Make Your Own Agenda (or My Love Affair With Paper and Pen)

14 Jan

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.

Pinnable Agenda Image

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).

Planner Image

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:

PeaPod Ipad

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?

3 Responses to “Make Your Own Agenda (or My Love Affair With Paper and Pen)”

  1. Kimberly M (@momgosomething) January 14, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Oh Lawd do I ever need to get on top of this. I’ve been hunting on the pinterest thingy that all these young hipsters are talking about…hee hee.
    Because I have issues with anxiety etc. I NEED routine and organization. I don’t use any electronic device to help me keep track of things. I’m old school and use agenda books. Sometimes I have to keep notes in various places to help me remember. It’s sad but necessary to keep me focused and less stressed.
    I usually sit down on Sunday and break down my week in a planner.

    • learnedhappiness January 17, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

      I don’t think it’s sad at all! Especially for folks like us with anxiety. If there is something we can dump out of our brains onto a piece of paper, I say that’s a win!


  1. On A Budget, Week One: Grocery Store Challenge | Learned Happiness - February 25, 2014

    […] already menu plan each week in my family binder.  This week was easy because we’ll be out of town Friday-Sunday.  I try to plan things that […]

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