❄ Linkies & Little Notes
MM: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 6

What My Planner/Journal Looks Like Now ...

New journal 13 ** New journal 14

Good Sunday evening, my friends ... I hope you've all had a nice weekend!

Recently I've had a few requests to post about my current planner (slash-journal), and of course I'm happy to do so! But first, a little heads-up ...

This is a really, really long post about a very specific topic (my planner/journal), and it kind of got away from me ... like far, far away from me ... and now the day has grown late and I just don't have time to go back in and tighten it up! So please excuse the size of the post - if you (like me) enjoy looking at and hearing about other people's planners (journals, etc.) then this is the post for you!

(And if not, that's ok, too - I'll see you here another time!)

Now, I've actually had a draft in the works for a while now - but, you know how it is ... my planner wasn't exactly the way I wanted it ... I needed to tweak a few things, find the perfect paper, etc. ... so I kept putting the post off until I could get things "just right. But then I figured, it may not be perfect or polished - but I have been using it consistently, and it has been working pretty well for me ... and for goodness sakes, this blog is all about what's real and "right now" in my life, so I'm not going to put it off any longer!


So, care to join me for some planner show-and-tell?

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First off, here's my little workstation - a spot where I can stash my binders, the file crate, a bills/correspondence basket, my shopping notebook, etc. I'm using two main binders right now - one that stays put (red), and one that I use through the day (aqua).

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Shop talk: These are Martha Stewart binders from Staples. She doesn't have a wide range of colors (I think just black and brown aside from the two colors I chose) but they're well-made and the rings are quiet and smooth. They can also be manipulated one-handed, a very convenient feature for me these days!

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So the red "Homekeeping Journal" holds the following tabs: Blog/Endeavors, Household & Family, Faith & Parish, Meals & Food Planning, Education, Money Matters, Emergency, Correspondence. All information I need, but not necessarily every day.

New journal 14

The aqua "Planner/Journal" holds the following tabs: Monthly Calendars, Seasons, Weekly Planning, Daybook, Journal Index. This is the binder I work in daily and it's almost never to be found in that workstation shown above. I keep it open on the kitchen counter, or dining table or right here on this sunny window sill in the living room ... wherever is most convenient at the time. I refer to it - and use it - throughout the day, which is why I moved my journal pages here. (You might recall how important my journals are to me, so this was a big move. More on that in a minute ...)

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Inside the binder, first: a pretty cover sheet, some vintage alphabet scrapbook paper:

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Next, the months-at-a-glance, with the current month up front:

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These are good old Day-Timer refills - I buy a pack of 12 months for about $15. I have used these for years and no other calendar makes me as happy. Yes, I've tried others (as I've blogged about before) but I keep coming back to the Day-Timer brand because it just looks and feels right. One full month spread across two pages (8.5x11), lightly-lined and generously-sized blocks ... understated shades and a smooth writing surface. It truly does make a difference when your calendar works really well for you in both a practical and aesthetic sense ...

{Some of you will be rolling your eyes at my persnicketiness, while others will be nodding your head knowing just what I mean!}

Now, I'll come back to this section - because this is where I'm actively planning and journaling each day - but very briefly, the rest of my planner is laid out like this:

Seasonal: Brainstorming for each season: holidays, feast days, natural phenomena, little comforts and joys. All the things I weave into our family year.

Weekly Planning: Here's where I keep the planning sheets I use with my weekly file folders. I store them here and then remove one each week to staple to the front of the new week's folder.

Daybook: Journal pages filed for current season.

Journal Index: A dated list of items I'd like to return to - recipes, etc.

Also, because this binder is obviously not pocketbook-friendly, I do use a smaller "pocket" calendar when I am out and about  - at the dentist or hairdresser, etc. I "sync up" this little monthly calendar with just the basics - appts., classes, or events to attend.

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Ok ... still with me?

Here is my current journal page, sandwiched between the February calendar:

New journal 1

On Friday I jotted down notes about the bluebirds we spotted, project plans I want to start, a future post idea, a potential book title ... and I also added a newspaper clipping about the Olympics and a couple of recipes.

As some of you might remember, I've journaled for YEARS and it has almost always been in a very particular (inexpensive) spiral-bound notebook, prettied up with scrapbook paper. I have tons of these notebooks in storage dating back years. Well, as I was analyzing my overall planning routine, I realized that my favorite planning components are the monthly calendar grid and my daily journal, so I decided to build my planner around them.

So now I keep a week's worth of journaling inside the current monthly calendar and at the end of the week I read back over them - add notes to an index - and then file them away. Situated in between the current journal pages, I have a page marker which is a two-sided reminder list of all my daily chores, Monday - Sunday:

New journal 2

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There is a red tab at the top which helps me find my place quickly. This chores list is another neat item to have in front of me on a daily basis because even though I do the same things over and over, it's helpful to have a routine. A day when certain things are done so they actually get done. (And just for the record, the list is out of date because it still applies to our old house. I need to revise it.)

 So what is the journal for, exactlly?

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Well, a little bit of everything, really. I write the date in the margin, wherever I left off the day before (not necessarily a new page - this is like a stream of consciousness), and then anything and everything that comes to mind. I also add little clippings I find in the daily paper and assorted magazines I read. (I read a LOT.) It's a real hodgepodge of thoughts, ideas and memorabilia - and the less eloquent side of me might call it a "brain dump," lol. It's a way of being creative, and preserving the days of the year, and for me, it's a way of capturing our life as it passes.

Now, a question I get a lot is how do I find things that I put in there? Well, originally, the plan was to go through each seasonal journal before the next season arrived. So, right now I'd be combing back through last Winter's journal(s) to remind myself of things to look for or do. This worked relatively well when I had less children and those children were smaller. I seemed to have more time back then to do things like that, but nowadays I just don't have that kind of time. I do love looking back at my journals, but it's something I do on occasion, not as a regular part of my planning routine.

So instead, I use an index. Once a week I look back at the journaling I've done and "forward" any information I need to follow up on. (To-do items I scribbled down, reminders, gardening ideas, etc.) Any recipes or crafts I added to the journal I write down in my index (2.8 - Winter Apricot Tart, Linzer Cookies). 

Another question I get is how do you decide which recipes go in the journal and which get filed with your general recipe collection (or in a particular week's folder)?

Well, yes it's all kind of haphazard, I'll admit - as I said, it's not perfect! But I so love including seasonal things in my journals, and recipes and crafts are a big part of that. "Seasonal" is the key - if it's very seasonal in nature, (and especially if it's pretty to look at) it goes in the journal.

So for example, the two recipes I mentioned above are both very symbolic of this time of year. The apricot tart is made with dried winter fruit (I found it in the Boston Globe's food pages, underneath, "Seasonal Food") and the linzer cookies were part of a Valentine special in People magazine. Both of these recipes sound wonderful for this time of year so I added them to my journal. I also wrote down the information where to find these recipes in my index.

It's probably frustating to hear me describe this because I know it doesn't quite make sense, lol. It's not entirely logical! But hey, it works for me - I love making up these pages with all these bits and pieces of the day ... reflecting the season, my family's life and current news.

I find it very cathartic to journal, even when I'm not expressing deep, soulful thoughts and ideas. (And really, I'm usually not.) It's a creative impulse I have, and the journal really feeds that need in me - to capture my days and create my own reflection of the world around me.


Ok, I'm going to stop here because I really shouldn't keep you any longer. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment below, just keep in mind, I don't mean to offer this planner/journal as something that would be helpful or make sense for someone else. I realize this is intensely personal and unique to my own quirks and needs. But as I said at the top of my post, I know I love to see how other people use their planners whether they'd work for me or not - so I hope you enjoyed this post even if you're shaking your head wondering how on earth I get anything done, lol!

 Well, my friends, thank you so much for allowing me to share all of this with you, and thanks to all for stopping by. I'm sure you have things to get to - as do I - supper and baths and then maybe a little tv before bed. I will have the Downton chat post up early tomorrow but I'll call it right now - I'll be joining you on Tuesday as my bedtime is drawing near!

A pleasant Winter's evening to you all ... see you here again very soon!