Expat Life · Live

Happy New Year – Time to plan the future…starting with the basics

I am a natural born manager. I can organize and plan everything except myself. I prefer to believe that my artistic nature prevents me from being disciplined. It’s a great excuse and I love it but no matter how great I feel when I convince myself of being too artistic, the truth is that time is money for everyone, even for the artists. If you are not a “time is money” person think of it as a way to make your life easier, less stressful and complicated, increase your productivity on all levels, get things done and still have all this extra quality time for yourself.

Why I started using organizers? Because planning ahead results in less time wasted and increased productivity. It helps you identify and prioritize your goals and eventually meet them. Imagine that your one and only goal this year is to follow a healthy diet. If you don’t plan it well it is very possible to end up ordering for a delivery in the middle of the night after a tiring day with nothing in your fridge to help you make a descent snack. Having a meal planner will help you create a weekly shopping list for food and you will end up having everything you need for the whole week and nothing more or nothing less. Personally every time I skipped meal planning I ended up spending time daily trying to decide what to cook and money with all the extra shopping and the inevitable delivery orders.

Trying to avoid all this mess and organize myself I gained some experience and I want to share it with people who feel exactly like me, a little bit too bohemien to organize themselves but with great will to make the best out of their lives.

First question we need to answer on our attempt to organize our lives through organizing tools and planners is : “Digital or paper version”? And my vote goes to good old paper version. No matter how much you use technology on your everyday life when it comes to organizing tools nothing matches a good paper planner with endless possibilities. On the other hand I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the comfort of some digital planners during the past year as well.

My favorite digital application until now is Todoist. Even though I could never give up on my colorful pens and those pretty customized papers, this digital planner won a place in my heart and good news is that the free version is super but if you insist on having the premium version I find it super affordable. It has a nice clean appearance and the application synchronizes perfectly in every device. It is great to set up recurring tasks – e.g. every Monday, every 10 days, every month,every three months etc.- with notifications and reminders making the difference.

todoist snapshot

Another descent digital planner is Any.do and it is one of the most popular considering it is the second most downloaded organizer app. with a free version and a premium option. I find it pretty similar to Todoist but I must admit I never gave it a proper chance to become my favorite. Searching online you will find lots of digital planners and organizers for every occasion and taste. I am still on the search for this perfect digital planner that will make me forget my paper organizer once and for all but until then free printables are my best friends when it comes to organizing.

So it’s clear that I love those colorful calendars and who doesn’t? Only looking at it makes me feel better. I remember my mother buying me pocket size organizers and I remember myself being enthusiastic to start  using it but they all ended up like simple notebooks. Why? because they were not made for my needs (I come to realize after all these years). First you have to determine what are your needs for organizing. You don’t need to organize your whole life, you can do this later if you want but you can start with an easy task like organizing your shopping needs, or your household activities, or a simple meal planning. By doing this you will realize all the difference between following a plan and letting the day bring whatever it brings.

To my experience as a none disciplined person I can’t work this all in one style of planner because naturally I will end up keeping notes on any note book or “post it paper” around the house that lies within my grasp. I always promise myself that I will transfer it to my organizer but I never did and there is where the failure comes. What works great for me is having different planners in different styles according to my needs exactly where I need it.

ELEPHANTSHOE_MEAL_PLANNER_1            Image via elephantshoe.com

Starting with the first planner I ever loved was the weekly meal planner and as I told you before it worked miracles for me. Every year I choose different layouts to match my stylish preferences (which change from time to time) but what remains the same is that I prefer meal planners for all meals of the day followed by a shopping list. Each week I print a copy, write down the menu and post it on the noticeboard in our kitchen.

Meal-Planner-iheartplannersImage via ihearthplanner.com

Choosing the menu is an easy process now since I have been doing it for years. We follow a Mediterranean style diet with small breaks of international cuisines. I love variety in cooking but I am always interested in keeping it healthy and tasty. Following a Mediterranean diet means eating a lot of fiber daily combined with good quality of protein (fish at least once a week, preferably twice) and lots of fruits and nuts. It might sound too healthy for some of you but believe me healthy can be both tasty and rewarding….at least the way I do it and of course we all know that Mediterranean cuisine is far from being blank and boring( I promise I’ll share my secrets in the future).

I usually do it on Fridays so I can do all the shopping needed on Saturday and be prepared for the coming week. So when I wake up in the morning and start making my coffee I see my meal planner and know exactly what I have to do, take out of the freezer something, or remember to pass by the fish market because it’s a fish day (usually on Wednesdays). Sometimes I leave a meal out of planning on purpose just to keep the element of surprise in our lives but I am always prepared when it comes to food since I love cooking. Even though we don’t follow it 100% every week because unexpected things happen (friends coming over, a dinner invitation etc) I am an addict now and I can’t go back to the uncertainty of not planning the menu of the week. Try it and you won’t regret it.

You can find my favorite layouts for this year in http://www.elephantshoe.com , http://www.iheartplanner.com and http://www.greenchild.com

Natural Meal Planning KitImage via greenchild.com

Featured image via pixabay.com

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