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to ask how you become organised and together? Seriously how??

(804 Posts)
inatrance Sun 01-Jan-12 23:17:16

This is a question for any of you who used to be disorganised/flaky and are now organised and sorted. I have been like this for so long and I drive myself and everyone around me crackers. I'm unbelievably forgetful, I am late a lot and I'm rubbish with finances. I'm so fed up of cringing because I'm so bloody rubbish and make stupid mistakes all the time! sad

I've got an 8mth DS and a 10yo DD and while I've always had disorganised tendencies, since I had DS, it's gone from bad to ridiculous and I feel like I am constantly trying to catch up with myself.

I'm self employed (which is for the best as even I'd have sacked me by now) and have somehow managed to run my businesses haphazardly over the last ten years without fucking up too massively. Well, not often anyway... blush

Well, no more, I've had enough. I am using the New Year to kick me up the arse and I need your help.

If you used to be crap and are now brilliant and incredibly organised, please, please tell me how you did it. What changed in your mind and where the hell did you start?

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Sun 01-Jan-12 23:20:36

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

HandMini Sun 01-Jan-12 23:21:33

Diary. Wall planner. To do lists. Routines like always sitting down to pay bills and check bank account once a month. All boring but necessary. You either embrace chaos and enjoy living that kind of life, or you simply add organisation to your daily chores.

YonderRevoltingPeasantWhoIsHe Sun 01-Jan-12 23:22:46

OP I am naturally the world's most enormous procrastinator and also disorganised - throughout uni had several times where couldn't afford to buy food due to humungous library fines bill and similar silly things.

In one week I nearly lost my PhD place through failing to respond to an email, went overdrawn through failing to make sure I had enough money in the a/c to cover a bill, and got charged by the French tax authorities for not paying a bill on time. Enough!!

I diarise. Write down everything I need to do and allocate it a time and do it. Have a BlackBerry with reminders on and also a paper diary. My last office I put a whiteboard with medium and long term goals on to help me keep them in sight. When I have a 'new' period of time starting, like New Year or Easter or something, I make a list of what I want to get done, keep it realistic, and then then put it on a specific day to do.

Also, all bills on DD so I can't forget. Every time a letter comes that requires a response, it gets responded to before I am allowed to sit down on coming in the door or put in the diary. I check my bank account every morning first thing online to make sure no money probs. Those are two pretty simple habits right there!

whethergirl Sun 01-Jan-12 23:23:39

The thing that really done if for me was when I sat down one day to go through about 2 years worth of unopened bank statements to find out all sorts of terrible things (like direct debits that I no longer needed).

One of the best things I did was get a good diary. I always get a Quo Vadis diary. One year I thought I'd get a cheapo one and it made such a difference. I do find a good diary and a good way of listing/prioritising is essential. You may want to look up Stephen Covey's time management quadrant.

YonderRevoltingPeasantWhoIsHe Sun 01-Jan-12 23:24:41

Also on Fridays have a scheduled hour for looking back through last week or two's diary to make sure I haven't missed anything.

I have a rep at work for being scarily organised but I know I am secretly a disaster waiting to happen wink

Collision Sun 01-Jan-12 23:25:42

will post tomorrow

BertieBotts Sun 01-Jan-12 23:31:44

I remember a really long thread on here ages ago about lateness and one of the things on it was that people who are chronically late don't tend to consider themselves late until the time they're meant to be there. So if you're meeting someone at 10 you don't feel late until it is past 10, no matter what stage of getting ready or getting there you are at. Whereas someone who is good at being on time would be mentally plotting out that it takes 20 minutes to get there so they need to leave by 9.40, and it takes them an hour to get ready so they need to start getting ready by 8.40. If they were still messing around on MN at 9, they would notice the time and think "Shit! I'm late!" whereas the chronically late person thinks "Oh I've got loads of time, I don't have to be there until 10."

I definitely used to do this and still do to an extent blush but I hadn't realised that other people literally plan in time to get ready and factor that into their "Am I late?" calculations - so I've started to do that and it helps a lot.

Also something which came out was a fear/hatred of being early (so to counter this, put some games on your phone/carry a book around with you/plan to get a coffee before work or something if you're early) and the other one was underestimating how long it takes you to do things (which need to be done before you leave) or get to places, and forgetting to add in extra time for unexpected delays (probably related to the hatred of being early).

slowburner Sun 01-Jan-12 23:36:44

I go through phases of being organised.

I am just turning the corner on sorting out the chaos of our lives. Bought a tiny house six years ago, DH moved in with furniture from a four bed house, we managed but were miserable. Nothing ever got sorted except aevery few months I would tidy by frantically and increasingly creatively hiding everything. Then DC came along and was born very sick, add to our chaos a baby, and a baby that was having many medical appointments each week. ON top of that I wound up my consultancy business and we realised DH would do nothing as it was my house.

We moved house. DC was back in hospital so the removal men bagged everything. NO labels, NO sorting. Bloody nightmare.


Each room write to do list.
Sign up to fly lady idea, see good housekeeping forum on mn
Work out households bills, pay all by dd, check you are getting all discounts etc
Ensure you do a bit each day, be ruthless on clutter
Meal planning. I do week by week. Resourceful cook is great site.
House routines is a good iPad or iPhone app,needs careful set up but I caught DH checking it earlier to see what things he could do while toddler had a nap.

I hit the chaos full on two weeks ago, we are beginning to see some improvements.

Soopermum1 Sun 01-Jan-12 23:42:36

If you have school age kids, does the school do a calendar? I use this as my foundation as it has all sorts of useful info such as term dates already in it. Then, I put everything else in it. It's near the computer so easy to spot and address things like fees that need to be paid eletronically.

Do you have an electronic calendar and/or Blackberry? You could put reminders into that so they flash up at you. I use this for work stuff, not just meetings but anything i need a reminder about.

fromheretomaternity Sun 01-Jan-12 23:55:58

Ooooh I need this thread. I have started asking friends and work colleagues how they get organised, I am catastrophically badly organised and have made major mistakes as a result - missing bill payments, failing to complete work tasks, wasting career opportunities. There are still huge things left undone like not having a will which I know is really bad - has been on the to-do list for a year!!

Getting really geeky about this, what size diary do you use? Do you have a to-do list and if so how do you make sure it has the same things on it as are in the diary? I have to-do lists, task lists for the day, but they get all muddled up and lost, and my to-do list ends up so long it just depresses me and I give up!!

sheepgomeep Sun 01-Jan-12 23:56:31

Op you have my sympathy

I am rarely late for things but that's because I forget that they exist in the first place. I've been kicked out of 2 dentists because I forgot to go to the appts confused

I make lists. And then promptly lose the lists.

My problem is that I don't seem tohave time to just sit and think. I have my youngest dc constantly, no break and she is hard going at times. By bedtime I am exhausted and just want to mumsnet sleep.

I have 4 dc and the eldest has special needs. I so wish I was organised.

shockers Mon 02-Jan-12 00:08:12

I know exactly how you feel. My NY resolution is to become more organised... I'm 45 and haven't nailed it yet.

On Friday, my friend had bought my whole family tickets to the theatre. I was so concious about my usual lateness that I made sure I set off with at least 30 mins to spare... good job because I got the wrong theatre and ended up doing a mad dash across Manchester to the right one. DH missed the performance because he had to drop us and find somewhere to park.

I'm crap but working on it.

EtInTerraPax Mon 02-Jan-12 00:08:20

There is a thread running at present that has BoffinMum on it- that is a v useful thread (I think it's about paperwork organisation, possible in good housekeeping?)

tallwivglasses Mon 02-Jan-12 00:10:25

Thanks for this thread OP. I'm a bedraggled freelancer.I try and keep my desk as clear as possible (apparently you waste seconds/minutes repeatedly glancing all over the crap on your desk).

Also - Do the Shit Tasks First. All those niggly things you've been putting off. Get them Out Of The Way.

Whatever state the rest of your working environment -have a clean sink.

My problem is the filing - virtual and real, it's all a mess.

oreocrumbs Mon 02-Jan-12 00:15:11

I have an A4 portable office. There is a filofax style diary in the front section, and everything goes in that, then the next section is a ring bound note book, I have a page a subject, my house, my rental house (currently about to start major work on), my business, DP's commitments, DD's commitments etc. Also trivial things like shopping lists, the name of the wine I like but never remember, the model no. of the light bulb I need to get next time I'm near a B&Q. It goes everywhere with me, then when you suddenly find yourself needing to know something it is to hand. I like the old fashioned system because I'm crap with technology because its all there in front of you, that bill I needed to query - its in the file so if when I'm at work at 11pm on a thursday night I have some time to kill its there to hand and I can use that time!

In the house you need to make a list and get on top of it - loads of advice in housekeeing on here, and when thats done, you need to keep on top of it, so write a routine, and stick to it. If it says after DC go to bed do XYZ then make sure its done before you turn on the TV etc otherwise it gets left untill tomorrow - and tomorrow never comes smile

LesserOfTwoWeevils Mon 02-Jan-12 00:15:28

Declutter first.
Be ruthless about throwing out junk, and then do it daily.
Have a place for everything and get in the habit of putting things back immediately.
Have a to-do list but don't put more than six things on it. You can't do more than that in a day, so putting more on it is just counterproductive and demoralising.
Have routines.
Always allow extra time for bad weather/traffic/having to go back because you forgot something.

oreocrumbs Mon 02-Jan-12 00:20:14

Try to make as much communication as possible for your business via email so you have a record and also don't forget what you said, too many times while trying too look after DD, make lunch, wrangle animals have I agreed or arranged things and completely forgot about it the very next second!

Switch as much of your household bills paperwork to online too so you don't have that to file away/wade through when looking for something important!

CJCregg Mon 02-Jan-12 00:23:23

I need this thread. Have spent most of today sorting out my office and filing - no wonder I haven't done it before, it takes HOURS ... but it's done now and I'm determined to deal with/file stuff straight away from now on.

I am very good at starting new routines but not sticking to them. I read a brilliant book (I think recommended by someone on MN) called Do It Tomorrow. Really, really good on list-making and how to be realistic about it.

Of course, I never finished it grin

oreocrumbs Mon 02-Jan-12 00:26:12

Also depending on how flexible your work is set down a routine/time planner.
On mine I first put in my family commitments, then my work then my household, it varies from week to week, but on a Friday I like to plan the next week so I know what I'm doing. You are only able to do so much a day so fit it in in a realistic way, if you have been out with DC then working untill 9pm, saying you are going to bottom the kitchen is not reasonable, but saying you will empty bins, put a wash on and throw toys back in the box is!

Helenagrace Mon 02-Jan-12 00:27:14

I get paid to help people be more organised. Seriously. It's what I do for a living. I am a naturally organised person but I work with people who are nothing like me.

The biggest mistake people make is that they try to use someone else's system. What really works is a system that works for you. One that is designed for you.

Firstly think about how you function. Are you a visual person? Do you need to see lists or can you cope if they're in a notebook? Do big lists put you off? Would you be better with smaller lists of similar things like things to do with finance, errands, phone calls to make? Then you could have a daily list of a few things taken from the other lists. Some people I've worked with have set up a job diary instead of lists and write things in on a specific date.

Who else needs to be involved with your system? No point having a perfect planner / diary if it lives in your bag and your OH can't use it as well.

How much space do you have? Are you using it wisely?

Do you have a routine (shift workers are often the hardest to organise)? If so you can do a job of the day or job of the month system.

I'd also recommend timing how long things take you. This allows you to make the most of the time you have. So if I'm going out in 15 minutes I know that I could empty the dishwasher (5minutes) and change a single bed (10 minutes). Voila two jobs done in time that might otherwise have been wasted.

I also try to make time count for double. So if I go into another room think what else needs to be taken there and do that at the same time. Try never to go anywhere empty handed. Do two jobs at the same time when you can. Cook two meals at a time etc.

Plan plan plan. I spend an hour each Sunday night planning meals, lifts, childcare favours etc for the month ahead. I get swimming kits / dance kits/ musical instruments ready then for the week ahead. They go on hooks on the doors in the children's bedrooms.

Get everything ready the night before. I put clothes out including underwear and accessories and change my handbag if I need to. I check my diary and family planner the night before and everything we need is assembled in the hall before bedtime. I leave my diary open on my bedside table to remind me.

My children have laminated checklists stuck to the fridge. No TV until all items are ticked off.

If paperwork is a struggle keep a box with pen, stamps etc by the front door and do it when you check the post. Could you make a little desk for yourself and have an intray if that would work for you? I use a bring forward system for remembering things and I have a reminder on my phone to check it every evening.

Sorry I seem to have done a bit if a head dump and this is long. I hope some of it is helpful. Happy to answer specific questions if you have them.

abbierhodes Mon 02-Jan-12 00:45:50

Helenagrace that post is amazingly helpful! Thanks to the OP for starting this thread.

Is anyone else almost scared to be organised? My to-do list scares me almost as much as my bank balance...the tip above about checking the bank account each morning is brilliant in theory...however in reality I would struggle to sleep if I had that task on my mind. I'm a real 'head in the sand' person, and it does not help.

randommoment Mon 02-Jan-12 00:57:48

An academic year diary. And a ruthless attitude to clutter. An on-off button for small children would be wonderful, but doesn't seem to have been invented yet.

inatrance Mon 02-Jan-12 01:44:31

Just checking in before bed, thank you so much for the frankly brilliant advice already, I am going to re-read properly again tomorrow and take notes! And thank you other disorganised ladies for making me feel better with your tales of disorganisation, I too have missed so many doctors appointments they are sick of me... Oh and I somehow managed to lose ALL our important documents during a house move, amongst many other things.

I will be back!

coldwed Mon 02-Jan-12 03:17:57

Also check that you don't have ADD.

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