Programming Note (& a Friday Photo)
Fun Times at Lego KidsFest

Now, about those index cards ...

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Several readers left questions about the weekly index cards I mentioned in Wednesday's post so I thought I'd talk a little about how I use them ... as well as how I've used them in the past ... and how I might use them again in the future. Lol, confused yet?

So, you all know how much I love planners and planning systems, but have I ever confessed how addicted I am to office supplies? I think I probably have - which leads me to believe I've blogged about index cards before - but I can't locate the exact post, so I decided to write up something new ...

I first read about an index card-based chore system years ago in Sidetracked Home Executives. ("We change lives with 3x5's!") This book (originally published in 1977) is a real gem - wonderfully funny and filled with great ideas and plenty of helpful lists. It was after reading the S.H.E. book that I went out and purchased my first few packages of multicolored index cards, tabbed dividers and a small plastic file box. I got it all set up ... tried it for a couple of days (maybe a week) ... and then decided it didn't quite work for me. All the same, I kept the supplies on hand.

(Side note ~ I think a post on office supplies would be fun, don't you?)

Then, a couple of years ago I read a reader tip in Family Fun magazine about using multicolored index cards as a sort of daily to-do planner. I thought it was a fantastic idea so I tried something along those lines (using those stowed away supplies), and again - it worked for about a week - but then I fizzled out.

The bottom line is, I really do like (need) to have some form of daily planning in my life, but it's hard to find a product and/or system that feels right. I'm running a home not an office, so I don't need to plan in 15 minute increments - but I do need a place to write down things to keep in mind on any given day. Lately I've been using a spiral-bound page a day planner (seen in this post) but I remain intrigued by those colorful cards and their possible uses.

(Spoken like a true office-supply junkie, lol!)

For now, I'm using index cards as a means of displaying my weekly routines. On multicolored cards (as shown below) I wrote down my weekly household chores - one card per day of the week - and I posted them near where I work ("command central," as we've discussed). They're a great visual reminder of what to do each day.

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Now, we moms tend to keep our household routines somewhat straight in our heads, but I personally find reminders very helpful. Some days my head is in so many places, it's easier to look at a list than it is to pick my brain for my next thought or action. These cards (which can be laminated for longer life) are also helpful when a mom gets ill - or is away from home for one reason or another. 

My own weekly routine is as follows:

Monday: clean bedrooms*, start laundries

Tuesday: clean bathroom*, continue laundries

Wednesday: clean kitchen*, start menu/marketing list, finish laundries, organize recycling

Thursday: put out trash/recycling, clean living room and family room*, look at grocery store circular, organize coupons, prepare next week's file folder

Friday: clean learning room*, finalize menu/marketing list, prepare newspaper payment, clean out pocketbook, gather library returns

Saturday: put out newspaper payment, food shopping/errands, library run, clean playroom, home/garden maintenance, begin lesson/week plan

Sunday: bake, clip coupons, finish lesson/week plan, organize materials, work in journal, organize DVR

(*These tasks are further broken down into individual steps on the card - i.e. dust/wipe surfaces, vacuum, strip beds, etc.)

(Now please let me stress that it's rare - so rare - that I keep up with all the tasks on my cards! My household is hardly a model of efficiency! Still, everything I write down does need to be done, ideally. Some tasks are more pressing than others - the food shopping must happen, whether I prepare for it or not. Do I need to go through the pantry? Look at the circular? Organize the coupons? Write out a dinner plan? Not necessarily, but when I do, the whole process goes more smoothly - from the shopping itself to getting wholesome dinners on the table all week. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but sometimes it's nice just to acknowledge that what we do really does matter. Even the little things add up to make life run more smoothly for our families.)

So I use just the one set of weekly routine cards at present, but in the interest of this post, I set up the file box in the top photo as if I was following a daily card system. The weekly routine cards are propped up in the lid (the current day facing front), and the main portion of the box is filled with cards for each day of the year, separated by monthly tab dividers.

When a task or appointment comes up, I can quickly find the corresponding card, jot down the information, and re-file it in my box. The "dummy" card I made up yesterday for the sole purpose of this post, shows how I would use it, showing notes like:

11:00 dentist appointment

send blurbs to newsletter editor

check Crackerjack's cleats 

remember to have the boys look at the full moon

These tasks were all time-sensitive - specific to this particular Friday - and this is why I find a daily planner helpful.

The system is not really portable as a whole, but the day's card can come with you when you are out and about; you could simply slip it in your pocket or purse. I've also seen card keepers and cases (I may even have *ahem* bought one once) that can hold dozens of cards at a time. 

Well, I guess I'd better wrap things up since this has now become a monster of a post, lol! I'm pretty happy with the planning system I'm using now, but I do think index cards can be a wonderful tool for planning your days and keeping your housekeeping on track. I'll keep you all posted on how things are working (or not) for me and in the meantime, I'd LOVE to hear from readers who use index cards in one way or another. Or better yet - whatever your system - how do you keep yourself on track during the day?

My thanks, as always, for stopping by - I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. I probably won't post again until Monday (tomorrow is a super busy day) so until then, stay safe and be well! :)

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