who needs a proper day planner when there are perfectly good scraps of paper on the living room floor?

planner4If I had a nickel for every organization system and notebook/folder planner I have pulled together in the last couple of years, I would be at least .60 cents richer. And while that is not an impressive amount of cash, and therefore fails to drive my point as effectively as I’d intended, it nevertheless represents quite a few attempts at creating an adequate organization system. Let’s say if I had a hundred thousand dollars for every organization system and notebook/folder planner I have pulled together in the last couple of years, I would be at least twelve hundred thousand dollars richer. (That could be wrong—I don’t do math. But, whatever it is, I think it comes out to a lot.) Now do you see what I mean? That sum makes things a lot more serious, doesn’t it?

planner1 But somehow, none of these organization systems ever stuck. I’ve tried day-runners (remember those?), small binders, big binders, We’Moon which is super-cool and divinely crunchy and I got it one year and looked at it twice, TeuxDeux which is a brilliant idea but I simply stopped using it for no decipherable reason, spiral notebooks, notebooks with perforated pages, little purse-sized calendars.

planner2 My most recent foray into the organized life was in the form of a pretty binder, some free life-organizing printables I found online and a weekly calendar I designed with the help of a Google docs template. Yeah. Didn’t stick. But it looked impressively nice.

But the thing is, I am not actually disorganized at all, because as it turns out I already have an effective organization system. It’s called mining the living room floor for useable scraps of paper.

planner 3 Lists! As it turns out, I am all about lists. They work for me. Steve once asked me if my lists freaked me out—that seeing everything to do and think about in writing caused me stress. It does not. I am actually semi-psychotic without them. A legal pad (12 for $5 from Ocean State Job Lot), sticky notes and scraps of paper—detritus from the living room floor—upon which I write the pressing stuff to leave right on top of the pad. So I won’t forget. Backs of rejected kid artwork, torn construction paper—either works beautifully. I have daily lists and house to-do lists and books to read lists. I have lists of lists I need to list.

To complete my system, I printed out a simple 2013 doodle calendar from Creative Mamma (love her stuff) for keeping track of events and birthdays and plans. I stapled half a sheet of cardstock to the back of the legal pad creating a pocket to hold other all the other lists.

I think the trick is not any one thing—any perfect thing. You simply keep trying until you find that thing that works for you. It might be a cheap-o legal pad and some free printables. It might be right under your nose. Or your feet. Look down—you just never know.

Here’s the beautiful thing about a legal pad: rip off the top page and you have a fresh start every time. You gotta love the metaphors. planner5