Sunday, August 03, 2008

Getting Organized

I am, what some people might refer to, as an organized person. I asked Brian and he agrees this is true. I am detail-oriented and like to have a plan. Unlike some people, I am not obsessive about it. There is one area to my life that I am obessesive about: finances. In that regard, everything must balance to the penny (I am not kidding about this!) or I will find it. I am the type of person who actually reads and analyzes the Statement of Benefits from the insurance company and I reconcile our checkbook to the paper bank statement. I am good with numbers and more importantly, I like them. Well, numbers associated with money. I'm not a fan of algebra or geometry.

All that to say, I am working out the organizing kinks for the fall. Both of the older girls will be attending morning preschool 2 days per week and Lily will be playing soccer this fall. Also, I plan to start Lily on some structured learning this year on the other days and want to work within the confines of an executable, written plan. I am making my menus a month at a time now so that we can save money by buying everything in bulk that we can. In addition to keeping my plans for her education accessible, I also need to maintain the household by tracking all other details. I am in desperate need of some way to keep it all straight. I have certain ideas about what I want in a "planner" and in May, I found a homeschooling-family organizer that I didn't hate. I was thrilled to see that it was published by the same people who have published the family organizers I've used for the last 3 years, even though the homeschooling version didn't do everything I wanted. I knew I could make it work.

But alas, Amy Knapp's Homeschooling Organizer has left a bitter taste in my mouth after not publishing a new one for the 2008-2009 school year and also not responding to my repeated emails (okay, two) asking begging for the new one to be made available after information on her website promised that they would be made available at the end of July.

So I have created my own organizer.

And it will live in a binder.

Very few people know how I feel about binders. Brian knows. Here is a quote from him, "Yeah. Binders. She doesn't like them. At all."

Why don't I like binders? Because they represent a collosal waste of time. Punching holes in paper to save in a binder wastes time. Oodles and oodles of time is wasted punching holes in paper that could be quickly saved by throwing into a file folder. There has never been an office where I have worked that I did not try with all my might to get the binders under my immediate jurisdiction outlawed. Binders facilitate c-r-a-p being saved that would be better served in the trash.

As a rule, I do not like binders. However, for this purpose, I see the need and therefore, the benefit of them. Binders allow information to be added and removed as is necessary. Amy Knapp's Organizer is spiral-bound. You may not permanently add any whole pages of new information and any removed information is permanently out. The set-up is a weekly calendar spread out on two 8.5" x 11". On the left page, there is an area for lesson plans and grocery/supply list (which is removable) and the right page is the weekly calendar column, a column for a To Do List and a Menu column. Before month-end, there is a two-page spread of the next month's calendar for pre-planning, I guess.

Before I started using the homeschooling organizer, I never used the two-page calendar provided in the other organizers. Now, I need about 2 or 3 copies of it. The binder will allow me, with tabs(!), to have and utilize a two-page calendar for menus and another for my lesson plans which I write a month at a time.

I am taking the best of two good things (Amy Knapp's Homeschooling Organizer and FlyLady's Control Journal) and making them into one Excellent.Useful.Product. I have (with Brian's help) already created the template for the actual organizer. FlyLady's idea to keep important information handy is a great one. Before, I had a planner and a Control Journal that I never used. Now I'll have my Excellent.Useful.Product and everything is right where I need it.

To complete it, I'll just need to get better, heavier paper that can stand to being manhandled, kidhandled and momhandled. And a funky binder. I cannot continue on with my boring yellow binder. I'll splurge and get a cool, funky binder.

Excellent.Useful.Products could be tailored to any family...


Anonymous said...

What about buying pre-punched paper?

I am also extremely organized. I have never found a planner that suited me perfectly so I do a binders now.

I do funky little folders from Target with brads. When you use brads, you are WAY less likely to take things out and put things in. Brads are motivation to get things organized correctly at the beginning of the fall season. Get it all organized just right. Brads are my friend.

I have lots of excel spreadsheets that I use as well. Grocery stuff is all done on the computer. I just plug the monthly meal plan in on line. I do it once a month. Then I put in what groceries I need for the whole month. And at that same time, I list what perishables, produce, dairy I will each week. SO when that week rolls around, I already know in advance what I'm going to need.

I use a Quo Vadis planner that fits right into my purse for appointments and events and what kid is supposed to be where and when.

I don't have everything all in one binder or planner - but I've found over the years that if I rely on the binder for calendar notes that I always miss out because I don't carry it everywhere. But I do carry my purse everywhere, so I keep the Quo Vadis with me, and I always know where I'm supposed to be and what's on the calendar.

Love to be organized. You had some good ideas. leisa

Lindsay said...

So when will your organizer be made available to the public? We are waiting...

Georgia said...

Leisa...under no circumstances will I employ bradded folders in this house! Never! Besides the fact that I loathe brads (and have since elementary school) I don't think I'll have the range of motion that a binder will provide.

Lindsay...are you saying you might be interested in an Excellent.Useful.Product? I wondered if there might be a market for them. But you're probably just kidding...

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't get me wrong. I loathe brads, too. I despise brads.

Which is why I am forced to get it all organized once and for all at the beginning of the year - because I will never, ever take those brads out again. And I know this. Because I hate brads.

So this has really helped me to become very organized. Wierd, I know. But very helpful in a bizarre way. Since I haven't found any planner that I liked better than what I've created myself on my own computer - it's this or nothing. ;)

carrie said...

Georgia, I just love you! Your Binder entry made me smile and reminded me how much I like to visit with you! Are you still coming this weekend?

Anonymous said...

You may have found a useful, productive way to influence the lives of others. I bet your organizer ideas would rock!

Georgia said...


I hope you laugh at this (and remember the old me who used to close the booth). There are many days I walk around this house and say, "I cannot work under these conditions..." and run through a litany of organizations of who I will contact to fight for better working conditions. But since this is the homeplace and not the workplace, my options are a lot more limited!

Lindsay said...

I was definitely NOT kidding - I would really be interested in an organizer like this. I think there would be an excellent market for it. =)

Our Country Days said...

Hi Georgia,

I loved your post. I wanted to let you know that Amy now has the 2008-09 Homeschool Organizer available on her website. My problems with ordering it though are: shipping is outrageous and there are no samples to look at so I don't really know what I'm getting. Do you have the one for the previous school year? Did you love it? Is there another online store to buy it from? I looked at Amazon and it's not available. And no samples to look at. :(

Georgia said...

Dear Country Days,

Thank you for your comments! I noticed that Amy did have the Organizer available now, but since I have it in my head to create my own organizer, I am no longer interested in making hers work for me. I am in the process of creating one for myself that does everything I need it to do. I think it can be done and be versatile enough for every family, even those that don't homeschool.

When I ordered the Homeschooling Organizer for 2007-2008, I bought it on eBay. Previously, I used her Family Organizer, but found I didn't have enough room to track our schedule and lesson plans. That's the upside to the big Homeschooling Organizer. However, if you have several children, or older children who have much to do, I would think you would need more "lesson plan" space.

I am in the process of creating my own family homeschooling organizer that can very nearly be custom-tailored to your family specifications. Personally, I need several 2-page calendars per month that I can write my menus on and my lesson plans. I don't want to use one planner for our family and one planner for homeschooling. I want everything together.

Tell me what your needs are and if you might be interested in something like this. I could put my project on a fast track if I thought there was an interest. I have already priced binders and dividers/tabs. I have a vision of a table at homeschooling conferences selling my Excellent.Useful.Product...