon book mark for keeping track of your last marked up page.
PASSWORD REMINDER BOOK: I keep my Bob’s Your Uncle Open Sesame Password Reminder Book nearby at all times when I’m working, and it helps me avoid the inevitable frustration when I can’t remember a password. I prefer a hard copy since I feel like keeping a log of passwords on my computer is not secure; I’ve had this for years, and it is such a useful tool and time-saver. (As long as I remembered to write all of my passwords down in it!)
OBSESSIVELY PRODUCTIVE: AT HOME
MEAL PLANNING: Nick used to be the primary chef in our family; his job recently changed, though, meaning he no longer works from home and he gets home just when we’d like to be sitting down and eating, so meal planning and cooking now falls pretty exclusively on my shoulders. A few years ago this thought would have terrified me, but this year I’ve embraced it and, dare I say, I really enjoy meal planning and cooking now. Every Saturday morning, I plan out our dinners for the week, make a grocery list, and Nick & Graham head to the grocery store for everything we need. It has become a regular routine and having it all mapped out before a busy week begins means I’m not stressing about what to cook every night at 5:30. We also seem to waste a lot less food, and are definitely less tempted to eat out (with the exception of our standing pizza night on Wednesdays, which is the perfect mid-week cooking break for me).
DRY ERASE BOARD: To go along with meal planning, we hung a dry erase board in plain view in our kitchen where we list the meals for the week, and where Nick and I also have lists of household duties that need to be taken care of. Our kitchen is small and our wall space is limited, so we got this 17″ x 23″ Quartet Magnetic Dry Erase Board, as well as Expo Dry Erase Markers (8-Pack) and a Magnetic Organizer to keep all of the markers from disappearing.
KEY RING: Another invaluable tool for meal planning and general errand-running is Key Ring. I have sung the praises of this app before, and honestly not a day goes by that I don’t use it. We have three main shared lists for our most frequently visited stores: Giant, Target, and Trader Joe’s. The moment I see that we’re running low on a product, I open up Key Ring and add it immediately so I don’t forget (since I have 7 million other thoughts and tasks running through my mind at any given time). It keeps shopping trips efficient, prevents unnecessary shopping trips to pick up things we’ve forgotten, and it also lets us store all of our reward and frequent shopper card numbers so our actual key rings aren’t weighed down by plastic cards.
AMAZON PRIME: If I’m not buying it at the stores mentioned above, I’m buying it on Amazon Prime. It is simply a lifesaver for busy parents, and worth. every. penny. I’ve saved countless hours and unnecessary shopping trips thanks to Prime. We’ve also saved a lot of money by using Subscribe & Save for items that we’re constantly replenishing, like diapers and wipes.
MAIL BINS: Nick and I each have a mail bin by the front door where our individual mail lives. We try to stay pretty on top of it so the piles don’t get out of control — having two of these Wall Mount Mail and Key Racks helps with that since they’re not too large and can only hold so much. We use the hooks for hanging some of Graham’s jackets and sweatshirts, rather than keys, so he has easy access to them.
SHOE RACK: I’m kind of crazy about making sure jackets and shoes are put away as soon as we get home from anywhere, so there is less looking for what we need when we’re trying to get out of the house every morning. Below our mail bins with hooks where Graham can hang up his own jackets, we have this ClosetMaid 24-Inch Wide Horizontal Organizer where all of his shoes live when they’re not on his feet. This has helped to keep our morning routine running smoothly.
PAPERWORK ORGANIZER: Between notes from Graham’s school, scrips for ultrasounds, and other random paperwork that finds its way into our house, my former system of piling everything on the dining room table was no longer working. (Rather: it was never working and succeeded only in making a mess.) To maximize space in our small kitchen and get the paperwork out of the way, I got this Magnetic Wall File Pocket to live on the side of our fridge, in which I keep file folders for keeping papers sorted until they can be thrown out or filed away elsewhere.
SNACK AND SCHOOL LUNCH ORGANIZATION: It sounds silly, but I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to streamline my routine for packing Graham’s lunch on school days. Everything I send in his lunch box needs to be labeled in case it gets separated from his box, so I’m now in the habit of labeling snacks and snack bags with his name in Sharpie the moment I get them home from the store — meaning I’m not stuck doing it every single morning. For reusable containers, all are pre-labeled with personalized, dishwasher-safe Name Bubbles. I use this divided LunchBots Duo, silicon muffin cups, and a Thermos Foogo to pack most of his food, which all stay together in our microwave cart so I can quickly grab what I need. I also repurpose empty Huggies wipes containers (with the lids removed) for holding snacks, so there are less boxes and clutter in our limited cabinet space, and it’s easier for me to see when we’re low on something.
What am I missing? Tell me how you’re organized and productive in your day-to-day!