So… Here is an update on my quest for organization.

My arsenal has been doing a major flip-flop dance of indecision.  I started out with just a stack of 3×5 index cards bound with Circa/Rolla discs. I kept track mostly of my “Brain Dump” stuff… anything I needed to get done got written down. I was on the right track but had only just started…

I returned to using my weekly moleskine planner – days on the left and a page for notes on the right. I could keep a specific day’s tasks all in one place.. so basically if you follow GTD – I was processing the “Inbox” info into the calendar.

Fast forward to a trip to the new dollar store in the neighborhood. I found a $1 tiny four subject notebook with “Date” printed on the top line near the outer margin. I figured it was worth a try. I knew I wanted to return to circa but wasn’t sure about what I should splurge on… that is dangerous! :)

For the next couple of weeks, I followed a similar pattern of what had been working. To Do’s were listed under the date. I hand drew a square which got checked OR dashed. Checks were done when something was completed and dashes (sometimes an arrow to the right) marked tasks that were moving forward to a later date. I tucked lose papers inside the back cover and had a paperclip back there but never used it. I noted a couple of things.

I definitely have to have “Important Phone Numbers” with me… it saves time and frustration. If i need to renew one of my prescriptions, calling the pharmacy is so much easier when the number is very handy… its even better when you have your doctor’s number right there when you discover the refills have run out. 

I like to keep track of what happens… for example, I like to be able to look at something and see when the last time I fertilized my gardens was… or when I clipped the cats’ claws. 

Weekly format was my favorite for so long… I began to think that perhaps Monthly was the way to go! I think this will be a great help. My job is very time consuming and it eats my weeks. I no longer wonder when I will work or have a varying schedule. Work has its times and I don’t have to track them. 

A stop over at revealed that Compact circa notebooks with 300 page refills were on sale for just under $10 usd! I jumped on that and placed my order. I have a zip folio in compact already… and I found monthly 6 ring refills in the 3-3/4 by 6-3/4 inch size for just 50 cents. 

Today I took time to get my planner ready. Here is how everything is set up:

  • first just behind the levenger provided graphic cover is a 3/5 pocket. I plan on keep my current shopping list in there… for groceries or what have you.
  • next is one of the levenger sleeves to hold random pieces of small paper… or even the odd 3×5 index card.
  •  pink tab divider… one of the soft color ones… nice way to signify the first page of my “Brain Dump.” I don’t really follow GTD strictly BUT I really recommend getting things out of your mind and onto paper… once its written down, you can focus on execution and planning steps – not waste time remembering the one thing. And how many times have you forgotten something you really meant to recall?
  • “To Do” page… I like to consider it my MANDATORY To Do’s … no if, ands, or buts,… these items must be completed regardless. For awhile, I would just not do my To Do’s and they piled up… I had the same items on my list for weeks and then the list was messy and I have so many checked off in front of the undone ones that I would forget the unchecked ones… it wasn’t working. This “Mandatory To Do” list has helped me focus.
  • I included a “What I Did Today” type of page. I like this so I have a record of what the heck happened. I like to know when Matt and I took Iggy to the harbor for a walk or over to my parents for a visit or when we had a night out. Sounds goofy but I hate not being able to differentiate my days… this helps tremendously.
  • the next chunk of pages are blank levenger pages. ready for headings as needed.
  • Next tab divider separates the front from the back ‘reference’ area.
  • Important Numbers – all the phone numbers that are just easier to have with me. “in case”
  • Bill tracker. I keep track of what bills is due when for how much and when I pay it. Great way to keep my mind at ease. I’ve used this format for the majority of the year and I love it.
  • “Someday / Maybe” will be familiar to all GTD users. I like having this option to let projects or ‘to do’s incubate… especially if I’m not going to get to them immediately. They aren’t cluttering up my to do list but still are documented.
  • List of “Books To Read” for all those titles I want to remember while at the library. I update the new york best seller list in the magazine and have added a few from that too :)
  • Gift Log… I want to keep track of what I get for who and for what occasion to alleviate the “you got me the same thing last year” syndrome. 
  • Monthly tabbed calendar – Cambridge refill for 50 cents! my greatest addition (or at least as I foresee it). Lovely way to see the Big Picture. I have weekends and wednesdays off – if i need to get a birthday card or remember an appointment, its best to see it sooner than the week of. I circa/rolla punched right on the same edge as the 6 hole punches and they still work great. I need to find my stash of 6 ring refills from the ‘old days’ and see what’s useable :D

A fun little thing I did today – I used the manual typewriter Matt and I pulled out of the trash down the block to put the headings on my Levenger pages. It looks great and I think it was a nice way to start things off.  I’ll see if I can get some pictures soon. Lets hope this is the beginning of my new oasis of organization!