YOU, my friend, are right on time! For what? To join our discussion on how best to keep track of life events. How do you do it? (Sharon, I am talking to YOU). Do you use a planner? An agenda (is there a difference?). Maybe an (old-fashioned) paper calendar like my mom had hanging in the kitchen when I was growing up? (She used that calendar to keep track of my periods and our dental appointments) Do you have an app or use the calendar on your phone? Google calendar, maybe? Outlook? How do you keep track of little Mary’s dental appointment, your grocery list, your M-I-L’s birthday, that upcoming date for your presentation at work. Are you part elephant with some kind of bionic memory or do you have a fancy system for keeping your life neatly organized and scheduled? Inquiring minds want to know.
Today’s post is interactive and hopefully, a learning experience for all of us…most of all, ME! Because right now I am struggling to keep everything together over here. I am sure that just shocks the pee waddling out of you. I know. I put on a good facade. I am disorganized-organization personified. So, with your help and that from my research – they don’t call me a librarian for nothin’ – I hope to find a way to better stay on track. Preferably without Ritalin.
The picture above features some of my latest tools for keeping me on track. Keeping track of my life. None of them terribly successful. Let’s look at each one separately for just a moment.
When I first started blogging, I was participating in a “Rediscover Me” challenge offered by Alison Lumbatis at Get Your Pretty On. I loved this experience. It came at a time when I was truly lost after retiring from my job as an elementary school librarian. I really didn’t have a whole lot of life to keep track of, sadly. But Alison provided an approach that helped me set new goals for my life…personal growth, relationship, self-care and appearance, healthy living goals. I kept all of my challenge hand-outs and documents in the gray folder pictured above.
With Alison’s guidance participants completed goal focus forms that helped us identify areas in which we wanted to encourage change and self-improvement. By blogging about it, I held myself pretty accountable to my goals. And most of them have become habits. Please click here to read more about my experience with the “Rediscover Me” challenges.
About the time of the second installment of Alison’s challenge, I also purchased a blog planner. My Blog Plan blog planner. Clever name. I remember that I got a great deal on this little cutie because it was for 2014-2015 and I bought it in the fall of 2014. Yeah, I can be cheap. But I wasn’t working much then, other than an occasional sub job, so I prefer to think that I was thrifty.
I liked the My Blog Plan blog planner. It was organized well but at the time I wasn’t sure what to write in all the little categories and sections.
Each month there was a full page for product give-aways. What? Do I look rich? (Rhetorical question.) I did like the page at the end of the month where I could record my blog post numbers but when the numbers would be down, I would get depressed and eat…a lot…undoing my progress on a number of my goals from the “Rediscover Me” challenge. And then there are those pesky doctor’s appointments, and important dates to keep track of. I guess I could have written them on the appropriate date in My Blog Plan blog planner, even though I wasn’t going to blog about my dental cleaning. That would have helped me fill in all the white space where big time bloggers would have lots to plan for. Hindsight.
I began working part-time this past fall and all of a sudden, I was back to not having a whole lot of free time for reflective goal setting. While many of the goals I set during my rediscovery are coming second nature to me now, it has been awhile since I have whitened my teeth or dry-brushed my cellulite or had a said cellulite massaged. But I am definitely happier working part-time than I was being an retired old lady. So what if my teeth aren’t white. And all that cellulite just means there’s more of me to love. Right?
My daughters encouraged me to get an iPhone when my Android was stolen at school before I retired. It took awhile for me to figure out all of the bells and whistles but I am beginning to get the hang of this thing now, only two years later. I began using the “Reminders” app on the desktop of my phone to make to-do lists. I like a good, long to-do list and the feeling of accomplishment that comes when I can mark something off as completed. I don’t get quite the same kick out of deleting a reminder on my phone. And I have finally figured out the “Calendar” app, although I am not sure why I have three calendars showing up on my phone. Who else’s calendars are on there? I wish they would kindly remove them as I have enough trouble keeping track of my own.
Look, Sarah C., this is how I am keeping track of Sentence a Day…I even have an alert that rings to remind me to write it. I am all ‘growed-up’, huh? My phone works pretty well as a planner but typing on that danged thing makes me nuts and talking into it is worse. Truly. That witch Searcey (I renamed my Siri to Searcey after the evil conniving woman on “Game of Thrones”) cannot understand a word I say. You should see the gobbledy-goop I get when I speak a reminder or a message into my phone. And typing on that itty bitty keyboard is as bad. Half the time I can’t understand what my reminder is reminding me of. For example: “Cc wipes frames library mat bra bath and body outlet”. Cc=Charming Charlie, wipes=we need wipe refills for our potty at home, frames=buy 2 for family photos, library=? who knows…something with work?, mat=I couldn’t remember what this was when I was at the store for it, bra=need a new nude bra, bath and body=need more wallflower refills, outlet=NEED TO GO TO LOFT OUTLET, of course. I am still using my phone in desperate moments when I can’t find my planner(s).
Which brings me to my planner(s). First my frugal one. Action Day Goal Organizer. Available here, on Amazon. Got rave reviews. Four and a half stars. Room to record to-dos, goals, tasks to delegate (to whom?), projects to work on – I guess the ones you can’t delegate to that elusive other person.
So, I have all of this space in my Action Day Goal Organizer (the cheap one) but for some reason I write all of my reminders on Post-it notes and then stick them on random pages in the planner. I did write “early dismissal” on May 27 but otherwise, Post-its. And they don’t always stay stuck where I stick them. Gets messy. Maybe I could delegate that someone fill in my planner for me?
That brings me to my newest planner. After reading on how my friend Katie at Mishaps and Mayhem of a Solitary Life loves her Erin Condren life planner, I forked over the big bucks for one myself. Actually, because I waited until a third of the year was gone (fiddling with my blog planner, my phone, my goal organizer)…some things never change…I got it at a discounted and very reasonable price. Here are pictures of Katie’s planner being well used.
Once I received my planner, it took me approximately a month to open the package (I’m a busy lady). I have been using it about three weeks now and just discovered today that it has a lot of bling and frill at the back of the planner to use to spruce up the pages. Call them fancy Post-its. You can read more about Katie’s love affair with her Erin Condren life planner on her blog, here.
So, this week I have really made a concerted effort to use my planner more. I transferred all of my cryptic reminders and calendar dates from my phone, gathered up all of my Post-it notes and memos from my Action Day Goal Organizer and put it all in my Erin Condren life planner.
I thought if I broke out the colored ink pens I might be more likely to want to write in here. But even with the pink and purple pens, I wound up grabbing a black Bic. That old dog-new tricks business bites me in the butt every time. Look, though, there are check marks on my to-do list on the right, and I have actually something scribbled in about half the little squares for the month. Of course, the month is about half gone, too. By June, six months into the year and this Erin Condren life planner, I might have the hang of this thing.
Until that happens, here’s what I am packing in my purse in hopes of keeping me on track.
Good thing my purse is the size of a carry-on suitcase because I like to throw my lap-top in for good measure. That way I can add things to my Google calendar and Dropbox while I am out.
I had a good laugh yesterday. Had to administer the state assessment to a small group of third, fourth and fifth grade students in the library. As the children finished their tests, they were allowed to return to their room when the rest of their class had also completed the test. One third grade boy finished his test just a few minutes before the end of school and asked if he could help me in the library rather than go back to class. I was touched and tempted to hand him my planner which was sitting on the bookshelf where I had been working. We started processing some new library books and all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, Orlando asked “Is that an Erin Condren life planner?” For reals!!! My jaw dropped. I asked him to repeat what he had said. He pointed to my planner and asked again if it was an Erin Condren.
I laughed a giant, jiggly belly laugh and replied that it was. Yes, a very blank Erin Condren life planner. Then I asked how in the world he knew about Erin Condren life planners (I mean, this post was even written yet!). He said his mother has one and uses it all the time. Crazy. Orlando went on to say that on weekends she plays with her planner, decorating it with all kinds of stickers and designs and pretty things. Bling, Orlando, bling. What are the odds of that happening?
So, I give you Orlando. Sweet, sweet baby. Holding my Erin Condren life planner.
And how about that bit of wisdom on the cover of my Erin Condren life planner. “The best time for new beginnings is now.” Here’s to beginning to learn how to use my Erin Condren life planner…tomorrow.
So, I have read that good bloggers end their posts with a question for their reader(s). I am giving that a try. Experimenting with all kinds of craziness over here. This is my question for you.
How do you keep track of life? Please share your technique in a comment below.
I posed this question to my friends and fellow contributors at The Blended Blog and they were so kind to help a sister out. Please come back tomorrow to check out their suggestions for getting me on track. That is, IF I can remember to write down in my Erin Condren life planner that I need to write a post about that for tomorrow. Either way, come back!
Hugs and kisses,