Monday, June 30, 2014

The 6-6-6 Routine Tweak In My Planner

I miss you.

I've been too busy to blog. In many ways, it was a good thing. I was cruising the Caribbean, eating lobster, and swimming with dolphins. I had a big project due at work and am planning a volunteer weekend for a group of 100 or more people for mid-July. I am rocking this stuff - turning in the big project, completely relaxing (translation: ZERO work done) on vacation and almost unpacked, and the service weekend is almost planned.

But routines are, once again, falling through the cracks.

Routines are a problem, especially during the summer. During the school year, I drop off the kids at carpool, return home, and, if things go well, work the routine. But summer is weird. Today, for example, on a weekday, my husband is home taking a vacation day, groceries must be gathered, pharmacy must be visited, work depends on a phone call but could be busy or not, and we need to finish unpacking. You can see how routine tasks could fall through the cracks.

I've tried serious scheduling (7 AM - 8 AM get dressed; 8 AM- 9 AM cleaning; 9 AM - 11 AM work) and I've tried daily tasks (M - freezer cooking; T - clean kitchen; W - errands). Neither works.

The bottom line is that those specific schedules are not flexible enough. The kitchen might not need cleaning on Tuesday, especially if a friend came over for lunch on Sunday. Or it needs a complete scrubbing, because without routine cleaning, it is now gross. Plus, the schedule needs to accommodate school schedules, doctor appointments, occupational therapy, karate, flag football, and the psychologist. (You'd think I need the psychologist at this point, but nope. One of my kids!)

I'm trying something new. I call it the 6-6-6 Routine. (This is in no way related to Satanic worship. But, you must admit, 6-6-6 is EASY to remember. :) ) Along with my tracking of exercise (goal = 6 times a week) and eating more fruits and veggies (goal = 6 a day), I'm trying to do 6 routine items a day, 6 days a week.

I track in the upper right hand corner of my weekly pages and list the 6 routine items on the bottom right hand side of my planner.

Here are the 6 routine items. Note how flexible they are, giving me the ability to tailor them to the needs in my house.

AM - Sweep, Food, Laundry

PM - 15 QC, Dishes, Prep

And here is the breakdown of what each means...

Sweep - do a complete sweep of the house for anything out of place. This morning, that means putting away some clutter from the bathroom counter, bringing a rogue dish from the living room to the kitchen, and putting away a pot left out from yesterday in the kitchen. If I do this daily (and focus on erasing the evidence of whatever we do all day long), this only takes a couple of minutes.

Food - plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner and take out anything that needs to be defrosted or prepped in advance. Today, breakfast was cinnamon rolls, so I preheated the oven and put them in a pan. Lunch will be a salad for me and some frozen stuff (chicken nuggets or something) for the kids and hubby, so I don't have to prep that, especially as I have to grocery shop for salad ingredients this morning. Supper on grocery day is always the meat and veggies on sale, so no defrosting today. I also work from a weekly dinner menu, but I reserve the right to change it if circumstances change.

Laundry - put away any lingering piles of laundry (or have kids and husband do their piles) and toss at least one load into wash. This morning, husband was quick and had already tackled that chore!

15 QC (15 minute quick clean) - Each afternoon/evening, I spend 15 minutes cleaning whatever needs it most. Today, I'll probably spend that time unpacking my vacation bag. Tomorrow, I'll likely sweep and mop the floor or vacuum the carpets. It's usually pretty obvious what needs cleaning, but if not, I organize a small space, do some filing, or clean tubs/toilets.

TIP: Keep a running list of tasks in your planner for the 15 minute quick clean!

Dishes - have kids do chores and dishes and hand wash any lingering dishes myself. In particular, I usually need to hand wash some pots and pans.

Prep - prepare for tomorrow, including checking planner, packing lunches/snacks, and loading errands tote bag.

That's it. My routine for keeping my home and life in order. Doable? Leave your feedback in the comments.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Packing For A Cruise: What To Pack

My Loyal Readers are used to subscribing to my blog for ideas about organizing and using a planner. And I certainly write about that much of the time. 

But every summer, we take a vacation, and between the kids being off of school, my job, and planning for vacation, I don't have much time for planner tweaking. Instead, I am working the system and making note of things that fail to tweak later in the summer.

TIP: Have a designated place in your planner for writing down potential tweaks when you don't have time to do them right now.

Not tweaking, though, is different than doing special things with my planner. One special thing that I am doing is creating a cruise shopping list. I'm still doing my usual shopping trips, every eight days, planned and from a list, but this list is for the special trip my husband and I will likely take together.

I have picked up cruise-related items on the list from time to time, and those are packed in a tote until actual packing day (the day before the cruise).

TIP: Use a cotton, easy-to-launder hat instead of something crush-able to save room in your suitcase.

I already wrote about packing clothing for a 7 day cruise here. In particular, my clothing choices are based on a Carnival Cruise, but the list should pretty much work for any female going on a 7 day cruise.

But I've decided to include the link to the rest of my packing list (including non-clothing) at here and the reasons for packing many of the cruise-specific items. After all, plenty of people are probably making packing decisions as they read this.

TIP: Organize any packing list by suitcase categories, like carry-on, checked bag, or purse.

Explanations are below each screen shot.

You'll note that I list things going in my car first. Technically, these things are not "going on the cruise" with me. But I need my GPS, for example, to make sure that I make it to the port without getting lost.

If you are familiar with my clothes packing list, you'll know that my carry-on with contain a swimsuit, to hold me out until my luggage arrives. No Faster to the Fun for me. I'm saving that money for drinks!

For non-clothes carry-on items, I would include wine and soft drinks (if we were bringing any), water bottles (to fill with ice and ship's water), and sunscreen (for retouching). Since I'm not bringing wine and soft drinks, I won't be talking a rolling carry-on. Instead, we will only use backpacks.

I am bringing a plastic folder with boarding documents and birth certificates. The kids are bringing Kindles for killing time in the port, though those will go away for the most part on the ship.

Some special cruise stuff going into my checked luggage includes:

-extra luggage tag (in case my packing taped-on tags fall off)

-some of my money (in case we are robbed of what we are carrying)
-binder clips or kitchen clips (for weighing down the shower curtain and keeping towels from flying in the breeze off of chairs on the decks)
-highlighter (for Fun Times)
-post-its (for leaving notes for room steward)
-hole punch (for Sign and Sail cards)
-Clorox wipes
-thermal coffee mug (for carrying around my morning coffee)
-extra water bottles (as I like having icy water at all times)
-cheap worn beach towels for excursions (so we don't have to carry the heavy ship towels)
-baby powder (for shaking off sand)

TIP: Within your packing list, put things in categories, like First Aid or Sun Supplies. Pack them in categories, using little bags or big ziplocs. Then bring your packing list with you for reference and everything will be easy to find.

Don't forget to pack meds, camera cards and batteries, and an empty laundry bag. I'm bringing samples of Tide and Shout wipes to clean clothes.

If hanging decorations on your cabin door so that you can find it easily, use Command strips or putty instead of tape, which can ruin the doors.

Here are pictures of some of the special things that I pack for a cruise.

In the above picture, note the camera bag (for taking id, driver's license, and money in small bills from the ship at ports). The lanyard-like design allows me to tie it to a belt loop and keep it in a pocket for extra security.

The tiny black bag is for keeping my wedding/engagement rings in the safe without losing them.

The clean pouch is water and sand proof for my Nook.

TIP: Don't forget to bring your own meds on board, in case of colds or minor injuries!

I hope some of this helps. Minimalists will say that all you need is your ID, a swimsuit, and some flip flops! I wish I was easy-going like that. However, as long as the rest of us mortals stay organized, vacations can be easy and enjoyable! 


P.S. Find other blog entries about vacation planning, especially cruise vacations, here, here, here, and here.