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.


wreck this journal

While in a bookstore a number of months ago, though I cannot guess which month, I came across a book. The intriguing cover featured a scrap piece of notebook paper stuck to the black book with masking tape. The title was scrawled on the scrap in a calligraphy style of handwriting. I couldn’t help myself, I picked it up and flipped to the first page and the second and the third and I must interrupt at this point and mention I was not alone at the bookstore, who ever is with all the employees and other customers, but that is not my meaning. I was with a friend at the time and I chased her down or called her back so I could begin to read the most amazing things to her. The book was not a book in the usual sense but not quite a journal in the usual journal sense. On the page where one usually writes the answer to: this book belongs to: and please return if found or even this journal covers the dates from blank to blank, I found instead a page, in a font meant to mimic handwriting, asking for my name to be written several different ways (not the least of which was illegibly, I’m pretty sure my 3rd grade teacher will have something to say about that) and instructing the finder of my lost book (in the event I misplace it) to randomly turn to a page in MY journal and follow the given instructions THEN return it to me. I was a bit on edge and it was just the first page. Page two outlined some general instructions, the fun really began after that. There was a simple line or two at the top of each page with a not so simple instruction that the author seemed to expect me to obey. Rather than create cookie cutter entries as most journals go, you know the type:

dear diary,
how are you today? I’m fine. the weather is cloudy, the dog is sleeping. that’s all for now

These instructions did not ask me to set about creating word combinations and patterns to set upon the page, I was was expected to pay to for a book/journal that I was to systematically destroy. As I flipped from page to page reading the instructions I knew there to be precious few I would perform. To rip a page out of the book, a horror in itself, then not return it to the book. To burn a page while still in the book, eliminating another page. To cut it into strips while still in the book, I cackled with disbelief audibly. Make a paper chain and leave it somewhere, I thought that was called littering. Who on earth would deliberately break/crack the spine of a perfectly lovely, brand new book. I work so hard to read a book so as not to damage the spine accidentally. The conversation escalated with each page turn demanding a more impossible feat than before, though I reasoned I could accomplish a few. I could possibly scribble on a page, but just one. I could possibly cause a stain from a food I was to consume to appear in the smallest possible corner. Maybe I would run it over with a bike tire, but more likely I would run the tire in an old stamp pad and gently apply the page to the tire. I’m all for creatively expressing myself in the usual boring ways. Let’s not get all willy-nilly and destroy a lovely deliciously intriguing book, even if the author thought I would. If I left it unharmed, I could read and reread all the while contemplating all the things I could do to the book, but surely won’t. I carefully put the book back on the shelf, continued to browse and commented on the silliness of it all. Absolutely no one is going to buy a book to destroy it-hello! I had hoped to leave it there and never think of it again. The book popped into my head every time I went to that bookstore, the solution of course is to go to a different bookstore. Tonight, while reading the blog of a podcast I listen to, she mentioned the book, which I recognized immediately. I found a link to the website off her page and away I went. I may put this book on my mental list book books to try one day or I may try it on my own. I know I have a journal or 10 that are either empty (but I had good intentions of filling them, I buy about one a year) or take one half started and create my own destructive things to do to express what words are not.

Update: August 15, 2008
I visited GR today and purposefully visited a store where I could hold a copy in my hand again. I must report that after spending a few hours on the interwebs, I was able to find all but about 4 or 5 of the journal instructions. I’m not sure that this is a good thing. After flipping through the book, I put it gently back on the shelf, but not before considering doing something sudden and violent to it as directed. At this point, I am not willing to purchase a book to destroy it. I do have a journal that is missing a few pages already and am considering putting it out of its misery by totally decimating it as directed by a few suggestions from the previously mentioned website.