Organizing a Disorganized Life – Planner Edition

I’ve always been a pretty organized adult. My late twenties were probably the height of my organizational skills. I had a paper planner with each dinner, vacation, social event and (frequent) gym visit highlighted. As I turned thirty and my first child was born things started heading downhill, if only slightly. I returned to work at only 30 hours a week and maintained that schedule (plus furlough days) through my younger child’s infancy. I struggled like any new mom, but the reduced hours of my not super demanding job helped keep me on track for the most part. Fast forward two and a half years and I am now working full time while my husband works full time plus lots of extra gigs and it’s getting difficult to juggle all the little details like when it’s our turn to bring snack to first grade or remembering to make the dentist appointments.

Recently I found myself surrounded by scrap pieces of paper and post it note to do lists. Long ago I abandoned my paper planner for a Google calendar and I’ve never adopted an electronic to do list that really did it for me. There’s something about crossing something off a hard copy list but the sticky notes were getting out of control. So I purchased a portfolio planner without dates – just blank pages. I use it as a wallet as well. I take it everywhere with me and I make sure to always have a pen. I have a page for TODAY and another each for SHORT TERM and LONG TERM. I have pages for music, books, wish list items, grocery list, etc. Anytime there’s something I want to read, research or remember to do, I have a place to jot it down. There’s something about just having somewhere to dump my brain in a somewhat organized fashion that’s make me feel just a tiny bit less scattered.

Originally I wanted something prettier, more inspiring. I did online searches and came up with a bunch of prayer type planners – not what I was looking for. Or they would look neat, but be very expensive and overkill – filled with lots of fancy stickers and extra pages. What I wouldn’t give to go spend the afternoon shopping at a store just filled with planners and journals. I’d love to look through each one and find the perfect one for my crazy life. I am a special kind of dork. (Tell me this kind of store exists?)

For now, my simple planner is working for me. It helped me get ready for hosting Thanksgiving (how is it that time of year already?). I’ve started new pages/lists for the holidays – pages like a list of people I don’t want to forget to thank (violin teacher, bus driver, art teacher, etc.). It’s amazing how much better a small notebook filled with lined paper can make me feel. I’m not fooling myself – most days I can feel that I’m teetering on the edge – with all the things about to come crashing down, but at least with the planner I know what I’m dealing with when I have to pick up the pieces. This tiny tangible object and its blank pages have made me feel just a little bit in control of the chaos.

What do you do to keep all the little details in order? I’m always open to new ideas for keeping life organized.

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