My mom used to carry around her Covey planner like it was life. She called it her “brain.” I remember when she lost her brain, she offered us one dollar to help her find it. I always thought it was funny that her brain was so important because, as a kid, I just didn’t see what was crucial about keeping track of, well, anything. Oh, how time passes, and we all grow to relish in the ignorance of childhood!
As an adult, I hadn’t embraced the digital world because I liked to actually write things down. It used to be that I had a brain too, a small planner that I tucked into my purse filled with scribbled notes, appointment times, and shopping lists. That all changed when cloud technology came around, and I found ways to organize, sync, and back up my life so that I was never more than a click away from sanity, no matter the device.
Here’s how I use technology to keep up and on track:
Online calendars. My husband and I both have Gmail accounts that we use for our personal accounts. We share our calendars with each other, and, using color coding, we easily see what the other is doing.
We sit down once a month and list out birthdays, parties, and special events and plan into your schedule the time you need to prepare. For example, if I have a baby shower on the 22nd, I will write a time in my calendar to go pick up a gift. I might notice that on the 15th I have a doctor’s appointment in Southlake, where there is a conveniently located toy store, so I’ll put in my calendar a time to hit up the toy store after the doctor’s appointment.
Use your calendar to write out your menu. Every two weeks, when I plan my grocery shopping, I write our menu. Before bed, I look at the next day’s events and review our menu. This reminds me to set out anything that might need to thaw or ensure the menu still fits with our schedule. If something popped up and I no longer have time to make the planned dinner, I reschedule it for a different day, and swap it for something simple, like spaghetti and green beans.
Reminders that integrate with your calendar. I use Inbox by Google which comes with a reminders feature. During the same time I plan out my month, I also plan out the tasks I need to complete. I will write reminders for my cleaning schedule (bathrooms are always on Wednesday), sending birthday cards (a week early so I’m not late), or researching swimming lessons for my son. This is really helpful when I’m having a thought (like I need to schedule my yearly OB/GYN appointment), but it’s too soon for me to do it, so I enter my reminder, set the date, and then I can clear my mind of that task! My phone will let me know when it’s time.
Online budgeting. I use a simple Google Sheet to keep track of our bills. I sit down twice a month to pay all the bills until the next paycheck. As they’re paid, I highlight the cell to a different color to keep track. I then calculate how much we’ll need for groceries, gas, birthday events, dining out, and anything else on our calendars and leave that in the bank. Anything leftover from that amount I move to savings. There’s no need for a fancy budgeting tool — if it’s not in the account, we can’t use it.
If fancy budgeting tools are your thing, I have used EveryDollar and You Need a Budget in the past, with great success.
Pictures! This topic deserves an exclamation point because, at one point, pictures TOOK OVER MY LIFE! When I first had my son, I took pictures on a camera, and then I transferred them to my computer once a month, backed them up to our back up drive, and burned them onto a physical disc for safe keeping. Tired yet? I was. Not surprisingly, this dedication took a dive with time and added responsibilities. Now, I use my phone to take every day pictures. My phone automatically backs them up to a location of my choosing, which I can access from any device . . . anywhere.
Google Photo will sync your images to your drive. Google Photo is awesome because it has built in editing options and filters. However, you are limited to how many you can store in your drive for free. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can backup an unlimited amount of pictures to your Amazon Cloud storage.
Shopping lists. I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to have a shared shopping list, like Out of Milk or Google Keep for shopping lists. Because I keep my phone handy, anytime I think of something we need (like when I’m using our last laundry detergent pack), I write it on my shared shopping list I keep with my husband. I can remember what I need during my weekly shopping trip, or my husband can see what we need when I send him to a last minute grocery run.
I’m always looking to improve my digital routine! Tell me, how do you stay organized?