Oh, I was so wrong!
Turns out, time was the least of my problems. And funny how activities tend to fill whatever time you have, the same way pizza slices fill teenage boys. If it's there, they'll eat it. If the time is there, it will be filled. The time that used to be filled with teaching, meetings, and lesson plans now got filled with other things that were more interesting than keeping a neat home - play dates, reading, homeschooling, keeping up with blogs (including many about organizing your home!), volunteer activities. All good things - some of them very good things! - but at the end of the day, my home was still disorganized and we were still eating dinner at 7:30. And while my home doesn't need to grace the pages of House Beautiful, it at least needs to have enough order not to cause unnecessary stress or to interfere with family and ministry time because we're looking for an important paper or because my children are running on too little sleep too many days in a row.
If time wasn't my biggest problem, what was? Three big areas - disorganization, motivation, and affirmation.
Disorganization - I have a hard time mentally keeping track of multiple to-do list items and am constantly distracted by other things that need to be done. Think If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for grown-ups. If you send me to wash the dishes, on the way to the sink I'll notice a toy on the counter with a dead battery. I'll go upstairs to get a battery, passing by the laundry room on the way. I'll remember that I wanted to do a load of laundry so I'll detour to our bedroom to get a load. When I put the laundry in, I'll notice that I never put yesterday's load in the dryer. When I move it to the dryer, I'll realize that that's why the children ran out of underwear yesterday - it's sitting in the dryer. I bring that armload of laundry to the living room to fold and notice the pile of books that need to be renewed at the library. I go to renew them and while I'm on the computer just for a second, I check on e-mail. And suddenly the afternoon is gone and the dishes are still in the sink.
Motivation - I want an orderly, home, truly. But sometimes it's hard to convince myself that doing the dishes or sweeping the floor or organizing the mail ranks up there with playing with my children or encouraging a friend or writing an article for our Naomi's Circle website or for This Side of Heaven. And it's definitely not more fun.
Affirmation - At work, I received kudos on a daily basis from my boss, my students, my co-workers. I had no doubt that what I was doing was well-received and was making a difference. At home, I don't have that. The family notices when something doesn't go as planned, but not so much when it does. Not that they don't appreciate it, but my love language is words of affirmation, and when I lack motivation and organization, the lack of affirmation does me in.
Well, six years after resigning, I'm still working on this whole area, but I've found some tools that are helping. Here is the basic run-down of my top three:
Cozi - This is a home management app that my husband and I both keep on our phones. I mostly use the calendar function, and (as long as I remember to check it!), it helps keep me on track. At the beginning of each semester (my husband teaches college, so our year is always divided into semesters), I enter all of my appointments, my husband's teaching schedule, office hours, the children's activities, etc. The other part that I use frequently is the list maker. We keep our master grocery list on it and then whoever goes shopping has the list.
Evernote - This note-taking app is the answer to my distractedness. I write down everything here so when I forget it, I can find it again. The search function is fabulous and even though I am horribly unorganized in how I use it, I can still find what I need.
Analog planner and calendar - I've gone old school on these with a paper calendar on our kitchen wall and a paper planner in my purse. I've tried out SO many of these over the years, and tried to go 100% electronic a couple of times, but I keep coming back to paper and pencil. Right now, I'm getting used to my Happy Planner, which I picked up at Hobby Lobby, but you can also find them on Amazon. It's pretty, and it has cute stickers, which makes organizing my time more fun. It's motivating me right now, which is a good starting place.
So those are my top three helpers - but I am constantly on the lookout for other systems or advice on how to use these better!