Monday, January 5, 2015

Tips for Simplicity and Organization

Simplicity and organization are two things that I really like to have, and they can also make life go more smoothly, productively, and enjoyably! I know I still have a lot to learn in these areas, though I have learned a few things over the years. :) Some that have been a help to me are . . .


1) Have a regular morning routine

This can make a great difference in the flow of the day! During the month of December, I had gotten off of parts of my normal routine and am in the process of getting back on track with it. It can be so helpful to have the same routine every morning as it gets to be a habit and the more one does something, the faster they are at it (sometimes anyway. :)

And for me, I also really like to get the house all in order at the start of the day so routinely fitting in the daily cleaning tasks fairly early in the morning is very nice!

 A section cover page in my homemaking binder

After getting up and ready for the day, my morning routine as of right now looks something like this (though the order can vary somewhat) . . . .

~ Read my Bible
~ Check a few things on the computer
~ Start laundry if needed
~ Either make breakfast or have what's already made (waffles in the freezer, granola, etc.)
~ Start bread if needed
~ Wash dishes or do morning animal chores (Leah and I take turns)
~ Tidy up the downstairs
~ Shake out the rugs and sweep the kitchen, dining room, and entryway floors
~ Vacuum the living room if needed
~ Clean the bathrooms as needed
~ Plan out the rest of the dinner menu (more on this in just a bit)
~ And at some point, go for a walk/run with Leah (a couple of times a week)

This is pretty much what my weekday mornings look like (when I keep up with my routine, that is!), though it is very fluid. On days when there are things like a big project to do or we are going somewhere or there is something else that needs to be done in the morning, the housecleaning can wait and the walk/run will be squeezed in later in the day if possible.

As helpful as it is to have a schedule/routine, it is something I follow loosely as I want to be available for whatever needs or circumstances come up such as if a family member wants to talk, needs help with something, etc.

2) Plan a weekly menu

In our home, my Mom will cook for two weeks and then Leah and I do two weeks. At the start of our two week cycle, we plan out the menu and make a grocery list. We always used to plan out the meals in detail with what sides, salads, and breads to make along with the main dishes.

For me, though, that didn't work quite as well as I would like as some days there would end up not being enough time to make what was planned, or during the garden season, we couldn't know two weeks in advance what produce or how much of it would be ready, etc.

Planning in process - my recipe binder on the left and the start of a menu on the right

Now I found a method that works better! Still plan out the main dishes to have for two weeks (and these are always flexible), then in the morning of each day, plan out the sides, choosing what will fit best with what is planned for the day. For example, if I know I will be gone during the day, something like rolls would likely not be on that day's menu. :)

3) Make a daily to-do list . . . the night before!

This is so helpful to me! I keep running lists of things that need to be done whether it be: out of the ordinary cleaning tasks, making household products, writing someone, outdoor work, garden tasks, etc. I also have a list of fun projects that I would like to do such as furniture pieces to refinish, clothing to sew, and more.

My Current 'Fun' Project List :)

Most every evening, while referring when needed to both of my running 'lists of things to do', I will write down what all I would like to, or need to, get done the next day. Many times, I will also number them by importance. The next day then, once the morning routine is finished, I don't have to take time trying to figure out what next to do as it is already planned out! (And again, this is fluid and always subject to change.)

This takes just a few minutes to do and is so helpful to me in being able to remember and accomplish what needs to be done the next day!

What are some things that you all have found helpful to be more organized and for simplifying your day to day life?


  1. I am and have always been quite hopeless at this stuff. I am reducing the stress in my life at present and trying to work a schedule that works for us.

  2. I lie to be organised, Sarah. I think it comes from my many years as a teacher! But equally I have to be ready for everything to change at a moment's notice, so I don't make lists now...except in my head!

  3. I like the idea of a morning routine and have never really had one except to get up get my son to school and work at home. But I have changed the working at home routine somewhat as I have stepped out of doing wholesale for awhile. Just exhausted. Now I want a tidy home and may start the lists at night and I really like your idea of making a weekly or bi-weekly menu list. That would save me multiple trips to the grocery store for forgotten or missed items. Thanks so much for sharing! God bless.

  4. Sarah, I have just read both your most recent posts with much enjoyment : )
    I have had the very quote you mention from Proverbs in my side bar for quite a long while ~ its a good one, and for me summarises what I shall try to do this year too, namely 'Trust God' wherever that may lead! May you be blessed as you too follow this theme.
    It is exciting to be at the start of a new year! Your post on organization has made me want to plan out our meals better. I do make lots of lists already ~ before Christmas it got a little out of hand! Loads of bits of paper everywhere!Works well, though.
    It amused my husband, as I also draw little pics alongside the items : )

    I'll love to pop over here more and see your year unfold.


  5. Sometimes what works for one, doesn’t work quite as well for another, Suze! What you are doing now sounds like a great idea. I hope you are able to find a schedule that works well for you!

  6. I can see why having been a teacher would lend to liking to be organized now, Elizabeth!

    I think what you shared is really important . . . being ready to change at a moment’s notice. We really do not know what tomorrow brings so any plans or schedules we make, should all be held loosely and open to wherever the Lord leads. And lists in your head work, too! :)

  7. Welcome to my blog, Cathy, and thank you for your comment! I enjoyed reading what you shared. I had always liked the idea of a morning routine, too, but it has only been in the last year or so that I implemented it. It might not be something I always do, but it sure is a help for now!

    That’s great that you are able to work from home! Hopefully stepping away from wholesale will give you the rest you need and provide the time for you to do those things you would like in your home. And if you start making your to-do lists the night before, I hope it ends up working well for you!

    Yes, having a weekly or bi-weekly menu really does help to cut down on multiple trips to the grocery store!

    You’re welcome for sharing!

  8. Welcome to my blog, Alex, and thank you for your kind comment! I am glad that you enjoyed reading the posts. I in turn enjoyed reading what all you shared!

    That is wonderful that you have the verses from Proverbs on your side bar . . . they are a wonderful and often needful reminder (at least for me they are!)

    I had to laugh about what you said about lists getting a little out of hand. I have had that happen before, too! I guess one can end up being a little *too* organized sometimes! Drawing pictures to go along with the things on your list would make them a little more fun to use. :)

    Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy your future visits!

  9. You have a wonderful system! I do something similar and have to agree with you about meal planning. I get so many sporadic harvests from our garden (which is almost year round) that I need to create according to it. Thank you for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week Sarah. You have a lovely place here...

  10. I really enjoyed reading about your Daily Schedule Sarah
    So workable and well thought out - you are able to achieve so much and are such a good example of using your time productively

    What time do you go to bed? I seem to have lost the art of going to bed early which results in later starts in the mornings and as a consequence feel I am always trying to catch up with everything I want to do
    I would appreciate any advice you have on getting an earlier night


    PS. It has been lovely catching up with all your posts

  11. Thank you, JES, for stopping by and for your kind comment!

    You’re welcome for sharing there . . . and thank you for hosting it!

  12. It was good to hear from you again, Fiona! I didn’t realize you were still reading. :) Thank you for leaving a comment!

    I am glad that you enjoyed the post! And thank you for your kind words. I had typically been going to bed around 9:30-10:00, but for the last month or so, it has been later which means I have been getting up later, too. :( I am shifting my schedule back now to earlier nights and mornings, though. I can so relate to what you shared about trying to catch up on everything when getting up later in the morning! The same thing happens to me as well. It really makes a difference in the flow of my day if I am up early!

    As far as advice for getting to bed earlier . . . hmm . . . I am not sure I really have any other than just being disciplined to do it!

  13. Sarah,
    I am so glad I found you blog! I've really been enjoying reading your posts.

    Organizing is such a challenge for me. It's been something I've attempted to tackle with God, given up, and am now feeling poked by Him to give it another shot. It's especially challenging because I work part time to help my husband, so my schedule is different every week!
    Routine has become impossible, though I dearly wish I could have it. I've been attempting to plan out every week as it comes, hoping that maybe God will provide some good training out of it.

    I really like your idea of planning out your side dishes the morning of. I will need to try that. We have a garden like you, and you can't know what will be available when.

    A nightly to do list is another helpful idea. There are always those odd projects that run amok, or never get done. Having a list helps a lot I bet.

    Do you ever struggle feeling discouraged when you to do list is very, very long?

    Thanks for posting!

  14. Welcome to my blog, Christina, and thank you for your comment! I enjoyed reading it and ‘meeting’ you. :)

    Organizing isn’t always easy, that’s for sure! And I would imagine especially so with your schedule. If you do give it another try, hopefully it will go smoothly for you! That’s great that even if having a regular routine isn’t possible for you right now, that you try to plan out every week. I am sure that is helpful!

    I am glad that you enjoyed my posts and found some helpful ideas in this one!

    Yes, sometimes I do feel discouraged when the to-do list is very long! This was something that I used to struggle with quite a bit, yet through various life experiences including two years ago being very sick, needing to recover for quite a few months, and not being able to do much of anything during that time, I learned the importance of letting go of what *I* feel needs to be done, realizing that it is okay to not accomplish everything I want or even need to, realizing what is truly of importance, trusting God to help me do those things that are of the most importance and are what He wants me to do, and then letting go of the rest.

    I do still sometimes get discouraged, though, when I see how much needs to be done sometimes! But then I just remind myself of the lessons learned and keep chipping away at the to-do list. :) I never really ever catch up, but at least I keep making progress!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)