Yesterday, over at Feeding the Soil, I wrote about my goals for the month of June, and Kelsey asked: "Can you share how you keep track of these? Do you have a "method" of journaling or a place you keep ideas?"
I figured 2000dollarwedding was the perfect place to share my response, since planning a wedding can require a lot of organization and a centralized way to track everything.
Enter the Life Binder.
When I taught 6th grade at the original KIPP school in Houston, our students had a mega binder that held everything for all their classes, which we called their "Life Binders". I started calling my personal organization system my Life Binder to show them that organizing your stuff in a centralized location is not just something that nit-picky adults impose upon children; it's actually an organizational strategy that they might choose for themselves when they are older.
Before I share my system for keeping myself organized, I have to include this obvious caveat: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to organization. In fact, my own system changes depending upon my job. My current system reflects the fact that I am not often in front of my computer, and therefore need a tangible and portable system.
So, here's a little tour of my Life Binder, in case it provides some inspiration for reflecting upon or revamping your own system:
Part I: My Vision for the Year
- Every New Year's, my friends and I make collages to represent the kind of year we want to create for ourselves. On the back, I usually list out my goals for the year, as well as a monthly breakdown of what I need to do each month in order to accomplish the yearly goals. I also usually have a list of roles that I play in my life (teacher, grade level team member, blogger, wife/friend/sister/daughter, time bank coordinator, etc.) I didn't do it this year.
- Every Sunday night, I sit down to create my plan for the week. I look at my calendar and transfer all my obligations. I also backwards-plan particular things. For example, if I have a Montessori team meeting on Thursday, I might finish creating the observation form on Tuesday, and print the agenda on Thursday morning. If I notice that it's someone's birthday, I add "Write a card" onto the appropriate day. I also schedule exercise, dates, fun things with friends, etc. I also take a look at my monthly goals and see what smaller steps I can tackle this week, in order to accomplish my goals for the month. I also scan my list of life roles to see if there's anything I'm neglecting.
- I keep things like meeting agendas, nutrition trackers, etc. in this section, so I always have what I need handy.
- All my colleagues have a box assigned to them. On a sticky note, I record what I need to talk to them about. That way, when we have a meeting, I can talk about everything I've been saving up (instead of sending a gazillion e-mail messages or peppering them with comments/questions all the time). I use sticky notes, so I can change them out whenever they get full (some people fill up much faster than others).
- I do the same thing with sticky notes, but I record things that I need to buy at the grocery store, read, posts I want to write on my blogs, etc.
Part VI: Upcoming
- I store things that I'm going to need in the immediate future, like directions to meetings, confirmations for hotels, etc.
- I keep my monthly calendar in my binder (purchased from Office Max) to record obligations, dates, events, birthdays, etc.
So there you have it! If you're interested in using any of the templates, you can download them here.
Any other words of wisdom for keeping oneself organized? What works for you?