If you’re reading this blog, it is likely that you are a mom and the odds are that your car and purse are full of paper scraps with the never-ending lists of things to do. Until August, I was you! But, now, I have a “magic” notebook and the scraps are gone.
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Yes, I have a smart phone. I also have a laptop. I rarely go anywhere without at least one in my car. However, I have yet to find a comprehensive program that lets me put in everything I need to keep my life, my kids’ lives and my husband’s life (outside of work) running smoothly. I’m also attached to paper and pens.
So, I’m not lacking in tools to keep me organized. In fact, by nature, I’m an organized person. Mostly. I’m also overly ambitious and usually have too many things going on at one time and something is always neglected. I was constantly running out for one last minute “something” to finish whatever. Those days are gone.
I ran across a method of notebook keeping that absolutely works for me and I think it will work for you as well. Stick with me, it’s fairly simple!
This is how it works:
- You pick up a notebook. I chose a 5×8 Moleskine in plain black because it is sturdy, fits in my purse and hides a lot of stains and dirt. There are tons of options out there. Choose a size and cover that you can carry easily – EVERYWHERE.
- Do NOT buy a planner – you want a notebook with lines spaced at no more than 1/2” or completely blank (great for you artists/sketchers).
- Start where you are! Once you have a notebook (and a nice pen), get going. Don’t worry about the date or if it’s in the middle of the month. On the first two lined pages, you will create an index. Here you will list everything by topic and page number (not hard and worth picking up the habit)
- Once you have labeled your index, turn to the next two pages and number them 1 and 2. With the month you’re in, use page 1 to list Month’s Events. Going down the left side of the page write 1-30/31, one line for each day of the month. These are things like birthdays, kids’ events, things that recur or that you are committed to doing. On page 2, list Month’s Projects – these are undated things you’d like to get done this month but have no specific dates. Go back to your index, write the name of the month and after it put p. 1-2.
- Now, think about things you are constantly wanting to keep track of and always losing. For me, I created several more pages. Number them as you go, no need for a specific or logical order because you have the index to guide you. Just always number your pages and write down what is on what page in the index. My next pages included: Books to Read, Christmas Gift Ideas, Christmas Gifts Bought, Things to Find in Thrift Stores, Kids’ Clothing and Shoe Sizes, Books Read, etc. Make pages for anything upcoming or ongoing in your life. Vacations, weddings, wishes, gifts, whatever works for you!
- Once these pages are installed and indexed, you start really using your notebook. I start with a list of things to do each day. I mark the date on a page, make a list with squares on the left to check off when I finish. I mark the page on my index.
- If I have things on my mind that are not to-do things, I add them to my daily list with a solid circle next to them. When I have time I move them to the things-to-do each month category or to a page that fits.
- At the end of the day, things I have finished get checked off. If I did not get to something, I put an arrow to the right of it and move it to the next day or to whatever place is appropriate.
- Since I write, my daily lists are often interspersed with notes for articles or notes for ideas. I index these at the end of the day as well.
- If you have a child that writes and spells reasonably well, have him/her hang on to the notebook when you’re in the car. You know those great car ideas that always get away from you? No more! Have your child jot your ideas down.
- One unexpected benefit of the notebook has been that my sons and husband know I always leave it on the kitchen counter when I go to bed. Every now and then I will get up ready to start my list for the day and I’ll find a little note or picture from one of them. It’s more personal than a text and I have it forever.
I still use my big family calendar on the fridge so that everyone knows what’s going on – I mark appointments, dinner menus (that sometimes actually happen), birthdays, etc. But, everything I need for the family and ME is in the notebook. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s worth it.
I’ve only been using the “magic” calendar since (hang on, I’m looking it up in my magic calendar) August 21, 2014. However, I’m sold. I think I will just use the notebook I have until I run out of pages and then start a new one. Think about it for yourself. Maybe ask for an awesome notebook and pen over the holidays. Get going on January 1 – this is one resolution you might be glad you made.
The great thing is, the magic notebook is like a journal. You can keep old copies on a shelf and it’s easy to look things up because you have the index. I’ve taken to taping or stapling receipts in my notebook in case I have to return things or if I want to compare prices. I’ve just started page 75 and I’m not even half-way through my notebook. BONUS: If the police need to know what happened on September 15 in my world, I can tell them. (Not that police question me on a regular basis!)
**This is not my own original idea. I must give the folks at the Bullet Journal full credit. If my explanation seems garbled and confusing, check out their beautiful website and great illustrations.
Do you think this is something you could see yourself using?