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5 Time Management Tips for Busy Families

Guest post by Jennifer from I Heart Organizing

1. Invest in a Great Daily Planner

My daily planner is my lifeline. It goes with me everywhere I go.

Color Coding Daily Planner

Planners have been around forever, but they are really the most genius way to keep it all together. Every paper that comes home from school with a date on it, instantly gets written in the planner.

What’s for lunch on Wednesday? It’s in the planner. What should I blog about on Monday? Oh yes, also in the planner. What night is garbage night? Family night? It’s all written down in the planner, and color-coded by category (i.e. blog post, meal plan, school event, etc.) When the planner is not physically attached to me in some way, it’s sitting on our counter to be viewed by anyone in the family.

If budgets are tight, with a little creative thinking, a spiral notebook could be transformed for anyone looking to adopt this idea.

2. Make Family Night a Priority

Family Night gets scheduled in each week at our house, just like an appointment.

Schedule Family Night

Family comes first and with the hustle and bustle of all things entertainment, family functions, school activities and sporting events, important family bonding can quickly become obsolete. Making sure to pen it in each week and learning to say, “No” to other obligations that may come up on the same night, is extremely important to us spending quality time together on a weekly basis.

3. Solve the Schedule Equation

On top of tossing all of our important schedules and appointments into the planner, we quickly found that it was still easy for us to get lost in our nightly routine. A quick video game or blog post writeup could simply turn into hours of lost time.

Trying to juggle homework, making dinner, baths, one-on-one time, story time and blogging was definitely a lot to manage without any type of direction. I knew I had to figure it all out, in order to completely maximize our evenings together (not to mention our super speedy wake-up-and-get-on-the-bus mornings!)

Something I found incredibly easy to do, was to break out the day in half-hour increments and plan out a “typical” day in our life.

Daily Schedule

Just looking at all the times slots paired up with all the things that I was dreaming of accomplishing in any given day was great for ensuring we get time to do all the things that matter, from time with our little ones to personal time on our hobbies or interests. I popped my visual breakdown right on the side of the fridge, because it’s great to have a time management reference point if I ever feel like we are getting a little lost.

I was beyond surprised that when the day was broken out there was so much time in the day that I then instantly wondered how I had been wasting it away in the past! Of course not every day is laid out perfectly as there is such a thing called life, but having a plan for our days has definitely proven to keep our daily goals in check and ease in our time management prioritization.

4. Create a Meal Plan

A very obvious time saver for us is meal planning. We have a meal plan/shopping list that hangs inside our pantry door, ensuring that when something runs out, we can it right to the list. Using the coupons that we have clipped along with trying at least one new recipe each week, we plan out our weekly meals before we head off to the grocery store.

Meal Planning

Only spending time shopping for what we need, saving some money not buying what we don’t need and then doing as much of the preparation ahead of time means all we need to do is peek at the planner each day and make whatever is on the list!

5. Set Up a Dump Zone

We use a memo station to stash kid’s papers that we get home throughout the week, along with all of our mail.

Sorting Station

Each Sunday I take a quick 10-15 minutes and recycle or file all the papers in each slot. We also have a dump basket with the same philosophy.

Dump Basket

Since piles can form so quickly, and as much as I believe in the “return things right where you found them” idea, it’s not always practical. Keeping one basket or bin dedicated to dumping our “stuff” each week, is easy to stash away when company comes, and is gone through at least once a week to return items to their home. This is also a great task for little ones looking for ways to become more helpful around the abode!

Jennifer is currently a stay at home mom, that not only cares for her own children {three uber beautiful little boys}, but also has the opportunity to spend her days with a couple other little ones as well, as a daycare mom. She is also currently working to start up an in-home organizing business, manage an organizing blog {where she talks about things like managing cleaning schedules and creating easy ways for kids to get organized} and working on expanding an Etsy shop as well.

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  • Stephanie says:

    I love your blog Jennifer!!

  • Missy says:

    Great ideas!

    Where can I find the wall organizer that is in the dump zone picture? I totally need something like that in our entryway.

    • Emily says:

      @Missy, Me too. I love it. I love the idea of having all that stuff right there in the same place. As my daughter is a kindergartner this year, I learned rather quickly just how much paper and stuff comes home from school. I am having a hard time staying on top of “piles” that accumulate.

  • That planner that you linked to (the link actually didn’t work, but I found it by looking around 🙂 ) looks awesome but I can’t justify the $50!

  • Wow, I love your hanging dump station. I have one without the file pockets. Where did yours come from?

  • Dawn says:

    As usual Crystal, very helpful and right on time!


  • JRFrugalMom says:

    Those are great tips. I have been looking for a good…but affordable family planner. As my three boys gets older, I find that I need to be a lot more organized to keep track of everything. Thanks for the tips!

    Frugality Is Free

  • *jaw drops*
    In my wildest dreams, I am as organized and put together as you. I have tried many planners in the past to no avail. I am trying Crystal’s printables now and having some success.

    I do think I am a hopeless case though, LOL. One of those people who is messy and disorganized as a quirk maybe? (at least hopefully that’s how people see it!)

  • Nancy says:

    OMG! So cute! I would love to know where you got the wall dump station that you have! It is super dooper adorable! If you made it I must know how!?

  • Brooke says:

    Another one looking for the source of the dump station!

  • Jen says:

    Thanks SO much for the feature!

    Here is a link to information regarding our memo station:

    Hope that helps!


  • peever says:

    I love your blog, Jennifer! I’m adding it to my favorites. I’m totally showing my 6 yr old son your shirt folding video and I’m buying one of those spendy shirt folders pronto!

  • Robin says:

    For those of you wondering, I have seen the hanging wall station in the Pottery Barn catalog.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Looking for the “dump station” I need one lol

  • Heidi says:

    I LOVE Jen’s blog! So excited to see her post on here! Such great ideas she has and shares with her readers.

  • Shannon says:

    Wow…I am a new big fan of Jen’s blog. Her taste is just like mine! She has inspired me to get more organized and plan better! Thanks Crystal!

  • cassie says:

    i love your site, jen!

    thank you for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. 🙂

  • Tammy L says:

    This is such a great post! 🙂 I really need something more than a simple wall calendar for our family’s “planner”…!! 🙂

  • Catherine says:

    Yes! Dump baskets are the best! I have one for me and one for my husband. It makes it so easy to clean up the counters and tables!
    And whenever my husband asks “where is. . . ?” I just say “Check your basket!”

    And what a blessing it must be to have a husband who gets home between 4 – 5 pm! I’m lucky if mine gets home before 9 pm!

  • Ashley turner says:

    i wish i could find a place for a dump bucket! my house is seriously so little! and my hubby gets home at different times so that totally messes us the scheduling,., oh well i think i am going to try my best anyway 🙂 thanks for the great post!

    • Maggie says:

      @Ashley turner, We have the same problem (little house), so our dump station consists of a basket hung right on the inside of our front door. This also means it’s in the same room as our dining table, but we figure it’s a step up from using the table itself as our dump station!

  • shauna says:

    I love this planner but the base price is $50!!! That is a little steep for a planner and doesn’t fit into my tight budget!

  • I just love Money Saving Mom and the information that is shared! Just love it! I checked out the planner and it’s $50. Does it go on sale? I thought I’d ask. Thanks!

  • Ashley turner says:

    Oh good point. My house is set up also just like that right inside the door is our dining room table. So I think I would love to try sometimg out.

  • Ashley turner says:

    To Maggie
    Oh good point. My house is set up also just like that right inside the door is our dining room table. So I think I would love to try sometimg out.

  • Amanda H says:

    Thanks so much for the post! It’s introduced me to another great blogger to add to my list. I’ve been checking Jen’s blog out for hours now and I love what I see! Can’t wait to get started on some of these organizing projects.

  • Jenna says:

    Just an FYI- the hanging dump station is from Pottery Barn as someone had mentioned earlier. It’s a bit pricey for all the pieces, even on “sale” right now, but I’ve yet to find anything else like it. Heaven knows I need the organization!

  • Gina says:

    I have look everywhere for the “dump zone” organizer and have yet to find it. Has anyone found anything like it?

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