Way back at the end of October I participated in Dawn’s planner party in which I described how I use my planner, brain dump notebook and commonplace book. I make a point in one of my homeschooling talks (the one about atmosphere) that thoughtful people write down their thoughts. I get a lot of feedback on that particular line because, although it’s very simple, most people don’t consider that the very act of writing something down means you are taking more time to consider and think. When you make a habit of this, you must needs become a person who thinks more and considers deeply. I really believe that which is why I will never be a completely digital person, as much as I love gadgets.
The notebook is inelegantly referred to as a brain dump (I’m trying to come up with a cute name that fits how I use it) because it really is where I keep all the flotsam and jetsam that is puttering around in my head that I will surely forget if it’s not written down. Most homemakers and homeschool moms that I know keep some kind of similar notebook, often more than one, but for me this one functions as an all encompassing spot to organize my life. If I had more than one I think I wouldn’t use them or be too caught up in what goes into each one.
So one notebook. I use The Mead Cambridge Limited.
(That’s an affiliate link, if you click on it and buy anything I get a pittance which will likely be used to feed my office supply addiction.)
I like this notebook because of the wide left margin, which is great for lists and all those little boxes at the top which just make me happy.
I then divide up the notebook with these handy Post-it Tabs in the following categories:
The categories are very basic and sometimes where I record something would only make sense to me.
Homeschool Notes: Here is where I make notes about a variety of different homeschool things. For example I am going to be planning our third quarter next week and I have notes in there on some things Sean needs more work on (Sean has some learning issues), I’m adding some subjects for Brendan, resources for the twins to do their New York State Study, a few books I want to order and a couple of notes of things that I pinned on Pinterest that I don’t want to forget to look at.
Entertainment: Lists of movies to stream, field trip ideas, party planning. That kind of thing. Each party gets a page and I list things like, guests, food, wine/liquor, decor. We give two big parties a year New Year’s Eve and July fourth. Each party gets a page or two of organizing and then a page on the day of to keep me on schedule. What time to put things in the oven and so forth.
Travel: I travel for work. A lot. This is where I make notes about flight times, expenses, car services in different cities, frequent flyer stuff, and mileage. It is also where I keep articles I clip from the paper’s travel section, info about family vacations (research, prices, ideas) and I keep notes about my dad’s trips and itineraries. He was in Greece for two weeks last year, this year it will be Scandinavia and Russia, next year he’s thinking a riverboat down the Amazon. I kid you not, he takes some keeping track this traveling dad of mine.
Writing: There are pages for blogging here ideas, blogging at Seton Magazine ideas, column ideas for The Long Island Catholic, pitch ideas, notes on the e-book I’m writing (stay tuned for that) and just meandering stream of consciousness that may someday become something.
Booklist: Books I’ve read, books I want to read, books the kids have read, books I want to order, books I take out of the library, clippings about books…. you get it.
Shopping: This is where I list materials for home projects I want to do, paint colors, slip covers, furniture I want to buy :). I also have a page dedicated to the kids and their sizes, preferences, needs. Same for Dave. It’s also where I make note of family things I want to buy, for example, if I see a blog post about a fun board game, or video game I make a note of it.
Household: This is where all those honey-do lists go 😉 as well as ideas, plans, and random thoughts about homekeeping. I make notes of when we do things (the gutter cleaning people came this week, the cost went up) and notes about holidays (moved the tree to the corner this year to accommodate the new couch, buy new twinkle lights for the deck for the fourth of July party) . It makes sense to me and likely no one else.
So that’s it. This isn’t the kind of record keeping that will keep my household running smoothly in the event of my untimely demise 🙂 rather it’s where I keep track of/dispose of the incessant chatter that clutters up this brain of mine so I can actually get some tasks accomplished. The notebook travels around with me and once something is written down, there is a good chance that it will, at some point, be paid attention to and accomplished. If I allow things to sit in my head on the off chance that I will remember, well, I won’t.
I hope this helps describe my hot mess of a brain dump book. I know as we are moving rapidly toward the new year many of us moms are re-thinking our methods of planning and organizing and I would love to hear how you manage your mental clutter.
To view Dawn’s planner party posts click here.