Five Busy Blogger Tools

By Kate Riley September 26, 2012

I have days where I’m coasting along getting a ton of work done then I have days like today where the day totally gets away from me and I’m frustrated I didn’t finish as much as I wanted.  Such is life.  Some days you accomplish much, other days, you’ve got to close up shop, relax on the couch, recharge, and tell yourself in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.”   Since I didn’t get much done today beyond the morning dishes and responding to a few emails, I thought it the perfect time to answer a FAQ I get a lot: “How do you manage to do so much?”  Oh the irony! 

Here are the five tools this full time momma blogger relies upon most for time management, organization, and all that jazz.   

1. The “Mom Binder”:   I make one of these every year, it’s often called a Command Central binder, but it’s the one that’s filled with the school calendar, PTA information, homework policies, contact list, and sports schedules.  I store it in the family room computer armoire when I need to look something up!

mom binder


2.  The Blog Checklist:  I just started using a checklist last month next to my home office computer for managing what I’ve done and where I’ve been that day, from posts and comments, to emails and social media.  I write for three blogs now (and this month four blogs!) so if I don’t have some sort of checklist I forget where I’ve been!

blog checklist


3.  The Editorial Calendar.  I started using one of these calendars over a year ago and it tells me what I need to do each day.  And I need to be told!  There’s a saying in my house:  if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen, meaning if it’s not on this calendar, it gets forgotten.  This is my most important organizational tool and it keeps me sane. 

I schedule posts and essential daily tasks working with a basic Google Calendar that is synched to my email and my iPhone so I get both an email reminder and a pop up reminder on my phone – which I consider totally essential since I often need to be reminded three times, yes please do remind me three times, there is a soccer game tonight!

editorial calendar


4.  Apple Products.  Can I get an Amen?  Seriously, they’re brilliant.  I’ve had an iPhone for two years and I absolutely love it.  It’s how I check email, Twitter, or Facebook when I’m on the go or waiting somewhere and have a few extra minutes.   We also have a shared iPad in the house which I use to catch up on social media or the news when I’m exercising.  Some of my favorite apps are listed here.  The iPhone and iPad are two of my key multitasking tools that I rely on everyday.


 daily essential products


5.  Dry Shampoo.  For real, dry shampoo is one of my biggest time saving tools!  I have longer hair which I wear in a daily ponytail, and I only wash my hair 3 times a week.   That combined with my 3 minute makeup routine (which includes these favorites) plus some stretchy yoga paints and I’m quickly out the door to run errands. 

Other time savers and sources of support and in my life?  My husband for sure.  I’ve got to give Matt a lot of credit, he is self employed like me and also works a full time job.  He still takes time to drop the kids off at school in the morning and coach their soccer games at night and on the weekends.  And he tolerates my long hours spent in front of a computer and the announcements I drop on him that “we” are starting a new DIY project this weekend!   

I also have help with some housecleaning once a week and we’ve hired someone to mow the lawn too.  Hiring a little help around the house gives us more time to be together as a family.  I don’t have an online assistant yet, but I’ll be hiring one soon, and I do have someone else to help me with technical blog stuff when I need it (like that time I crashed my own blog two weeks ago, oops! or when my server gets wacky on me…)

Other organizational and time management posts from the past:

How I organize my paperwork

What I do with my magazine piles 

The great juggling act of motherhood, life, and blogging 

Catch up with my recent articles for HGTV by reading the latest here:  Secondhand Sprucing: In the Entry and Secondhand Sprucing: Living and Family Rooms.

I’m curious, all you busy moms out there, what do you rely on to manage or save time?  What organizational tools keep you sane? .



  1. I just recently printer out a chore chart. It has been incredibly helpful for me and helps me feel less stressed since I only have to do a few chores a day. I should really do a better job of keeping up with a calendar though. My life is about tiger really busy and I am completely not prepared!

  2. I so hear you on the dry shampoo! My favorite is called Psssst. The packaging is super disco, but it’s super cheap and works really well!! I’ve tried pricey brands and Pssst seems to work just as well!

    I too am lost without my iphone! I probably need a checklist for my blog. I’m still a little sticky note kind of gal, but those get to be a big mess at my desk!

    Great post!

    • Oh I use Psssst too Jen, it’s great when I run out of the other stuff, I find it at CVS – love the dry shampoo!

  3. I don’t do enough to stay organized, so may need to borrow some of your ideas as life gets pretty busy some days!
    PS I tried to click the link about organizing magazines, but it won’t work! Would love to read it as I have too many stacks!

  4. Thanks for the great tips! I started using Google Calendar for all my blogging to-do’s about 2 months ago and I’m in love. It has really helped me stay organized and remember important dates! I’ll have to keep the mommy binder in mind when I have kiddos in school :)

  5. oh my gosh you are so organized! I seriously have to write everything down too or I feel like I don’t know which end is up. I think I’ll have to try that dry shampoo! what a great invention!

    I also just launched a giveaway over on Vivid Hue if you’d like to add that as one more thing to your calendar to hop on over and check out (haha). And FOUR blogs? uh…as if three…uh one, weren’t enough? good gracious woman, you need an award!

    For the give-away…

  6. With everything you’ve got going on, I was wondering how you’ve held out on the ‘assistant’ for so long! I don’t think people realize how much time and energy it takes to run a blog and freelance write and do everything else! I’m starting a second blog because I have a passion in another area, but I’m already having to remind myself not to wear myself out! Good for you on the household help too- I’m all for that! It’s so wonderful to come home to an entirely clean house once in a while.

    • Thanks Megan, yes it’s hard to write for more than one blog, I love that you’re starting one on fitness since you have a passion for it! A year ago it was all me, so yes, it’s nice to have a little help around the house. :)

  7. Google calendar for sure – I also make a weekly meal menu, my husband works at home so I include lunches for both of us and it saves me time and money.

  8. I LIVE by lists. My friends all know “if it’s not written down, don’t expect me to remember it” (or more likely, I will remember it…3 months late.) I’ve found that is a fantastic. There’s everything from family binder templates to fall cleaning checklists, even downloads for e-planners. The other big thing for me is to not get behind on anything. Once I’ve dropped a ball on one project, the time it takes to make it up throws everything else off. So I plan, plan, plan, and then stick to that plan.

  9. My husband and I have a combined Google account that we maintain solely for the calendar to be synched to both of our iPhones. The same rule applies to me as well, if it’s not on the calendar I do not know about it.
    Thanks for the dry shampoo information, I have been looking for new brands to try out! I finally have ponytail length hair (again) – for the sole purpose of saving time in the morning and being able to toss it in a bun, twist or ponytail.

  10. great article. I can totally relate. I love that you gave props to your husband and the part about “we” are starting a new project. I do that, too! I am an old fashioned pen and paper list girl. My husband makes fun of me because I have to write everything down in my notebook.

  11. My best time saver… saying no. You’d be surprised that it’s easier than you think. I used to be a pleaser, always saying yes to volunteer to do this or that. I don’t miss that kind of stress.
    I also have a binder for all the kid handouts. I just started one for boy scouts, too. It’s so helpful. You do make the rest of us look bad! :)

    • Agreed Gina, the power of the word “no” is key, in both work and personal life, we have to set boundaries or you get quickly overwhelmed and you’re no good at anything!

  12. Such a great post! I was just wondering how it is so many moms manage to work, blog, take care of their families, and still stay sane. For me, my Apple products are a life saver as well! Without alarms, alerts, and the ability to double check an email or a schedule I’d be a mess.

    My other organizational tool is a printable menu-planner! Every Friday evening I sit down with a glass of while and schedule out dinner for the next week, along with a grocery list. I keep all the old ones in a binder for inspiration or reference, and my laptop near by in case I need to pop onto Pinterest for more dinner ideas. So much time saved!

  13. The only thing I don’t use is the blog checklist, but I think I’ll have to incorporate that one into my daily routine as well. Blogging started out as a side job, but it seems to be taking up more of my time now and something like that would really help me out. Thanks again!

  14. Oh my goodness, I love this post. I was unaware of Google Calendar syncing with my iphone. I must be living under a rock. I just synced and am in calendar heaven. Thank you! I would totally love to be your personal assistant – ha! By the way, I asked you on the Ace Hardware facebook Q&A about stripping my antique dining chairs and restaining them. I figured it out, thanks in part to your advice, so thank you!


  15. Love the binder! My command center is inside my pantry door in the kitchen.
    I bought two white magnet boards and pin up all kids take homes as well as a wipe board that I update each week with homework, field trips etc. It can be a bit overwhelming I agree! But there’s nothing better than a good ol fashioned list or spreadsheet. ;-) By the way, I’m waiting for my new iphone 5 (first one for me!) and can’t wait to try out all the calendar features. My sister laughs cuz I still use paper. So old fashioned.

  16. Word on the dry shampoo! (Just discovered it last year – where have you been my whole life?)

    The other ones would require far more mental organization than Im capable of but great ideas :)

  17. My husband refuses to use online calendars, so we have a master calendar posted in our kitchen. Once a week I record everything that comes in on school newsletters, activities, family events, my work calender, etc.

    I’d love to know what goes in your “mom binder,” and why it isn’t a “parent binder” if you aren’t the only parent in the house! (I’m big on making my husband an active manager in our household. I’m not his secretary/household manager.)

    • Good one Holly, I should call it the “Parent” binder – Matt uses it too!

  18. Darn Kate you are so organized and I’m not…I don’t even have kids yet. I need to start to use some of your ideas and work them into my life right now. And I have to get some dry shampoo…that is a must. More and more people I know are using it to get through the week. Such a great idea. :)

  19. Great advice! We just started school for the first time, and I keep losing all my girl’s school information. That “mom binder” idea is a godsend — adding it to my to do list ASAP. (Now if only I could find my to do list….)

  20. My best tip would be to find a chunk of time where you can work undistracted, and preferably it’s also a time when your mind is alert, organized, and creative. Not always easy, but worth it! Maybe it’s a 5 a.m. or 8 p.m., or noon to 1:00. That should be the sacred, hands off time.

  21. I’m obsessed with organization.. it’s kind of fun for me (good thing since I’m going to school for teaching!) I’ve never tried the editorial calendar – I’d much rather write things down than have them digitally, but I think I might give your way a try. Thanks for the great tips!

  22. I love my iphone, have been a calendaraholic for years. I agree, and my family knows, if it doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t happen. However, the Blog checklist? This is BRILLIANT!! I am constantly trying to remember what has been done in terms of social networking. And I am usually busy painting all the time. Thank you for sharing! -K

  23. Interesting ideas! However, I often find it hard to plan my blog posts that far in advance since I sometimes come up with spontaneous ideas or I sometimes just don’t finish a project on time. But I guess that this kind of organization is what distinguishes the pro bloggers from the part-time bloggers ;-)

  24. You are so humble Kate, it really is a talent that you have to keep yourself organized and write GREAT content and keep such a busy social and family life. Anyone can surround themselves with great organizational tools but making them work to their best potential like you do is a rarity and you should pat yourself on the back for the wonderful job that you do in all your endeavors. Plus having a great husband does help :) Thank you Matt for all that you do! I just don’t know what I would do without my daily does of Kate. Maybe I should get my husband to help me out so that I could be a better blogger and have great content…wait all my kids are grown…oh well I guess I will just admire your talent instead.

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