I seethe with jealousy when I see people’s gorgeous designer agendas, but every time I’ve committed to treating myself to one, I can’t seem to find just what I want. There are always pages I know I’ll never use, and the calendars are never laid out the same way my brain works. I was the same way with lesson planning back in my public school teaching days. The standard lesson planning books bought at the local teacher store never quite fit the bill, so I always printed up my own.
And yes, I know technology is wonderful and I could use some combination of iCal, gmail, and some family calendar app to sync everyone and everything together, but it always seems like so much more work to unlock my phone, open the app, and thumb-type in my appointments. Add in the additional 10 minutes I will inevitably spend checking email, FaceBook, and text messages upon unlocking my phone, and what should have been a 2 second job has now taken 300 times as long (no, really, I did the math). Compared with jotting down a note on paper, there are just too many steps involved for it to be practical for me.
So I Frankensteined together my own agenda book, using a 1″ binder and some dividers I had in my old teaching supplies. I use the “Weekly Family Calendar” from Mommy Tracked, and print about 8 weeks at a time, filling out the dates far in advance of needing them. I have sections for Doodlebug’s school information, my piano studio, and plastic zipper pockets for things like checks, receipts, and notes. A threadbare sticky note marks the current week and the binder often stays open during the day so I can check off appointments and tasks as they are accomplished (in my head, I say, “Boom!” every time I check something off. It’s like my own little celebration).
I went through several different calendar pages from many websites before settling on the Weekly Family Calendar. I love that it has just enough space for everything but a small “to do” area. It only allows me to put a few most important items for the week, keeping me from overloading myself. The bottom area houses sections for kids’ activities, dinner plans, and notes. It’s where I do my weekly meal planning in anticipation of this:
That’s right. I can order my groceries on my tablet and then pick them up at the store’s drive-through. It’s like I have 2 hours of my life back, every single week. And while I pay a smidge more for the convenience, it’s well worth the time I get back. I still end up with a once-weekly Whole Foods trip for our meats and produce, but that’s a quick 10-minute visit after preschool drop-off. I also think we spend less because our food shopping for the week is planned out and there are no gratuitous impulse buys (my DH is the worst about this).
I think my favorite thing about using a pen-and-paper system is the satisfaction of seeing, at a single glance, everything I have accomplished during the week. You don’t get the same feeling with computerized calendars. And as a stay-at-home-mom (who dabbles in several small home businesses and volunteer jobs), that kind of validation is hugely uplifting. Maybe when they’re older, my kids will think I’m old-fashioned, with my ink-filled writing device and wood-based single-use tablet, but I’m getting old enough not to care. That’s the consolation prize for getting older, isn’t it?
Do you have an agenda or calendar system you love? How do you keep track of the chaos?