How do I lead a simpler life? Things are just too busy…

The key to leading a simple life is staying organized. Even though this may seem like a daunting task, a few minutes a day is all the investment required – it will give back in the form of hours of saved time.

It’s easy to get caught up in the little details of organization, but paying attention to a few key areas that garner the highest time return is the best idea.

Here is my list of must-haves for my week to run smoothly:

-menu plan for the week, including day-to-day food prep task lists for morning and evening

-grocery list and planned day to shop

-cleaning schedule

-family to-do list

Here is a breakdown of each category, along with samples of each spreadsheet I use:

Menu Plan

This is likely the biggest time saver – this step will save you hours of angst and last minute trips to the store/takeout. The best part is that you only have to do it for about 3 weeks, then you can start with the first plan all over again.  Plan a group of breakfasts to choose from that are easy, lunches based on a combination of dinner leftovers and a few easy to put together basics, and dinners with a theme.

Since coming up with the meals is half the battle, go on a rotation that looks like this:

Mondays – roast chicken night

Tuesdays – stir fry night

Wednesday – crock pot night (soup/stew etc)

Thursday – burger/pizza night

Friday – pasta night

Saturday – BBQ night (hubby in charge of cooking)

Sunday – fancy dinner night (this is where you can get creative and cook your favorites)

Leftovers can be used for lunch, with backups like sandwiches and a big pot of soup made at the beginning of the week I also use Sundays to cook up a few staples like hard boiled eggs (used for salads through the week), marinara sauce, etc.

Planned Grocery Shop & List

Keep a running list on your fridge of things you run out of, and encourage family members to write anything on the list they run out of at the time they run out of it. 

Write out the list associated with each’s weeks menu, and shop from tht list. Planning out your shop is essential if you want to control your food costs. Be sure to shop at a time that you aren’t hungry or tired.

Cleaning List

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have your own cleaning staff, then you will ave to find a way to get through your cleaning chores each week. I break it down into daily tasks, because if I save it up for one day, that day never comes. Pick tasks that take no more than about 15 minutes per day to keep it manageable.  I have attached a sample cleaning list as a guideline.

Family To-Do

Keeping a running to-do list is a great way to get small things done and out of the way. Keep a list, and have each family member pick one thing off the list and complete it on the weekend. Giving them some choice in the task they choose helps them feel like they have a bit of control over the process, and helps to knock a few things off the list each week.


Spreadsheet samples:

Sample Menu Plan

Household chores – template

Grocery List


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