Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

Planner love

March 10, 2016 @ 9:18 pm | Filed under: , , , ,

planner love

My everyday favorites. After a year of experimenting, I’ve got my system figured out. Top to bottom:

Midori Travelers Notebook for my monthly calendar, weekly journal, and a scribble notebook;

Moleskine Cahier for daily to-lists (bullet journal);

Wild Simplicity Daybook for homeschooling notes and records (including our weekly Shakespeare lines—we learn monologues two lines at a time); and

• the Lamy Safari fountain pen my family gave me for my birthday. (LOVE.) (That’s an Amazon affiliate link but if you’re buying pens in the U.S., you should order from the nice people at Goulet Pen Company. Their instructional videos are invaluable, their customer service is top notch, and they offer inexpensive ink samples so you can try out all sorts of gorgeous colors. And that is not an affiliate link. I’m just a happy customer.)

I still keep the family appointments on Google Calendar, but I enjoy writing everything out in the TN monthly calendar (#017) as well. I use the horizontal weekly TN insert (#019) for chronicling the day after it happens—just a few notes about highlights. For the last several months I’ve used a blank TN insert (#003) for my bullet journal but came to realize I need a separate space for scrawling, sketching, doodling, working things out on paper. If I do that in the bullet, things get messy. WAY messy. So I’ve gone back to my old (cheaper) Moleskine grids for task lists.

The Midori travels with me everywhere; the bullet journal lives on my desk where I do most of my work; and the Daybook has a home in a basket by my rocking chair in the living room.

I’m laughing at how complicated this must seem if you aren’t a pen-and-paper fanatic…but I juggle a lot of roles (and kids) and I find having different paper spaces helps me keep things straight.

More nitty gritty:

I also have a kraft folder (#020) in my Midori to tuck ephemera and snail-mail supplies into. Since I started carrying notecards and stamps around, I’ve gotten much more prompt with my thank-you notes.

kraft folder with snail mail supplies

• I love the feel of Prismacolor colored pencils on the paper Lesley Austin uses in the Wild Simplicity Daybook. I’m sure I’ve raved about this before—the lovely creamy pencil on this recycled paper with just the right amount of tooth.

• Prismacolor pencils also delight me in the bullet journal: I like ’em for filling in my checkboxes.

bullet journal

• This pic, which I’ve shared here before, shows my favorite way to organize a task list: to-do items on the right, and the verso is for related notes and numbers. I also keep a running “Nag List” on a sticky note that travels from spread to spread. It’s for important tasks that I might not get done today but I gotta deal with soon—like finishing my taxes or booking a doctor appointment. I consult it each evening when making out my bullet list for the next day.

• Sometimes I’ll tuck another insert into the Midori to be used for a specific purpose. For example, I keep a log of incoming and outgoing snail mail. I don’t like a superfat Midori, though, so more often that insert lives in my stationery pouch.

• As I mentioned, I do a lot of casual sketching in my blank Midori insert. I find I’m often more comfortable there than in my proper sketchbook, because it feels more casual. But I do have a couple of sketchbooks going and I try to work in at least one of them daily. One is a spiral-bound 7×10 Canson Mixed Media pad, which gets lukewarm reviews from real artists but I quite like its toothy paper—not to mention its price point when Michael’s has a good sale + coupon combo. You have to watch for it, but now and then they’ll give you a 20% off including sale items coupon during a buy-one-get-one-free sketchbook sale. My other sketchbook is a Moleskine Art Plus, and it’s…okay? I love its size and shape (fits nicely in my bag), but the paper is too smooth for my liking. I much prefer the feel of Moleskine’s watercolor sketchbook—a lovely texture to that paper. But so far I’ve mostly just used that for color charts.

• For sketching pens, I like Sakura Pigma Microns or my Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen (check out all the groovy colors at Goulet Pens) with Platinum Carbon ink, which is waterproof so it plays nice under watercolors. However, lately I’ve come to realize that what I enjoy most of all is sketching in pencil. I love the look of  black or brown ink drawings, and most of the sketchbook artists I admire work directly in ink, but I really love the way a pencil feels on the paper. I keep hitting that point over and over, don’t I—the tactile experience matters more to me than how it looks.

Ha, this got long! Would you believe it was just going to be a quick copy-paste of something I tossed on Instagram today?

Wild Simplicity Daybook

September 3, 2015 @ 3:45 pm | Filed under: ,

wild simplicity daybook by small meadow press

As a member of Wisteria & Sunshine, Lesley Austin’s gentle online community for home-and-hearth inspiration, I’ve had the fun of watching behind the scenes as her beautiful new Wild Simplicity Daybook took shape. Today is a day to celebrate, because the Daybook has landed in her Etsy shop!

wild simplicity daybook cover at small meadow press

It’s a Midori-style cover made with the tender eco-friendly consciousness that suffuses all Lesley’s handmade wares, and she has created a selection of inserts to let you customize your Daybook for your own use. I’m particularly fond of Lesley’s monthly calendars (I’ve been using them in one form or another for almost a decade!), and her new weekly diary pages are the loveliest I’ve seen anywhere. She offers them in insert booklets spanning three months at a time, with the Autumn and Winter inserts currently available.

wild simplicity weekly calendar pages from small meadow press

Besides the monthly and weekly calendar inserts, she is also offering blank inserts for notes or journaling and a “Days to Keep” booklet for recording birthdays, anniversaries, and other special dates.

This probably sounds like a sponsored post, but it isn’t! And Lesley didn’t ask me to write it. I am a longtime fan of her paper goods who has had the pleasure of becoming Lesley’s friend as well, and I’m so excited to see her latest venture take flight. Recently I was chatting with another friend about things we love, and I said, “I think my aesthetic is one part Waldorf kindergarten, one part library, and one part Small Meadow Press.” 🙂

Day Planners for Moms

August 7, 2008 @ 6:16 am | Filed under: , ,

I’m updating the links (and lost images) for the day planner series I ran at Lilting House two years ago (with a follow-up last summer). My readers are a planner-loving crowd, because those were some of my most popular posts ever. All the Lilting House links are dead now, and it took me a while to update the links. “Image not available” is still showing up in some of the posts, but I’m slowly replacing them. When I imported Lilting House to Bonny Glen, images did not transfer. (A giant pain in the neck.)


Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner

Small Meadow Press — Circle of Days
**And don’t miss Leslie’s free pdfs of homeschooling planning pages you can print out!

Motivated Moms Chore Planner


Planners for Moms: Your Suggestions

July 23, 2006 @ 4:34 am | Filed under: ,

The day planner series has generated simply scads of feedback—thanks! Here are some of the ideas you’ve shared in the comments:

Becky wrote,

I’m a geek too, but a cheap geek and lazy to boot. I found I just
don’t use the kind of planners meant to be toted around (I much prefer
a huge central calendar in the kitchen for things like that — and I
love the "Family Organizer" from More Time Moms, which sacrifices
pretty pictures for lots of spaces).

But I do like to keep a record of the kids’ work for the day, as you
do, Lissa, and I’ve found that a regular "student planner" at Staples
for under $10 does the trick. There was a lovely supermarket-brand one
a couple of years ago, but it seemed to be a one-off 🙁

Leslie recommended a planner I haven’t seen yet:

Be sure to check out the Familytime.mine planner from Tanglewood Press.
Border’s Books sells it. It has sections for seasonal, monthly, and
weekly views with large blocks for each day. It’s a 17-month planner
that begins in September and runs through December of the following
year. It is an 8.5 x11" spiral bound size, though, so it won’t fit in
most purses. About 5-7 of the moms I know use it and love it. I just
happen to be a PalmPilot kinda woman, myself.

And Ann came up with her own pretty and practical solution:

After reading your intriguing series of posts on Planners, Melissa,
I bought my own pretty (because, yes, beauty is *essential* in a
planner)hardback, spiral (it needed to lay open on the counter, if I
was really going to use it) journal, with some adhesive tabs and made
my own day planner based on the brilliant layout from the
MomAgenda…with several caveats… (A Planner for UnPlanners):

1. I didn’t label the tabs with all kind of subjects–I am only
labelling them as I actually find need to jot something down–that way
it is just what I acutally need and *use* as opposed to some imposed,
unecessary division I’ll never use. (So far, I have a tab for: Daily
Schedules, Grocery Lists, Items needed for Children)

2. I am writing only a loose skeleton for the day’s outline…no tight
schedule for me. And then as the day progresses, I write in (loosely,
only what I want to make note of) what I actually *DID*—like
**scheduling in reverse**. That is working for me. I can see what
worked some days, what didn’t, what may have been a stumbling point and
could be tweaked…and I feel a sense of accomplishment instead of
discouragement. Seeing what I *did* on a day motivates me for the next
day. And if I didn’t get to "a bone on my skeleton" for the day, I just
add it to the next day.

3. In the children’s squares, somedays I jot in what I’d like to do
with each child that day so I remember…or again, I jot in what we
actually did together. Nice to have a record of our days.

3. Finally, I am only making up one week layout at a time in the
journal… that way, if I choose not to continue (I am on my third week),
well…I still have a blank, pretty journal to write in instead of a
whole planner of scheduled, useless pages! ~warm smile~ (And one can
*always* use a journal!)

I am *most* grateful, Melissa, for this series…with some tweaking, I think this is a planner that works unplanners!

Anne-Marie prefers the high-tech version:

Me, I’m a computer gal, so Microsoft
Outlook is the one way to go. I keep separate calendars for my work as
an Usborne Books consultant, and a main one for daily appointments.
Each family member has their own color and I also color code the
different work things I do – MOMS Club, charter school, writing,
Usborne, etc.

My problem with written calendars is that either I run out of room
or they’re a mess from the constant changes. With MS Outlook, I change
everything online and just print out a new calendar to take with and
post on the ‘frige.

I’d love to hear from more folks about the planners you know and love. It’s so nice to know I’m not t he only one with this obsession.

Other day planner reviews:
Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner
Small Meadow Press — Circle of Days
The BusyBodyBook

Another Mom Planner Review: The BusyBodyBook

July 17, 2006 @ 2:02 pm | Filed under: ,

Okay, you plannerholics, here’s another one to feed your cravings: the BusyBodyBook Organizer by About Your Time. This is a 7×10 spiral bound book (a little larger than the MomAgenda, and not quite as thick) with a pocket on the front and back cover. Its format is a weekly grid with five columns for each day. You could use one column for mom and the others for kids, sort of like the MomAgenda (though laid out quite differently). Or if you’re a homeschooler you could use it as an assignment/lesson books with a column for different subjects.

Here’s a walk-through:

• 2 page spread for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

• 3 months at a glance. (I love this feature—though the boxes are small, they’re big enough to mark major events like vacations, doctor appointments, and so forth, and I love the idea of seeing a three-month chunk at once.)

• Then the weekly spreads begin: left page is for notes & lists; right page is the weekly grid. The days of the week run down the page; you enter names or topics across in the columns. To use it just for yourself, you could do something like: Appointments, Chores, Errands, Meals, Misc. Or, as I said above, have a column for yourself and one for each kid.

• In the back are several pages for notes, and then a bunch of tear-out To Do lists, which is a nifty feature. In the very back are two pages for addresses (seems intended just for your most frequent contacts, not a full address book) and a bookmark.

The bottom corner of the lefthand notes pages (opposite the weekly grids) has faint photo images for decoration, mostly warm family scenes. I’m not crazy about this feature—I don’t think I’d notice it after the first week or two, but I don’t really want to see strangers smiling up from my planner. Could be just me. Otherwise it’s a nice clean design.

The weeks go Monday through Sunday.

Jane pounced on this one immediately; she sees endless possibilities for filling those grids.

Other planner reviews:
Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner
Small Meadow Press — Circle of Days

Motivated Moms Chore Planner

Planners for Moms: Circle of Days

July 7, 2006 @ 4:40 am | Filed under: ,

Ta-da! Let the oohs and ahhs commence because the Small Meadow Press planner is here!

You know, I love it when people think outside the box. Lesley Austin is so good at that: she can take a tired old idea and reimagine it so that it becomes something entirely new and beautiful. She’s done it again with her planner, and she is right in saying that it isn’t your ordinary day planner.

Lesley writes:

If you are like me, you have tried many planners with the fervent hope that they will be just the right thing to finally keep some order in your day. So many pages, so much potential, so exciting! And then you find that you don’t use many of the categories, or that you don’t like looking at all that you have to do in a day all at once, or you begin to feel guilty because you are not using yet another system. I have done this so many times and was tempted to do it again, when the idea for A Circle of Days came to me.

This is not your usual planner….I see it as a sort-of-perpetual planner. A container for all the tasks we hope to accomplish during the day. It has twenty-one cardstock pages inside its covers-three for each day-one for morning, one for afternoon and one for evening. I find it more peaceful to see what I want to do for a part of the day, rather than the whole day. It is less overwhelming.

Lesley’s system uses small Post-It Notes to keep track of each day’s tasks. She has assigned a Post-It color to each of her children and one for herself. After a task is completed, the note either goes in the recycling bin or, if it’s a recurring event, gets stuck in the back of the planner until its time rolls round again.

Immediately, I’m thinking: FlyLady. You could make post-its for your daily and weekly routines and your zone work. It would be the prettiest “control journal” going—pretty enough to leave on your counter all day, for sure. The order page mentions a few other uses people have envisioned:

…one young lady plans to use it to organize her studies in the coming year, and a dear friend is using it to house inspirational writings that she turn to throughout her day.

If you’re wanting a permanent record of your activities (like the way I use my dayplanner to record what the children have read or studied each day, and to track Wonderboy’s medical and therapy history), you’ll want a more traditional planner. But if you’re looking for a way to bring order and beauty to your daily home management tasks, this is an inspired solution.

You know, I think it actually embarrasses Lesley a bit the way I’m always raving about her lovely creations. But I can’t help it. I so admire her sweet simplicity, her attention to detail, her ability to infuse even the most mundane of tasks with real beauty. She approaches her work with such care and gentleness—she’s like my favorite line from Anne of Avonlea:

“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people know more. . .though I know that is the noblest ambition. . .but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me. . .to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”

That’s exactly what Lesley Austin does (and I know she’ll be even more embarrassed when she reads this). How many little joys and happy thoughts she has brought into my world since the day I happened upon her booth at a homeschooling conference!

Other planner reviews:
Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner

Motivated Moms Chore Planner

Day Planners for Moms: The MomAgenda

July 5, 2006 @ 5:19 am | Filed under: ,

My quest for the perfect planner began eight years ago when I first read Confessions of an Organized Housewife. Crucial to housewifely organization, according to author and highly organized person Denise Schofield, is a book in which to keep track of All the Stuff That’s Going On in Everyone’s Life. FlyLady says pretty much the same thing, except she uses the term “side-tracked home executive” instead of “housewife.”

Over the years I have tried a bunch of different versions. FranklinCovey and its less expensive imitators, Day-Timer and DayRunner, offer a variety of size and style options for durable binders with hole-punched inserts. Target carries FranklinCovey materials now, but if you want the full range of design choices, you probably need to shop online or find yourself a catalog. (Tip: Look for a used binder on eBay rather than shell out [gasp] seventy bucks for a new one. I once bought a gently used leather one for ten dollars.)

Lots of people swear by this kind of planner, and certainly it has its advantages. You can pick the size that suits you, whether it’s a big one with lots of room to write or compact version that’ll fit inside your bag. And you can customize for your own needs with all the many insert options: address book, notepad, week-at-a-glance planning pages, daily planning pages, little plastic photo holders, credit card holders, pouches to hold stamps, amazingly flat yet functional calculators—the choices are legion. And you can reuse most of this nifty stuff year after year, just swapping out the calendar pages.

But somehow the FranklinCovey-type of planner didn’t work for me. Maybe it was all those inserts: I found it hard to write on my calendar pages because of the bumpy stuff underneath. And the hole-punched pages just seemed flimsy. I like paper with some meat to it.

So I resumed my quest. And I discovered some treasures. Like this one: the MomAgenda. When I saw this planner, it was love at first sight. I was all, Ooh, it’s so PRETTY! The lovely colored paper gives it a higher price tag, of course, but it really is a treat to the eyes. The stain-resistant shantung covers come in pink, blue, green, green, brown, black, and red. And the interior layout is brilliant in concept. You can tell it was designed by a mom. For each weekly spread, the days are divided into a large space for mom and four smaller spaces for the kids. If your kids have a lot of activities, this would be an easy way to keep track of them. Homeschoolers could use the kid-boxes to record lesson plans. Very clever design.

The planner comes with a removable address book. There is a bound edition with ribbon markers, or a hole-punched edition with binder. I have the bound version, which I have to admit doesn’t lay as flat as I might like. I need my planner to stay open on the counter. Upon reconsideration, the binder/hole-punched version might have suited me better.

The momAgenda folks are now offering free printable downloads of their weekly planner pages, if you want a look-see.

Edited to add: One caveat! A couple of the quotes on the MomAgenda’s pages are unsuitable for kids to see. If you’re like me and leave your planner open on the counter in full view of the younguns, you’re going to keep an eye on the quotes.

More planner reviews:
Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner
Small Meadow Press — Circle of Days

Motivated Moms Chore Planner