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Time Management Notepad

Wow.  Christmas is in less than a week!  Are you ready?  I’m not.  No matter how hard I try to avoid scrambling during the last week of December, I’m always scrambling during the last week of December.  Oh well.  I guess it wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of that “harried/stressed gotta find a way to fit everything in” feeling.  :)  Because this has been an especially busy December for us with added new house meetings I have had to work really hard to stay organized and on top of things.  Usually I use my time management binder each day to help me organize my life.  (Time management binder post here.)  
I still love my binder.  It is where I completely DUMP my brain each day.  But once the month of December hit I could tell I needed to simplify things.  So I made a drastic change.  My Time Management Binder became My Time Management Notepad.  Ok.  Maybe not so drastic after all.  :)  But I’ve been surprised at how much better this notepad has served my needs this month.  

I don’t have time for any of the “extra” stuff right now (home projects, scrapbooking, etc.) so I kept things simple by buying a 5 subject notepad and dividing it into the four main areas I need to focus on each day.

I placed my favorite Martha Stewart home office dividers on each of the notepad folders…

and labeled them TO-DO’s, NEW HOUSE, BLOG, CHRISTMAS.  Obviously these tabs would be different for everyone, but the idea is to break your to-do’s down into 3 or 4 basic categories.  What I like about the notepad vs. the binder is that #1 – there aren’t as many categories (like I said, I needed to simplify)  #2 – there is more paper and with the spiral binding it’s easier to use to take notes.  I am taking a lot of notes these days.  Like the binder, there is a pocket folder for each section to hold loose papers.  
Here is how I’ve organized the Christmas section of my notepad this year.  And yes, I realize that while my notepad has helped me organize for Christmas, I wasn’t organized enough to get this post done at the beginning of the month to help you!  (SO SORRY!)  I’m hoping this gives you some ideas for next December.  Never to early to start planning ahead.  :)

I used the pocket to hold random magazine clippings of toy ideas for the kids.  I’ve also used it to hold receipts.  I hang on to all of my Christmas shopping receipts so that if we need to do an exchange/return after the holiday we have the receipt ready to go.  It’s nice to have them all in one place.

On the paper inside the Christmas section I’ve written LOTS of things:

– Friends to add to our Christmas card list this year and addresses that have changed.
– What I’ve bought for each of the kids and where I have it stashed.  Without this I would totally forget where I have things hidden.  I’ve had to get so creative because we are tight on space and my girls are SNEAKY.
– A list of extended family.  Gift ideas and what I’ve already bought each of them.  **You can see why I couldn’t share these pages on my blog.  :)
– A list of friends/neighbors I am giving gifts to and what I’m giving each of them.  I check each person off after their gift has been delivered.
– Grocery list for Christmas Eve/Day dinner.  My mom is coming to our house this year for Christmas so we will have real meals!  YEA!
– Random Christmas to-do’s including traditions/activities I want to for sure remember to do with my kids (make our Pretzel Hugs, visit Christmas Card Lane, etc.)

The Christmas section of this binder has been so helpful for me this month.  Each year after December I write down a list of things I want to do better/change for next year and I’ll include that in this section too.  That way next year I can glance through my notes (hopefully early Fall) and get a jump start on a few things.  So that next year will be the year I don’t have that “harried/stressed gotta find a way to fit everything in” feeling.  :)

The New House section has also been a huge help for me this month.  I keep random magazine clippings and notes that I need in the folder.  Plus I love having the notebook to take with me to the house.  It’s so easy to use for jotting down notes.

These are a few things I’ve been working on this week.  See why my blog posting has slowed down a bit?  :)  Every day there are decisions that need to be made which always involve research and a lot of phone calls and e-mails.  Having it all in front of me in my notepad has really helped me stay on top of things.  Nothing makes me happier than pulling out a page of house notes and tossing it knowing those decisions are behind me!  I think this system would work great if you are doing any re-modeling or re-decorating too.

The BLOG section of my notebook is where I jot down ideas for blog posts and a sad attempt of a posting schedule that I never really follow.  :)  

The TO-DO section in the front of my notebook is for all of those random day to day things that come up.  It’s my go to list each day to keep my schedule straight.  I try to only write down things I HAVE to get done that day.  There are so many things I’d love to do, but writing too many things down always overwhelms me and then I never get that satisfying feeling of checking everything off of my list.  One of my best time management tips if you are struggling to stay on top of your life is to determine what your priorities are and be ruthless about trimming unnecessary stuff.  I have had a hard lesson in that this year!  Along with that, only write down your must do’s each day.  Be specific and realistic.  If you keep your list short you are more likely to actually accomplish it.  If there’s extra time you can always do more.  Ok.  Maybe that was more than one time management tip.  You know how I feel about this topic.  :)

The only part of my binder that was lacking was my section to keep sticky notes for my “to-buy” lists.    

So I added them on the inside of the front cover of my notebook.  When I’m running to Target I grab the Target list and toss it in my purse.  My love affair with sticky notes lives on.

So as you can see, this is very similar to my binder.  I just took out the extra stuff that wasn’t a priority and added things that are a priority in my life right now.  This would obviously look different for each of you, but the idea is the same.  Having a place to dump your brain and organize your thoughts makes a world of difference.

Now if I could just get my handy little notepad to wrap all of my Christmas presents for me….
xoxo, Erin
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23 thoughts on “Time Management Notepad

  1. I took your original binder idea and I used this notebook idea. It works so well for me. Just today I made a deep clean list. It was due. I was so happy to check everything off. My goal is to have all the baseboards and interior doors painted after all the Christmas deco is down. It is the first thing that I hope to get done at the first of the year. I am determined!!
    I use to make lists and leave them on…all over… my desk. Now it is all compact in one notebook. I love it.
    Thanks so much for the idea of, “dumping my brain,” into one notebook. :)

    I hope you are enjoying the last week of the holidays.


  2. I love a great pen and I bet you do, too. Do you have a favorite? It’s so much more fun to write to-do lists with a good pen :)

  3. ok if you are feeling overwhelmed and are not ready yet, then I don’t feel so bad that I am not ready!! LOL. I still have a little shopping to finish up. I started off so good and then it just fizzled from there with all the other stuff going on.

  4. Erin – like “Cathy’s World”, I took your original binder idea and put it into a notebook from the start. It’s such a great idea, but the binder was too bulky for me. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy scheudle to inspire us!!

  5. I need to start doing this. I used to have a Moleskin planner (the one with the weekly view and note page) that I would jot down my To-do’s on, and it worked so well for me. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Thanks everyone!

    Zuraimah – yes! I made sure to buy a notepad that already had the pockets in it. :)

    Susan – oh I have so many favorite pens! I can tell you and I have much in common. :) My current favorite is a Pilot Rolling Ball Pen – extra fine tip.

    Colleen – that is exactly what happened to me! I started off strong and then got so swamped that I never finished! This will be a busy weekend! :)

  7. Great tips, I like the post its idea for each different store you need stuff at. I always try to be prepared early & yet theres always last minute stuff to do ..
    Have a wonderful holiday !

  8. This is such a great blog. As a senior, about to finish college, and a future teacher, I MUST be organized. I find comfort in knowing there are others out there that feel the same need to keep track of things as much as myself. I am trying to rub off on my family…lol… it’s a work in progress.

    Please keep your posts coming! I thoroughly enjoy them :0)

  9. Erin – you should check out Staples notebooks.They have pages that are removable without all of those yucky pieces of paper and you can continually add new pages to a section. I have dividers and pockets that you can add in too. It is like a combo binder and notebook- best of both worlds. I use mine all the time.

  10. And of course your trusty binder is GREEN:)

    I really like this idea. And the sticky notes are genius. Just today I was using my trusty green calendar book (just like the one you gave me two years ago for Christmas) and was thinking, crap, what if I can’t find another one of these for next year??? I LOVE that thing.

    But this new idea of yours could be a great backup plan.

    Thanks for taking something off my list of things I’m currently worrying about.

  11. I LOVE this idea. I need that so desperately! we are in the process of moving from Missouri to North Carolina and with 2 kids, it is very hectic. A notebook used for brain dumping would be awesome. Thanks for the great idea!!!

  12. I am forever looking for THE system that will keep me on track….and I think I just found it!!!! THANK YOU so much! I think it is great that you are always finding new ways to organize yourself. Silly me would have been stuck thinking “I already have a binder system..otta stick with that”, because I don’t go far enough out of my own “box” and realize that it’s ok to make changes if something isn’t working for me anymore. That probably sounds silly to the rest of you. Something so simple as changing a notebook would send me in a tizzy! :). LOL

    Anyhow, thanks again and I cannot wait to see your new house! Merry Christmas!


  13. Thanks so much everyone! So glad you like the notebook. :)

    Zuraimah – I bought that notebook at Target so try

    Austinlivingstons – thanks for the tip about Staples! I’m going to check them out next time I’m in there!

  14. I just went out today and got a new notebook and tabs! I have used a notebook for years for all my notes, etc., but it’s always a ongoing list and kind of scattered. I got one with 5 subjects and divided it up, and I can’t wait to start using it!!! Loved your family picture! Merry Christmas {a day late :)} ~gina

  15. Thanks Gina! So fun to hear from you! I hope you had a wonderful holiday! I hope 2013 is the year that we can finally get together! Maybe we can compare notebooks while chasing our kids at the park. ;)

  16. Happy New Year Erin! I’m a little late because we just got back from our Christmas (summer) holidays and now I’m enjoying catching up with your posts :) We don’t have the same ranges as you here in NZ but you inspired me this year to get a concertina-style file which organises all our household paperwork, and my 2013 diary is aqua in your honour! I love your post-it note tip (you shared it before but I needed the reminder). I love your comment about writing shorter lists of daily priorities – such great advice for a lover of lists (brain-dumps) like me, as longer lists do have a habit of overwhelming me! Thanks for sharing all of this at such a busy time of year. I hope your family enjoyed a lovely Christmastime together xx

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