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Planning & Schedule Management

Legacy of Organization: Lessons Learned From Mom on Planning, Scheduling, And Delegating

By May 12, 2024May 21st, 202410 Comments
A photo of the author, Diane Quintana, with her mother.

Happy Mother’s Day! It doesn’t matter if you have human children or are a mom to pets, this day is dedicated to celebrating you. If you, like me, are remembering your mom today then this day is bittersweet. I wish my mom was still with us in-person, but I am positive she is always around in spirit. If you have been following me then you already know my green thumbs are from my mother. What you may not know is that I also get my knack for planning and scheduling from her, too. My mother was a masterful planner, scheduler, and also very good at delegating all the tasks she didn’t want to do herself.

Here are some planning, scheduling, and delegating tips I learned from my mother.

Use a calendar

Electronic calendars never entered my mother’s realm of understanding. She used paper calendars – many of them. There was one in the kitchen which mom used to note meals and the comings and goings of all of us. I am the oldest of five children.

The kitchen calendar was on the wall and if one of us had a school performance or there was a meeting with one of our teachers we put that information there.

Mom also had a calendar on her desk which she used to keep track of her meetings, tennis games, and other appointments. This calendar was small enough to fit into her handbag and she took it with her everywhere.

Always write in pencil

Mom told us all to use a pencil when writing something on the calendar because things change. She didn’t want to scratch through something written in pen. She thought it was confusing. When you write in pencil, you can erase the original note.

Mom was right. Things did change from time to time. Meeting dates were rescheduled and sometimes performance days and times changed because of inclement weather.

The gift my mom gave all of us was the understanding that being flexible is an important skill. The ability to recognize that life happens and it’s ok to shift gears to accommodate a scheduling change.

Planning is important

As I said, I am one of five children. There are seven years between my youngest brother and my youngest sister and eleven years between me and my youngest sister. We were often going in many different directions at the same time.

Planning how we got from place to place was a crucial skill. There was no such thing as Uber or Lyft back then. We could call a taxi but more often than not we were trading rides with friends and schoolmates. Since I was the oldest and the only one with a driver’s license, I was sometimes allowed to drive my sisters to school. In exchange, I was also given the list of errands to do after school. This sometimes meant waiting in line at the gas station to fill the car with gas because gas was rationed in the mid-1970’s.

It’s important to plan. Planning your errands and appointments into a daily or weekly schedule lets you get everything done in a timely fashion.

Delegating tasks

My mother rarely did anything she didn’t want to do because if something came across her desk that she didn’t want to do (like waiting in the gas line) she found a way to delegate that task. Baking was something my mother had no patience with. So, my sisters and I would handle that. If mom needed to bring a baked treat to a meeting, she would enlist my sisters and me to do it so the treat would be edible.

Consequently, the three of us are good bakers.

Make a list

I love my lists. I make one every day. My daily list includes my appointments, my household tasks, work tasks, and the one or two things I hope to accomplish.

Mom had lists posted all over the place.

When I came home on vacation from college, she taped a list to the mirror in my bedroom – a place where I was sure to see it. The list included things she wanted me to do while I was home and appointments she had made for me. I never wondered about these things.

There was also a list with all the names and phone numbers of service providers for our home taped to a wall in the kitchen. Over time, names and numbers changed and then the list grew to include our (all mom’s children’s) phone numbers once we had moved out.

Posting these lists in prominent places was helpful to us and to her.

Now, I teach my clients that using a paper list and posting it where you can easily see it provides a helpful visual reminder of things you want to do.

In summary

Even though I miss talking with my mother, she is with me in the good habits she helped me create. Planning my days, scheduling my tasks, and being willing to delegate tasks to others are all skills I know I learned from my wonderful mother. Plus, she taught me that being flexible, being able to shift gears, allows you to get what you want to done as well as addressing a change in circumstance.

If these are skills you want to learn, send me an email to schedule a free 30-minute phone consultation. You can reach me at:

Diane N. Quintana is the owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC. She is an ADHD Organizing Specialist, a Hoarding Specialist, and a Chronic Disorganization Specialist. Diane is also an ICD Master Trainer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Certified Professional Organizer and co-owner of Release Repurpose Reorganize LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing.


  • What a wonderful tribute to your mother Diane and all the lessons she taught you and your sisters. Happy belated Mother’s Day!

  • Wow, Diane! Thank you for sharing this beautiful photo of you and your mom and for telling us about your life growing up. I didn’t remember you were the oldest of five kids or how much your mom influenced your organizational habits. I LOVED reading about the ways she managed life and how you and your siblings were active participants in how the household ran.

    I am with you 100% on how the bittersweet nature of celebrating Mother’s Day. While I know my mom is always with me in spirit, I miss being able to hug and talk with her.

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your history. What an amazing mom you had!

  • Seana+Turner says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your fabulous Mom. I often think how lucky children are if they grow up in a home where organizing and planning are modeled. It certainly is not a given, and many people have to learn on their own as adults.

    Love your Mom’s tip to write in pencil. I always keep a pen in my calendar, mostly because that stays in place better than a pencil in the little loop on the side of my planner. As a result, I do end up with scratch outs. However, when I pencil in trips onto my “year at a glance” page, I finally did learn the lesson to use pencil. Definitely a smart tip.

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  • I really enjoyed reading this tribute to your mother. My organizing gene came from my father, though I didn’t realize it until quite late in his life. He moved and I offered to help him get organized in the new place, but he didn’t need me at all. Even when he moved to a very small apartment, he found a way to ensure that everything had its place.

  • What a wonderful tribute to your mother. Her lessons were all very good. I loved the part about delegating.

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