Saturday, May 19, 2012

Organizing Tip: "Perma-notes" & Post-Its

There was a time when I had a pretty reliable brain--a brain that could remember things, a brain that even produced enough decent thoughts to earn a couple of medals and awards for me back in my undergraduate days.  Then, I became a mom.  If you're a mom, you know what I mean.  When you become a mom, your heart grows... and your brain shrinks.  You start to forget things.  You wait for your old brain to return.  You wait and you wait, but friend, it's gone.  Then you realize that you need either a) a new brain or b) better systems.  Here are a few simple systems that have worked for me:

My Laundry "Perma-note"
Our washer and dryer sit behind bi-fold doors in our kitchen.  To cut down on noise and visual clutter, I close the bi-fold doors while the washer and dryer are running.  The problem, of course, is that as soon as the bi-fold doors close, my shrunken brain thinks, "Laundry?  What laundry?  And, by the way, how long has this piece of toast been sitting in the toaster?" [Answer: 12 hours.]

My solution: I used a photo laminating sheet to create a "perma-note", or reusable note, to serve as a visual reminder to myself.  I store the note on a hook inside the laundry closet.  When I put a load of laundry in the washer, I hang the note on the outside of the left doorknob.  When I move the laundry to the dryer, I move the note to the right doorknob.  Once the dry laundry has been put away, the reminder note goes back on the hook inside the closet.  This system works because the note moves, so I am more likely to see it and notice it, as opposed to, say, popping it in the toaster.

My Dishwasher "Perma-note"
I created another laminated "perma-note" which gets placed on the kitchen counter right above the dishwasher whenever someone turns on the washer to run a load of dishes.  In my experience, notes or magnets on the front of the dishwasher get overlooked by anyone who happens to be taller than 1' 5", and the little "clean" indicator light on the dishwasher itself is utterly useless.  We store this laminated note in a drawer next to the dishwasher.  The note stays on the counter until all of the clean dishes have been unloaded and put away. This way, if we only get halfway through unloading the clean dishes for some reason, we all remember not to add more dirty dishes to the dishwasher.  Once all of the clean dishes are unloaded, the note goes back into the drawer.
Post-Its for Food Storage
Whenever I put leftovers in the fridge or I open a new jar of something perishable (like apple sauce or tomato sauce), I take a moment to date it with a tiny Post-It note.  This simple habit has helped me to waste less food overall; I can confidently eat or serve something when I know for sure that it's fresh.  Thanks to the Post-Its, I also know for sure when something is past its prime and needs to be discarded, even before it sprouts telltale green Muppet fur.  Now, I never have to rely on my brain to "just remember" how long things have been languishing in the fridge.

Do you have any systems to help compensate for "mom brain"?  Feel free to share them in the comments!