Things I love: Planning and Organization

For many years I eagerly anticipated September, not just because it meant a new school year (like Hermione in the Harry Potter books, I was a confirmed know-it-all), but also because I loved all of the organization paraphernalia that went along with a new school year. New pencils, blank notebooks, perfect binders, a new box of crayons, etc. All of these things made my heart sing with joy.

When I graduated from college, I had to replace those lovely paper products somehow and turned to planners and calendars to scratch my paper/organization itch. I started with a fairly straightforward planner I found at a office supply store. Several years later, as a new mother, I found a lovely bound book for Christian women. One year I used a calendar I had bought at a museum shop, several years I used a Franklin Covey planner, and another year I downloaded one and put the printout in a binder for that year.

Then came the electronic age and a new smartphone. Suddenly I had a calendar that went everywhere with me and had multiple apps to keep track of my schedule, my task list, and notes. So last year I decided to go paperless. I downloaded Evernote for note-taking and a calendar app, which combined my two google calendars (personal and work) and my iPhone calendar as well as my task list.

I wish I could say that I am now proudly paperless, but I didn’t last very long without paper. I found myself writing down lists on the backs of envelopes (and promptly losing them), taking notes on pieces of paper that then floated away into a stack of loose paper, taking sermon notes on the weekly bulletin and sticking it in my Bible until I could hardly close it, and generally being completely disorganized.

Last spring I heard about bullet journals from a friend and since I had an extra blank notebook, I created a bullet journal. Some things I really liked about it: I could put anything I wanted in it—task lists, books to read, blog post ideas, sermon notes, work notes, menus, etc. However, I didn’t like the fact that I could never find anything without going to the index in the front and then turning to the page. It was annoying. I decided that I really liked the binder idea because I could put tabs in for different categories, but I didn’t like a full-sized binder.

My problem was solved when I discovered the Arc notebook system at Staples. I found a 9 x 6 notebook on sale and bought it. I can print out my own pages (there are numerous sites with free forms although I could also create custom forms in Word, if I want something I can’t find), put tabs between sections, and only have the categories I need without a bunch of things I will never use.

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The best part is that since it is completely customized, I was able to start using it immediately rather than wait until January 1—a definite plus. In addition, it has that new paper and notebook smell that is uniquely tied to Fall and the beginning of the school year. This new planner pleases me in so many ways that I’m bound to use it, if only to have the privilege of writing on a fresh page each day.

How do you like to plan? Do you use paper, electronic, or a hybrid?