New Goal strategies

Toward Resolution #3:
a) I’m redesigning everything – from the landscape to meal planning, to my personal wardrobe. 
It’s a tall order, but I’ve discovered the best strategy to move in the direction(s) I want to go. I follow a structure for myself that took a year to develop, that I call my personal “BootyCamp”.
 It has expanded to include much more than just improvements to my self image and fitness level.

Every aspect of my life and the things I am in charge of, like menu planning, running the household, and worst of all: paying bills on time.
Oh yeah, there’s LOTS of angst on that one for various reasons. 
b) I live by seasons, season to season – in Quarters. I like to do my planning in segments of 3 months at a time- a season. However, I use a system called “12 Folders” which breaks the year down into monthly segments. 
I haven’t yet discovered how to combine the concept of  Monthly and Quarterly yet- so I’m sticking to the shorter monthly agendas. (Each month covers a specific topic or aspect of my life/life that could use better focus, and creates less stress in the Overwhelming Dept.) I’m already pretty organized and follow loosely structured days with a very flexible routine that I can tweak to my liking, but I want my time better spent for better results, more toward certain outcomes. 
I do get tired of wishing, and dreaming, sometimes, and need to see results.
I’m almost 50 and I’m running out of time, and steam, right?
First, I’ll share my CURRENT systems.
Long ago I implemented something called the Home Management Binder. Lots of women employ this tactic and are efficiently using them along with their blackberry and a wall calendar and electonic/digital calendar, to track the kids Dr. appt’s., post their menu plans for the week, keep track of important papers and track stuff they have to do on a deadline (like pay bills). 
After the kids, and after I began doing my own thing more or less, this binder was separated into different parts that fit my life better.
I use several Binders but one is for record-keeping and chore outlines (home management, "Managing Paradise"). But it doesn't schedule my days or the week. 
For that I use:
*the Outlook calendar (with alarms when nec. for paying bills on time)
*a daily/weekly to-do list (on the PC so I can add/delete and track progression)
*menu planning for the month (shopping bi-weekly)
*and the 12 Folders I spoke of (I've written of this already, but I PROMISE, more on that later).
*I also [used to] whip up an all-inclusive Annual Agenda for myself every New Year, so I could see the BIG PICTURE I was pushing to accomplish, and what all my little goals and tasks are for. There is a sample somewhere on this blog - oh here it is: Agenda 2010
(I love lists, but for practical purposes, not so much- they serve better as an outline for an overall picture before creating necessary STEPS to implement them). 
These have worked for me-  these tactics are made more enjoyable by adding graphics, special fonts and colors (like pink pearlized bullets). I love my home management binders’ usefulness. Everything related to the house in one place. Here’s a summary of it’s content:
Vendors we use and their Business Cards- plus notes where useful. 
The Chimney sweep we last used, the Septic company, Gravel delivery, Firewood suppliers, auto Mechanics, etc.Every vendor has come by referral- I get 2 or 3 referrals, so no cold calling. (Your business reputation precedes you in this town- and word of mouth will make, or break you!)
A home-maintenance  Master Chore List (chores by need and season – seasonal/annual, bi-annual, monthly, and at one time even weekly - but that's all routine now and not necessary.)
This is loosely followed, as finances have been too tight to follow as diligently as recommended for some items. Currently, I need to sand and refinish our 8’ wooden front door… but that’s on account of laziness (it currently needs sanding). Anyway, you get the gist of it.
As posted before, here is the cover (clear sleeve cover so I can insert a page/decorate the front and spine):
Anything and Everything that pertains to keeping up the house, or the property, goes into this binder. I keep garden plans and such in there too. 

And because money is my biggest challenge (because it's NUMBERS and MATH), I have a binder to hold important papers and budgeting has always been the bane of my existence, I have a Financial binder. 

The Financial Notebook is in a 3" D-ring binder, but mine is currently bulging open with a good 9" of statements and other old paper, so needs to be purged. It looks like this:
Before anything else, is the...
Obligations List- simply a few well-spaced pages of everyone you pay - so that everyone you pay (whether HOA fees, credit card, homeowners insurance...etc.) This makes it easy to call them when something isn't going right, or your bill was lost in the mail and your internet was shut off. You have exactly what you need in one paragraph, easy to read and access. 
Or imagine in an emergency where you have to 'bug out' (evacuate your home, such as in a tornado or fire). If you grab this binder, you have everything you need to call everyone- easily. You may include your bank card information so if it's lost you have the # to call and your card #, or your passwords for debit. (Not advising this, but I do it).
Your paragraph list looks like this (mine are in different pretty colors so I can stand to look at them):
Obligation Company                        Acct#:0000000
Amount: $000.00 
Due: 1st of month
Total due: $0,000.00                           Interest Rate: 00%                         
How Paid: by phone                                                                          *(or check by mail, or online, whatever it is)
Billing Phone#: 1-800-000-0000          Customer Service #: 1-888-000-0000
Billing Address:
Online Address:                                 Online Login and P/W:               *(how you access payment page)

IF you ever do call the customer service # with a problem, you might also want to take notes of who you spoke with, the date, what was said, etc. 
I know of several instances where accounts were 'supposedly' ended, but the bills kept coming. QUITE A HASSLE! You never know when you'll need backup ammunition.
You could add in culmunative interest as well - to see how much you'd save if you paid extra to pay off early. 
That's the beauty of these tracking techniques. You can do all kinds of stuff that helps you budget.

These, I post on the wall at my desk (one for each month of the year), so I pay attention to it....

Monthy Bills/Paid Template (to track bills paid/due) on one sheet of paper for quick reference. This comes in more handy than trying to track down receipts or folders full of statements. I do keep the statements, but some bills are sent by email and paid online - so all you get is a copy of the transaction - and who wants to look up old emails when you need a quick annual total, or want to see if this month's bill is less or more than last month? Or last years. (Gotta know if the kids leaving their PC's on all night, or night lights, or the de-icer in the horse trough is costing!)
Extra lines are visible to see unexpected or irregular payments (car/ braces/ glasses repair, vet visist, etc.) So you know where your money went that month. ("Oh, that's why we were short on the car payment... we had to pay for emergency vet bills!")

I use a simple table of columns going down with each "Name of the bill" going down, with this across the top. Something useful to you like:
amount due / amount paid / date due / paid date / how paid     *(with check # or online transaction code)
Mine looks like this (except not crooked- that's thanks to copy/paste): 

January 120111


 Car Insurance
phone w/ ATM  1-25



online  1-21 / auth code: 117714


*Other Items:
 Co-Op (propane @ 2.39 gallon – 100 gallons)
HOA (Dec. thru June)

Well, I hope this insight is helpful to someone. I'll come back another time to practicality and share other things, but for now that's enough! 

My main point is, if your daily life is as streamlined as you can get it, everything managed easily so that you can delegate to someone else in an emergency, or if the sudden fury of your writing/painting/music Muse takes over, then it's easier to do anything and everything else you want to do.
If you want to fall apart and zone out on the couch for a week, then you can know at a glance that it's ok. If you want to go camping, you can know at a glance that taking the week off won't get the electricity shut off. If you track your water usage, then you know when to suspect a leak somewhere... 
it's just practical and logical. 
Yes, please, be busy LIVING, CREATING, LOVING, DREAMING, DOING, GOING, BEING. And not worried about what you forgot to do, or coming home to a dark house.

Next post, hopefully something of a 'dreamier' nature!
Thanks for stopping by,

1 comment:

Walter Jeffries said...

We're list people too. I've heard some people laugh at lists or put them down but it helps us keep focused and moving forward. Checking things off is satisfying. We get a lot done this way. We have Meta-planning, project planning, current To-Do and standard operation procedures as some of our list groups. It helps a lot.