Lists keep me on budget. They give me a place to dump preoccupying thoughts. Lists encourage me to plan ahead. They make me look like I have it all together when I'm called out on the spot.
I used to keep lists on paper. This worked well, but inevitably I'd lose the paper and be all out of sorts without my list. Now I keep all of my lists on my iPhone. If you don't have an iPhone there are list apps on other smart phones (and even regular mobile phones now), so you could apply these organization techniques to whatever mobile phone situation you have right now.
Organization is a big factor in family meal planning. You need to know what is in your fridge, freezer and pantry and you need to know what you still need to purchase. Having organized lists can help you stay on budget and can prevent the frustration of not having an ingredient you need when you get ready to prepare a meal.
I use something simple and free that comes with your iPhone: the "Reminders" app. If you have a Mac computer or you haven't updated your iPhone/iPad lately the icon looks like a checklist:
If you have an iPhone with the newest iOS (operating system), the icon looks like a list with colorful buttons in the left margin:
Mall - When I get to the mall, what do I need and from what stores? I don't go to the mall as often as I used to, so this is helpful when I am in a time crunch.
ShopRite - I do most of my grocery shopping here, so this is a basic grocery list.
Target - I go here enough that the store deserves its own list.
Costco - I love Costco, but the store is overwhelming, so this list keeps me on track.
Menu Plan - This keeps me from losing my mind about what's for dinner. I also have a board on Pinterest where I re-pin recipes that I intend to use in the upcoming week.
Farmer's Market - I don't get here often, but they have great deals on grains, produce and spices, so I'm prepared whenever I finally get there
Pediatrician - Baby health questions for upcoming medical appointments
Resolutions 2013 - I keep my New Year's Resolutions in this app. When I'm losing focus, I pull them up. I also check them off as I complete them.
Trader Joe's - Another store I don't get to very often, but I like specific items, so a list keeps me on track if I ever end up in the store.
Blog Updates - Blog article ideas, design inspiration.
Errands - If I need to go to five places in one day, I actually make a list of the order of the errands to keep me on track. Life is hectic.
Freezer Meals - This helps me remember that I have three chicken pot pies and 72 homemade meatballs in our extra freezer. I add meals to this list as I add food to the freezer... otherwise they'd be lost in the abyss and found in the summer of 2015.
Packages - Because I order a lot of stuff online and I need to remember who may be leaving a package at the door while I'm at work during the day. I check off packages as they arrive.
HomeGoods/TJ Maxx - I love these stores for home items, so I make a list of what I'm looking for (pillows for the living room, artwork for Max's room, etc.) to keep me on track when I get there.
How does it work? Well, each of the categories above is the name of a list. First, create the categories that work for you. You can always edit or delete them. Next, click on the list and add items to your heart's content. I just add items to the list as time goes on. When I accomplish or purchase an item, I check it off and it disappears. Making eggs for breakfast and realize that you're almost out? Add "eggs" to the appropriate list. Clicking through Pinterest and see an awesome recipe, but you're all out of unsalted butter? Pick up the phone and add "unsalted butter" to the list. Does your baby have a strange rash on his hand, but you're already scheduled for an appointment next week? Add "rash" to the Pediatrician list.
Once you complete an item, just click on the check box/button and it disappears. The app also archives everything that's ever been on the list, just in case you need to un-click something. I get so much satisfaction from clearing a list, but I always leave the blank list there for future items.
You can also tell the Reminders app to give you an actual reminder (pop up on screen or an alarm) at a specific time. You can even take it one step further and tell it to remind you at a location. Yes, this means my phone will remind me to buy eggs the second I pull into the parking lot at ShopRite! Crazy, right? It can also remind you to grab your glasses when you get to your mom's house. The possibilities are endless.
My favorite part is that if you have multiple Apple devices/computers (iPad, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iPhone) your Reminders app syncs seamlessly among your devices. This is a huge advantage if you end up using all Apple products. If I'm at work and I realize I need to pick up a pork roast on the way home, I just add it to the Reminders app on my work computer and I know it will show up on my iPhone as I'm walking into the grocery store on my way home.
Mobile phones aren't cheap, so you may as well make the best of them. I use my iPhone as my personal assistant and it really helps me stay on track.
Is anyone else using a list application to keep their life in order? Which one do you use?