I’m going to be doing a whole series of posts on organization, because, well…. I love being organized. If things aren’t orderly I can’t think clearly.
A few years ago Jake and I found ourself missing our friend’s and family’s birthdays. We wouldn’t remember until the day of, which is just too late if you have to send something by mail. Not to mention it just feels chaotic– and I like order.
I am a believer in setting up systems and automating things so that I don’t have to try and remember myself. Because, as far as birthdays go, that had already proven to not be working for me. I started to think about what I needed to make this work– and I realized that being reminded on the day of the birthday would not be enough because on a busy day getting out to buy a card is usually not possible and then having it arrive that same day in the mail is completely impossible. So, I decided I wanted to be reminded of the birthday one week in advance to give me time to drop the card in the mail and then I wanted a second reminder on the actual birthday so that I could contact the birthday person personally. And after thinking about it even more, I decided one week was not enough to actually go out and buy a card and drop it in the mail (hello LA traffic!), so I decided I needed to buy all of my birthday cards at the beginning of the year.
So, this is how my system works:
1. I started by gathering all of the important birthdays of friends and family (specifically the ones I want to contact, send cards or send gifts). I have now included important anniversary dates of family members and even a few holidays (such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day).
2. I entered all the birthdays into iCal with an email reminder to send me an email 1 week before the event and again on the day of the event.
3. For the actual birthday cards, I went to Target and bought an expandable file with 12 pockets. I labeled each pocket with the month of the year and at the beginning of the year I put everyone’s birthday card in their respective month. I actually like to pick up random cute birthday cards during the year when I see them and just put them in a separate box, so sometimes I am almost done with birthday card shopping when the first of the year rolls around (it also helps prevent me from buying one cute card en masse and giving it to everyone when there isn’t a great selection).
4. So now, when I get the birthday reminder email I’m all set to go! I just go to my expandable file and take out the card and drop it in the mail. Voila, birthday cards are arriving on time! Also, if I need to give a gift, I’ve got a good 7 days to get out of my house and get something (or 2 days if I do Amazon Prime).
With a little up front organization, this has made birthdays much less stressful throughout the year. And I don’t have to buy belated birthday cards anymore!
ps. When I see something that I notice would be a good gift for someone I add it to a list I keep on my phone. That way, when their birthday or Christmas arrives I already have a several gift ideas. This definitely decreases the stress at holiday time and ensures I buy gifts that feel more personable.