Friday, September 6, 2013

Remember that time I had my Sh** together? Yeah, me neither.

After an incredibly busy and stressful few months, I had a bit of a breather while the kids were out of school. Focusing on just home and work was so much easier than all of the other craziness that comes in during the school year. Because I had become that know, the crazy one.
One of the realizations I had is that I can't possibly manage another school year using the tools I did this past year. When I got my beloved iPhone, I used their calendar feature to have access to my work calendar. I like it a lot, but I just couldn't get into actively scheduling all of my personal items. Perhaps because I don't like to spend time typing much on the phone...I find it tedious and even with the auto correct function, I make mistakes. Plus, lets be honest. I just prefer writing things down. And I'm a little obsessed with office supplies...just a little. :)
Instead I used a small weekly planner that was pretty helpful. It had a section on the top for my calendar, and then boxes underneath for each of the family members. It took some time to get used to the smaller spaces, but it was pretty functional, since hubby and kids rarely had more than one item to note per day. Gymnastics on Monday, Baseball on Tuesday, etc. The downside is that it didn't have designated times for things, which I like for my personal calendar, work appointments, etc. So I didn't really list work items there. Again, not the end of the world since I work full time and I have access to my phone and computer, but it would be nice to have everything at my fingers.

The other thing was that I was losing track of my "To Do's"...I didn't have a place to keep lists of things I needed to do, whether they were work related or personal. In fact, I didn't really make lists at all anymore...just relying on my memory, which is NEVER a good idea. Ask my husband how good I am at remembering all the little things... :) I tried to keep things on the kitchen chalkboard door, but you need to write somewhat largely to make it really legible, and I would run out of room, or would need to erase it to make room for something else.

I tried to make my own calendar...a place that had a schedule, space to make a list, items for the different family members, PTO stuff, etc. I came up with a cute design that was inspired by one I found online, but it only lasted a few days. Maybe because they were loose leaf, maybe because they were full sheets of paper and therefore not very portable, maybe because the little boxes just weren't my thing...either way, I didn't keep up with it.

So a month ago, again, I started hunting for other options and stumbled upon some cool pictures of planners on Instagram of all places. There seems to be a lot of Filofax love out there! Pictures led me to check out YouTube and sure enough I found all kinds of videos on how people are setting up their Filofaxes. That got me thinking...I used to use a Day Timer but over time I stopped. Maybe because I wasn't as busy a few years ago, although it felt like it all went by in a blur! I stopped at Staples to check out their Day Timer inserts but ran into two problems.
1. They had already taken out the 2013 packs and replaced them with 2014 inserts. Boy, did I feel sheepish, looking for 2013 inserts in August. As if I was getting tsk-ed by the calendar aisle for being so disorganized. After all, I should be planning ahead for the upcoming year, not scrambling to get this year on track!
And 2: Day Timer inserts tend to be so blah. Functional, yes, but very stark and bland. As I took a lap around the store, hoping to find a set of inserts on clearance somewhere, I came across the Martha Stewart section. There I found a 2013 weekly calendar set that would fit my planner! And not a bad price, about $15.00. So I scooped that up as well as some of the Dewdrop stickers from her line and headed home.

Since then I have been slowly getting to know my planner again. In the past I kept things pretty basic, just a calendar and the other standard tabs that came with the planner, though I rarely used them. After looking at pictures and videos online though, I realized that I have a plethora of materials that I can use to customize my planner to fit my needs. Now, I am taking the opportunity to play with stickers, Washi tape, colored pens, etc. It's so much more fun to look through the day when it's cheerful!

The thing that I'm not thrilled about with the Martha Stewart calendar is that there is no really way to separate the months from the weeks if I wanted to. Better than no monthly calendar at all. I also wish the lines of blank space could be at the top of the page rather than the bottom. I tend to make a note of a day long event or general reminder at the top of the page so I see it first thing, but that is where the morning appointments are supposed to go. Thankfully I am usually pretty lightly scheduled in the morning, so it isn't a huge deal if I forget and put a note at the top, and I try to put some things on little Post It's if necessary.

In the process of organizing things I have discovered some things:
  • I am obsessed with calendars, but I'm also really picky about them. My ideal calendar set up will have a monthly spread and a weekly spread separate from each other. The days within the weeks would have space for appointments with times listed, with lines for hours as well as half hours. I hate when planners only have a line for the hour...does no one have appointments at 1:30???
  • I like to have my appointments listed in a linear fashion. I don't understand how people can just jot an appointment anywhere on the page...I totally lose track of things that way!
  • Color coding could be my friend. When I was backtracking appointments in my planner (I couldn't handle months of blank pages, so I transferred everything from my phone and small planner to the new pages. Yes, that was a little over the top I guess, but it made me happy and allowed me to see how I wanted to organize the planner moving forward.) Now that the kids are involved in various activities and my husband has appointments that affect how I manage my time, I really need to figure out how I want to color code those things. Plus, a colorful calendar looks prettier than everything in just black ink, don't you think?
  • I prefer an A5 size. I just like the room to write, even if it means a larger folder to carry. I carry my Day Timer to work everyday, and it works. Especially for Filofax folks, I see lots of people love the Personal size, but I would need one in my hands to see if that would work for me. It doesn't seem too small, but I have always gravitated to the A5 size. I have used some 8.5 x 11 planners, but they never seem to stick around much because they are just too big, unless it's exclusively for work. But for something that bridges home and work, no thanks. I'm not carrying a wristlet for a purse, but nor am I carrying Mary Poppins carpet bag.
Hopefully this will allow me to have a better understanding of my days and feel like I am more in control of them. I have hated feeling like a lost buoy in a storm. I'm the last person that could be tagged with OCD, but I just don't want another year of feeling like I am pulled a million different directions, dropping balls along the way. I'm no good to anyone that way. And on the other hand, I need to learn to say no...I really took on more than I could handle comfortably. I hate when it feels like I can't give 100% to things, and this past year has felt like that most of the time. It isn't fair to any of my commitments, not fair to me, and in the end, my family suffered the most. They didn't have access to their wife and mom and I didn't have access to them. I don't pretend that a calendar will take all that away, but it will help me focus on what is really important.

Another thing I am now doing is scheduling time for my blog! Hurray! I have been jotting down post ideas and realized my posts were falling into two categories: Craft and Family. So I am going to lean into that. I plan to post on Wednesdays about my crafts and on Sundays a recap about home/family that week. As I work on my calendar I come across all kinds of things to write about, and keeping it to twice a week seems more manageable to me as well. So watch this space for more regular posts!

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