One end of my commute is The Ranch. The other end is a small spot we call The Place. My husband and I travel the two hundred miles every weekend to go home to The Ranch, and back two hundred miles come home to The Place for the work week. If I have learned anything from living in two places at once, it is you have to be organized. Unfortunately, I was not born that way. I have, however, managed to come up with several strategies that help me to succeed in keeping both homes from being in total chaos.
The most important tool is keeping myself organized is my notebook. It is just a small spiral, but I use it for notes. First thing every week, either Sunday night or Monday morning, I jot down the things that have to be accomplished for the week. These include any phone calls to be made, appointments, shopping lists for each end, work and cleaning tasks.
I generally write my lists in two columns. Things are divided into general areas: a business area, a ranch area, a chore area, and a personal finance area, etc. I also have two small spots on the page for jotting down reminders for things I need to take to the ranch, and things I need to bring from the ranch.
About ten items are repeated weekly such as doing payroll, updating personal finances, taking the trash out, and going to the post office. These are the first items I put in my new list for the week. I also date the top of the page with the Monday of the week is concerning. Into each of the areas, I add the extra things that need attention such as scheduling a dentist appointment or a note about a special project. I leave a bit of room for a phone number and time in case something comes up and I need to change it or for the next time I need to schedule an appointment. As each task is completed, I check it off. If I do not have to do one of my regular things in a particular week, such as go to the bank, I cross it off rather than check it off. This gives me a visual record that something was not done at all rather than completed.
If something was not completed during the week, I carry that item forward to the next week. For example, “Clean cabinet above the bed.” I did not get a chance to do it last week, so it is scheduled again for this week.
Over the months, some areas of my page have shrunk and others have grown. By mentally categorizing and putting the things to do in same general area every week, I have a record that can travel with me and I can flip through quickly when needed. As we are driving from one end to the other, my husband will ask, “When did we get the oil changed last?” I can thumb back through my notebook and come up with which week it was done.
I write my lists on one only one side of the notebook. This leaves the back of last week’s page blank. Here I have plenty of room to jot down any noteworthy things that need to be referred back to. It is also a place to scribble a quick note or phone number.
The note book has 84 sheets and one usually lasts me about 6 months. When I get a new notebook, I transfer anything pending or unfinished to a page and I also keep the first two pages of a new notebook for listing any information I need to refer back to before retiring the old notebook.
I do not transfer everything. If I need to double check when the oil was changed, I know where my old notebook is and get to it the next time we are on the Ranch end where my “memory file” is stashed.
This system may not work for everyone, but it does for me. It is one of the most basic tools I used to keep the Place and the Ranch organized. Believe me, after running out of husband’s socks on one end or the other, the best thing I can do is to jot myself a reminder that something is low. It will drive you crazy to try to remember which end is out of pancake mix when you are in the store.