It ain’t pretty…but it works

I have a couple of meaty posts that I am dying to get out of my system, but due to the tyranny of the immediate they will have to wait for now. A few days ago I opened the cupboard door and saw this.


Just two pieces of paper, very plain and simple, nothing really spectacular. However, these humble pieces of paper help to keep me sane and organized. The bottom sheet of paper tracks the groceries that we need to purchase this month – this is generally organized by store. Costco hangs out in the bottom right hand corner, Heritage Meats is above that and Superstore/Pricemart takes up the rest of the page. The top sheet of paper tracks the items that we will need next month. For example, if we are getting a little low on maple syrup but i know we can make do with what we have for the rest of the month, up “maple syrup” goes on the top sheet. Another good thing about this system is that it uses scrap paper, so we are recycling what we already have instead of creating more waste. I know that some people use computer lists or shopping apps, but I need that tactile connection of pencil and paper. I am a visual learner and I need to see everything laid out before me in order to make good decisions.

This past year or so I have been playing around with different systems of organization, trying to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. While I am browsing through Pinterest in the evenings I see countless websites that are geared towards helping you become organized. Some are genuinely helpful, while others just seem to encourage you to buy more stuff to help you attractively display all of your excessive amounts of stuff. I am all for attractive presentation, but there does come a time when you just need to stack the cans in the pantry and forget about the tiered can organizer. Seriously. And anyways, if the tiered can organizer only holds 12 cans of soup and you happen to have 14 cans, what do you do then? You are just back to stacking cans and you should just have stacked them in the first place and saved yourself the $10 or $20 that it cost to purchase the tiered can stacker. (“Tiered can stacker” – this is starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss tongue twister!) I don’t care how pretty it looks, if an organizational tool isn’t functional in all situations it isn’t worth buying.

Before I had kids I was able to go on autopilot and stay organized naturally, The addition of three other little human beings into the mix, not to mention a husband, means that I need to be a lot more intentional about organizing our lives. I have discovered that if I really want to be organized, I need to pay attention to how I most efficiently operate and encourage those strengths. I also need to take a look at where I fail (ahem, office clutter) and try to change that unhelpful behaviour. You can’t just go out and purchase a bunch of colour-coded file folders and try to adapt your life to fit a pre-programmed system. Because it just isn’t going to work. The tyranny of the immediate will rear its ugly head and you will be back where you started.

So, the two-sheet grocery list is working for me. It may not be mounted on scrapbook paper or written in a funky font with appropriately coordinated stamps, but it works. And I am satisfied. Now for the office clutter…


2 thoughts on “It ain’t pretty…but it works

  1. Inside of the cupboard door! I wonder where you might have gotten an idea like that?

    Well you’re right! It ain’t pretty but it sure works!

    • I suppose I should point out that I am following the good organizational example of my mother! Although I think I started paying attention to your shopping lists when there were 6 of us, and so your list is a little more detailed. For example, my main categories for the Pricemart/Superstore shopping list are COLD, AISLES, and PRODUCE whereas you broke it down into categories like MEAT, DAIRY, BULK, etc, etc. Sometimes I separate out the bulk products, but usually I just put them on one side of the AISLES section.

      Another interesting thing, if I may nerd out some more, is going through the process of finding the best deals. For example, I know that my cereal is cheaper at Superstore, but dairy is just about the same at both Superstore and Pricemart and Pricemart generally has more BC products. So I prefer Pricemart for dairy. And I wish we could do more organic and local shopping but alas, one must deal with the constraints of one’s budget. When we win the lottery we’ll splurge and buy all local cheeses and such. Until then, only as treats.

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