Organizing our lives

Hi sisters,

After 6.5 years of marriage Kevin and I have finally hit upon some tools that really help us communicate effectively. We would often get frustrated over the little details in our lives and how often one of us would forget something or miscommunicate our plans/desires/budget. Though it seems a bit over the top sometimes, we both really love organizing and listing aspects of our lives via technology. Here’s what really works for us now.

GOOGLE CALENDARS

Thank you google calendars for being so easy to use. We have 4 calendars going: Jewel, Kevin, Calvin (his daycare schedule), and Kevin’s work schedule (so I can see when he’s in meetings, etc).

schedule

I usually go above and beyond the google calendar and write it down on a weekly planner along with the meals I want to make and hang it on the fridge for quick reference.

Untitled

BUDGETING SPREADSHEET

Kevin tried to use Quicken for awhile, but it wouldn’t sync well with our cards/accounts so he manages our budget himself on a shared google spreadsheet (there’s no bank account info in it, just the amount of money in our accounts). We have one large account, so the spreadsheet allows him to divvy up money as much as he wants into different categories. This spreadsheet has been wonderful because it makes it so easy for me to check in with our grocery and allowance budgets and see where I’m at. When I shop I keep the receipts and one of us remembers to subtract it from the correct account. It’s taken a lot of stress out of our shopping because it’s so clear how much we have for certain items.

The next step after creating our ideal budget-sheet was to organize how and what we want to purchase. It still feels a bit unreal that we have a bit of “extra” money that doesn’t have to go to student loans or savings accounts that we can use for home items/improvements and for fun things. The grad school years were very financially tight, so it’s a luxury to have an allowance and a larger grocery budget, and then to also be able to save to buy things for our house?? When we first bought our house we had so many ideas of how to improve it that we felt overwhelmed. Where was all of the money going to come from?? We started out making a room by room list of what needed to happen. Then Kevin estimated how much each thing would cost (for bigger house projects we had a few contractors give us detailed estimates). Then we each went through and put the list in order of what we thought was most important or exciting to get done. After that it was pretty simple (for Kevin, at least) to have the spreadsheet create a new list that was an average of our two lists. Now we don’t really have to fight to have our personal preferences completed first, instead the list just tells us what should come next as a compromise between the two of us. After we’ve saved enough to achieve our goal, we get to execute! Our most recent purchase was a new bathroom light and medicine cabinet.

house items
Now, this might not be the most exciting thing to some, but it’s pretty darn exciting to us :-).

This week on my day off while Calvin is at daycare repainted the downstairs bathroom. Woot woot. Now that we have a baby my desire to DIY home things has drastically diminished. If I happen to have a day off while we’re normally paying for daycare I’m willing to do something while he’s gone, but I don’t really enjoy trying to sand and paint things while he’s around. He’s an active baby who has a fairly short attention span and wants our attention. Not a good recipe for DIYing. We managed to get a new front door and paint it a lovely purple during a few evenings after he went to bed. Kevin finds more time to work on projects during the evenings while I work or when I’m at choir rehearsal.

Sometimes our organization fails to motivate me. We made a chores list so I could help Kevin with them when he’s feeling busy (he does most of the cleaning around the house each week), but we discovered I never look at it. Also, when I try and do the things Kevin routinely does, I don’t do them the same way and it drives him a bit crazy. So, I try and pick up a few things I like doing–cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes, deep cleaning the bathrooms every few weeks, dusting/getting cobwebs every once in awhile. Kevin’s routine (getting garbage, sweeping/mopping the floors, watering the plants, cleaning the toilets) remains his unless he specifically asks for help.

I think I’ve slowly morphed into someone who really values a clean, organized life. So far it’s been easy to accommodate Calvin’s relative messiness and toys, but as he gets older he’ll get more messy and have more things (which is a good thing!). I’m sure we’ll find new ways to adapt to that, though that sometimes causes a bit of friction and growing pains.

Do any of you have little organizational routines that help you manage the busy-ness of life?

Jewel

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2 thoughts on “Organizing our lives

  1. Marcus and I have a whiteboard on the fridge where we write to do list items. I like having something so visual, and then whoever gets to it first has bragging rights over the other about being more productive 😉

    If we have items with a specific time (like a doctor’s appointment or dinner with someone), those go on a shared family calendar synced between our phones. That’s been wonderful to have because as a very forgetful person, I enjoy having something remind me an hour before an event that I should make myself presentable / leave work / get ready!

    We have a google spreadsheet for our budget but aren’t very good at looking at it regularly and following it to a T. We both are slight money avoiders…. Not that we avoid spending money but we avoid thinking about it that much. We are working on that though!!

  2. I *LOVE* this post!!! Especially the house projects spreadsheet. We have house projects on a paper on the fridge in time units (this semester, the summer, the distant future) and that works for us. We also keep a grocery list on the fridge and add to it whenever we use something up rather than trying to remember things before going to the store (I don’t know how anyone lives without doing this.) And, we both use Google calendar and can turn the other one’s calendar on when we want to see it. Tom only puts commitments like teaching on his calendar, but I put everything I have to do on the calendar (including independent work– you have to make time for it sometime!) so mine is very cluttered. No calendar for Echo as he doesn’t have daycare. But, we try to not leave him at home alone for 8 hours unless we really need to (and we usually don’t, with two afternoon-heavy schedules.)

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