My obsession with notebooks started in 2nd grade with my sticker book collection. It was my pride and joy. Not only did I have the best stickers on the block, but they were categorized and color-coded. Later on, I started categorizing them by brand and finish (Lisa Frank, Disney, Sanrio, Sandylion, glitter, non-glitter, fuzzy, puffy, etc).
Fast-forward 20-some years and I’m still all about keeping things organized, but I’ve traded in my sticker books for what I guess you could call “life books”.
Meet my secret weapon. My can’t-leave-the-house-without-it item. My right hand man, if you will. Well, technically it’s a notebook that’s not-so-jokingly labeled “My Right Hand”. It’s where I keep my “master calendar”, to-do’s, must-do’s, grocery lists, coupons, and other important everyday information. Basically, it’s a conglomeration of everything I need/want to be keeping track of in my head – but safely on paper.
I normally keep it at my desk, where I’m at most of the day, but it’s small enough to throw in my bag when I go out to run errands. I have three other, larger notebooks that I keep in my office: one for finances, one for home maintenance, and one for the blog. I’ll probably end up posting more about those individually later.
Over the years, I’ve had a lot of notebooks to keep me, my thoughts and my to-do’s organized. I’ve spent a lot of time “perfecting” this notebook system, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where it works for me. But before I could get to that point, I had to divide my everyday into five sections…
CALENDAR. In this section I have my “mega calendar” – blog, house, bill reminders, family events, Bentley, birthdays all in one. Like I mentioned earlier, I have three additional (larger) notebooks for the blog, house, and finances. Every month or so, I transfer the important items from those calenders to this one. That may seem a tad redundant, but I like being able to see everything going on around here on one calendar. It keeps me sane.
LISTS. My family literally makes fun of me and my lists. I have a list for everything. I mean everything. At the moment, I have a total of 14 lists going on in this little section. No exaggeration. Aside from everyday to-do lists, I keep track of things I want to buy (furniture pieces – including price and item numbers), things I need to buy (groceries, toiletries, etc), party ideas (at the moment, for my little brother’s high school graduation party), and so on.
COUPONS. In this section, I just have a clear zipper pouch where I keep coupons, as well as a few sheets of paper to keep track of good online coupon codes I may come across. I’m not an avid “coupon-er” but I’m beginning to snip a few here and there if it’s something I think I’ll actually use. In other words, I’m not going to hold on to a coupon for buy one get 8 free Sobe drinks just because it’s a good deal. I’m saying that now, and you watch, this time next year, I’ll be on Extreme Couponing. I hear once you start, it can get pretty addicting!
WELLNESS. Since my unexpected surgery back in December, Greg and I’ve been a lot more health-conscious. Working on it, anyway. Baby steps. Having gone through something that major really puts things into perspective, and we’re working one day at a time to live and be healthier. In light of that, when reorganizing my notebook a little over a month ago, I added a Wellness tab. This is where I log my exercise, water intake (I remember to drink more water if I write it down!), and Weight Watchers points. Yep, WW is our jam. I also have a small zipper pouch where I can stash any healthy recipes I come across.
FUN! As I said earlier, I’m a planner. In the four years Greg and I have been married, we’ve been on four vacations – all to Disney World. Disney World is THE happiest place on Earth, and we both love it. Like love, love. On the other hand, there are a few places within driving distance that I went to when I was a kid, and I’d love to take Greg to someday – all of which would be great long weekend trips. Like Stone Mountain Park, near Atlanta (I went there a few times as a kid and i know Greg will love it! We went to college two and a half hours from there, so I don’t know why we never made it!), The Crayola Factory in Easton, Pennsylvania (being a How It’s Made fan, contrary to what you may thing, this idea isn’t all me. Greg is actually excited about seeing how Crayons are made. And I just like to color.), Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania (I love the factory tour!), Chincoteague Island in Northern Virginia (last time I was there, a wild horse came right up to the window of the car and tried to take my little brother’s cheese stick! It was awesome.), and the list goes on. In this section, I also keep a list (yes, another list) of antique/thrift stores I want to check out.
If you’re looking to put together a “Right Hand” notebook of your own, here’s my checklist of must-haves (Update: I added links to the exact products I used to make my notebook!):
- A 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 3-ring binder (here)
- 2 Zipper Pouches (here)
- Memo Tabs + Sticky Notes (here)
- 5 Tab Dividers (here)
- Lined Paper (here)
- 18-Month Calendar (here)
- Color-Coding Labels (here)
- A Few Paperclips (here)
- A pencil! (here)
- Personality check. I’m a firm believer is ascetically pleasing organization. It makes the world go around. Make sure you pick out a notebook that really reflects your personality. If you like how it looks, you’ll enjoy using it and be more likely to keep it updated.
- I take that back! Especially when it comes to your calendar, make sure you jot down things in pencil (or erasable ink). Around here, things are always changing, so it’s important to make sure everything is easy to edit or erase completely. I’ll get more into my “blog scheduling” when I talk about the blog notebook, but with this calendar (and the blog notebook calendar), I put blog post subjects on removable stickers so I can move them around if I need to.
- Safe and sound. It’s nice to have a place to keep all of your online passwords, but if you plan on taking this with you out and about, it may not be the best, most secure place to keep them. If you were to lose or misplace your notebook, all of your important passwords would be in the hands of whoever found it! Even if you’re planning on keeping it in the house, make sure it’s not just laying around out in the open for anybody to see!
- Hi, my name is ___. Make sure you have your name and contact information easily visible in the front of your notebook. This way, if you lose it, there’s a better chance it will end up back in your hands.
- Keep it simple. If you’re trying hard to make your notebook “perfect”, labeling the sections can be pretty daunting. There are so many things you can keep track of! Don’t worry! Just think about what’s most important to you on a day-to-day basis and go from there. Also, the broader your subjects are, the more likely you are to get good use of them. And, as always, keep it simple.
Do you have a “Right Hand” Notebook too? What tab names do you use? Any tips/tricks to share with the class?
Lisa Frank sticker book image found here.
Btw, we’re up for a JDR Blogger Award in the Remodeling category! Voting only takes 2 clicks, there’s no registration required and we’d really appreciate your vote! The winner gets $500 and a spiffy award to display. To cast your vote, click here! Did we mention you look lovely today? ; )