Do you want to get organized but can't seem to find the right tools to help you do it? Organizing our homes and our lives is a constant struggle. New things keep entering our homes and new commitments are added to our schedule. However, the right tools can go a long in easing the process. Unlike many tools that claim to help but just wastes more time setting up, the following 5 tools have actually helped in organizing my household and my time.
I know I've talked about it before, but I absolutely love wunderlist for creating to do lists on my phone. You can create numerous checklists for everything you have to do. You can provide notes, set due dates, create sub-tasks and even include files. My favorite part is that you can share lists with other people. Need to get things done in preparation for vacation. Create a list of all the things you need to do and share it with your husband. You can both check things off the list as you get them done. Another idea is to use it for gift ideas for the kids, or the grocery list. You can check out my full review of this app here.
On the other hand, some people are more visual and using mind mapping works much better. If you don't know what a mind map is, it is an organization tool that visually breaks things down from main categories to sub categories. You might have seen them used in school. An example would be a paper with the word "animal" in the center circle and then lines pointing out to other circles with the words "herbivore", "omnivore", carnivore", etc. Off of carnivore might be "lion", tiger", and "bear". Mind maps allow you to break down tasks or ideas into sub-tasks
Mind Meister is both an online and mobile mind mapping tool available for both iOS and Android. You can add photos, or videos, text and icons to maps out projects. So if you are prepping for that vacation you might have vacation as your main category, and packing, pets, home, accommodations, and activities as sub categories. Under pets you might have arrange for pet sitter, pack supplies, create sheet of vet info. As you can see this is a more visual way of breaking down tasks than a typical to do list.
For money management and budgeting, I have found Mint to be my most successful tool. While this tool does require some prep time, I would say that the benefits are worth it. This site and app combinations allows you to create budgets for yourself in all aspects of your life. You create budgets for saving, food, clothes, entertainment, kids, home, utilities, etc. You can make the categories as specific or broad as you like and they provide suggested categories. You link up all of your accounts and they automatically track your spending. You may have to correctly categorize certain payments, but it is pretty good at allocating payments to the correct category.
This app allows you to track spending without having to write down everything you spent each day, saving receipts, and manually tracking online shopping. The only payments you would have to add yourself is whatever you pay in cash. For me that is very little. I generally charge everything and then pay off the full balance each month. I find this to be a far more efficient way of tracking spending than writing it down every day. I do use paper however for calculating savings plans and planning for bigger expenses.
Evernote is a tool for collecting information and like the last two, it is available both online and on mobile devices. You can use it for taking notes and brainstorming as well as organizing incoming information. Researching local daycare centers or preschools? You can gather information from articles and websites and then review them all later.
What I love best is that Evernote syncs across all your devices. So if you think of a brilliant idea when you're out with the kids, all you have to do is whip out your phone, open the Evernote app, and either write it down, record your idea with the voice note feature, or even take a picture. Then you can access what you saved from your computer or iPad or any other device. They have a ton of free add-on products that make saving stuff to Evernote easier. One that I use often is the Chrome extension Evernote Web Clipper that lets you save texts, links, and images that you see online into your Evernote account with just a click.
My last favorite organizing app is a joint family calendar. You can use a family calendar app like Cozi. With this app, when one person adds something to the calendar, everyone can see it. It really helps prevent overlaps when everyone has a busy schedule or at least lets you know when both parents have plans and you are going to need a sitter.
Whats great about Cozi is that if you are used to just adding events to your phone calendar, Cozi can automatically import those events to the shared calendar so you are not doing double work.
If you are having trouble with any of these areas of your life definitely check out these apps. They are clean and efficient tools that help you stay organized without adding more work. Let me know if you have experience with any of these.