I have searched for many years for the ultimate diary … with no luck. In 2011 I decided that I would make it myself. So I went down to Officeworks and bought an A5 binder, and started to make inserts that I could use. It’s called a ‘Control Journal’ because it lives in the hub of my home, where I make appointments … like a control tower at the airport (it’s a FlyLady thing).
The next step was to find or make the inserts. I decided I want to empty this binder at the end of the calendar year, file that year away, and fill it again, but couldn’t find A5 loose calendars with a week to a double page. So I made my own.
My new years day activity is to go through and write in the month up the top, and dates next to the days. There is a space for birthdays, and for meal planning, and I love this because I can see the entire week’s schedule. I also go through and transfer birthdays and anniversaries from last years calendar into the new one, so I never miss a birthday. I also write notes a couple of weeks before some birthdays to remind myself to buy a gift (or if I buy a gift early I jot that down a few days before the birthday to remind myself where I put it, and to wrap it!). Same goes for posting cards, just jot down a reminder.
In the back of the diary I have some other important pages. One has contact details for schools, our doctor, dentist, vet, plumber, electrician, mechanic … very handy to have them all in one place. One page has emergency contacts for family, and another for friends. There is a page of dinner ideas (everything I cook, in categories like pasta, beef, chicken, etc), and a double page lists everything I buy at the grocery store (in sections like fridge, pantry, sink, bathroom, etc). They allow me to make my weekly menu & shopping list with ease.
I also have some laminated pages with my morning & evening routines, and zones (again, that’s a FlyLady thing which needs a whole post of its own!). There is also an ‘in case of emergency’ page, where you can find everything we would need in case of evacuation. There are pockets in the front & back of this binder, so in the back I keep unpaid bills (and note the due date in the diary), out of sight, but not forgotten. In the front pocket I keep important business cards, quotes for jobs to be done, etc.
It’s at this point you might be wondering how on earth this is a time saver. Fair enough. While this binder did take me some time to put together, I did it over several days, and I add and remove things as needed. I still intend to add a page with important details like account details, insurance policy numbers, TFN’s, etc. It’s extremely handy to have all these things in one place so you’re not hunting all over the house when you fill out a form … and this is where it becomes a time saver. It is so incredibly worth investing some time in creating a one-stop-resource like this, because it will save you time later (most likely when you’re in a rush). By having my week’s menu set out before me I know to take meat out of the freezer a night or 2 before. By having every meal we enjoy set out I can make sure we’re not eating mince or chicken every night, and can vary our weekly menu so we don’t get bored with it. By having emergency numbers in one place, Mr D never has to hunt for information if I’m not around, and a babysitter has a full resource at her fingertips. And by laminating my routines and ‘to do’ lists I can cross them off and re-use them, which is immensely satisfying! By keeping bills in the back pocket I never lose one, and by writing the due date (usually the day before it’s due), I never miss a bill and pay late fees. The columns are long enough to make a decent ‘to do’ list every day and cross off everything as I action it. I will also point out that I do not own a smart phone, so I need all my information on paper. If you do have a smart phone, do remember to add birthdays to your calendar so you remember to call nieces, nephews and other important people to wish them happy birthday!
Are you a calendar, diary or smart phone person? Are you interested in a set of templates so you can create an A5 binder like this for yourself? If so, let me know and I will happily add a great little budget version to the Cake & Enemy shop. 😀 If you have a great system that helps you stay organised I’d love to see it or hear about it in the comments below, or over at the Cake & Enemy facebook page.