January 5, 2014

On Planning: What Color is Your Brain? (And a Little Tip to Keep You Sane)

I need to pick your brain today.  Lend me some of your brainpower......PLEASE!! 

 How exactly do you organize your life?

In a teeny weeny nutshell, I have spent most of the last year trying to hurdle over, crawl out from under, dance around, avoid, and ignore various health issues that keep diverting my attention from my nice quiet life.  Ugh.  Basically, my thyroid gland, the one that seems to control all other body functions, has gone on strike, taking my brain with it. A new scary sounding yet obscure disease named Hashimoto's has reared it's ugly head and found a home on my Google search prompt.   I will write about my experiences later, as I've found many women my age are also discovering symptoms and issues similar to mine. The most universal problems I've noticed with this are fatigue and difficulty focusing my mind, i.e. staying on track.

It took awhile to attribute these symptoms back to my thyroid (for a long time I just thought I was going crazy), and by the beginning of the summer I discovered I really needed a brain to do my life.  (I should probably mention here that my hubby began a 6 month deployment/tdy in April, leaving me even further handicapped as I had no sounding board to tell me that indeed I had lost my brain.)  And to complicate things more, I was still in reintegration mode from a tour overseas, and while I was gone, the cell phone world exploded leaving me in the dust from trying to catch up with technology.

It all started when I missed a hair appointment.  (And, let me be clear here.  I began going gray in college.  I do not miss hair appointments.)  I had just found a really great stylist (which, along with a great dentist, ranks as the most important tasks in the moving process.)  I knew my appointment was nearing, because my roots told me so, but I guess I had neglected to put it in my calendar on my phone.  My stylist usually sent me a reminder text for all previous appointments, but not so this time. I was AWOE (absent without excuse).  I felt terrible, yet my really great stylist would not return my calls/texts to reschedule.  I guess she was a 'one strike and you're out' kind of gal.  Out in the cold I was, with only my roots as companions.  Lots of other little examples that my phone calendar was not working for me could be shared here, but really do any matter as much as roots?  I needed a new plan.

My quest for the perfect tangible calendar in which I could actually write, with a pen, uncovered a whole underground world of Filofax people.  It's a little scary really.  Did you know that there exists on Youtube,  hundreds of videos (YES, I said videos) of people filming how they use their Filofax calendars?  These planners are beautiful and functional and really addictive.....and expensive.  I convinced myself that I needed one and thus began the transfer of brainpower to a system that I could hold in my hand.  And, once I got started, realized anew the sense of completion that comes from checking things off of a list. 

So, I found a new red brain.  It is here.

I told you that story to lend you a tip that is probably my favorite. I struggle with staying on top of meals and groceries.  One of the biggest suckers that steals money from our budget is eating out from shear lack of planning, and feeding a family of 6 is no small feat.  (Yes, I realize my oldest is not here most of the time as she's away in college, but I count the boy, who is 6'4" and always hungry, twice.)  I happened upon a great idea, on one of those videos. (And honestly, it's so easy it had me slapping my head like in V8 commercial and yelling, "Duh!!")  Then I remember I have no brain power anymore so I let myself off the hook for not having thought of it myself.

I inserted a small index card (actually I have 4 of them) that I turned sideways and hole punched.  In permanent marker I listed the days of the week, with space under each to pencil in our dinner meals for each day.  As I plan for the coming week, I add what I need at the store on a sticky note that I keep stuck to these pages for a grocery run.  As I complete the week, I either erase the week's meals, or just put the whole thing in the next rotating week  - 4 weeks down the road.  Voila!  A week's meals already planned a month in advance.  The ultimate goal of simplicity would be to plan ONCE 4 weeks of meals, making a shopping list for each, and be done.  

So there you have it.  My little contribution to all my busy friends who are beginning 2014 tomorrow.   (Last week was a trial run.)

On this last Sunday before real life kicks in again - do you have a planner/planning tip you love?

How do you plan your life? 

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