Paper Planner

With anxiety sky-rocketing over this past year, I’ve been looking to “complete” more of those invisible tasks I mentioned in my last post by writing them down or scheduling them in my calendar and whatever necessary office requires an appointment as soon as they come to me. Once I’ve written an item down as a future task in my planner or called the office to make the appointment, I can release that task until it’s due.

For this reason, I highly recommend a paper planner. I’ve been using a paper planner for several years and finally have my system down to an art. This year, I’m using the Blue Sky Day Designer Daily/Monthly 8×5 planner. I’ve been on the Day Designer wagon for a while but this is my first time using such a small version. I was worried that it wouldn’t be big enough to accomodate all of my notes but I use the paper planner for quick reminders and abbreviated schedules and keep the details in my online calendars. I used to think I could walk away from the online calendars once I got my paper calendar up and running but alas. Those insane bloggers with the multiple calendar transfers at scheduled intervals? Yeah, that’s me now.

At the start of the year, I go through all of my calendars and get all of the important, known dates transferred into my paper calendar monthly views. Before the start of each new month, I go through my online calendars and transfer dates that I’ve scheduled on my phone into my month view as well. Before each week, I transfer dates from the monthly calendar view into the specific days along with work meetings scheduled on my work calendar. It sounds horrible and redundant and inefficient but it keeps me sane. Different strokes, am I right?

Anyway, I color code the thing too. Pink for my daughter. Blue for my son (I know, I know. The gender sterotyping is appaling). Green for my husband. Gray for work. Red for personal to-do items. Purple for fun items. Yellow for info-only.

Once I started doing the calendar transfer thing, I figured I’d be one of those people who gets into the stickers or uses a stencil to make perfect shapes to color or maybe writes in different colors but in practice I’ve found the more complex it gets, the less likely I am to stick with it (and I couldn’t stand the colored writing).

I use “◯” is as an event indicator. I freehand it. I make a tiny circle in the middle of the hour line if I have an event on the half hour and if it’s an odd appointment time I follow the “◯” with the time (example: “◯:45 doctor”). The planner I use comes with square boxes for tasks so those get color coded as well. Checkmark = complete. Strikethrough = didn’t do it and not moving it forward. Right arrow means I moved it forward to a future date (and here’s the key: you actually have to write it down on a future date; it might not be tomorrow but it has to be scheduled). I put the anniversaries at the top right corner in the quotation box. Highlighters can be purchased here.

I’ve even started to put basic reminders about how to be a good person in my calendar like “call your best friend” or “Jane’s big presentation.” I used to think that if you were a good person / friend, you’d just remember those things. And maybe I still do. But I also believe that I’ve got what I’ve got with regards to mental capacity and what I got currently includes a lot of unecessary clutter and anxiety choking out the important things. So I’ve started writing them down when I hear them and replacing “absent minded” with “intentional” in my running narrative.

If your axiety has you feeling absent minded lately, I hope you’ll consider my strategy. More importantly, I hope you’ll share yours!

What tricks do you use to keep ahead of your anxious thoughts? How do you stay on task?

Technological Clutter: Time to Purge

Yesterday, I spent my entire day going through the garage with my husband as a continuation of the #ruthlessdeclutterchallenge we started weeks ago. It was supposed to be a week-long declutter challenge hosted by Emily Ley that would encompass the whole house but 1) I work outside of the house 4 days of the week and more to the point 2) life.


Either way, the fact that I can declutter for as many hours as I have so far this year highlights some major issues in my life. I began to address those issues here but I think it’s pertinent to note a few things I have done in the past two weeks that might help you if you’re like me and feel chronically tired, overstimulated, and/or overwhelmed. Point of clarification: I’m talking about technological clutter now:

  • Settings – Notifications – Off
    • I now get phone notifications for the following apps ONLY:
      • For reminders:
        • Calendar
        • Reminders
        • 1 Health app
        • Flights (only for upcoming flights)
        • Bible app
        • Moment app
      • For information:
        • Emergency alerts
        • Work e-mail
        • Work support desk app
        • Payment apps
        • Restaurant wait list app (only when actively on a list)
      • For communication:
        • Messaging
        • FaceTime / Calls
        • Facebook messenger
        • Snapchat
      • Of the above listed apps, under 50% make noise (including vibrating) as of today. The amount of badges (the little red icon that yells at you every time you open your phone) has significantly decreased. If my phone makes noise today, I can flip it over without being bombarded by the most recent Like.
  • Speaking of apps, you can Delete apps. I don’t have a count of the apps I’ve deleted over the last two weeks, but to give you an example of my progress: I deleted Facebook, Pinterest, and today Instagram. I can still access accounts online or download them in the future if I become better at managing my time but those are the tortilla chips of tech for me. I cannot stop so I have to get them out of my hands!
  • Unsubscribe. I have no idea how many e-mail subscriptions I’ve cancelled over the last two weeks but I’m pretty sure I never signed up for 67% of them. Be gone, insurance company I’ve never heard of! Away with you.

I have been decluttering the space that my family physically lives in for some time now but I am finding the need to declutter the tech stimuli as well. That particular clutter feeds my need to consume (which then feeds my need to declutter and sets me back on the declutter frenzy).

I. am. so. tired. of. it.

Also, why do we feel like we need to have a marketing e-mail subscription for something we buy once in a blue moon? You can unsubscribe from those and they will still send you a receipt if you make a future purchase. I promise.

Go ahead, delete something today. Turn off a buzz, a badge, a banner. Unsubscribe. Those feelings of anxiety and FOMO will pass (that’s what the research says, anyway).

Currently Watching: The True Cost

I am an organization junkie. I don’t have all of the acrylic containers, expensive food storage, or wicker baskets to prove it but believe me when I tell you that I research this stuff constantly. I follow well known organizers on social media. I buy their books. I participate in their online challenges. I use the hashtags.

There’s this vague ideal I have in my head… This endpoint that I can just start to envision when everything has a place in my home and the excess has sloughed away. It’s calm. It’s easy to maintain. It restores.


But no matter how often I declutter, I continue to find more and more stuff. It accumulates. It makes friends. Those friends get married and have babies and the babies have babies and I am sitting around my kitchen table wondering where all of this stuff keeps coming from!


Pinterest took note of my obsession and started suggesting organizational pins. Those pins led to minimalist pins and the minimalist pins led to fair trade pins. That’s where I stumbled across the suggestion to watch The True Cost on Netflix.

Listen carefully: I need you to watch it. But I need you to know that it broke me.

The True Cost is a documentary on the fashion industry and the consequence of fast fashion on business, people, and the environment. While it only talks about fashion, I see it as a single-industry focus on a much larger issue of goods that we once saved and now see as disposable.

I wept multiple times watching this documentary. I wept over horrible working conditions. I wept over illness and pollution. Over family dynamics and corporate wealth. Over silenced cries for better and my part in it all.

That stuff that keeps accumulating? It’s there because it’s cheap or it’s free and I am a consumer and I consume it. And while I’m busy consuming and decluttering and consuming and decluttering, I am reinforcing the drive for cheap labor, cheap manufacturing and for turning a blind eye to the people producing it.

I’m caught in the declutter frenzy and I’ve been missing the people stuck beneath the turning wheel.


The solution identified in the frenzy isn’t a solution at all. The true solution has to come before and during consumption. I’m not a minimalist. But I am recognizing that being a good steward of my resources can’t stop at managing my finances, giving to charity, and paying for the recycling bin every month.

Financially, a $5 shirt is a bargain until you see The True Cost of that $5 shirt.


It’s a burden to change habits, I know. When I started buying cruelty free products, it took time to research brands. Once I identified brands, it took trial and error to find which products worked for my family. Sometimes I pay more.

I expect an even greater disruption overhauling my habits when it comes to fast fashion. It’s going to require research. It will require trial and error. I will pay more. It’s possible that I will need to wait longer between identifying a desire and satisfying it. I will need to be aware and intentional when Emma grows two feet in a night and no longer has pants that fit her. I will have to stop and ask myself if it’s really necessary to run out and pick up something today to remedy the want/need.

I also know that being overwhelmed by change isn’t a good enough excuse to avoid it. And I know that starting, even starting small, is always better than not starting at all.


Watch The True Cost. Let me know your thoughts. And if you’re already buying fair trade, let me know which brands you love.

Reviewing the KonMari Method: Over a Year Later

I downloaded Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy on my Kindle the other day and read through the chapters in a matter of hours. The new year is full of resolutions and while tidying wasn’t on the forefront of mine, seeing my friends engage in their first reading of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up inspired me to check out her second book.

I read the first book in 2016 and at the time, I didn’t quite see the impact that I expected.  I donated a lot of things. I recycled a lot of things. I got rid of a lot of things. But most of the clutter I let go of was already craftily hidden away behind closed doors so it didn’t feel all that different in my house when I looked around.

But things often change beneath the surface before those things manifest in plain sight, don’t they?

I reminded Freddy this afternoon that he was unimpressed with my first run at the KonMari method of tidying and he scoffed, saying, “Really?!”

Today he says since reading that book we’ve changed the way we buy. We’ve changed the filter through which we evaluated what we need or need to keep. We have a home for things in our house.

That’s not to say that we’ve kept things in the same locations I chose in 2016 for those things we keep. I’ve moved objects around quite a bit since first choosing homes for them but I’ve refined locations. It helps to have open spaces where items will fit.

Reading Spark Joy prompted me to take another look around our house. I sifted through some of the categories I had put aside. I revisited categories I had gone through already. And I realized that I have come a long way in understanding the things that give me joy and the things that I am ready to let go.

If you haven’t had a chance to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I highly encourage you to do so.

It changed my life. And with a little grit and commitment, it can change yours too.

We’re in trouble…

I have spent days researching planners. I have looked through websites. I have signed up for free downloads. I have walked through Michaels just to look at stickers and washi tape on display; I made purchases. I have even stooped to Youtube videos.

Who is this person I am becoming?

I don’t like her.