Monday, October 31, 2011

Organization // Monthly Planning Session

Wow, it’s been a busy couple weeks! I’ve been planning events and keeping people organized…loving every minute of it. But I am happy for a lull in my schedule.

 Whenever my work has me busy with special events, I usually end up making sacrifices in other areas. I allow myself to do this for a short season of time, but if I’m not careful I can get out of balance and develop some bad habits. Things that may suffer include cleaning, exercise, seeing friends, communication with my husband and my spiritual life.  I’ve learned to let the less important things slip first (cleaning can wait - God and my husband cannot).

Thankfully, this time I didn’t end up in too much of a whirlwind, but God was definitely calling me to refocus. And perfect timing too; a new month begins in just a few hours…

That brings me to the real topic of this post: Developing a Monthly Planning Session.

I found it is so much easier to stay on top of my priorities, goals, to-do’s…everything…when I sit down at the beginning of the month and think through it all. One thing that helps me is my home management binder where I can keep all my lists together. Here is what’s inside:

1) Monthly Calendar
I include in my calendar everything I know that will take place that month: Family birthdays, Adam’s work schedule, special events at church, days I’ll be out of town, Bible study days, photo shoots or anything else I have a date for. Definite events are written in pen; possible events are written in pencil.

2) Monthly Shopping List
I’ve learned to shop sales with coupons and build up a stockpile for most items. So it is really easy for me to predict what items I will need to look for during a month. I will make a list of any gifts, household, toiletries or clothing items we may need (grocery lists are done weekly). Then I get online to some of my favorite coupon sites and map out a shopping plan for our household and toiletries items. There are a couple sites that post weekly ads in advance…so I can see if my needed items are at a good price this week, or even better price next week. Check them out here:,

3) To-Do List
My to-do list is actually daily to weekly, rather than monthly. But I will take time at the beginning of the month to reassess my priorities, or consider any special projects I’ve been wanting to do. Usually I will write it in on an up-coming day’s to-do list to I don’t forget to get it started.

4) Menu-Planning / Cleaning Schedule / Car Maintenance Log
These are miscellaneous items that I use as I need them. Sometimes I will attempt to plan a menu for a week, but my husband and can’t seem to stick to one. If we will be home together for dinner, we usually figure out what we feel like eating by mid-afternoon (always based on food items we already have on hand). I’ve learned to keep food each of us like available for those nights we aren’t together. Seems to work for us for now.

A cleaning schedule helps break down tasks into smaller chunks. I have a list of things I try to do daily (pick up clutter, do the dishes), things that should be done weekly (laundry, vacuum, clean the bathroom) and then things that can be done monthly (scrub the floors, cycle clean the dishwasher).  As much as I enjoy cleaning, I have yet to stick to my cleaning schedule. But it all gets done eventually. J

And the car maintenance log is just an easy way to keep track of routine maintenance or fixes done on our vehicles. No more guessing when to get the oil changes or if we rotated the tires. Easy!


My management binder isn’t very pretty, but it is functional (which pleases my husband J). I use pocket divider tabs to keep sections separated. The pockets are useful for storing coupons near the shopping lists, Groupons near the menu plan, and greeting cards near the gift list. Almost everything I need to run the home is in the binder….except our budget.

The budget is another important monthly task, but thankfully, I do not manage this part of our lives. My amazing husband has that responsibility. We do make a point of communicating about the budget at the beginning of each month and I always have access to the budget computer file. I feel this open communication is essential for handling finances in a marriage. It is especially important since I do most of the spending…I need to know how much we have allotted to spend!

I’d love to hear from you. Do you have a monthly or weekly routine for keeping yourself on track? Is there something you use (like a binder or calendar system) that helps you? Please share!