Do you have piles of stuff in your house too? Do they drive you crazy? Then you can probably understand why the title Paperless Home Organization intrigued me! You curious too? Then allow me to introduce you to Simplified Pantry! (This review is slightly different than my other reviews for The Old Schoolhouse, as it is really a review for a sister publication. If you haven't checked out the Molly Green magazine, which features great homemaking ideas for the frugal mom, you may wish to head on over to Econobusters.com and take a peek!)
Company Information: Mystie Winckler, author of the blog Simply Convivial, a wife and homeschooling mother of five, knows what it's like to be busy. As most moms do, she has sought to find the best way to get the most done in the least amount of time. I know I'm always looking for help like that!
Product Reviewed: Paperless Home Organization is an e-book that Mystie has written to help busy moms track all the myriad of details in their lives using the many free resources that are now available online, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Remember the Milk, and Evernote. Besides being able to sync and access your lists and calendars across mutliple devices, she shows you how to organize all the paper you and I have lying around the house...and get rid of it!
In addition to Paperless Home Organization, we were also given the e-book Simplified Dinners, as well as a gluten-free version of the book, Simplified Dinners: Gluten-Free and Dairy Free. (My review will focus primarily on Paperless Home Organization.)
Price: $3.99 for Paperless Home Organization, $12.99 each for Simplifed Dinners and Simplified Dinners: Gluten-Free and Dairy Free.
How I Used It: I usually like to read books twice---the first time to get the overview, and the second time for the details. I'm glad I did this because even though I didn't understand everything the first pass, I was able to get a better understanding when it came down to putting it into action.
After reading the first time, I sat down with the book and worked through it step by step. I already have a Gmail account, so that made using the calendar easy. I have always preferred my paper calendars, but I don't always bring them around with me. On the other hand, I usually have my tablet with me. It was a matter of learning the habit of using Google Calendar instead of the wall calendar.
Similarly, I also set up accounts with Remember the Milk and Evernote. The step-by-step directions were easy to follow. After I set things up as Mystie directed and used it for a few days, I tinkered around with it to create categories that fit my usages better. For example, she had many lists in Remember the Milk that were just a little too complicated for me. Perhaps once I get to be a master at this digital format, I may find it useful, but at that point, it was too overwhelming for me. I just have one Inbox list and put everything in there so I could see it all at once. I don't have a lot of items on the list yet, so it's still not too bad.
Because I had a way of setting my day's tasks already on paper, I used the systems that Mystie had suggested as far as it fit the way I usually did things. As there are a million and one ways to organize your day and use planners, I tried to take what worked for me and then combine it with the online tools available. As a result, I didn't always follow the directions to a T, but it gave me a good start. After all, what's important is that it works, right?
What I Liked:
As I had mentioned above, the main thing is training myself to use the system that I set up. I've been using it for a few weeks now, and it has been great. I used to write a list, then rewrite it or add more points to it that I had forgotten, etc. I never stuck with anything for long. With Remember the Milk, I can now add things without it looking like a mess. Because I am only selecting 1-3 tasks from my master list each day, I don't feel overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. Having it set up to show on my Google Calendar gives me a complete picture of the day's activities, appointments, school needs, as well as the specific task items for the day. I would never have known how to do this on my own!
I also have liked using the Google Calendar for meal planning. I had never thought of it! Now, I write down what I make, and in the notes section I include what prep needs to be done and how much time is required for the meal, sides to go with it, and any special groceries I may need on hand. I can also set it to repeat every few months so that I don't have to start from scratch every month and still have the variety I like in our menus. Changing the menu is easy too. I just drag the plan around to fit, just as I did with my little sticky post-it notes on my big calendar.
I am still learning how to use Evernote, though I am beginning to see the potential in the program. The only problem was that I got so excited about clipping websites, scanning my son's schoolwork and putting together my notebooks that I quickly maxed out the 60 MB limit for the month. This is one that I'm just going to have to train myself to use, and Mystie did a great job in showing us how to set things up, what notebooks to create, and the way to utilize it for the home. I would never have thought of it myself!
What I Didn't Like:
Nothing! I found the book easy to read and it made a lot of sense to me. I didn't use every setup that she had suggested (for example the Daily Checklist on Evernote), but I'm realizing that's okay. The important point is to set it up so that it works for me and how I function. That will vary from person to person.
If you're looking for a way to get a handle on all the paper in your house, I would suggest picking up a copy of Paperless Home Organization and carving out a few hours to read the book. Then start where you are and start developing the systems you need online and on your computer to help you start moving forward. I wouldn't worry about those papers in file boxes that you've kept for ages. Those can wait. Just start with this year's school work and archiving that. Start with this month's meal plans and this week's work. My goal for myself has been to just start learning how to use the system, tweaking it as I go.
And maybe then I'll have the system I need to work on cleaning out all those piles!
SPECIAL: Enter TOS2013 at checkout from May 20 to June 3, 2013 to receive a 30% discount from any or all of Mystie's ebooks!