Thursday, November 24, 2016

My Organiser

As the end of the current year approaches it is time to think about getting next year's diary/journal/planner/organiser purchased and set up. For years I struggled to find exactly what I was looking for. And failed! The layout of most purchased products annoyed me. For me the week begins on Monday and ends on Sunday - I take the term weekend to literally mean the end of the week. And that's where I expect it to be in an organiser. Plus I often treat the weekend as one unit. Except far too many purchased products split it and have a week run from Sunday to Saturday.  Further I like seeing my whole week at a glance. But I don't just want space for Monday to Sunday. I also want some space to jot down things that pertain to the week as a whole, not necessarily a particular day. That dental appointment maybe Wednesday at 10:15am but I don't yet know which day we'll buy a birthday gift for a cousin - just that it needs to be purchased this week. And on top of that I like having a few spare pages to keep track of random information - like the brilliant idea I had for my husband's birthday and don't want to forget when his birthday actually rolls around in eight month's time! And trying to find all that in one bought product was pretty difficult, especially if I tried to find something that didn't have pages I didn't want - like a monthly accounts section. And if by some miracle I managed to find something that had all or most of what I wanted content wise, then the size was all wrong or the colour was ugly. Shallow I know, but also true!

So when I first stumbled across the concept of bullet journals a couple of years ago I was excited. But as I read more I started to become less excited and more intimidated (all those gorgeous, well designed layouts with beautiful hand lettering) and frustrated (why all the rules and tricky symbols?) So I forgot about it for a while.

And then I had my brainwave. Simply buy a blank book of the right size and colour and then create the sort of organiser I want. So that's exactly what I've done for the past two years, refining and fine tuning as I go.

I love the old fashioned look of the book I bought this year - the embossed cover, the metal clasps and the watermarked page edges.

The front half of my organiser looks a little like your traditional diary. I like seeing my year at a glace so I found a printout which fits nicely on a double page. I use it to keep track of the official school year since extra-curriculars, most significantly trampoline, follow that. I also mark the local university year, since Dh works there, Mr 18 studies there and Miss 21 may be returning next year. Its also a handy spot to birthdays, anniversaries and the like.

Then I have an index (first thing I do with my organiser is number all the pages) so I don't have trouble finding any pages at the back. More on those later.

Next up is a double page spread per month. One page has a calendar print out from The Organised Housewife . It was one of the only one I could find that runs Monday to Sunday  - and it looks nice. I really hope she does a 2017 version. I just trimmed the To- do list off the side since I don't really need it and it didn't fit in this year's book!. Sometimes I rule up a grid underneath to track various habits that I want to develop. Bizarrely colouring in little square to show that I exercised is sometimes more motivating than doing the actual exercise, even though it is good for me. And I also list all the monthly bills and cross them off after I've paid them. This came about after we didn't receive one in the mail and nearly incurred penalty fees as a result. I leave the facing page blank to and use it to keep track of stuff before we reach the relevant week , events that we might like to attend etc.

The bulk of the organiser is weekly double spreads. I set these up at the start of the week  rather than in advance, all in one go at the start of the year. This was to let me experiment with different layouts. I could try one for a week and then try another the following week. By now I'm pretty settled on my preference and just divide the opening into 8 even sized boxes - one for each day and one for stuff that needs to happen at some stage during the week.

No fancy layouts or pretty handwriting for me.

The back of my organiser is where I keep track of all sorts of other things. Effectively it is a collection of lists. I read a lot so I keep one list of books I want to read and another of books I've actually completed, plus a couple of lists related to the various reading challenges I'm currently completing. I take a guess at how many pages these will need but if I run out of space part way through the year I can simply continue the list on the next spare page. Since Miss 16 and I go birding I keep a list of all the bird species I've seen throughout the year. I have quite a collection of cookbooks but am guilty of not using them as much as I should. So this year I challenged myself to make at least one new recipe per week. So of course I'm keeping a list of what I've made as well as rating each one. On another opening I'm jotting down any ideas I've got for future homeschooling - courses Miss 16 might like, book titles we could explore etc. I've got a list of things to do next year, a list of my favourite yoga routines and where I found them and a list of things I want to remember for next year. I've tried keeping a one sentence journal - quickly jotting down one highlight per day. Turns out I'm not great at maintaining that so I don't know whether or not I'll  continue next year or try something new. If I come up with something else I want to remember, record or keep track of I simply start a new page. I don't have to know at the start of the year exactly how I want my organiser to function. It evolves as needed throughout the year.

My organiser is functional rather than pretty (although you'll note I use a pink pen sometimes to match the cover!) but it works for me. So far I've only discovered two potential problems . The first is difficulty finding what I'm looking for at the back of the book. This wouldn't be an issue if I remembered to record pages in the index at the front! The second is that it is theoretically possible to have the back of the book run into the front of the book and thus run out of space before the year is up. This hasn't happened to me yet. Partly this is because I made a rough calculation as to how many pages I was likely to need before I bought the book. I then added a few more just to be safe. Partly it's just luck. But - just in case - this year's planner has a handy pocket in the back, which could store extra pages in an emergency!

I've prettied up this year's planner by randomly gluing in some favourite art prints. Such a nice surprise to turn the page and discover a much loved painting.


  1. It was fun to see inside your planner! I did a bullet journal loosely this year for my calendar, notes, lists, and it even had my scripture journal in it. I used a grid paper Moleskine notebook that is 5 inches by 8 inches. It fit in my purse and could go with me to all Mason's medical appointments or anywhere really.
    Just last night I ordered what I'll use for my planner this year. It's The Simple Elephant Planner. I liked that it has blank calendars ready for me to add month names and dates, weekly grids (also ready for me to add dates), note pages, etc. Got is for $12 on Amazon and just waiting for it to arrive.

  2. Yes! Making the journal work for you is key! I love seeing inside your journal.