2011 organizational system

Last October I purchased a blank leather wrapped journal to turn into a custom calendar system for myself. I was so excited that I wanted to date it for Nov. 2009 and use it immediately. Since I had a current calendar at the time, I forced myself to date it for Jan. 2010 but started carrying it immediately to schedule things for the new year. I made a two-page spread for each week, a section for tasks, a section for projects and a section for random notes. I hated it. I am pretty sure it was the journal I chose. While the journal was attractive, it was bulky and heavy. I could tell instantly when I took it out of my bag or put it in because of the dramatic weight difference and it didn’t fit into my purse at all so I didn’t carry it unless I had my bag. I used it faithfully for a few months because I wanted to love it. I found myself only using the calendar part. I think I have used a total of 3 page fronts in the tasks/projects/notes sections. I tried to like it, I spent so much time drawing lines and number the pages and dating everything. It was so unhelpful that in October of this year I purchased a new pocket calendar that is so light I can’t tell if it’s in my purse/bag without looking.

I’m sure you know the kind, it’s a paper calendar with a staple or two in the center. It has a nice plastic outer wrapper that the covers slip into to protect it. I love it, well, not love it, but I’m using it and like it. It has silly inspirational quotes every month, though I’d prefer weekly ones. I started using it immediately. It’s a 16 month calendar, so October was already there just begging to be written on. I can’t cram 5 appts. into each day, but it’s working because it leaves the house with me. I’m using the post-it sticky flag to mark the current month so I can just flip to it. I use the covers to carry a few of my personal business cards in case I need to give someone my contact info. Each month has a two-page spread, the boxes for each day are less than an inch but I can write small. At the same time I purchased a wall calendar for 2011. I haven’t purchased one in years, I usually receive one as a gift at some point or am allowed to pick from a stack someone is giving away. I love to pick the ones with animal pictures for the months. The calendar I picked for 2010 had a problem. I couldn’t read the numbers on the calendar from across the room as the print was too light. The 2009 calendar didn’t have that problem. I tried using a sharpie to darken the numbers but that only frustrated me because it looked messy and sometimes the numbers still weren’t dark enough. Next year I have a rather plain calendar. It’s larger than the others I’ve had, at last 6 inches longer and the two pages are all calendar. I can write multiple things for each day when I need to and perhaps interesting sayings when I don’t. I can see it across the room and think it will be a good thing for me. The secret is the calendar’s intended purpose,I bought one that is marketed as an organizational calendar. I can write my stuff, Boo’s stuff and husband’s stuff as well as family stuff on it. Yes, there will be multiple times to write stuff because I also put family, Boo’s and my stuff on the one I carry but it’s worth it if it doesn’t aggravate me and I get where I need to be when I need to be.

The last organizational tool I added to my arsenal was a calendar plugin for Thunderbird. I tried multiple online calendar plugins with the blog, but 2010 has not been a stellar year for me blogging as I’ve been busy chasing a little boy. If I don’t look at the blog, I miss events or miss counting down and preparing for them. I can’t cram everything I’d like to do on to any paper calendar and lists were getting lost. I really only want to write the repetitive task once and let it carry itself along until an end date arrives. So I finally looked to the intarwebs (giggle) for a solution. While I detest MS Outlook, one of the nice tools is the calendar system. I’ve never used it in a company where everyone uses it but I love that I can schedule a meeting and it automatically sends invites to everyone or I can just make them accept it if I have the right privileges to do so. I have no need to do that, but I have my computer on every day. While I don’t spend all day at it, I hear the beeps and check in once every couple of hours or so. I love being notified as soon as I start my day of the tasks I need to accomplish or the appts scheduled for the day.

Check back in a year to see how it’s working for me. I can tell you that for the last month this new system of small paper calendar and huge Thunderbird calendar been wonderful.

2010 Organization System


I’ve used a Franklin Covey since Jan. 2007, before that I used Palm software (2002-Dec 2006). I wasted several trees printing off paper calendars when I needed to write, the stylus drove me up the wall. Previous to that there were school agendas (mid-1980s through 2002), it’s really not been that long since school let out for me. I’ve long since outgrown the computerized calendars because computers become distracting. I turn it on to check the list and get distracted by email, web, games, etc.

The Cons
The Palm didn’t hold a charge, the software was great, but only when used on the desktop/laptop. Entering appts into the Palm was painful.
The school agenda runs Aug/Sept. through the next calendar year Aug/Sept or Dec, which is just not practical for my place in life, I’d prefer Jan-Dec.
I’m frankly done spending $30 and up for a calendar/organizational system that I don’t utilize completely.

After analyzing how I actually use it, I went looking online for other options. What I found was GTD, getting things done. Open your favorite search engine and prepare to lose several hours seeing how it’s meant to be and how others implement it either with paper or electrons. My method of choice is paper, I need it to travel with me. I chose to use a journal that is a bit larger than a pocket-moleskine (recommended in GTD systems), but smaller than my old F-C binder. As this is my first time making my own calendar with list, I’m guessing at what I want most. I chose a journal with 192 ruled pages with a ribbon bookmark and a strap that keeps it closed so the pages don’t get destroyed in my bag, purse, car, where ever. I numbered the odd pages in the upper right corner and divided it as follows:

  • pgs. 1-105 contain a calendar with a week per two page spread (each page had 24 lines so I divided each page into 4 sections with 6 lines, Sun starts the even page, Wed ends the even page, the odd page houses Thurs through a small notes section) My plan for the notes section is a small place to house tasks until the end of the week where they are processed to the inbox or project list. The ribbon bookmark will bookmark the current week.
  • pgs. 106-156 contain my inbox, a list of tasks to be completed, with the current place marked by a movable orange tab on which is written “inbox”
  • pgs. 157-166 contain a project list, a series of tasks that need to be accomplished in a given order, with the current place marked by a movable yellow tab on which is written “projects”
  • pgs. 167-178 contain a wishlist of things to accomplish someday or possibly not at all, with the current place marked by a movable red tab on which is written “someday/maybe”
  • pgs. 179-189 contain notes that need to be somewhere else but this was the only paper I had at the time, with the current place marked by a movable orange tab on which is written “notes”
  • Written in the back cover is a weekly review list, forcing me to look at the previous week to see what was accomplished and set realistic goals for the upcoming week. I also plan on looking at the week to come to get a handle on the time available. There are also several extra sticky notes and tabs for use if needed.

While the journal is finished (Oct. 29) and ready to use (theoretically), I deliberately started it on Jan. 1, 2010 so that I would force myself to use up the Franklin-Covey system that I have spent hard-earned money keeping current. I have a box in my office area for the binder once the new year arrives. If this system doesn’t work, I know where the binder is and will pick it back up if needed.


NaBloPoMo, year two

I posted a blog entry every day during the month of November 2008 and it worked for a little while, until I ran out of things to post about that were not related to being pregnant for most of 2009. I’m going to participate again this year, hoping to kick start the creative juices again. Stay tuned for thought provoking and or funny posts again.


Sunday Speculations

I listened to a craft podcast the other day where I finally understood why people feel the need to argue and look down upon those with different viewpoints. It was suggested that people feel defensive when hearing a different viewpoint presented as valid because in their minds it automatically negates any other possible viewpoint as being valid. When one feels as if one is being told he is not correct, he feels threatened and the defenses go up and out come the verbal fists.

Christmas in July?

For the last several years, I have participated in Proefrock family Christmas with varying degrees success for completing on-time gifts. The first Christmas, 2006, my main gift for Granny was a bit late, she received it in Feb. or March of 2008. To make up for it, I quickly knitted a hat on one of my circle looms and filled it with goodies so she had at least something to open and keeep. Christmas of 2007 I was on-time with knitted socks and some other goodies for Dad. Christmas of 2008, well, it wasn’t as late as the first gift, but it was not on time. Jeff had to wait until Jan. or Feb. 2009 until I could get all the fish sewn together and to him in blanket form. He was able to open the gift, but I snatched it right back to continue working. If I hadn’t spent so much time coordinating the fish in rows and columns, I would have dumped the box of fish on him and let him figure out what it was. Please follow the Christmas tag or category to read more about those adventures.

I arrive at this year, 2009. Because I Christmas projectam horrible at thinking up a gift and executing it with finesse, I asked if we could draw names early. Everyone agreed, we drew so early that I knew who I was gifting to before anyone opened their 2008 presents. I went to visit my family in NY shortly after Christmas 2008 and came up with a brilliant idea for my secret Christmas Elf project. I purchased many supplies in NY as there were good deals in after-Christmas sales and my mom let me raid her fabrics for small scraps of various coordinating and contrasting fabrics. I have vacillated several times, wondering is this the best project for the person, is it too much work, is it a good idea, will the person like it. I have no concrete answers as I don’t want to let too many in on the project. I have decided is to start it, finish a stage at a time and reevaluate each time. I have been working on it over the last several months and while I’m not finished, I have made some progress. Here is a lovely photo of my leftover main fabrics and tools. I have completed the first stage so I’m celebrating Christmas in July. I like it so far. Hopefully it won’t look like Little One put the project together. I’m wading deep into sewing/quilting. While I can sew, I haven’t done as much quilting as I would like. I have lots of books and theory. Merry Christmas?


Ack, I’m Jo!

I’ve been enjoying Little Women as a part of a podcast I’ve been listening to recently. Some of the chapters are read by LibriVox volunteers and some are read by listeners of the podcast. I used to own a copy of this book, I still may. It was part of a collector’s set with other books in the series and a few of something else. I know, not real descriptive but it’s all I’ve got. I tried to read the book when it was given to me, but I’m afraid that at the age of nine it didn’t seem all that interesting.

Because I went back to chapter one, I’m only through chapter eight or so. While I’m listened to Amy throw a tantrum because she can’t have her way and then her retaliation, I have to admit that I was thinking horrible thoughts much like Jo was probably thinking. When Amy retaliated, I wasn’t a bit surprised. Jo then threw a colossal tantrum in retribution. Amy destroyed Jo’s book of stories she had been working on for two years. Jo decided to punish Amy by not forgiving her, not speaking to her and making family live extremely uncomfortable for everyone. I felt saddened for the family harmony that was broken as a result of the girls not getting along. When Jo had a heart-to-heart with Mother I found it rather refreshing that Mother was honest about her own struggles with anger and that that could talk about it. I’m still figuring out how to respond appropriately to a variety of situations without resorting to anger as the best possible reaction.


Sunday summary

Opening day of deer season in MI was yesterday, which meant that the family was together for the weekend. We ladies had a wonderful day crafting yesterday, working on Christmas cards and Christmas crafts. I was quite productive considering that I ate milk-laden bread on Thursday. I was able to give Jeff his R2D2 hat, which was fun. I forgot to take any pictures of it on his head. He seemed to like it, a lot. He grinned for several minutes after receiving it.


Sunny Sunday

Or not so sunny, we had a fair amount of fluffy flakes falling from the sky this afternoon. There was little accumulation, just a white dusting in spots. We hosted family dinner this afternoon as well. Mom gave us a firm thwapping in Quiddler, she had many of the ten-point bonuses. Christmas knitting is proceeding slowing, but I am not embarrassed to present a partially finished gift. I’ll get as much put together as I can. I really, really tried. I made Mom pick names in February so I would have all year to work on it. I didn’t allot my time correctly, too much time planning and deciding, not enough time creating. It’s all about practice.