Monday, January 3, 2011

A new year - a new planner

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

My two goals this year were simplicity and moderation. I think both goals were met. While we had lots of family gatherings, several evenings spent caroling and other Christmas events, the overwhelming feeling of the past weeks has been one of fun and relaxation. There is so many things I like to make and do that it took effort to put things aside and say "that doesn't need to be done". But the result was sure worth it. Frazzled panicked stress does not look well on a mom and my children didn't miss any of the things that I crossed off the list.

Now we are into a new year which means I get to start a new planner!

I love office supplies and the prospect of a new notebook and set of pens make me giddy. (Weird, I know.) I've used a planner for several years and now rely on it to keep me sane. My use of a planner has evolved over the years and I thought I'd just show you how I get my planner ready for a new year.

I use The Time Keeper. I find it the perfect planner for a homemaker. But for several years I made up my own simple planner and had it coil bind at a print shop. You use any weekly planner you have handy.

My husband likes to use Google Calendar. It allows him to keep separate yet combined calendars for different areas of life (work, church,etc) and share calendars with others. It will even email him when there is an event (like a birthday) coming up. It works well if you are online consistently but I like the freedom of letting the computer unplugged for a day if I wish, so prefer a paper copy of a planner. Plus it is just pretty! And if something is beautiful, I'm much more inclined to use it!

The first thing I did was brainstorm every scheduled event that I could think of - appointments, church events, volunteer schedules, family reunions, and so forth. On the monthly calendar pages, I listed all the scheduled events and appointments that I presently had information on. If I knew an event would happen in a certain month, but didn't have the date yet, I jotted it on that month's side column. For example, there is a couple great used book sales that I don't want to miss and hopefully jotting them on their proper month will remind me to make a phone call and find the correct dates.

I like to have events listed on the monthly calendar pages instead of the weekly pages. Ed often likes to plan his vacation time far in advance. If he asks me what weekends in October are open, I want to be ready with a quick answer. Each weekend, I copy over the needed information from the monthly calendar to the weekly calendar when Ed and I plan out the week.

I like to use different colored pens in my planner. It helps me find and use the information better. Or maybe it is just how my brain sees things. I write all events in black or blue pen.

Next I take a red pen and write in birthdays and anniversaries. I find it works best to record these on the weekly pages. I'm terrible at remembering birthdays. I have even forgotten my own siblings. Every year I aim to do better so, of course, at this point I'm optimistic.

I use a green pen for gardening information. I have a gardening notebook but have found that having it in my weekly calendar is extremely helpful. I have a simple schedule worked out with planting goals for each vegetable. I just jot down a note of what I want to plant and whether it is indoors, in the hoop house, or directly in the garden. Of course, weather will play a big part in whether it actually happens on the week I listed it but at least I don't have to keep looking up the information or completely forget to plant the potatoes. I don't record much harvesting information because it varies widely and I am in no danger of forgetting to check the asparagus or sweet corn. I only mark down things like garlic that take almost no care through the season and I truly might forget to pick at the right time.

I keep my green pen handy to my planner and throughout the year continue to jot down notes. Since it is in a different color it is easy to find when we had our first tomato, our first frost, or how many pumpkins we picked.

The last thing in the planner was to start filling the empty pages in the back. The Time Keeper comes with several blank pages for notes. I like to give several pages headings to have a place for miscellaneous information. My heading so far include:
2012 Planning Ahead page - to jot down that dentist appointment, etc
Children  - for funny things they say or do
Yard Sale - things I'd like to find and sizes of the children
Home Joys - blog ideas
Master Cleaning Chart

For a master cleaning chart, I drew vertical lines down the page. Across the top I labeled every room of our house (kitchen, bedroom, basement, etc). Along the side, I listed all the specific areas of a room (windows, curtains, closet, etc) House cleaning is not my favorite task and rarely do I find or make the time to do a full house cleaning. I like a list like this so that when inspiration hits and I do work on an area or room, I can check it off the list. Hopefully, I'll get around the whole house some time in the next year. If I actually get spring and fall cleaning done, I'll just put a double slash in the boxes. (And for those of you who wash your windows monthly, don't come to my house without wearing sunglasses. Or better yet, bring your cleaning supplies and come help me!)

Also in the back of the planner, I have a goal list for the year. This isn't anything deep or intense, just things Ed and I jotted down when we talked about what we want to get done this next year. It may be a project in the house, something we want to do with the children, or friends we haven't seen for a while. Sometimes we write down a savings goal, something new we want to learn, or a plan such as begin practicing our instruments again. I wouldn't really call them resolutions, though maybe that is what they are. We try to keep them attainable and measurable, not a vague "be more patient" kind of goal. It is interesting to look at our goal lists from other years and see some progress - and also some listings that are repeated year after year.

I'd love to hear how you plan for the coming year. Each year I become a little more organized (out of necessity, I think). Maybe in 30 years I'll truly have it all together in homemaking! And if you read this post and I gave you some sort of false idea that I'm an organized, pulled together person, I am really sorry. My usual method would be better described as fly by the seat of my pants, wait until last minute, get it done by the force of adrenaline and the stress of a deadline. I've spent the last ten years learning that a little prior planning makes a lot happier household AND happier mom but I sure have lots more to learn.


  1. Thanks for this post. I remember reading the original post about your new planner and thinking it would be nice. I have been praying about this year and my goal to be more proactive in my home management instead of reactive! I appreciate your insight and honesty. With a new 2-month old, 1-year old and the two older kids I am apprehensive about "keeping it together". But, I am a list person, and have tried the digital calendars and they just don't work for me! I am on the computer less than ever. I had a paypal credit I was able to use for this planner and am looking forward to receiving it!

  2. I got my wife one of these for her birthday this past month. She also uses google calendar a little bit, but it will be interesting to see if she uses the Time Keeper. Hopefully your post will help, thanks!

  3. I just ordered this planner! Hope I like it:)

  4. Like Ed I have gone electronic. Since I have to go on the computer each day for the dairy and get news from my sons oversees I figure why not use the goggle calendar? It works well for me, from how many eggs I get each day to long ranged projects and I can go back year after year at a glance.

  5. I love this post! I adore details and plans.
    I especially like having yearly goals - I think I'll bring that up at my next "business meeting" with my husband (yes, we do that, and we take minutes too!).

    We've been using google calendars for a few years now - it was necessary when my husband was making work appointments. Now we find it convenient. I do keep a paper planner as well and try (not always successfully) to keep the calendars in sync.

    I do a house cleaning system similar to yours - got the ideas from FlyLady.

  6. Thanks for inspiring me to get a planner and be organized.

  7. I got the Time Keeper also, when you mentioned it earlier. I like it already. I am such a winger and do what needs done next but I want to get more organized. With more children, it seems like a must. So my goals this year are order and discipline. Thanks for the post.

  8. Ahh!! I love the Time Keeper! It's awesome!!!!

  9. I have a 24 hr planner from Debden diaries, and I find it great. It's designed by a phsycologist (I can never spell that) who specialises in stress disorders. I find it's great, if I remember to write everything in it

  10. Thanks for the inspiring, encouraging post. I love to read and write, but seem to have difficulty in putting them both to use in such a thing as a planner, which I need! I have a small farm and business and really need to keep much better records than I do. The Time Keeper sounds nice.

  11. LOVE the idea of using different colored pens! That would so work for me.


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