Join the Shaatra Club and Get Organized + 2 Bonus Planners!
By: Rivky Blumenfeld, Lubicom Staff
With the holidays fast approaching, thinking about the number of tasks you have to complete in a few short weeks can feel overwhelming. This is where Jill Dushney (@shaatraclub) comes to save you.
It all began with a personal need. Jill had a massive day planner without any Jewish dates, a Chabad planner with Jewish dates, and a pad of paper for grocery lists. She would repeatedly write tasks, to-dos, and menus multiple times on all her separate lists, until she had enough. She wanted everything together in one place and so she created the “Jewish woman’s day planner,” which is all you need and more. She was gracious enough to share with Kosher.com readers her tips and tricks to get organized for the holidays.
But you may be wondering…what’s the Shaatra Club? Jill explained to me, shaatra is the Arabic equivalent of Yiddish’s balabusta, the consummate homemaker! So, if a Syrian woman cooks two meals, is making yuntif, and is baking for someone who needs help, you’d say she’s so shaatra! (Feel free to add this to your Arabic repertoire and impress all your Sephardi friends!)
Now, don’t go thinking that Jill is the epitome of organized, because she’s just like the rest of us. Really! She has a packed schedule, but as she told me, knowing that she can go back to her planner to ground herself and then “attack” the day helps her. As Jill told me, “even if someone is not so organized, you can train yourself to be if you have that fire to do it.” Some people are naturally more organized, and some have to work extremely hard to have dinner ready on time, but as Jill repeatedly reminded me, if you want something badly enough, you will find a way to do it.
Above all, Jill is a big believer in dropping the comparisons. In one household, dinner is prepped in the morning; in another, the laundry hampers are always empty; in a third, the kitchen is always perfectly neat. “Comparing doesn’t serve you,” she said. For herself, Jill knows that preparing just one dish for dinner is good for her family and for her, so she can be happy and present at mealtimes. She can sleep easily even if her sink is full of dishes – and that doesn’t make her a lesser woman or mom. Her house isn’t spotless, it’s loved and lived in; it’s tidy, and that’s how she can be there for her family. (But she does have cleaning phases, I mean who doesn’t love a good deep cleanse?!)
Organize in your own way, she said, and don’t feel pressure to be perfect, because no one is. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right on the first try!
Feeling inspired, I proceeded to ask Jill what she does during busy seasons, like the holidays. For times when – as Jill put it – “your brain is stuffed” (so true!), she recommended: Pause. Take out a pen and paper and write down every single little thing that you have to do and clear your mind. Everything that’s clouding your thoughts should be written down.
From there, you can move on to categorizing. You can see what’s doable right now. Okay, so the kids are running around the house, so you can’t clean, but you can change the linen and set the beds, and maybe you can make one small dish, dip, or appetizer. Knock out the small things, and you’ll see yourself starting to feel better.
For the holidays (and year-round), Jill is big on lists. She’ll make a list of people she’s inviting or going to, a list of menus, a list of ingredients for the menu list, a list of the days when she wants to cook, etc. She makes an action plan. Using her planner, (or incorporating her approach) you will feel ready to conquer the holidays.
In the Shaatra Club planner, for each day of Yom Tov you can write down who you’re going to, what you’re serving, what you have to make, and more. You’ll feel more relaxed by doing this, which will make not only you but also your family feel calmer! No one likes a frazzled parent, so breathe, and start listing!
Jill takes her planner with her when she goes on errands and grocery shopping.. As she jokingly explained, it has her whole life in it! If she has an extra half hour she can run to the store, and because she has her grocery list in her planner, she’s ready to shop without missing anything!
She doesn’t have a cooking schedule, because every season is different, but what’s working for her now is the afternoon, and cooking when she can. No one’s counting!
She’ll write a list in her planner of her top three priorities, a time section, and errands. She keeps her grocery list separate from her other lists. But it’s all in her planner.
Here’s a really cool productivity method to get work done that Jill told me about, called the Pomodoro Method. This is how it works: Write your list of tasks and choose one thing you want to start with. Set a timer for 25 minutes and put all your effort into that one task. Don’t multitask! Multitasking will undermine the method, so try monotasking, even if it seems against your nature at first. When your first task is completed, take a five-minute break, and set another 25-minute timer for the next item on your list. Repeat until your list is complete!
This method won’t work for everyone – but it doesn’t have to. Jill recommends everyone find what works best for them and start small. Everyone’s organizing works differently, so do what you feel is right and follow your own path.
Jill left our conversation with this pearl of wisdom: “When a person is ready for change, it will happen seamlessly, and Hashem will lead them to the right information.” Since you’re reading this article, this may be the change you need! Happy Organizing!
To help you get started organizing your life during this hectic month, here are two free printable planners from the Shaatra Club!