current planner setup – the carpe diem

FullSizeRenderSince I’ve been back to the office part time, I’m back to relying more heavily on my planner to keep me organized. I moved out of the Finsbury at the beginning of the year because I wanted an A5, so I purchased a Carpe Diem planner by Simple Stories (mine is the “Platinum” color). Obviously I wanted another Filo, but it wasn’t in the budget. And the Carpe Diem is actually really, really nice. (Note: when I purchased, the cost of the planner was around $40; now I’m seeing it’s not as available and more expensive, so perhaps they are not making them any longer). I thought I would do a quick review, and show how I use it. I am a big believer in keeping lists and goals organized and easy to refer to frequently. It keeps me on track with all my goals and our budget. I use mine for work, personal stuff, family organizing/homekeeping/finances, and my mom’s group administrative stuff. Having separate calendars doesn’t work for me very well (though I do have a monthly overview calendar on our fridge so Jonathan can also see what’s upcoming).

In the inside front cover, I keep things like my company contact list and random work administrative cheat sheets. I’d print them in A5 size and put them in my planner, but the font size would be ridiculously small, so this works for now. In the small pockets, I just put page flags and markers, mini post-its, and a roll of skinny washi tape. I keep a pen and highlighter in the pen loop. I have most of the office supplies from my pre- zero waste days, but I still indulge every now and again. I just try to keep a limit on the amount I acquire so I don’t end up hoarding tons of unused stuff!

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These labeled agenda and category dividers were included with the planner, and I really like them. I was able to determine my own categories and label the tabs with stickers.  Mine are Contacts, Agenda, Menus, Lists, $$$$$, and Inspiration.

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I won’t show my “Contacts” section for privacy reasons, but it’s essentially just address book pages. The “Agenda” section contains the monthly and weekly page views included with the Carpe Diem. I love this little monthly overview page they included, where I can list big to-dos, dates, and goals for the month. I have noticed I like to have “themes” for the month and I’ll write down the little tasks associated with that. It helps me to focus. So next month (August), I am trying to really get back on track with our budgeting and other financial goals (including selling of some furniture and such). Before baby gets here, I want to have an uncluttered mind and home.

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The monthly spread is helpful for just birthdays, holidays, vacations, appointments, and other planned obligations. Usually I can just refer to this page to schedule something, as the day-to-day to-do type stuff is all pretty flexible.

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I use the weekly spread the most of anything in my planner. I plan out my week on Sundays, generally, and kind of list out little housekeeping to-dos, upcoming work tasks, some self-care stuff, as well as transfer over any stuff from the monthly calendar spread so I don’t forget about it. Sometimes I just make notes of what I’m reading or listening to at the moment, and record things about my day that I feel grateful for or that I want to remember, like stuff I planted in my garden, for future reference.

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The third section is “Menu.” I am using the free menu printable from House Mix Blog; it’s been on my fridge for the past couple of months and I really have found it useful, but I decided to print it A5 sized and do my menu planning inside my planner instead. Hopefully this will work out ok. I like the menu and grocery list on one page, and the simple layout. I plan to add a list of quick, frugal, and zero waste meal ideas. Menu planning saves my sanity and I should probably do a post on how it works for me. I just need to learn to print and crop A5 better, as these ones overlap the dividers. Next time I’ll get it right. 😉

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The fourth category is “Lists.” So far this includes work info, to do list, shopping list (non-grocery), my wishlist, etc. Some of my purchasing-related lists really help me prioritize for budgeting purposes.  When there’s room in the budget for it, I’ll treat myself with something from my actual wishlist (which are not impulsively added), rather than buy something I decided I wanted right that minute. (If that something is THAT important to my future happiness, it may get added to my wishlist and eventually worked into the budget. :)) Also, a running shopping list is really handy. This is more for purchases that aren’t urgent; I like to take my time to find the best way to fill a need. Oftentimes that is buying second-hand, finding another option using what I already have, or even asking around to borrow first. If those strategies don’t work, I try to at least buy the most ethical/responsible/quality/locally-sourced option I can afford. I use post-its to create top-of-page markers for pages I refer to frequently.

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The fifth section is labeled “$$$$$.” I have my budget printables and written financial goals in this section, but I will only share a portion. I created my own printables for this to fit my needs. I was using a cash envelope system earlier in the year, but just switched to this written tracking system which I’ll begin in August. Credit card purchases like online shopping and gas were complicating the cash system and causing some issues going over the budget. I kept the same dollar amounts in each category, but now I don’t have to withdraw cash (except a little to have on-hand that comes out of each of our “personal” categories.) On the next page I have a printout of our income and fixed expenses, but I won’t share that for privacy reasons. I added a little post-it with a couple items from my wishlist I want to work into the budget, if there’s room, in the month of August. I don’t have an extravagant spending style by any means, but I do have a tendency to let little items add up at times, and this helps with that. My cute owl page marker makes the adultiness of budgeting a little less depressing. 🙂

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The final section is “Inspiration.” It’s poorly named because it’s really a catch-all category. I like to collect quotes and ideas I find inspiring or thought-provoking. I also am really easily intrigued by lots of different things, which can send me down rabbit holes of obsessive research for DAYS if I let it. Now I will just write it down as something to look up in the future.. this has kept me less likely to glue myself to my phone reading up on various topics, and to be a more efficient person. (I am really easily distracted/obsessed by things). Another thing I keep in this section is the daily schedule I whipped up for when we start at-home preschool (while I know we won’t stick to the schedule perfectly, I feel like it will help us establish a nice rhythm.. until there’s a new baby and it all goes out the window). I also write down ideas here that I have for Tot School topics and activities (which is constantly! I love to plan!)

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Another helpful addition is kind of a vision board page I created for my minimalist wardrobe goals. My ultimate goal wardrobe is really pared down, versatile, ethical, flattering, and long-lasting. All efforts toward this are on hold due to pregnancy (and then losing a bit of weight), but this will eventually apply again. Referring to this helps me to avoid purchasing things that don’t fit my style (or at least the style I wish I had), impulse purchasing, and over thrift-shopping. In a year or so I’ll probably start thinking about my fall/winter goal wardrobe. It’s kind of silly, but I’m a really visual person so this helps me see the big picture and stay on track.

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Hope you enjoyed my planner tour! I know they aren’t for everyone, but for me, it truly helps me save time, money, and my sanity keeping a paper planner. How do you keep yourself organized?

paper love (& hate)

I write this post to keep it real. When I follow zero waste bloggers, I can feel like I don’t measure up. But writing my own posts, I want to make sure I’m not only highlighting the victories and practices that I’ve mastered. I just want to write about how I’m being mindful; not perfect, but at least living with the intention of doing better. I have a love/hate relationship with the term “zero waste.” I understand that it’s an intentionally high bar – getting as close to zero as possible is the goal. But it can also make me feel inadequate or hypocritical when I don’t achieve perfection. But truthfully, I don’t even want to. I simply want to be the queen of my own castle. I don’t want toxic plastics, unsolicited junk mail, or sweatshop-made clothes taking over my life. But I’m ok with consumption that feels purposeful and truly makes me happy.

Stationary, journals, planners, scrapbooking.. I’ve always been partial to paper. My favorite gifts are of the paper variety, to give and get. I like tech to a point, but when documenting life or making lists, paper is my go-to. Productivity apps – I’ve tried them all – don’t cut it for me. Partly because my office was in a high-security (i.e. no cell phones and outside gadgets) facility, so I couldn’t fully rely on them. It was always paper and it’s likely that for me, it always will be paper.

I’ve tackled most other household areas by now; paper remains one thing I’m so tethered to. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I phase out the wasteful products in our household – is it ok for me to justify all the paper? I’ve decided that for me, it is. To a point. But whether it’s good paper or bad paper, it all comes from trees. I’ve decided to take a look at what I feel ok justifying and where I can make some real changes.

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  1. Books. I’ve made a big dent in this already this year. I got a Kindle for Christmas, which I LOVE. My library loans eBooks that deliver to my Kindle, which means my YA fiction can be read on the DL. (It’s a truly great time to be alive.) I still love physical books though, but again, my library is so great. I have donated many books in 2016, but have only bought one second-hand. One strategy that made it easier for me to part with the books taking up my shelf space was determining how difficult they’d be to find at the library. No more hoarding books I may never read (or re-read). The picture above shows the remaining books I own (aside from about 20 cookbooks in the kitchen). This is less than half of what I had a year ago (but let’s not discuss Hannah’s growing collection of books..)
  2. filoOrganizing/Productivity. My lists. My Filofax. Nothing else does the trick to making me feel in control of my day than keeping a paper agenda and to-do lists; I don’t think it will change. I have used planners since the 7th grade. My notes, calendar, lists, contacts, work info, ideas, doodles, etc. all fit in a small binder, and my supplies in a small canvas riggers bag. As far as hobbies go, it’s a minimalist and functional one that keeps me sane. Sorry, trees. I am, however, trying to lessen my gravitational pull toward stickers and embellishments, instead working on my doodling skills. (A girl’s still gotta decorate all the things.) I also avoid over-printing the fun printables, and use scrap paper for notes instead of post-its and virgin paper.
  3. Recipes. I am a recipe printer. I know, the shame! I have a binder of favorites, knowing if I save them on whatever device I found it on, I’ll never find it again. I have failed at having a digital method that makes any sense. Not only that, but when people give me hand-written recipes or I tear one out of a magazine, or I copy one down in a notebook, they all have to go somewhere. I need to make it a goal for the near future to tackle this digitally or at least vow to only print recipes that are either zero-waste or absolutely critical to the happiness of someone in the family. 🙂
  4. hannah paintKid Art. This is a legit category in my home already! Hannah loves all things artsy, and I don’t want to ever discourage that. We use the backs of bills and junk mail, and single-sided print outs, and random stuff from the recycle bin, in addition to always having coloring books on-hand. I am going to try to use up everything we have before getting anything new in this category. It’s tempting to, with a desire to support all creative whims, buy all the supplies! I need to remind myself that the alternatives are truly more creative – nature crafts and using what we already have.
  5. Memory Keeping. No technology will replace physical photographs and albums. I love looking through old albums and I want to pass them on for future generations. I’m currently working my way through preserving memories from our wedding (2005) to present, as well as Hannah’s baby book, using the Project Life system. Scrapbooking can get pretty out-of-hand when it comes to supplies, but Project Life relies on printed papers and pockets for photos so there’s no need for extra embellishment. All my supplies used to take up several totes and drawers, but now fits in an IKEA Raskog cart. My ultimate goal is for all my paper crafting supplies to fit in this cart (I still have some using up and donating to do, but I’m not too far off). My albums are kept on the IKEA Expidit (also shown above).
  6. Magazines. I am kicking myself for signing up for all those free subscriptions last year! I haven’t cancelled them, as they are all ending soon(ish). But I currently subscribe to 6 or 8 magazines. I read them then pass them on to others (ripping out a few things here and there). I need to cancel them all. I also recently went through all my hoarded magazines, donating and recycling most. I haven’t been able to part with my back issues of Domino (from their first printing life in the mid-2000s). I’m not sure why, but I still love flipping through them! Maybe one day soon I’ll part with them.
  7. Bills, statements, etc. I have requested e-statements and e-billing where at all possible, but that doesn’t mean we prevent all the paper. It’s crazy that some places offer auto-pay but still send paper statements! UGH!
  8. Junk mail. Beginning now, and for about 2 weeks, I’m going to keep all junk mail in a stack, then spend a couple of methodical hours demanding that it’s stopped. This means phone calls or returning some forms with their prepaid envelopes. I’ve already put my name on the lists to stop junk mail, but much of ours comes in the name of prior owners of our home! It’s been 5 years! I’ll do a post on this battle later. I also recently found this post detailing how to stop unwanted phone books (which is all of them, as far as I am concerned). I haven’t applied the tips, but I plan to.
  9. Gift-giving/cards. I’m a re-user of gift bags and tissue paper, so when you receive a gift from me there’s a 98% chance the gift wrap was previously used. As I run short on it now (as my family and friends have so lovingly been gifting me with unwrapped gifts(!), I am not replacing. I have a good stash, so it will be a while before I come up with clever zero waste gift wrap. I also have a pretty good stash of paper (upcycled and otherwise) to make cards from. Until the Christmas season, this will be an area that will be easy to prevent waste. While I love and appreciate beautifully wrapped gifts, I never perfected the art anyway. So I guess now’s the time to practice the art of beautiful zero waste gift-giving.
  10. Work paper. The final frontier. I wear many professional hats, but all my tasks seems to require so.damn.much.waste. I’ve implemented many electronic systems, but I can’t entirely avoid the paper monster. One way to avoid as much as possible is to print everything possible to PDF and save to my hard drive. I also call vendors who want a faxed PO, requesting to email instead (mostly out of necessity.. I don’t have a fax machine). I do all the supplies ordering for my offices as well, and while I’ll never convince everyone to bring their own mug instead of purchasing those paper coffee cups, I can at least request minimal packaging, buy in bulk to cut down on the packaging-to-product ratio, buy items made from recycled paper, and pick up what I can locally and deliver when I go into the office anyway (reducing the carbon footprint where I can). None of it’s ideal, but at least it’s slightly better. I’ve got a long-term goal of proposing less wasteful practices, but I haven’t actually gotten around to it yet. Does anyone have any tips on this?

As with all categories in my life, this once seemed overwhelming. But now I actually look forward making a significant dent wherever I can (and then continue to refine and improve).

So this is going to be my zero waste focus for the month of August. Here is my to-do list; I will update at the end of the month with how much progress I’ve made.

  1. Ensure I’ve signed up on all junk mail lists (for myself and my husband).
  2. Apply the phone book opt-out tips here.
  3. Hoard any/all junk mail, paper statements and bills for 2-3 weeks, then spend the time making phone calls, sending emails, and returning postage paid envelopes insisting to opt out.
  4. Cancel all the magazines I am subscribed to.
  5. Find something to propose cutting out at the office, or at least look into some alternatives to make the office a bit greener (where I can control it).

 

 

 

no-spend April update

It’s been a week on my no-spend; so far, so easy. I had a productive week: taking 4 boxes to a charity thrift shop, starting more seedlings for the garden, doing spring yard clean-up, tidying the shed, washing windows… the weather has been beautiful, and I’m in the mood to spring clean and work outside!

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I made a tiny grid for the dashboard of my planner where I can mark off the days for this challenge. I just drew a tiny calendar for the days of the month, and mark them off each time I have a successful day. Since I refer to my planner constantly it’s a little added incentive to keep going with it. This is actually a really good, simple, tool for perfectionists and would be great for any type of daily goal you are trying to achieve. Since I love challenges so much I may try this for another one next month.

I have to laugh that the quote above is about buying (“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy plants and that’s pretty much the same thing.”) I feel like it’s a true statement! The only things I’m jonesing for right now are plants, but I can wait until May for that. 🙂 This is actually a good time of year to do a spending freeze; gardening season is a time it’s easy for me to justify spending money. But better planning and using what I’ve got is a much better habit to get into. Gardening should be a frugal hobby! So until May, and until I’ve fully planned and prioritized, I’m babying seedlings and studying what’s emerging in my yard from last year, to get my plant fix!

3 more weeks to go!

the raspberry finsbury 

I’m a paper lover.. Lists, letters, calendars, journals & scrapbooks. I keep a lot of scraps and notes, and I don’t remember a thing if it’s not written down. I’ve recently taken on more work (still mostly at home- I’m so lucky!) but it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed when I juggle so much. It always helps to plan ahead, and to plan for balance. I recently bought my dream planner- a personal Filofax (the raspberry Finsbury, to be exact) and I LOVE it. I anguished over which Filofax to buy (it’s a big investment for a planner, and I had to carefully budget for it so I didn’t make the decision lightly). But I am content with my purchase. Here’s the outside. Such a pretty color. I’ve been really into shades of purple lately. Here’s the inside, right out of the box (I’ve modified it quite a lot):

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