Time is Money: The Three-Month Meltdown Prevention Plan

(Warning: This is a potentially way-too-long post about my OCD organizational tendencies. You have been warned.)

Now that the 100-day mark has come and gone, I find myself more motivated than ever to complete the mound of DIY projects to which I have committed myself. Yeah, that’s right: Hi, my name is Miss Ladyfingers, and I am a procrastinator.

The one project I promised myself we’d have done by 100 days – the invitations – is, hallelujah, complete. But there are many others that are half-done, and still more to be started. The list, as it stands today (and really, it changes a little every day):

  • Make sign for guestbook table
  • Finish table numbers
  • Finish making paper flowers to cover cardboard first-name initials to hang on wall
  • Make said initials to hang on wall
  • Make “just married” banner for sweetheart table and “love is sweet” banner for cake table
  • Make engagement photo aisle endcaps
  • Design, print and cut tags for favor bags (favors are currently tentative, and so is this to-do)
  • Design, print and cut tags for farewell bells
  • Write wedding vows
  • Make “reserved” signs for family members’ ceremony chairs
  • Finish bunting
  • Make bags for bridesmaids (wedding-day totes with some nice getting-ready type stuff in there, snacks, emergency supplies, etc.)
  • Gather frames and photos for rehearsal dinner (pictures of us over the years)
  • Plan remainder of rehearsal dinner décor
  • Create “day of” folders for wedding party and parents
  • Create escort cards
  • Put together out-of-towner goody bags for hotel rooms

This is addition to the “to-purchase” list that currently includes the garter cake serving set, remainder of bridesmaids gifts, personal thank-you notes for shower gifts, rehearsal dinner invites, couple thank-you notes for wedding gifts, and the like.

So how do I look at a list like that and not freak out? Short answer: Impossible – Freakout is my middle name. Long answer: But! I can refrain from having a total nervous breakdown, thanks to some simple organizational tactics. I’m not professing to have some revolutionary “Getting Things Done”-caliber technique. Many of my ideas are lifted from other bees. Others are just plain commonsense. But personally, I love these kinds of posts. I have a whole file of “how I got organized” posts. So in case you’re like me, here you go: How I plan to keep my wits about me in these final months.

Setting priorities

I’ve divided the above list into “Must,” “Want to,” and “Would be nice.” Not to be too big of a nerd, but 18% of the above list is a “must,” 35% is a “want to,” and 48% is a “would be nice.” That’s not too bad of a split, considering that most of the “musts” have already been started, are easy to crank out, or by nature must be left to the last minute. I define “want to” as, I would be a sad panda if it didn’t get done. “Would be nice” is defined as, I won’t bat an eyelash if I don’t get to this.

Allocating priorities: Time management

I’ve allocated my time accordingly by modifying the Google wedding planning template that others have mentioned. It’s a great base, but I’ve made a few changes to suit my particular neuroses.

First, I added a to-do tab, divided each task up by month, and color coded each item based on whether it was started (yellow), finished (green), or overdue (red). No color just means the time to do it hasn’t come yet, and nothing has been started. I 100% stole this idea from Ms. Ferris Wheel.

But then, around the three-month mark, I took it to a whole new level of crazy, and divided each month from August – November into weeks and gave them each their own tab. Now I can break our DIY projects into chunks to make each task more manageable. For instance, there are tons and tons of paper flowers left to make. I originally broke this up into “Make 40 paper flowers” each month. I didn’t make any in July. So I further chunked that up into “Make 10 paper flowers” each week. That takes about 15 minutes – half the length of an episode of “The Office.” Totally doable.

This also helped me not freak out when looking at, say, October. Since our to-do’s run vertically, the length of the October to-do’s was twice that of August’s and three times that of July’s. So this helps me put things in perspective when viewing any given time period. It also helps me manage time because I’m not looking at a month’s worth of projects and seeing so many, procrastinating until the end of the month then cramming everything into a weekend. I just look at the week, and can decide what nights are open for doing what. Then I can move things around as needed, abandon projects, modify expectations, etc.

Allocating priorities: Budget management

(Note: This is how I do it, but I always recommend saving in advance rather than spending as you go. I just suck at it.)

I’ve also started managing month-to-month wedding expenses by adding another set of tabs to the wedding planning document: monthly cash flow. Many of our remaining expenses are what I consider personal (to me) expenses and aren’t coming out of the joint wedding budget: the garter, the cake topper, my lingerie, my jewelry. Because I’m awful at saving money, this is coming out on a paycheck-per-paycheck basis.

To shield myself from mid-month freakouts when I realize I’ve spent all my grocery money on crafting supplies, the cash flow tab shows how much money is coming in (my paycheck) and how much is going out in the first half of the month and the second half. Most of this is fixed – bills and predetermined monthly budget items like groceries, dining out, clothing, etc. The rest is based on my weekly “to-do’s.” I know the cake topper vendor needs at least 12 weeks to create and ship the topper, so I added it to my “first half of August” column and placed that order last week. When I reach a comfortable cushion – I don’t like having less than $100 left over per pay period when budgeting, because little things always come up, and then I have to make crappy decisions like “deodorant or dog bones?” – I stop adding wedding expenses to that pay period, and move to the second half of the month.

So that’s how I hope to keep my freakouts over both time and money to a minimum in the hectic months to come. As the appointments and events pile up, I’ll have less and less time to DIY, so I really wanted to make a realistic schedule and create realistic goals.

If you’re still awake after all this, and haven’t yet clicked over to a much more interesting blog, tell me how you’ve gotten organized. Any special tricks to share?

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