Posted in Bandora

Life Organization for SAHMs, WAHMs and everybody else

I like to have a variety of projects on going at any given time but I also have horrible memory. The only reason why I don’t leave my head behind when I leave the house is because it’s attached to the rest of my body! Add to that the fact that motherhood requires keeping track of a lot of information such as appointments, classes, bills, contacts and let’s not get even started on homeschooling!

So how do I keep track of it all? Evernote to the rescue!

Evernote is a fantastic FREE tech tool that can help you keep track of all the loose ends in your life. You simply install it on your computer, smartphone or tablet and it will quickly develop into your digital file cabinet. While they have a premium version, the free version has met all of my needs for years.

I first downloaded Evernote 4 years ago to use for writing drafts for my several blogs. Over time I realized it’s great potential and now use it to keep track of practically everything in my life.

If there were to be some catastrophe where I loose all of the data in my computer and all of the records in my home I can rest assured that the important information is saved.

These are some examples of ways I use Evernote in my everyday life:

To do and shopping List:
It’s so easy for me to forget what has been done/is still pending. With Evernote’s easy checkboxes I can easily keep track.

Medical Records and Important Documents:
I’ve heard too many times of a catastrophe such as a hurricane, fire or earthquake destroying important documents such as birth certificates, passports and more. Having an electronic backup will save stress and money if the unthinkable happens.

I am notorious for loosing health insurance cards. To solve this I took pictures of the front and back of the cards and they are always accessible. You can do the same with shot records/exemption forms and all other important documents. For an extra layer of protection, I use encryption on files with personal information such as social security numbers.

Password Log:
With so many different usernames and passwords it’s near impossible to keep track. While I had tried “Password Locker” apps before, I never found one that I liked. In Evernote I have a log with all of my login credentials (over 50 and counting!) and I encrypted for an added layer of security.

Get out of the house list:
Tuesday nights/ Wednesday mornings used to be very stressful for me. With taking both kids with me to work I found myself running like a chicken without a head trying to gather everything I would need and every week, without fail, I would forget something important. Now with Evernote I have a “Work Packing List” that I start to check off on Tuesday night and by the time we leave on Wednesday morning I am confident that I have everything the kids and I need to get through a day at the office.

Vacation Planning:
Planning a vacation for a family is no simple task. Finding a place to stay, making travel plans and keeping track of the paperwork. Not to mention the work to get everyone out the door. I keep all my lists such as itineraries, budget, packing list and reservation confirmations in Evernote. It is so easy to share notes. I can send them over to my husband too.

Homeschooling:
I hate having too many papers, I loose papers and don’t like it when papers get smudged or crumpled. Evernote helps me do lesson planning, tracking and even keep track of the progress on what we’ve done. When my kids get older enough to require a homeschooling portfolio. I will be able to use Evernote to put it together and attach scans and pictures of their work.

Organize Food Recipes:
While I use Pinterest to find recipes, I don’t love it for organizing. I find that using the Evernote Web Clipper to save recipes that I find online works better for me. Plus I can never remember off the top of my head at what temperature and for how long I am supposed to bake things so an easy search in Evernote from my phone while in the kitchen gives me the information I need without having to navigate through Google results every time.

Babysitting File:
While it’s been a while since we’ve had a babysitter (that is the subject of a whole different blog post) I have a note with all of the instructions, emergency contacts, routines and house rules that I can I just email over the info to the babysitter or print out to give when she arrives. This is especially handy in the event of an emergency.

Gift Ideas:
It’s hard to remember all birthdays, anniversaries and milestones. And even when remembering it’s not always easy to know what type of gift to get. For that reason I have a list of all of the important dates and a gift idea list so with Father’s Day coming up I can remember what hubby hinted at, looked at with interest at the store or mentioned a need for.

Managing your home:
There is massive amounts of time to be saved by tracking all your home information through a paperless system. You can put warranty info, appliance info, leases, paperwork, pictures, and repair contacts all in Evernote. This allows you to easily and promptly deal with any home situation that occurs. I also keep details such as air conditioner filter size and window measurements for easy reference if I find myself at Lowe’s/Home Depot and they are having a sale on filter or curtains.

Kids’ Artwork:
I love all the awesome artwork and projects that my kids create, however, I can’t stand all the clutter of the paper. I save the absolute best of the best. The rest I snap a photo of, save in Evernote and throw it away guilt free. For extra cool points, you can append an audio recording of your kid telling you about his artwork!

Party Planning:
From venue research, to decoration shopping lists, food planning and guest lists. I keep track of it all with Evernote.

Taxes:
I keep track of my charitable donations, mileage and volunteer expenses for easy access at the end of the year. Additionally any receipts for tax purposes can be photographed or scanned.
I also save the PDF of our tax return.

Volunteer and Consulting Gigs:
I volunteer for several organizations and Evernote not only lets me keep track of what I need to do but also of what I’ve done. For example, I use a web form to log all of my breastfeeding help contacts for easy reporting to La Leche League but also for when a mother calls me to follow up I can easily search by date, number, name or keyword and remember what we had discussed previously.

I sometimes get consulting jobs doing web design or bookkeeping projects and I use Evernote from start to finish to create proposals, engagement agreements, project progress and time tracking for billing.

All of my templates are organized and accessible from any device so if I need to send a membership renewal notice or website proposal I can easily do it from anywhere I am.

Blogging:
I keep all ideas, images and quotes for future posts in Evernote so I can work on my posts whenever the muses visit me and when it’s time to publish it’s just a matter of copy and paste. I could get fancier and use a plugin to automatically publish a blog post from Evernote at the touch of a button but I like to tweak the layout on WordPress before it goes live.

This has saved me so much time and sometimes I may have a post in draft mode for months and this ensures that I don’t lose my old ideas.

School:
The challenges of doing a self paced study program is that you have to be extra organized to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks, setting up my syllabus in Evernote and linking notes with the individual chapters and projects helps me accomplish that. I also have all my lecture notes, homework assignments and research papers linked and easily searchable by keyword.

Reference Data:
I receive several electronic Breastfeeding publications and E-magazines that I may need to reference in the future when helping a mother. Adding them to Evernote allows me to search by keyword later and easily find the issue that talked about that study on newborn jaundice without having to search issue by issue.

Dr. Jack Newman also posts interesting information about breastfeeding on his Facebook page. Unfortunately it’s not easy to find old posts on Facebook so by exporting them into Evernote using the Web Clipper I can easily access his thoughts on breastfeeding issues.

Other uses:
– Inventory of anything (house items for insurance purposes, books, DVDs/CDs, business inventory and more!)
– Send any e-mail to your Evernote e-mail address to keep forever

evernote-all-the-thingsSo, what other lists and notes do you store on Evernote? I’d love to hear how you use this tool to make your life easier.

Posted in Bandora

Domestic ADD

Anybody suffer from ADD only when doing domestic work?

Don’t know what that is? Maybe a description of my morning will help explain:

“I am going to go downstairs and get the vacuum cleaner to vacuum the upstairs carpet”
::sees plastic bags on counter:: “but first I should collect all of these bags and put them aside for recycling”
::puts bags in laundry room:: “I really should start a load of blankets and bedding before doing anything else so I can then do the boy’s laundry later”
::come out of the laundry room, sees dishwasher:: “I should finish unloading these dishes so I can load the machine again and have it ready to run after cooking lunch”
::sees recyclables:: “I should go get the recycling bin from the curb and add this in”
::sees dry erase board:: “I should erase this before Shammy nags me again”
::sees reward chart:: “I forgot to put yesterday’s magnets, let me do that before I forget again”
:: bringing in the recycling bin and sees the weed situation:: “These weeds are out of control, I should pull them now while that area is in the shade and it’s not too hot”
::goes get gardening gloves and see that some stacks fell in the stairs closet:: “I should fix these stacks before I forget or I won’t find anything later”
::finishes organizing stacks, walks to the front with gloves:: “I should pick up these laundry items now so they won’t miss their trip to the wash later”
::finished pulling weeds:: “I am too tired now, need a break”

And the vacuum is still downstairs and the carpet hasn’t been vacuumed.

A variation of this domestic distraction cycle occurs every day, I always get a lot done but it’s never enough to make the house look better, just keeps it from looking worse. And I never accomplish the first task I planned to do when I first set out to clean.

cleaning

Anybody else?

Posted in Random

Will work for Amazon Gift Cards

It can be very hard to make it on practically a single income. While I do work part time, the income 10 hours a week is a drop in the expense bucket specially after paying for childcare. Childcare is becoming so expensive that it’s not cost effective to get a second job or switch to full time, as it is I am having a hard enough time finding affordable care for 1 day a week when a sitter wants to charge $10 an hour for me to work my $12 an hour job. But I think I have ranted about that before…

So what do you do when you want something that you can’t afford and traditional work is not an option?
I have found that I have 4 options:

  • I can go without
  • I can “save” for it which would take months and years for all but the cheapest of items and the money ends up having to be diverted for some emergency.
  • I can sell something to buy something new
  • I can barter and trade

I don’t include MLM and Independent Distributor sales among my options because they require a start up cost that I don’t have and I don’t consider sales to be a strong suit of mine. Plus anytime I see something that I wouldn’t mind selling I feel that there is enough competition out there.

There are many things that I go without, the saving is strictly left for gifts, I usually have to save for 6 months for Yule presents and the other 6 months are spent saving for birthdays and Father’s Day. For a while I was doing really good at selling things but after a while you just start running out of things to sell so that leaves us with trading.

I love the concept but it can be a logistical nightmare since it’s very hard to find someone that is willing to trade what you want for something you have to offer. Thankfully I’ve been blessed with having some skills that can be helpful to others such as web design and bookkeeping.

This week I hit the jackpot when I found a person that is starting her own business and needed a web presence but lacked the technical skills to DIY or the budget to hire a “pro”. What she did have were Amazon gift codes that she had no plan to use. I had the skills and she had the need, she had the gift codes she didn’t want and I have an extensive Amazon wish list. It’s a win-win!

In the end most of the Amazon order comprised of things for the kids (yay for a magnetic dry erase board!) but it’s still a victory as we wouldn’t have been able to get one unless we found it in the trash.

barter

I wish people did this more often.