Sunday, October 20, 2013

In Search of the Ultimate Inserts

My Search for the Ultimate Inserts

I have been on a quest lately. A quest to combine my work planner (currently an A5 Red Finchley Filofax with the Time Management Inserts -A week on 2 pages) with my personal planner (currently a personal size Orange Osterley). I began this quest because I love the portability of my personal size planner and was afraid I was double booking things as I am not one to go and put my dates in to both planners.  Here's a photo of my A5 pages:

So, the first thing I figured I would need to do was get a personal size planner with larger rings so I could include things in the personal planner that I normally would have kept in the A5, like projects, meeting notes, etc.  Surprisingly, it did not take very long to locate one.  I posted that I was in search of a Cavendish or a Portland Grand on the Filofax and Pens for sale site on Facebook and on the Sell Swap Source page on Facebook.  I was fortunate to have a "friend" that found one on the UK eBay site pretty quickly and it was even listed as a Buy It Now. So I snatched it up and waited patiently for it's arrival.
It was perfect!  A deep Navy Blue Cavendish with 30mm rings!  I could fit so much stuff in it.  Now to search for inserts.  The next step was to find the perfect inserts that would allow me to combine my work and personal lives into one.
First I tried to go to a day on two pages with notes.  It had a column for appointments, a column for tasks/to do's and a whole page dedicated to notes.  However, I found that having a week at a glance was really important to me so I could see upcoming important deadlines.  I kept having to put out fires rather than be proactive and prevent them from the beginning.
The next set was a brand made by the lovely Piaric (on Facebook). They are simplistic but I found there wasn't much space to decorate which I missed from the original set that Filofax  includes with their planners.  Here is a page I used to decorate.

And here is a picture of one of the Piaric week's. As you can see here, it had a column for work, personal and home.  In the home section, I would include chores and meals.  Personal would include birthdays and personal appointments and of coarse, work would have my work appointments.  There is also a section for to do's. What I found was that I really didn't like having my work life intertwined with my personal life and there wasn't really any room to decorate. With only the hole reinforcements as the only thing I could really dress up.

So, then I decided to go back to a more personal style but one that could be prettier.  So, I tried rainbow planner.  Although, it has very pretty paper, it gobbles up ink to print it yourself and it's almost too much color going on.  Distracting me from my actual schedule.  It has columns for To do's, chores, menu and reminders.  I put birthdays in the reminder section, and all the rest are pretty self-explanatory.
Again, too much color going on here to suit my needs.  I've also tried the Gillio inserts.  They have the cream colored pages and are lined, similar to Filofax brand cotton cream inserts.  I like the lined pages as I like order in my writing.

The last set I would try would be DIY Fish from Etsy.  You can buy a complete set that includes monthly calendar pages, a week on 2 pages, daily pages, To-do pages, Income and Expense Tracker and more.  Colorful in a grid like pattern.
I am really hoping this set will do it for me.  However, if worst comes to worse I can always return to the original set I started with - the Filofax brand week on 2 pages and start decorating again.  As far as my work planner goes, I am back in my A5 Red Finchley for now. It just seems to work with the amount of space for notes, keeping track of appointments, etc.  Maybe I am just a stationery addict and should just admit the fact that I will always be in search of a better insert, a better planner and so on.  Oh well, on to the next insert for now.  I hope that one of these inserts might be the one you are looking for.  Until next time, take care!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Organize Your Priorities

Does it ever feel like you spend all of your time doing but not living?  With all the work and personal responsibilities we each face, it's no wonder its difficult to prioritize.  Sometimes, we just lose sight of what we are really living for.
It can be easy to lose sight of what is really important when dealing with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  That is why it is so important to add your priorities to the list of things to organize.  If you take the time to organize your priorities, you will have a much better chance of sticking to them.

Ask yourself: What and who is important to me?  What motivates me? What do I want to accomplish in my life?  If I could do anything with my life, what would it be?

Make a list of your top ten priorities. These should include what is important to you.  If you don't decide what they are, others will decide them for you.  Post this list in your Filofax or wherever you will look and review it on a regular basis.

Make a list of all the activities in which you participate then compare this list with your top ten priorities.  Decide on the activities that can be eliminated to make time for your top ten.  Focus on cutting out activities that take your time but don't bring you happiness.

Right now, schedule time in your planner to contribute to your priorities. These may include:

  • A phone call to a friend you need to catch up with
  • Sit-down dinners with your family
  • Family movie or game night
  • Time to exercise
  • A date with your spouse or significant other
  • Reading time for yourself 
  • Time to read to your children
  • Craft time or time to work on a project
Learn to say No!  Set boundaries when needed to help you stick to your top ten priorities.

Honor your priorities every day.

If you need some ideas, here are some of the things that I have to add time in my planner for or they will never get done:
  • Bible Study (20-30 minutes each day)
  • Reading a good book (20-30 minutes a few times a week)
  • A date night with hubby (I try to at least once a week)
  • A Mommy and Me day/outing with one of my kids (once or twice a month)
  • Cleaning projects/ organizing a different area of the home that needs a little more attention
  • Baking - an hour a week - to give the family a home cooked treat
Some tips: 
  • Refer to your priorities list often - keep it up front where it will remind you not to let other things take over
  • Minimize your time that is spent with negative people
  • Don't forget to pray
  • Make a list of things you and your family enjoy doing that costs very little or no money, and then try to add these into your schedule and make time for them.  Google it if your need some ideas to get you started or check out this blog

Monday, July 22, 2013

Organize Your Cleaning Schedule

If you hate cleaning, think of it as a way to get in your weekly exercise.  Because if there is anything I hate more it is knowing I need to exercise.  As I am running around the house, pushing the vacuum cleaner or scrubbing the shower doors, I try to remind myself that all this work is burning those calories up!  If that's not motivation enough for you - here are some simple tips and tricks I use to help my cleaning routine run more smoothly.  This won't work for everyone, but use what does work best for you and your family and stick with it.

If you are overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning your house needs, consider hiring some help.  If you can't afford to hire someone on a regular basis, then hire a professional for the big jobs like cleaning out the garage or shampooing the carpets.  Staying on top of your cleaning is crucial to staying organized.

First, start off by making a list of all the chores that need to be done around the house.  Break them down into daily, weekly and monthly to do's.  Then create a chore chart and have a family meeting to delegate the jobs.  Post the chart so everyone can see it on a daily basis.  I keep a master list in my Filofax.  The Daily Chores tend to be the same thing everyday.  That's what makes them daily!  For me, that includes making the bed, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the sink and counter tops, washing the bathroom sinks and picking up misplaced items and putting them back where they belong. For the weekly chores, I tend to do these on the same day each week.  So, I always write in on my Monday calendar that I need to get the vacuuming done (which includes the hallways and Master Bedroom) and the Laundry.  So I get started on the laundry early and change the load about once every hour.  Tuesday's is the day I clean all the mirrors, pictures and tables in the house.  Wednesday's I clean the bathroom and pick up the backyard of dog waste.  Thursday's I sweep and mop the living room and kitchen, I mail bills, and clean the couch cushions.  On Fridays, I clean the Kitchen and sweep the front entry and the garage.  And finally, on Saturdays, I wash the linens and cut coupons and go grocery shopping and run errands.

Carry a basket around the house while you are cleaning.  If you find something that does not belong in the room you are cleaning, put it in the basket and later put it where it belongs.  This saves you tons of time by cutting down on the trips around the house - but don't forget to empty the basket every time you clean, or it will become another clutter collector for you to worry about.

Take fifteen minutes each night to straighten up the house.  Try and make it a family chore by assigning each person a different room and list this on the chore chart.

Clean one room or finish one chore each day.  This will save you from wasting your entire Saturday or Sunday cleaning everything.

Assign each family member his or her own towel for the entire week.  This will cut down on laundry and color-coding is the easiest way to tell them apart.  Since I don't have anyone to assign chores to for the moment, I use a different colored terry cloth for different chores.  My blue towel is used for cleaning glass windows, mirrors and pictures.  The brown towel I use for polishing tables and furniture. And the green towel is used for kitchen and bathroom counters, polishing sinks and steel appliances.

Place a set of disposable disinfecting wipes in each bathroom so every time you go in, you make a habit of wiping the counter or sink or toilet top, etc.  Making each trip into the bathroom an easier job than the last.  They are also great for cleaning up globs of toothpaste and cleaning up accidents left by younger members of the family around the toilet.

Save space by minimizing cleaners.  Start by buying all-purpose cleaners or make your own whenever possible.  (I'll link a list of handmade cleaning products I've made that work wonderfully on my next post.)

If there is a chore that no one like, rotate the chore each week or each month.

Make your bed every day before you leave and teach your kids to do the same.  There is nothing nicer than coming home after a long day and finding a neatly made bed just waiting for you!

Clean the kitchen counters and wash or load the dishes in to the dishwasher immediately following dinner.  Food begins setting in the dishes as soon as it begins to cool.  The sooner you clean these dishes out, the less stuck on food you have to deal with by letting it sit until morning.

As you clean a room, work from the top to the bottom so you don't waste time backtracking.

Carry one large garbage can around the house while cleaning and empty all the smaller ones into it instead of carrying the smaller ones to the large can, eliminating the amount of trips.

Let your children choose what day of the week they will clean their room.

Play music while cleaning.  It will energize you while organize and clean.

Do chores in bulk.  For example, don't pull out the iron to press just one or two shirts.  Wait until you have at least a week's worth of items to do.

I've taken some pictures of different ways I've organized my chores.  Maybe one of these methods might work for you!

The pictures above are a clear credit card holder/business card holder.  I used my label maker to print out my weekly chores and assigned a day to them on the left.  As I completed each chore, I used a dry erase marker to cross it off.  Then at the end of the week, I wiped it off with a dry paper towel and moved the card holder to the next week in my planner.

In this next set, I tried to impart on the FlyLady methodology.  So, to keep up with it, I wrote out each Zone and what it included on a separate index card.  I store all the cards in the inside pocket of my Filofax or on my dashboard (Flyleaf).  Then, when the Sunday email arrived indicating what Zone would be worked on this week - I would move that Zone's card to the middle of my weekly pages.  I intend to laminate them so I can tick them off similar to the method I used with the credit card holder.

I've also created my own cleaning sheets in Word, but tended not to look at them if it wasn't in my Filofax - so they have fallen by the wayside for now.  Well, I hope your find these tips and suggestions useful in organizing your cleaning schedule.  Happy cleaning and happy calories burning!  LOL 

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Organize Your Schedule

Hello everyone!  I thought I'd do this next post about how to organize your schedule.  For me, that was difficult to do and I needed a starting point.  So, I have gathered my best tips and suggestions and hope you find them useful as well.

By organizing your schedule, you are choosing to spend your time wisely and in doing so will reduce stress, you’ll feel more fulfilled at the end of the day when you can look back on what you've accomplished, and be able to spend more time on the things you want to do, rather than the things you "have" to do.  Take charge by taking back control of your schedule.

Things left undone will only linger in the back of your mind.  Constantly trying to remember things is exhausting.  Make a To Do list to free you from forgetting what needs to be done.  It'll also help you plan your day, so you have enough time to complete them.  

☐    First, buy one daily planner to use for both work and your personal life.  Using more than one leaves room for overlapping appointments and confusion.

☐    Sit down with your family and plan your week or even the month ahead so you can:
  • Divide errands
  • Divide chores
  • Plan meals
  • Schedule a babysitter as needed
  • Plan for driving arrangements for activities

 ☐    Gather all your To Do items from calendars, sticky notes and scraps of paper (including the ones you have in your head!) and create a To Do list that you will keep in your planner.  Make sure you make this list as complete as you possibly can.

☐    Sort your To Do list by:
  1. Tasks that must be done today (pay gas bill, schedule doctor visit).  Schedule these in your planner.
  2. Takes that must be done this week (Mail a package, call to schedule Tune-up).  Schedule these in your planner.
  3. Tasks that you would like to get done, but do not have an immediate requirement.  Something that needs to get done in the future (organize yard sale, lunch with friends)
 ☐          Once you’ve sorted your To Do’s into one of the categories listed above, number the tasks in each group, in order of how they should be completed.  That way, if you get all the Tasks in Group 1 (Today’s) finished, you can begin working on the list in your 2 group (This week).  If you do not finish everything in you’re a list, make sure they have top priority in tomorrow’s list of To Do’s.

☐          Schedule all of your Doctor’s, Dental and even Veterinarian appointments for the next year.  Try to schedule doctor and dental appointments back-to-back so you won’t have to make as many trips.

☐          Keep a small pad of paper or notepad on your nightstand for those times when you think of something while your mind is trying to wind down for the night.  Make sure you transfer them to your To Do list in the morning.

☐          Use a page of your planner for a Master To Do list.  This could include cleaning routines (daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual and annual), gifts that need to be purchased for upcoming birthdays’, books you want to read, movies you’d like to see,  This frees you from having to remember later.

Some Tips:
  • Don’t put more tasks than you can realistically accomplish in one day.  I typically draw a line -that is my indicator that this (above the line) is what I can accomplish today and anything below the line is for the next day.  All new incoming items are then added to what is below that line.
  • Schedule meetings with a beginning and an end date.  Account for the time it will take to prepare for that meeting or time it might take to get to the meeting.
  • Schedule your errands based on where you’ll be to avoid wasting time driving to different locations.
  • Whenever possible, schedule appointments for first thing in the morning.  As the day progresses, there is greater chance for cancellations and/or delays.
  • Break down projects in to smaller, easier tasks.  For example, instead of putting a To Do of “refinish table”, write down every step needed to accomplish this task – buy tools for refinishing table (sanding paper, paint, primer, rags, etc), clean table, sand and prime table, paint table, put second coat, seal the table.  Then put a deadline for each task and work to complete each one, accomplishing one each day if needed.

Staying Organized

Once a month

☐          Pick a task from your group 3 tasks (future tasks) and schedule it in your planner.

☐          Schedule time to take a break if you find that you are always on the go.  We need time to     refresh.

☐          Schedule dates with your partner, children and the people who are closest to you.

Every 3-6 months

☐          Review your C group tasks and set final deadlines for To Do’s that have been left undone since your last review.

Once a Year

☐          In September, write down everything you did not accomplish over the summer but wanted to.   Add these to your new planner, when you’ve ordered the new one for next year.

☐          When you receive your new planner, transfer all birthdays, anniversaries and appointments to the new one.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Life so far with my Filofax

Well, it's been a little over a month since I initially purchased my first Filofax.  And it has been an exciting month, getting familiar with all the abundant tools, suggestions and ideas I have received.  Trying things that work and then things - not so much!  But that's okay!  That's the beauty of my Filofax.  You can change it as many times as you see fit to make it work for YOU!

I currently use three different Filofaxes.  One A5, which is my primary work planner.  In it I track my multitude of projects, take detailed notes and manage my daily and weekly To Do's.  I don't have time to decorate her at all.  The most I ever use for any type of decoration are colored pens to help make things POP from the page. I currently use the Time Management Filiofax pages found on the Filofax UK website.  I love the pages because they use a week on two pages format, however they also contain sections to write down Priority Activities, a Phone, Write, Fax, Email section, along with an Expenses section, Personal and Delegation Reminders and a large section to write Next Actions or To Do's.  Perfect for my Project Management role at work.  Since I primarily work from home, the A5 planner (nicknamed Rachael Berry due to the Raspberry color) never leaves my desk.  I also use her to do my personal bill paying - so I keep my checkbook and finance pages are held in the back.  Blog ideas are sometimes held in here as well.

I use a Personal Crimson Malden as my EDC (everyday carry) and it is where I spend the majority of my time (at least when I am not working).  I would say I use my personal planner, more as a diary more than a schedule planner/organizer.  Yes, I have my birthday's and major events in here, but I typically use my days in the calendar to document daily quotes, what the weather was like or anything exciting that may have happened that day.  I also use it to document my grocery shopping, my fitness and food journal, my lists for products I want to try, recipes I have found, gift ideas for various members of my family, plus addresses of other Filofax "friends", personal info, etc.  I really, really love holding her and dressing her up each week using washi tape and stickers and making my own dividers.  Isn't she a beauty?

The last one I use all the time is my Compact Metropol in Red.  I do not use this as a Filofax, rather as a wallet.  I have all my credit cards, store reward cards, gift cards and the lot all inside her.  I even included a small keyring attached to the rings at the bottom with all of those miscellaneous miniature store cards for easy flashing at the register.  I agree, that the weight of carrying both a personal Filofax stuffed to the gills and a Compact Filofax stuffed with heavy debt-laden credit cards can do a number on my back and elbow from carrying these in my bag while I am out.  The only benefit is I am not out that often or for that long to really be a bother to me yet.

I did just purchase three pocket sized Malden's (crimson, ochre and purple) to try to use that as a wallet instead of the compact.  I actually am waiting for the doorbell to ring from my friendly neighborhood UPS delivery man as we speak.  A follow-up post will follow, you can be sure of that.  In the meantime, grab yourself a cool drink - sit back and enjoy the view of my lovely family of Filofaxes and stay a spell.  Until next time......

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Filofax, really????

I think I have been on a quest to find the one thing that will keep me organized for as long as I can remember.  Being the Techy type, you'd thing my choices might revolved around an iPhone, Blackberry, iPad, Macbook or something in the same category.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE TECHNOLOGY!  Innovation especially!  I can spend hours upon hours, reading various technology stories being published on Cult of Mac and Pad Gadget, etc.  But, as I'm sure I am not the first to say it - My brain requires that I write things down in order to continue and maintain order in my life.

Whether it be a running to do list, or keeping a full on calendar - I always have some system that is always being tweaked in one way or another.  A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Flipboard on my iPad mini, when out of nowhere, I entered a search for Filofax.  Well, that one search opened the flood gates.  I have been obsessed with them ever since.

I loved that no matter where I turned, there was someone showing off their Filofax.  I would go onto Pinterest and there would be hundreds and hundreds of people showing off their setup of their Filofax, or even as simple as people posting video's of opening the box when they received theirs.  At first, I chuckled.  I thought maybe these folks might have lost a few marbles along the way.  But, the more I continued to come across these "obsessed" people in Youtube, Pinterest, Blogs, etc the more I realized these people knew what they were taking about.  These were not those currently fascinated with the newest trends, but people who were die-hard, devoted Filofax users.

Well, after what felt like an eternity (it was only a few weeks), I had determined that I had to have one and even decided on the model.  Remember, I had a lot of suggestions, reviews and video tutorials to help me make my decision.  I purchased my first one from, and it was a beauty!  An A5, Raspberry Finsbury.  I was so excited when I got the email a few minutes later confirming my order.  But, it was short lived.  At 3am, I received another email that the order was on a short wait while they retreived  it from their warehouse.  Oh, ok, that shouldn't be too bad.  By 9am, I received another  email alerting me that the order was on backorder and was not expected until the first week of May.  That meant I would have to wait another few weeks!  Ugh!  I didn't let that stop me.

Through a newly found Facebook group, I mentioned my desire to purchase one and found a seller quite quickly!  Within a week, I had my new Filofax!  This Filofax was beautiful!  And the seller even included some of her own hand-made dividers for me!  They were gorgeous!  Well, that week I also purchased a personal size Crimson Malden from a local store here.  Now, I use the personal Malden (nicknamed Maurice) for things like grocery shopping lists, cleaning schedules, school related items and inspirational quotes and such.  I use the A5 Finsbury (nicknamed Rachael Berry) for Work related items and for my Finances.  I like keeping them separate and since I work from home, I don't need to worry about carrying around two FiloFaxes wherever I go.

I've also purchased a personal size Kendal in brown and a compact Metropol in red, along with two pocket Domino's (one in ultra violet and the other black).  Just think, a few weeks ago I had none and now I have more than I can handle.  And I still want more!  Heaven, help me!  Here are a few pics of my Filofax Family!