Janelle's Blog

I’m Too Busy to Get Organized-Part 3 of 3

We are finishing a three-part approach to getting organized. For those who are tuning in late, please read my blog, I’m Too Busy to Get Organized-Part 1 to learn about the first step: “Getting to Ready” and blog, I’m Too Busy to Get Organized-Part 2, which is about “Creating New Habits”. Today we are talking about “Building Effective Systems”.

Marilyn Paul, Ph.D. from Yale University, makes these three points in her book, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys. Laugh if you will, she has dissected “getting organized” and put it back together.

Systems in Place-Go!

One of the biggest reasons we fail at organizing our time is that we don’t have systems in place for our projects. I’ll give you an example of my own self-created system for meal preparation. For you men, who read my blog, don’t leave me now. Pretend I am talking about setting up and improving your golf game. The principles for systems have underlying likenesses, no matter what you are organizing.

My work as the CEO of NBCF, writing, taking care of my husband and household responsibilities, and family activities can sometimes be challenging to balance.

As my three sons were growing up, I cooked daily and prided myself in being a good cook. That could have been because my boys would eat anything I served them, or maybe I really was pretty good.

After they left home, I found out that my culinary skills were evaporating before my eyes. For a while my cooking started to go down the drain…that which I didn’t have time to cook and that which didn’t turn out good enough to eat. So, I created a system.

Create Your Own System

My tips for culinary survival:

Line up your cookbooks on a visible bookshelf so you can get to them easily and start a ritual of setting aside time frequently to thumb through one cookbook at a time, marking interesting recipes with yellow sticky notes.

When you finish looking through a cookbook, open up a computer program like Microsoft OneNote and create folders for each cookbook you review. Each cookbook folder has as many tabs as you want to place in it. There you name the tabs with types of recipes, such as “Vegetables,” “Salads,” “Soups,” etc.

As you enter info from the cookbook to OneNote, put a check mark on the cookbook recipe and remove the yellow sticky note. Record this information on the OneNote page:

  • Ingredients for recipe–Keep a generous supply of frequently used staples such as various oils, vinegars and seasonings, and bullet point the items from the recipe that you may not have on hand. This later becomes your shopping list. Do not write down measurement amounts, but do have the page number of the cookbook next to the title of the recipe.

  • Notes about the recipe–Variations of the recipe to remember the next time you cook it.

Make manila folders for your hanging files near the cookbooks with a ready print-out of those recipes that are fantastic and title one manila folder “Weekly Menus,” for the gathering of this week’s menus. Name other folders with the same titles as the OneNote tabs.

This basic system has become more complex as I have worked it. It has become an art to me. Now I look at cooking websites and order cooking magazines, cookbooks and cooking gadgets, and create new manila folders for corresponding categories.

My biggest find came from a complimentary magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, which arrived in the mail. Chefs, who demonstrate recipes from their test kitchen on their Public Television Show, try numerous ways to perfect recipes. They explain why your pork chops are as stiff as a board and dry, your green beans shrivel, your potatoes flop, and you can’t boil an egg, for heaven’s sake.

But, about the time you think you’ll never cook again, they give you the steps to creating masterpieces. Much to my shock, for the first time ever, I cooked a two-inch thick pork chop that was tender and delicious and mushrooms that would rival any restaurant’s tasty morsels.

Work the System

One of NBCF’s favorite business consultants, John Reece, CEO of WayQuest and business strategist, is a master at creating systems. His advice is, “Work the system.” Thanks, John. You are right. First you create a simple system, put the pieces in place, then work the wheels off your system until you own it and customize it to fit your needs. Then the system works for you.

See how easy it is to set up a system? If you are recovering from breast cancer, you may have extra time to sit around and rest while you plan your systems. Don’t let breast cancer stop you or keep your mind from being active and positive.

Thought for Today:

“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Marcus Annaeus Seneca, 4 BC – 65 AD, Roman philosopher and moralist.

Live Life,


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