I've finally made it back here tonight, having worked on this in spurts today. My day did eventually improve from its rough start this morning. I actually caused it to 'start again' by whipping up another latte! It was definitely a two-latte morning!! Seven loads of laundry, lunch sweets baked, beef stew dinner, sweeping, erranding … all behind me now …
On to our Simply Living conversation for today … It's all about TIME and I certainly needed a reminder today!
Is it really possible to manage time? I have heard it said that you can't manage time, but can only manage yourself. I think the intent of this statement is that a person must manage the use of time which often takes discipline in order to accomplish goals, therefore the management of one's self. I have no studies to quote nor statistics to offer, but I would be surprised if those who use a calendar or planner of some sort aren't the most disciplined and accomplished among us.
I think I first starting using a planner when I went to college. I'm very much a visual learner and to see my class schedule, assignments, and work schedule laid out on paper was really beneficial in allowing me to know where to find pockets of time for other things—things I WANTED to do! I continued this habit into marriage and having children and it's a good thing that I did! I used it to track their 'firsts', to keep tabs on doctor's appointments and vaccines, and to plan menus and playdates.
By the time they were starting school, I was really looking for a better resource, though, for keeping track of all the things that a mom has to keep track of. It seemed that every time that I registered a kid for school, or signed them up for a sport, or filled out paper work at the doctor's, I needed information that I didn't have easily available. I tried many different planners, but none of them were suited for a mom's life. I supposed it wasn't generally accepted to have a planner specifically for a mom, but it was definitely something that I needed. So I repurposed forms from other planners and created some of my own stuff, too. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than nothing.
Enter the Crazy Lady Planner! I first came across this planner when I lived in Utah and thought that the company had since gone out of business. A little search on the internet proved me wrong, and I'm sure they no longer operate out of the garage where I first purchased my pages! This planner was a god-send at the time, addressing all the issues that I was having. There was, of course, a calendar, but there were pages to keep track of everything from addresses to grocery lists, from holiday planning to Kid Quote Pages, from a Data Keeper to a Holiday Gift List, from Home Inventory to Business Goals. Besides all that, you could customize your own book! I don't even know how long I used that system, but I know it really served its purpose for me!
After moving to the NW, my husband challenged me with the idea of going digital. I've already said that I am a visual learner. I liked my paper planner. I liked the feel of it, I liked writing out lists (because I have a thing about being able to check things off!), and I love pretty pens. When we moved here, my husband was given a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) by the company and he offered me his old one (from the OTHER company). I refused him at first … happy, remember?! I liked paper! He then challenged me to give it 30 days and if I still wanted paper, I could always go back.
So I was launched into the digital world with full force. I found after the first evening of messing with that dang thing that I would never go back to a paper calendar again if I could help it! I could customize this small piece of technology just like I had customized my "Mom Planner". My back and shoulders have been saved so much pain from not carrying around a paper calendar any more! My first PDA was a Palm, as was my second one. I learned how to set up the same pages in my Palm that I had had in my Crazy Lady Planner. I learned how to set recurring appointments and to set alarms to remind me of things I should be paying attention to. A huge benefit to me was that I didn't have to write in all the birthdays every year. In my paper world, I would invariably write a birthday in the wrong month and then I would have to scratch it out and my page was no longer pretty and neat. This was, yes, an issue for me! On my desktop, I use Outlook and it syncs seamlessly with my Blackberry, as it did with my Palm, so that if I make changes in either place, it will make the update on the opposite device when they are plugged together. No more spending New Year's Day writing in birthdays for the next year! AND all my addresses stay alphabetized and neat. I could also put my Home Chores in my Palm and set them on recurring and with an alarm, if desired, to keep track of things in my Chore Box … remember the one I showed you last week?
Over the last maybe three years, I've switched to having my cell phone and my PDA all in one apparatus and I currently sport a Blackberry. I must say that it looks very nice on me! It is very convenient to have all my phone numbers, addresses, notes, and appointments in one place and to not carry two digital devices with me. I've had the Blackberry since the beginning of the year and I will probably bite you if you try to make me part with it. There's the whole iPhone/Blackberry comparison, but I will say that I am perfectly happy with seeds in my teeth. In addition to being a phone and calendar/planner, I also receive my e-mail on it, my facebook notifications (YAY!), and I can text with my kids … and their friends. ;) Shoot! With that sweet thing, I can even surf the Net!
Enough gloating now! … I want to take just a bit of time to tell you how I customized my Palms and now my Blackberry to service me best as a busy mom.
I use the Calendar, of course, just like any other calendar, even using the option of color-coding. I have all the birthdays and anniversaries set to recur each year with a reminder. (That doesn't always help me get a card mailed on time, but I try!) Appointments are easily tracked the same way. When I get the school schedule each year, or the sports schedules, I can easily get them put in, doing some copying and pasting. Just click "save"! I also put recurring Tasks on the calendar since I want to be reminded of them at certain times.
The Task List is amazing … just what it says, it helps you keep track of what you need to do. If it is a one-time task and not a recurring one, I put it on this list. And there are these cute check marks that show up when you click it upon completion! I love it. You can also set reminders and due dates on each one.
The Contacts section is very serviceable to me. It has every contact that my Outlook has so if I've entered something on my desktop, it will sync to my Blackberry and I don't have to do double typing to keep my phone up-to-date as well. This is also a benefit when I'm out 'on the road' and a family member needs some random address. I just look it right up and everyone is happy! Where in the world did we do before cell phones and PDAs? When it is time to get Christmas cards out, everything is right there … just do a mailing!
So those things are common in any planner or any PDA. What I wanted to share with you, especially you ladies, is how you can customize the Notes Section to your life. It's so cool, I'm telling you! On the Blackberry, the Notes are actually called MemoPad and can be found on the Applications screen. In Outlook, it will still be called "Notes" however and when you pull it up on your desktop, it comes up looking like a post-it note. Kind of cute. Here's an idea of some of my 'Notes':
- Books to Buy: How many times are you at the bookstore on a budget, but want to remember a title that you just can't purchase today? Or maybe you are perusing a website and came across a title … Just type it in here and next time you are out wanting to buy a book, just pull that list out!
- Books to Read: This is a list of books I want to read, but maybe not own. Cookbooks don't fall under this category for me!
- Internet: This is a list of sites and my passwords. Shh! Don't tell.
- Data Keeper: This is a list of appliances, printers, and machines around my home with accompanying information such as what kind of battery they take, when they were last serviced, what kind of ink they use, and even when they were purchased.
- Family-(1st name of child): This is all the pertinent info, including her SS#, her vaccine schedule, her allergies, her doctors/dentists and their phone numbers/addresses. You could also include clothing and shoe sizes. When my kids were in school, I would also include their daily schedule so that if I needed to pick them up for a doctor's appointment, I would know where in the school building they were. It helped the School Secretary to find them and it saved me time in the picking up! If it sounds overboard, just consider how convenient it will be next time you have to fill out registration forms and include the vaccine schedule! It's all at your fingertips!) There's a category like this for each kid, each beginning with the word FAMILY so that they will all be grouped together alphabetically in my Notes.
- Quotes-(1st name of child): This is a place where I can write in things they say that I don't want to forget! Again, one for each kid.
- Menus- This is a simple list of great meal ideas. I have a list for Menus-Breakfasts, Menus-Lunch, Menus-Snacks, Menus-Dinners … blah, blah, blah )
- Home:(A list of paint colors and manufacturers of various furniture in our home that might help me when I'm out shopping on a whim! I also have decorating and landscaping ideas here. I don't make Honey-Do lists, but if you do, this might be a good place for it.)
- Shopping Lists: I make a Note called "Shopping-Trader Joe's", for instance, and when I open it up, I type in the items that I need to buy at that store. There's one for "Shopping-Target", "Shopping-Mall", …you get the idea! ;) Then, while I'm shopping, as I put stuff in my cart, I delete it off the list. Works like a charm! No more searching at the bottom of your bag for the list that you actually left in the console of your car!
You get the drift, right? YOU get to decide what is in your planner! You don't have to conform to a prescribed planner that doesn't work for you … Make it your own.
And after you've made it, you must maintain it. You must look at it, you must put appointments in it, you must keep it. It will serve YOU if you help it to! It doesn't really matter to me if you use a digital calendar or not. It's most important that you use something, some method to quell the madness we enjoy as life!
Care to share what works for you? I would love to learn from you!