Between after-school activities, work demands, dinners and the endless loads of laundry, we all know how hard it is to keep a family running to schedule. If this sounds like you, try these tips from super-organised mums Julie Tylman (mum of three) and Ali Linz (mum of four), who are the co-founders of GroupTogether, and find out their secret hacks for an organised, efficient household.
1. Cook twice as much, half as often!
Make double batches of family meals, especially wintery ones that freeze well. It’s a saviour when things are going pear-shaped! Try spaghetti sauce, lasagne, even sandwiches.
2. Declutter by storing your kid’s “artworks” electronically
Some of your kids’ artwork really is wonderful and deserves to be framed, but you can’t keep everything. Allocate an A3 box (or similar) for each child to put their extra special things in, such as class photos and beloved paintings. For the other artworks (or huge ones), take a photo on your phone and add it to a digital photo album for that year.
3. Tape-record conversations at the doctor
If you become a space cadet as soon as you take your kid into the doctor’s office, ask permission to tape record the appointment, or write the the doctor’s instructions down by hand or using your phone. When family members quiz you at home, you can listen again.
4. File information in categories in Evernote or a similar app on your phone
Organise your information by school, by family pet, by dream destination, by anything – but everything goes into a file so you have access to all the information relating to a holiday, your child’s schooling, or your doggy daycare.
5. Order online
Organise and order everything you can possibly organise using your phone or computer. This includes ordering groceries and/or fruit and veg, buying clothes (ASOS for adults, Cotton On and Target for kids are just some of the places that deliver), buying birthday gifts for children’s parties, paying bills, organising your next holiday and anything else you can think of.
6. Make To-Do lists
Let’s be honest, no To-Do list is perfect, but having a record of tasks you need to complete will help stop the 4am panic attack when you remember something you should have written down! There are super-technical apps you can download that remind you to do something when you’re near the place it relates to (eg as you pass a store you’ll get a reminder ‘Remember the milk!) but I find simpler ones are better. A fave at the moment is Wunderlist. It’s simple to use, creates a clear list with a box you can check to tick a task off, and it gives an encouraging little chime of congratulations every time you do! You can also share the list with others, so for example your list marked ‘Groceries’ appears on your phone and your partner’s, and when y0u tick something off your list it’s also deleted off theirs so you don’t double up on toilet paper supplies.
7. Sign and scan using your phone
It’s a good idea in general to take photos of documents with your phone so you have a record if you misplace a boarding pass, see a good recipe in a magazine at the hairdresser, or need to know your passport number for a form you’re filling out. But you can save yourself serious time (and trees!) by using an app like Tiny Scanner to create scanned-grade versions of forms for you, and use the Docusign app to add copy of your signature electronically. You’ll never need to print a form out, sign it, and scan it to email back to someone again!
9. Aim to be early rather than on time
It’s an oldie but a goodie, and will prevent you being constantly late (in most cases!) Set all of your clocks in your home and in your car (including your mobile phone clock setting) forwards by 10 to 15 minutes. Even though you know you’ve it, it still works. Try it!
10. Turn off alerts on your mobile phone and computer
Go to Settings and turn off the sounds and banner alerts for your phone and computer.. You will still get all your messages, but only when you choose to check them. This more than anything else on this list will free up time for you. Every time your phone or computer buzzes and you stop to check the incoming message, you get distracted and invariably you lose a few minutes. Staying on task will help you achieve things faster and you won’t risk reading an email then forgetting all about it, which will cost you time down the track!
Julie Tylman and Ali Linz are mums to seven kids between them and are the co-founders of GroupTogether, the easy way for friends to chip in online for group gifts, fundraisers and anything else.