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.


New planner

For several years I have used a Franklin-Covey planner with varying degrees of success. I have switched from daily classic size to weekly compact and various stages in between. At this point in my life, I still need a planner and don’t see that changing, but I need something bigger and not as big all at the same time. I can’t hold a year’s worth of weekly planning pages in the binder, so I try to squish things into the monthly view. All I end up doing is frustrating myself and writing across the whole silly calendar. Maybe a year or so ago, I visited a site with step-by-step instructions to turn a pocket-sized moleskine into planner of sorts with a system of tracking projects. It reminded me of the F-C system, but without the expense of pages and the binder and the overwhelming size. I found a second site that turned a pocket-sized moleskine into a project management system.

As I was looking at other planners today while I was out and about, I couldn’t find anything that was exactly what I desired, so I purchased a journal of sorts which closes tightly to protect the pages. To my utter shock and amazement, I was able to find both sites tonight without the aid of my bookmarks. Since I found the sites again, I am going make my own hybrid system for managing my calendar for the new year. Yes, I’m planning ahead. Actually, I have F-C pages up through the end of the year and even though I want to stop using it now, I can’t bring myself to waste 1/3 of the cost of the silly pages by not using it. Yes, I’m an illogical glutton for punishment. So I will start creating it and begin using it in January.