Color-Coded-Calendar (& Link to a FREE PRINTABLE!)

Posted on Tue 10/22/13 in Getting Organized series

We call this technique the “funnel” technique, because when I start to feel guilty that I can’t keep it all together and laundry is suffering, gardening, blogging, projects around the house, and our budget are suffering, it really helps to have a funnel to narrow down my choices. The simplest solution is just to act.

Things haven’t been going to plan this last week or two. I know this is true, because a couple days ago I started making a fancy color-coded calendar.

Anytime someone starts to make something color-coded, it’s a sure sign they’re either grasping for a way to hang on, or they just don’t know what they’re doing! Like the toddler that would rather dance all around the living room rather than go to the bathroom, adults reclaim control with the use of pretty colors.
Nonetheless, I’m excited to share with you my color-coded, organization creation. There’s a link to a free printable down below.

Here’s how it started:

I needed a way to give things up. Choosing something to give up just wasn’t an option. Each of the responsibilities we carry are important all in their own way. There’s no way we can give up being a friend when a friend is needed. We can try to find ways to reduce the dinner stress in our lives by freezer-cooking or meal-planning among other things, but those measures all require steps that need to be put into place and take time to implement and learn. There’s no way we can give up our kids’ activities, or work-related tasks. So what suffers? Working out, cleaning the house, our creative-flow – that’s what. When there’s just too much on your plate, something has to budge, but what?

When a healthy family is swapped for a family that’s just plain fed, and sleep is swapped for time spent with your spouse, that’s when you know it won’t be long before the funnel starts to overflow and you’re busting out the color-coded flow-charts again.

But they sure do seem to help, don’t they!

3 weeks ago, I found a way to eliminate the guilt in my life.

The way it works is like this: the brilliancy for me behind this calendar is that it’s separate from my real work and appointment calendar. The idea behind it is that it provides me with a go-to when I find myself torn in indecision, or feeling badly because I got off track with the projected plan for the week, or when I start to feel overwhelmed. Let me give you an example, perhaps I find myself feeling guilty for wanting to sit down and watch a TV show, I’m sure there are things that should be done around the house, but if I feel really that guilty about it I could always pull up my calendar and accomplish the 15 to 45 minute task I had assigned myself earlier in the month. The beauty of it is that everything can be set to generate automatically as recurring tasks. Some of the things you schedule yourself for on this calendar are liable to be unrealistic, but it doesn’t matter if I know I won’t really remember to work-out 3 times a week, but it gives me PERMISSION to sit down on Tuesdays and enjoy an evening sitting at the computer writing a blog-article without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else. It gives me permission to plan out my life in an ideal fashion. IF I REALLY HAD TIME TO DO ALL THE THINGS I REALLY NEED TO HAVE TIME FOR, THIS IS HOW I WOULD DO IT. Some of it is chores-related, some of it is fitness & exercise, other tasks can be thrown in too. You can finally schedule that once-a-month cleaning of the refrigerator, and the once-a-month task of paying bills, and at the same time you have flexibility to throw in seasonal chores that at least in my life are never even on the radar.

Here’s how to do it:

Hack my attached “Dinner Plan”

which is as simple as a list of 28 generic meal ideas to be made over the next month. Save this Microsoft Word file to your desktop, and revise it a bit to fit your family’s needs. It’s pretty generic, so it’s a great starting place. Ours has 2 pizza nights, 1 breakfast for dinner, 3 mexican nights, 1 homemade American Chinese night, a spaghetti night, you get the idea… Print your revised generic list and plaster it right to the fridge.

Schedule in recurring tasks for weekly snack & lunch prep

and weekly surface cleaning on Sundays. Total time for these 2 tasks every Sunday: roughly a half-hour to an hour, depending on how crazy you go with the snack & lunch prep. I decided to make it a habit to spend 15 minutes on Sundays surface cleaning the main areas of our home, and another 15 to 45 minutes prepping the fridge with our lunches and snacks for the week. This is the only thing I’ve scheduled in on Sundays, giving me lots of freedom & flexibility for the weekend, while still ensuring that we get off to a good start on Monday mornings.

Schedule in your laundry timetable.

However you do laundry, put it in your calendar that way. Laundry can be the biggest de-motivator that exists. Everybody has their own way of handling laundry, and I know from experience that my way is not likely to work for you. There are numerous blogs out there citing what works and what doesn’t – but the truth is, everybody has a system. Once a week laundry works great for us. Your way might be a load a day, or you may do something entirely different. I call it once-a-week laundry and I schedule it on Saturdays, but realistically it’s kind of a ‘get all the laundry done on the weekend’ kinda thing. Whatever it is, load it into your calendar now.

Fitness is SURPRISINGLY the next easiest thing to block schedule.

Not that I’m currently doing any fitness right now, but I still found it easy to schedule it in as if I was. Remember that time when you were really good about working out and you really got into shape? Block it into your calendar like that right now. Remember, this is your ideal calendar —- IF I REALLY HAD TIME TO DO ALL THE THINGS I REALLY NEED TO HAVE TIME FOR, THIS IS HOW I WOULD DO IT. We are typically very limited as to when we can work out. Gyms & Fitness Classes have hours and schedules, outdoor fitness requires daylight, and at-home fitness is limited to times when we can “get rid of the kids”, having both time and space to ourselves. These restrictions on when and how many times a week we can actually work out make it surprisingly easy to schedule or block fitness in, -it also makes it the easiest thing we give up as well; but whether or not we accomplish the things on this calendar is not the point of this calendar. As mentioned above, the brilliancy for my brain behind this calendar is to give me a go-to when I find myself torn in indecision, or feeling badly because I got off track, or whenever I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. No matter if I’ve not done anything on my calendar for the last week, at anytime I can always pull it up and accomplish the 15 to 45 minute task I had assigned myself earlier in the month. The beauty is in the recurring tasks.

Schedule Once-A-Month items.

For me, this included a monthly Meal/Fitness/Household Planning night, and a monthly clean out the fridge night. I saved Fridays for the bi-weekly tasks, because Friday’s are never consistent; so if I miss a Friday here or there, at least I can make up the household chore or task in 2 weeks. Friday’s are quick bathroom cleaning, or dust/sweep/mop days.

Determine your time of the day or night

when you have “you-time”. Time when you are most-likely to be free. When is the time of day or night that you are most likely to try to get something accomplished? I discussed this with my DF, and together we decided on a time-frame. I explained to him that since tuck-in is at 8, I would like “my-time” to be from 8-8:45, because so often I am right in the middle of doing something before tuck-in, and I don’t want to abandon my task after tuck-in so that we can watch a show together (which was our usual practice). I begged & pleaded and finally got my way – but it is easier for him to be interrupted than for me get side-tracked, so show-time for us now starts at 8:45 and goes until 9:15. Being a CPA, this works well for me because during busy season I can be in bed by 9:30. We don’t always watch shows together, so on nights when we don’t I get extra time to myself to paint my nails, read a book, or take a bath. Sometimes I just sit on FB & Pinterest, but let’s be honest – that time can be just as relaxing and is equally important that I allow for it, or I’ll find myself absorbed in it at other times of the day.

The Funnel Technique

We call this technique the “funnel” technique, because when I start to feel guilty that I can’t keep it all together and laundry is suffering, gardening, blogging, projects around the house, and our budget are suffering, it really helps to have a funnel to narrow down my choices. The simplest solution is just to act. That’s what this technique does for me – I can arbitrarily set it up once, set everything to be recurring, and whenever I don’t know what to do, I just start with whatever the calendar says.

So when things start to get overwhelming, and everything starts spilling over the top, I want you to remember this F-word, instead of the other one: “Funnel It!” And you can skip the fancy color-coded organizational charts if you want to!

(But if you do want the download, it’s down below)


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