Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Note Cards of Glory

I feel like my past few posts have been a little heavy, and I have some heavy ones coming up, so I thought I'd give us all a break and share with you the little system that has completely transformed my home over the past few months! I guess you could say this is my first "How To" post. (The rest of the Change in Perspective Series is coming, don't worry! I haven't dropped the ball.)

After I got adjusted to life with Leeland (that took a few months), I decided it was time to tackle the life at home- you know, keeping the house clean, cooking meals, laundry, etc. The only problem is that there was SO much to do that I would make a huge long list, try to do it all in one day, fail miserably, then get discouraged and overwhelmed.

And then my superhero mom came to the rescue! She let me borrow her book, "Sidetracked Home Executives." The book is older than I am, the pages are yellow, and it's kind of falling apart, but I was excited to read it because this book explains "the note card system." When I was growing up, my mom had an index card box full of colorful cards. I didn't know much about this box except for one thing. My mom had drawn a picture of the proper way to set a table on one of the cards and every time it was my turn to set the table, I would pull out that card and copy it exactly. To this day, every time I set the table, I see that picture in my head!

I read about the notecard system and adapted it to meet my needs and it worked wonders for me! Then I read the second book by "The Slob Sisters," in which they completely changed their notecard system and I was a little mad at them for changing things up on me. But since the original system was working for me, I just decided to stick to that for now.

For my system I used:
A notecard box
Neon colored notecards (4 different colors)
Dividers labeled 1-31
Month dividers (I couldn't find these in the store so I had to make my own)
A small calendar

This is my notecard box. It's not the perfect box but my options were extremely limited. Apparently 3x5 index card boxes aren't as popular as they were back in the 80's. Since mine has extra room in the back, it has become a holding area for my calendar, check book, and coupons. [Yes, that's a calendar in the back with a dog and cat on it. Not really my style, but it works.]

[As you can see, Date Night has not been scheduled yet this week. So, it's just hanging out upright back there. Those are things I might not have an exact day for, but that need to be done.]

The first thing you do, is determine your weekly schedule and tape that inside your box. This is what I came up with:
Monday: Groceries
Tuesday: Cleaning
Wednesday: Errands
Thursday: Cleaning
Friday: Free Day!
Saturday: Family
Sunday: Church, Family, Coupon Clipping

Mine is usually covered by junk, but it's ok, I have it memorized. I don't always stick exactly to the schedule because things come up- doctor visits, lunch dates, family visits, etc.- but this gives me a basic outline to live by. And let me tell you, the Free Day on Friday was one of the best things ever invented. If I want to do laundry or the dishes on Friday, I can, but I don't HAVE to. It's my free day. I don't have to do chores and I do NOT have to feel guilty about it!

Next you make your notecards. With the old system, you make A LOT of notecards. The new system that the ladies invented condensed the notecards down so you don't have so many, but again, I didn't do that. Divide your chores up between daily, every other day(EOD), weekly, every other week(EOW), monthly, every other month(EOM), and seasonal. Use a different color card for each time period. For me:
Yellow: Daily and EOD
Green: Weekly and EOW
Orange: Monthly, EOM, and Seasonal
Pink: Personal

With this system, I put one chore on each notecard (hence the large amount of notecards). Then file them throughout the month. Although most of us are used to filing BEHIND the divider, they suggest filing in front (which the army does), that way everything you need to see for that day is right up front. I am a creature of habit and didn't think I would like this change but I love it! It's best to have a little calendar handy to help you file the cards on the right days.

Here are the homemade month dividers in the back. You can see the orange cards divided up among the months. Also, I put a notecard with family's birthdays on each month. Then at the beginning of the month I go buy birthday cards for the month. This is the first time EVER that I have gotten cards to people on (or around) their birthdays.

There are several reasons that the system works so well for me. First of all, it divides things up. Maybe the bathrooms need to be cleaned, the laundry needs to be done, I need to vacuum and I need to dust. But I don't have to try to do it all in one day. My notecards divide everything out evenly. Second, I'm a list person. I LOVE crossing things off lists. These notecards are like a perpetual list. Completing a task and filing the notecard away is just like crossing something off a list. I always have a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Also, from the tips in this book, I changed the frequency in which I do things. I used to clean the bathrooms only when they started looking nasty or when we had company coming. Now, I clean the toilets and sinks every other day. I thought this was a little excessive at first but I started doing it and realized what a huge difference it makes! It does not take long at all and with the toilet and sink clean, the bathroom looks really clean, no matter what the rest of the room looks like! I also do laundry every other day now too. I used to do laundry once a week and it was always overwhelming and took forever! Now I just do a few light loads more often and it is so easy and simple and doesn't take much time at all!

AND my house is pretty much always company-ready. Before, if people were coming over, I would have to spend the day or two before, stressing out and cleaning a TON! But with the notecard system, everything is kept up so there is not much I have to do before people come over. About a month ago, we had some family coming to stay with us and I just didn't know what to do with myself before they came because everything was already done! I was amazed.

Here are some more benefits of the notecards:
  • I make the bed every day. This makes a HUGE difference in my life. The room just looks so much cleaner and organized when the bed is made. It also helps me feel more ready for my day. When the bed is unmade, it's like I could just jump right back in at any minute and waste the day away! But with it made, it's like a conscience decision to take on the day.
  • I do things like cleaning the fronts of my cabinets and putting Orange Glo on them- once a month! Let me tell you, before, that MIGHT have happened once a YEAR, if at all!
  • It is so much easier to do my quiet time and Bible reading every day. With a notecard blaring me in the face, it's a little bit harder to put it off or ignore it. Sometimes we just need a little reminder to get in the Word.
  • I clean my washer and dryer once a month. Who knew you had to do that?! I didn't.
  • It's ok if I don't get all of the notecards done. One of the rules of the notecards is to "File it and forget it." If you don't get it done, just file it away and don't stress over it because it will get done the next time the notecard comes around. You obviously have to limit this some or some things would NEVER get done.

I could go on and on and on, but this post is already long enough. It's funny, because Weston can be gone for a few days and when he comes home, the second he walks in the door, he can tell if I've been doing the notecards or not. He LOVES the notecards! If I get lazy and stop doing them, he always likes to gently remind me, "Uhh...Hey... Are you gonna start doing your notecards again..??" Haha :)


  1. I love this system! Thank you for sharing it. Jon and I have made a chore chart (at his request) so that we can each take part in getting things done around the house. I am going to have to consider if this would work in our home, because I like the idea that much! Keep blogging!

  2. this is incredible. and perfect for someone like me - i'm in love with organization. love love love this post - thanks, meagan!

  3. I love the idea of this... I might start having to do this too... I find myself not wanting to do anything once I get home from a long day or im so overwhelmed with everything to do, but I could do just a card or 2 a day with the system and still get a few things done a day. :) Thanks Meag. I might have to find that book and copy the page to get more ideas :) Thanks love

  4. So I'm single, currently live by myself, no kids and yet I love this! What a great system. I'm so glad you blogged about it. I think I might start this up because my small, tiny apartment can get so dirty and messy so quickly! It's hard to keep it clean being so busy but this seems like the perfect solution. Thanks!

  5. Yay! It really is rather fun once you get it all set up! If any of you are really serious about it, I suggest getting the book because they go into a lot of detail that I didn't include. When I looked on Amazon, I found this book.

    It should be the same book, although it looks a little different than mine. (Mine is from 1981) The second book with the more "updated" index card system that I didn't like is called "Get Your Act Together" and it can be found here.

  6. I've been using the cards for years, but mine are super-tweaked. On the front, I put a colored sticker with the room/area, and estimated time to complete. I take the day's cards, divide them by room, and work either from front of the house to the back, or vice versa. On the back, I wrote the tools and cleaning products to use, and any special instructions or details to cover. That way I can delegate to others without having to stand over them, or go back and re-do it.