Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tour of my Real Life Systems

I've been blogging a bit about getting things done over at my other blog, so I thought I would share what some of the real life systems look like at my house, where eight people ages four to forty-something, a dog and a cat all live and work and sleep. So, here goes.

This is my executive station. I was so tempted to clean up the clutter, and, well, honestly I did, a bit, but it's basically the way it looks right after I straighten it.

In the room behind, you can see my computer where I'm sitting now, though in the picture you see the littlest computer user with his head barely taller than the keyboard. This high table/shelf outside the room is my central control station. I call it my desk. I stand there to catch up with my brain and the household's paperwork. There is always plenty of paperwork, though my brain is sometimes elusive.

The wall is my visual reminder system -- everything goes up there that I want to keep in mind all the time. Pics of people I love, sacramentals, a calendar, and so on.

The basket on the wall holds pens, and mail I need to deal with (I have a desk day once a week to do the dealing). I have a slightly bigger basket on the shelf behind the door, not visible in this picture, where I put mail that is still on active status but not urgent. When I have my desk day, I sort and then file or act upon what is in there.

The plastic crates on the side contain extra curricula -- what we're not presently using but that I might need to grab or look through. I used to have about double that amount of curriculum boxes.... I'm slowly cutting back.

Yes, those are indeed ramen noodles on my table. Aidan must have brought them up; they are his favorite snack. My husband puts mail of interest to me on the table, the kids put completed work and notes to me on there. I usually keep my calendar notebooks on there. Everything goes on there, and since it's right there where I walk past it often, it is easy for me to keep up with it. It doesn't always look great, but it usually works better than OK.

If I push aside that navy patterned cloth you will see why I put it there. Lots of ugly though serviceable boxes. I would love to get rattan file boxes that would look pretty in plain sight, instead of the plastic and cardboard, but they are at least $29 and that amount of money, times eight, buys a lot of nice books. Someday...... but for now, this!

  • Top right box holds old magazines and catalogs. When it gets full, I sort through and recycle a few of them.
  • Top and bottom left boxes hold comb bound books printed from the internet, like Ambleside books.
  • Bottom right box holds loose papers and other miscellaneous things from the homeschool year -- I take it out seasonally and organize it a bit, and at the end of the year I do a thorough sweep and figure out what we're going to keep and what can go. The keeper stuff goes in a dated folder and into an archive box which I keep in a separate place. I am going to try to get into the habit of adding comments so I don't forget WHY I kept that piece of artwork or that worksheet.
  • Yellow box holds extra pens. We never have enough around when we need them though.

Moving downstairs now to another system: our catchall basket by the front door. It holds things that are on the way in or out.... library books, sometimes gloves, my purse, or whatever. Yes, it does overflow sometimes. But what it is, is a planned Hot Spot. I go through it almost daily and put things where they properly belong, and leave the truly transitional stuff in there. It seems to serve its purpose: like Don Aslett says of the rugs by the door, it catches things that might otherwise get dispersed all over the house. And since it's right there in plain sight, I have a motivation to keep it from getting too bad.

I was going to show the pretty uncluttered surface and skip the rest, but decided that since this is about REAL systems, you can see the whole view with the upended plastic stepstool near the door, and so on. Oh, and that black bag hanging on the coatrack is for my 2 little sons' T-ball gear. If I put it in there as soon as it's washed/we come home, then we don't have to hunt for the stuff for an hour on the day of the game.

Over on the other side of the entrance, left from this view, is where we keep the homeschool books that the kids are using this term. We actually have a schoolroom/playroom loft upstairs but usually end up doing work downstairs on the stereotypical sofa or dining room table, so the books have migrated down here also. Left to right is by order of age, basically, for the books. Each child has a section. My section is in the cupboard underneath.... teacher's manuals and so on. The hutch was originally supposed to be for dishes of course, but we use it for basic everyday art supplies and for various other things that we need often. .... calculator, tape, phonics cards, pens, and so on.

On the top, the essential pirate hat and fedora and the violin. What homeschool would be complete without them!

This is the sofa and dining room table I mentioned. The room turned out looking darker than it actually is. You can see our bit of the National Forest outside, and my oldest teenager just waking up to face the day.

My big bag/purse is on the chair on the right, because we were getting ready to leave for an appointment when I was taking these pictures. . It wasn't until Aidan was born that I acquired a system of carrying things around with me. I have his emergency seizure meds in there and a change of clothes that will fit either of the little ones, and I bring books. I agree with Cindy at Dominion Family -- a waiting room can be a horrible place without a book, and we spend a lot of time in waiting rooms. I don't leave the house without a book. My husband has this habit too, and my kids have all acquired the same habit, and I acquired it originally from my Dad. Many of us bring a bag of books, just in case we end up in a hospital in a different city -- it's happened! You can scrounge toiletries from the hospital resource room, but books are different.

Well, there you are. Maybe someday I will photograph my curriculum closet or art closet, but not now. By spring they are usually pretty trashed; during summer I reorganize and tidy. I am going for reality, but it was challenging enough to show you those cardboard boxes under the cloth : ).

Anyone else want to or have shared their working systems on their blogs? I know Dawn has her File Folder System here. It is beautiful.

Regina Doman's Storage Box System is here at her House Art Journal -- I like that idea of House Art. For us, "house art" often seems to be the pattern of duplos on the floor, or the books interestingly jumbled on the table, or the children with traceries of powdered sugar on their faces, but looking at her journal has made me try to catch little glimpses of order and grace and harmony in my home, like perhaps this:

or even this.


Amy said...

Thanks for sharing about your systems - I love reading/seeing how others do it, it helps me brainstorm better ideas for my own home. And I *love* the wall behind your command station. I would thrive with a wall of visual reminders like that! Right now it's just all spread out over the diningroom table, lol.

Willa said...

I love reading/seeing how others do things, too. Especially since there are not many other homeschoolers around where I live : ).