I first learned about the Sunday Basket® at a homeschool convention last spring. I awoke early that Saturday morning to attend Lisa Woodruff’s 8am session. Within the hour, I knew the Sunday Basket method would work for our family. All that remained was convincing my husband to let me try something new.
What Is the Sunday Basket?
The Sunday Basket is both an organizational method and an optional product available for purchase from Organize 365®. Lisa Woodruff created the Sunday Basket podcast with eleven short episodes so that anyone can understand her organization system and even implement it with no purchase necessary.
Update: The podcast was recently taken down in favor of her new book, The Paper Solution. I have not read this book and thus cannot recommend it at this time. The podcast was of amazing benefit to me, so I am saddened that it has been removed.
Quite simply, a Sunday Basket is any container in which you can place mail, reminder notes, and other papers or objects that do not require immediate attention. Once added to the Sunday Basket, these items remain untouched until Sunday (or your preferred day) when you dedicate a block of time to deal with them appropriately.
Defer Tasks When Possible
Part of the magic behind the Sunday Basket method lies in deferring tasks that can wait. I used to stop what I was doing to open bills and pay them immediately. Now I toss them, unopened, into my Sunday Basket. Of course if it’s an unexpected bill, I can still open it before deciding whether to add it to my basket.
Mail is not the only item that can be deferred for up to a week. Lisa also recommends deferring non-paper tasks by writing them on an index card and adding them to the Sunday Basket. This means that if I am baking and realize I need to restock an ingredient in my pantry, I can write it on a slip of paper and toss it in my Sunday Basket.
In the past, I often stopped what I was doing to take care of a task just so that I wouldn’t forget about it later on. Now, my thoughts are literally less scattered. I have only to write them down and corral them in the Sunday Basket.
What goes in a Sunday Basket is limited only by its size. I recently needed to repair a Velcro strip on my son’s shoe. Because I put the Velcro in my basket, it reminded me of the required task, and I didn’t lose it in the meantime. For items that are too big for the basket, I just jot down a reminder on a note card.
Schedule a Block of Time
Because I now defer mail and other tasks to Sunday, I save time during the week. I usually try to go through my basket on Sunday afternoon or evening, but I can easily schedule it for another day if needed. It normally takes me about thirty minutes to an hour to process the items in my basket and schedule tasks.
Sort and Discard
When it’s time to go through my basket, I usually take it to my couch because it is comfortable and has room to spread out. I take everything out of my basket except the slash pockets and sort items into like categories. I also recycle, shred, or throw away unnecessary items like junk mail and expired coupons.
Complete Simple Tasks
I used to complete simple tasks as they arose so that I wouldn’t forget to do them. Unfortunately, I usually forgot what I had been doing. Even worse, I often became distracted by social media or online shopping if the task involved using my computer.
Now if those simple tasks can be deferred, I save them for my Sunday basket. When I go through my basket and come across the reminder to restock an ingredient from my pantry, I go ahead and add it to my grocery list or order it online. If I find an invitation to a party, I take the time to RSVP and add it to my calendar. Because I’m focused on going through my Sunday basket, I am not as easily distracted, and I accomplish more in less time.
Often I cannot complete every task in my Sunday Basket at the time that I go through it. I may need to make a phone call about a utility bill and have to wait until business hours to do so. Other tasks may require running errands at a later time.
For these tasks, I plan ahead and schedule them on my calendar for the following week. I also think about the goals I hope to accomplish that week, and I check my calendar to see if there is room to work on them. When I listened to the Sunday Basket podcast, I appreciated that Lisa cautioned me to be realistic with my time. Trying to accomplish more than I can handle by filling up my calendar with my to-do list won’t help me manage my time or my home.
Update: The Sunday Basket podcast is no longer available.
Defer, Defer, Defer
When Sunday rolls around, not everything in the Sunday Basket is worthy of my immediate attention. If possible, I defer tasks another week by simply putting them back in the basket for next time. When I follow Lisa’s method of deferring tasks that can wait, the more important items automatically rise in priority.
Lisa uses slash pockets to organize current paperwork. These are essentially tabbed dividers with easy-to-access pocket storage. Slash pockets help me organize my Sunday Basket so that I can quickly find the things I need like recent utility bills or recipes I hope to try soon.
In the past, you could create your own Sunday Basket without buying anything since Lisa explains the system in depth in her podcast. Unfortunately, the Sunday Basket podcast was recently removed, so implementing this method may be harder unless you purchase the complete Sunday Basket system online. It comes with a storage box, slash pockets, two online videos, and a few printables. Adorable monkey clip not included.
A Quality Storage Box
If you order a Sunday Basket system, you won’t receive a traditional woven basket. Instead, the Sunday Basket is a quality file storage box with a divider that separates the slash pockets from all the unsorted items added to the box during the week. It also includes an inner mesh pocket for additional organization.
Update: I purchased the original Sunday Basket. The new Sunday Basket is made of different materials and thus looks different than the one in my photos.
As mentioned above, the Sunday Basket is more than just a container for storing a pile of papers. The twenty-five slash pockets enable you to keep your current papers organized so that you can find them right when you need them. When Lisa demonstrated these slash pockets at the homeschool convention, I wondered what all of the fuss regarding color coding and diagonal pockets was about. Now that I have the system in my home, I understand the value of the slash pockets.
When I ordered the Sunday Basket system, I received online access to two instructional videos. I already had a good idea of how to use the Sunday Basket because I had listened to the podcast. Still, I found the visual demonstration of the Sunday basket to be helpful.
I’m not going to lie. I think the Sunday Basket system is expensive. But after seeing it in person at the convention and listening the the Sunday Basket podcast, I wanted the specialized storage box with the color-coded slash pockets. More importantly, I wanted to “pay” Lisa for this great organization system that she developed.
At the time, we didn’t have room in our budget for this splurge. So I found the money by returning a piece of exercise equipment to Costco that I had purchased six months prior. Thanks to Costco’s amazing return policy, I was able to buy the Sunday Basket system without breaking the budget.
Update: The Sunday Basket podcast is no longer available.
Why I Love the Sunday Basket
When we moved, the Sunday Basket was instrumental in keeping our paperwork organized during that stressful time. I dedicated a slash pocket to moving. It was easy to find the paperwork we needed when we needed it. During showings of our house and the inspection, I just took the Sunday Basket with me. This gave me the peace of mind of knowing that our important paperwork was secure.
As a parent, an added benefit of the Sunday Basket is that I can more easily defer the constant requests that my kids make. If they need something that doesn’t have to be done right away, they know to write it on a note and put it in the box. On Sundays, it’s fun to find notes from them and smile at their suggestions and requests.
Will the Sunday Basket Work for You?
I previously recommended listening to the Sunday Basket podcast first to find out if the Sunday Basket would work for you. Unfortunately, the Sunday Basket podcast has been removed, so this is no longer an option. At such an expensive price point, I find it difficult to recommend the Sunday Basket without the previously available podcast.