Organization: What Works for Me


Organization: What Works for Me

Organization: What Works for Me

Organization: What Works for Me

written by Beth Erin

One of the many great things about community is learning from one another and we’re excited to bring you even more practical Seekerville posts to learn from. Carrie is spearheading a new addition to the monthly rotation featuring nuts and bolts type articles from various industry professionals sharing what works for them in hopes that y’all will find precious little nuggets that work for you too! While she officially starts those posts in March, I thought I would kick things off by sharing some organizational tips and tools that work for me.

Regardless of who you are or what you do, life is a multifaceted gig. We all allocate time for faith, finances, loved ones, home, health, and the list goes on and on and on. Some confidently refer to this balance as donning many hats, some say it feels like a juggling act, others may reference the more hazardous act of spinning plates, and then there’s one of my personal favorites, herding cats. Let’s face it, even if we manage to get our ducks in a row, those little quackers are going to waddle, swim, and fly away at times.

As I finally dive into writing this post less than 12 hours before it’s scheduled to go live, allow me to assure you that I do not have all the answers. What I do have is a commitment to flexibility, streamlining, and giving myself grace plus a few tools that help me manage life in a manner that is a little bit less stressful. So grab your hats, plates, cats, and ducks as we dive into the act of ordering our chaos!

Organization: What Works for Me
In addition to working from home (plus blogging, reading, etc.), I homeschool our four children (ages 8-15) while my husband works odd hours outside the home (in many ways creating a second family time zone). The kids and I especially tend to lose track of time while focused on a project or engrossed in a good book so daily reminders for snacks, meals, bedtime, etc. broadcast from our Google displays, speakers, and smartphone apps. We share and collaborate everything from chores and lessons to photos to shopping lists with our online calendar and cloud drive storage, keeping everyone in the loop with easy access to the same information.

Side note: While we primarily use Microsoft & Google products, Apple, Amazon, etc. have similar products with similar features. If you want to go old school, you might use a traditional kitchen timer or alarm clock, a wall calendar, and a message board to keep your daily routine rolling. Secondly, I try not to obsess over the whole “big brother is listening to/watching everything we do” factor. The way I figure, that factor came into play way before smartphones entered the picture so we might as well get all the help we can out of our nosey technology.

Professionally, we at JustRead Publicity Tours use a variety of tools to manage the four to six campaigns we organize 47 weeks out of the year. For those who aren't familiar with us, JustRead has three owners (Carrie in Georgia, Rachel in Washington, and I am in Illinois) and an entire hive of wonderful volunteer book bees! Google is again a large part of the organizational equation but for the three of us, managing multiple projects and business matters as a team calls for the addition of a task management program.

Organization: What Works for Me

While there are several options available (, Wrike, SmartSheet, etc.), we’re currently loving Asana for its versatility, functionality, and rainbows (because we all need more rainbows). Even though we chose to go with the upgraded features of a paid plan, the free version worked well for us during our transition from the last program we used. Other tools such as Trello are also good options for managing multiple projects and even collaborating with others.

Enough about me, let’s get back to you!

Most importantly, I want to encourage you to find an approach to organizing that makes sense for you. The most sophisticated program can’t compete with consistent old school methods if utilizing technology isn’t your thing. If sticky notes on the refrigerator work for you, do that! A bit of organization should make your life LESS stressful, never more stressful.

Organization: What Works for Me
Be flexible. Allow yourself a little extra time for random occurrences of Murphy’s Law when setting due dates. Be brave. Try something new or tweak what you’re already doing. Successful or not, trial periods are always learning experiences.

K.I.S.S. your chaos. “Keep It Simple, Silly!” The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If you’re like me and have a hard time switching gears between different roles, don’t try to do all the things at once. Focus on one project for an hour or even a day at a time.

Give yourself grace. Some of us may have superpowers but most of us don’t. Our chaos gets a little out of control and we roll with the punches. Don’t allow pride or shame to keep you from asking for an extension or assistance when you need to.

Share your favorite organizational tools or methods in the comments for a chance to win a book from my stash of Christian fiction.

Beth Erin is a happy wife, a busy homeschooling mama of four, an owner of JustRead Publicity Tours, and a Christian fiction enthusiast. You'll occasionally find her on Faithfully Bookish and on social media but mostly she's striving to balance all things work and home. Beth is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories. If none of the above was helpful in a practical way, she hopes that it at least made you smile.

51 Comments on Seekerville: The Journey Continues: Organization: What Works for Me

  • Ruth Logan Herne
    on February 12, 2021 | 05:51 Ruth Logan Hernesaid :
    "I love the techno listing! You are truly modern and old-fashioned, a wonderful mix!

    I am a head lister.... But when I have special events or holidays or farm chores, I paper list. And I use texting to stay in contact with people working on the farm because their specific chores might vary greatly.... but I love the connectivity you're showing here. Go you!

    And you gals do an amazing job managing tours. You're wonderful and totally on-point, so that's great testimony right there. "
  • kaybee
    on February 12, 2021 | 08:09 kaybeesaid :
    "Good morning Beth,
    Inspiring post and so needed. The most I ever remember doing at once was four things -- I had my toddler playing in the tub, I was nursing my infant, I had a load of laundry in the dryer (yes, it was in the bathroom), and I was reading the Bible for my devotions. I sued to multitask, but realized in recent years (I'm 70) that it probably isn't the best choice, especially when an open flame is involved.
    I can always use more organizational tools and this was helpful both in practical points and to remind me to keep on track. I'm a visual and tactile organizer who uses index cards, sticky notes and folders, all of course color-coded. I have three branches to my career: I still write for newspapers, I'm working on a nonfiction history book for Arcadia Publishing, and then of course there's my beloved fiction. I find if I do the fiction first and get my 1,000 words, everything else is more doable.
    One's organizing needs and challenges do change with time. Nap time never worked for me because by the time I put a baby down for a nap, I needed one too. You want to know what was great for me? Half-day kindergarten. Oh, those days.
    Now I'm dealing with the whole retired husband dynamic. But he understands how important this is to me, and he's my biggest cheerleader, so somehow we're going to make this work.
    Home this morning, may be back later.
    Kathy Bailey
    Your Kaybee
    Making it work in New Hampshire"
  • kaybee
    on February 12, 2021 | 08:10 kaybeesaid :
    "I mean I USED to multitask. Sheesh."
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 08:52 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Old fashioned is a wonderful compliment! Thank you, Ruthy! I'm a product of the 80s so although we homeschool online and constantly use our Google speakers as an intercom system, our kids have limited device time beyond that. It's important to me that they have a childhood full of books and imagination!

    There are times when I bust out the pen and paper too. When we gave the JustRead website an overhaul before the new year, I listed every webpage on paper then filled that sheet with arrows, notes, and symbols that probably wouldn't have made sense to anyone but me.

    Funny thing about texting, our kids love sending us and each other messages through Messenger (they don't have cellphones) even though we're together 24/7 😊"
  • kaybee
    on February 12, 2021 | 09:14 kaybeesaid :
    "I think best on paper."
  • Glynis
    on February 12, 2021 | 09:19 Glynissaid :
    "Your post made me think back to the years when my kids were in activities, I was working at a church, so work was never 9-5, and my husband was getting his business off the ground. I said that basically my life was logistics: who is where and when and who do I need to pick up or drop off. It was exhausting! Now that the kids are in college and I'm working part-time I thought I'd need less organization because I have fewer things--and people--to juggle, but I certainly waste more time than I used to. Organization is key no matter what stage of life you're at, so this post is great and I'm looking forward to the future posts in this series. And PS We use Google for everything too and while it still freaks me out on occassion when I think of what they probably know about me, I just remember that the FBI had a file on me from day one since I was born into the military. And at least Google does give me some benefits, like knowing what I'd like to see and buy :)"
  • kaybee
    on February 12, 2021 | 09:44 kaybeesaid :
    "Glynis, isn't it funny how our lives change and we STILL need organization? I've got books to juggle and the aforementioned retired husband. SO fun."
  • Sandy Smith
    on February 12, 2021 | 09:46 Sandy Smithsaid :
    "Great post. I am a list maker and have been known to write down tasks I've already done so I can cross them off. I also use planners and calendars. I'm pretty old school when it comes to organization. Please put me in the drawing!"
  • Debby Giusti
    on February 12, 2021 | 09:57 Debby Giustisaid :
    "Great post, Beth! Love your mention of KISS! I try to follow that when I can.

    I'm waving to Sandy Smith above! When time is tight, I write lists. As Sandy mentioned, I even write down something I've already done so I can cross it off. I have a list for this weekend and wonder if I'll get it all done. One project at a time!

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your beautiful family's activities, Beth, and how you all stay focused and on track. Enjoy the weekend!"
  • kaybee
    on February 12, 2021 | 10:08 kaybeesaid :
    "But it does mean the desk isn't as neat."
  • kaybee
    on February 12, 2021 | 10:37 kaybeesaid :
    "Sandy, SO cool. If we're ever in the same place at the same time, let's descend on an office supply store. Bliss..."
  • Mindy Obenhaus
    on February 12, 2021 | 11:25 Mindy Obenhaussaid :
    "Beth, I love this post. Oh, how I wish I weren't so technologically challenged. I do wield a mean sticky note, though. You should see the top of my desk. It's so colorful. You speak truth on the KISS logic. Life is hard enough. Why make it harder?"
  • Jan Drexler
    on February 12, 2021 | 11:49 Jan Drexlersaid :
    "I love this post, Beth!

    In the past 39 years of marriage, my husband and I have moved WAY too many times. So many that I actually have a system for doing a major move/relocation. It involves a new spiral notebook, lots of sticky notes, tape, and paper clips. Selling and buying a house and moving a family of six away from their current home/friends/activities into a new environment is the biggest organizational challenge I've ever faced.

    Big tip here: if you have a LOT that needs to be done in a short time, make a paper list. Put your list in a central place and call in the troops. Each person chooses a task to do, crosses it off, and does it. When that task is done, come back and choose another one. When we were moving from Kansas to South Dakota ten years ago, it took six months to sell our house. The two teenage boys that were still at home and I got so good that our showing-the-house list of twenty items could be done in ten minutes.

    But, like Glynis said, times change. :-)

    I still go old-school with pens, paper, and sticky notes. My favorite tool is my bullet journal. I love it to pieces! (Literally - like pages falling out by the time I reach the end of the notebook.) I keep a monthly and weekly calendar, as well as a "future tracker" where I can write in upcoming events up to three years ahead.

    It keeps me sane."
  • kaybee
    on February 12, 2021 | 11:50 kaybeesaid :
    "Mindy, a huge me-too to that. "
  • Sherrinda Ketchersid
    on February 12, 2021 | 11:52 Sherrinda Ketchersidsaid :
    "I loved this post! I want so badly to be organized, but struggle with what method works best for me. I always get a planner, but I am hit or miss on looking at it every week, er, month. I have to used alerts on my google calendar for really important things so I don't forget. This month, I am trying a Kaban board, and so far, I love it. I like moving sticky notes to the "completed" block. Very satisfying. Hopefully, one day I will figure myself out! lol"
  • Jan Drexler
    on February 12, 2021 | 11:53 Jan Drexlersaid :
    "It makes me tired to just think about those years! We had a few years when Scouts and orchestra met at the same time. Scouts met ten miles north of our house, and orchestra five miles south. On the nights when my husband wasn't available, it was an exercise in logistics to get everyone where they needed to be on time and back home again!"
  • Jan Drexler
    on February 12, 2021 | 11:54 Jan Drexlersaid :
    "I've been known to do that too, Sandy! I love to have a visual of what I have accomplished, even if it's only cleaning out the cat's litter box!"
  • Carrie @ JustRead Tours
    on February 12, 2021 | 11:57 Carrie @ JustRead Tourssaid :
    "This comment has been removed by a blog administrator."
  • Mary Connealy
    on February 12, 2021 | 11:58 Mary Connealysaid :
    "Kiss your Chaos? LOL
    Sounds like great advice."
  • MeezCarrie
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:01 MeezCarriesaid :
    "KB, that is the downside of paper thinking haha! (that was me above - Blogger couldn't figure out who I was. how rude. lol)"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:04 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Thank you so much, Kathy! I'm so glad you were encouraged by the post! Raising littles necessitates multitasking but I am thankful to have those years behind me, multitasking has never been my strength. I love that you color code, I do to! It sounds like you and hubby have everything under control!"
  • MeezCarrie
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:06 MeezCarriesaid :
    "You inspire me, Kathy! "
  • MeezCarrie
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:07 MeezCarriesaid :
    "Oh time wasting... this is my kryptonite lol"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:10 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Oh gracious, Glynis! That makes me want to take a nap for your past self! It's so easy to slip into oblivion without needy people to snap us back to reality. We often tell Google to "mind your own business" when it gets overly eager to listen in on our conversations. Google tends to be humorously apologetic (but I'm sure it keeps listening anyway, lol) Fortunately for me, we don't have extracurriculars that require driving to another location!"
  • Lynne
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:11 Lynnesaid :
    "I love so many things about what I just read. Beth I appreciate your outlook on flexibility, although sometimes I will bend it until it screams! I am a pen and paper list person, and until now I have never admitted that I too will put things on my list that I have already done that day, it gives me a sense of accomplishment.

    Gone are the days of I am lucky to remember what I walked across the room for! I wish I knew how to make my phone do all of those wonderful things to remind me of all I am forgetting. But, I am a product of an older generation that tends to keep the office supply stores in business (Kaybee and Sandy, let me join you on your shopping trip!) I have always loved the aisles of the stores that are filled with notebooks, pens, etc.

    I long for organization, and I keep coming up with a better easier way, but it always involves paper - note pads, file folders, huge envelopes...I'm just not a techie. I like what you said about keeping things simple and not adding to stress. I tend to overthink things sometimes.

    Thanks for the encouragement and especially about give yourself grace. Yes, that sounds refreshing. I would love to be entered in the drawing.
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:12 Beth Erinsaid :
    "YES! Oh Sandy, I do this. I still have my planners from high school... back before smartphones and laptops were part of my life. You're in for a chance to win!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:16 Beth Erinsaid :
    "KISS is such a huge time saver for me! I have a tendency to overthink and overcomplicate just about everything so (not to be dramatic but) making a conscious effort to streamline has been life changing! I love lists too, we have a chalk board sticker on our refrigerator and a mini-notepad in my purse at all times. Both have hosted many lists!
    Thank you, Debby! You have a wonderful weekend too!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:19 Beth Erinsaid :
    "I wish we lived closer to one another, I would happily teach you anything you wanted to learn! Sticky notes are the most fun!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:25 Beth Erinsaid :
    "If we ever move, I'll be asking you for that system! Since I've lived in the same area my whole life, I can't even begin to imagine what that would be like. It is so smart to create systems, templates, and shortcuts for things we do over and over, why start from scratch every time?!

    I love old school and I'd go back if I didn't practically live attached to the laptop, lol! I'm so glad you have systems that work for you, they really do keep us sane!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:31 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Don't give up, Sherrinda! I've been through more methods than I care to count and I'm always on the lookout to simplify or automate where possible. Celebrating task completion is a great boost for productivity, it's a little bit addictive, lol!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:32 Beth Erinsaid :
    "HAHAHA! I am a big fan of KISS and kissing."
  • Beth Erin
    on February 12, 2021 | 12:38 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Lynne, we list-makers sometimes need that extra boost, no shame in that! When I forget why I walk across the room I just tell myself it was for the sake of my step-count goal, take a turn about the room, then return to what I was doing (if I can remember what that was, ha!) You are not alone in that!

    Office supply aisles are right up there with book aisles on my list of favorite places to visit in stores! Embrace that paper, Lynne! I'm so glad you've been encouraged by the post. I'll add you to the giveaway!"
  • Angeline
    on February 12, 2021 | 15:05 Angelinesaid :
    "Thank you for the post! This is such a good reminder, I usually write things down in my bullet journal"
  • Lucy Reynolds
    on February 12, 2021 | 16:13 Lucy Reynolds said :
    "I organize in my head and it is always going reminding me what to do next. "
  • Winnie
    on February 12, 2021 | 17:06 Winniesaid :
    "Thanks for all the tips, Beth! I'm definitely less busy now that my husband and I are retired and all the kids are gone, but I didn't inherit my mother's organizational skills, so I never feel really organized. The skills skipped a generation and went to my youngest daughter. She got all the organizational and minimalist skills from Mom.

    I do credit Carrie Schmidt (thanks, Carrie, my BFFFC!) for teaching me how to use Trello. I use it for my reading/influencing/promoting schedule to keep myself on task and remind me of what I need to do next. It really helps me a lot. I guess that means I have one area in my life that's organized! LOL "
  • Vince
    on February 12, 2021 | 18:42 Vincesaid :
    "Hi Beth:

    For the first twenty years of KISS seminars it always stood for Keep It Simple Stupid. This is because the alpha salespeople at these classes would rather be out selling than attendting sales seminars. The "Stupid" was designed to get their attention. That "stupid" did get their attention -- even if it was not favorable attention.

    I not only attended many of these seminars, I also gave my fair share. Then I attended a Zig Ziglar seminar and he had changed it to Keep It Simple Salesman.

    Your KISS was the first time that I heard that the S stood for Silly.

    Actually, if you really wanted to follow the dictum, then it should only be KIS. Keep It Simple -- the last "S" is superfluous. I suggest it be changed to simply: Keep It Simple.

    One other thing: multitasking is not the same thing as simultasking. It is much easier to do many things, one at a time, within the same time span, than do many things all at once.

    Of course, if you are cooking a fancy meal, you may have to do many different cooking tasks all at the same time. The trick here is to be prepared. Have everything pre-measured and in their own little glass containers. Real chefs do this but then real chefs have crews to clean up after them. (All those little bowls really add to the dish washing load.) :}
  • Lee-Ann B
    on February 12, 2021 | 18:51 Lee-Ann Bsaid :
    "I am all about old school planners and family calendars! I don't have to worry about syncing my pens or updating my paper calendar. :) It's always on and I can use any writing tool - pen, pencil, marker or broken crayon- to add appointments and keep me on track. :) Love hearing all these tips. Thanks for sharing. :)"
  • Jessica Baker
    on February 12, 2021 | 21:09 Jessica Bakersaid :
    "I love this!! I’m still figuring out what works best for me. My problem is I use something for a few months and then it kind of goes by the way side lol. I’ll get there eventually!! "
  • Glynis
    on February 12, 2021 | 22:52 Glynissaid :
    "I've seen that bullet journal, Jan, and it really is a thing of beauty. I'm always a little jealous when you pull that out :)"
  • Anonymous
    on February 13, 2021 | 09:23 Anonymoussaid :
    "Make a reasonable list of what you hope to accomplish each day and try to get it done. Vivian Furbay jtandviv (at) q (dot) com"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 13, 2021 | 17:59 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Bullet journaling is popular! Thank you for dropping by!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 13, 2021 | 18:00 Beth Erinsaid :
    "I continually misplace mental notes. I'm impressed that you can rely on them, Lucy! "
  • Beth Erin
    on February 13, 2021 | 18:02 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Have your daughter come over and help you organize everything else (unless you're a hoarder like my mom... then you're on your own) ;)
    That's how I feel about Asana... things that make it to Asana get done... everything else is a toss up, lol! Trello and I had to breakup, we didn't get along. Thank you for dropping by, Winnie!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 13, 2021 | 18:06 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Hi Vince! Calling people "stupid" seems pretty rude to me so I use silly instead. Thanks for sharing your insights."
  • Beth Erin
    on February 13, 2021 | 18:08 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Old school planners make me feel so nostalgic! I really thought my life was busy 20+ years ago, lol! Thanks for dropping by, Lee-Ann!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 13, 2021 | 18:08 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Yep, that was me too! Keep trying new things and something will click eventually! Thanks for sharing, Jessica!"
  • Beth Erin
    on February 13, 2021 | 18:09 Beth Erinsaid :
    "That's a great approach, Vivian!"
  • Winnie
    on February 13, 2021 | 19:58 Winniesaid :
    "Well, it's not so simple now that she has moved to Alaska! (sniff). She'd do it if she lived closer and didn't have 4 littles to take care of. "
  • Sarah Taylor
    on February 13, 2021 | 21:09 Sarah Taylorsaid :
    "Hello Beth and Thank you for sharing I always have a calendar I write my appointments and things down On that way I don't forget them! Love this post! "
  • Carrie @ JustRead Tours
    on February 14, 2021 | 16:24 Carrie @ JustRead Tourssaid :
    "Unfortunately KIS isn't as catchy to remember as KISS, therefore an "S" word of choice is needed :)"
  • Carrie @ JustRead Tours
    on February 14, 2021 | 16:25 Carrie @ JustRead Tourssaid :
    "Actually, this is Carrie. C'mon, Seekerville, you know me! Why you pretending otherwise? Lol"
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