Planners and calendars and office supplies, oh my!

I have a confession to make…

I love office supplies. I could spend hours wandering up & down the aisles atOffice Max, Staples, and Office Depot(and I have done so on too many occasions to count). There is something fascinating about all of the different colors & shapes of paper clips, binder clips & Post-It pads. I love to slowly walk down the paper aisles and run my hand along the cool, smooth paper, imagining the possibilities. I like to check out the cool gel pens, rollerballs, and Sharpies – I heart the new stainless steel Sharpie, and I splurged. Now I have to hide it from Brian, because he likes it too….

Don’t get me started – I could wax poetic about all of the awesome desk organizers – different colors, shapes, all the little compartments just set my heart a-flutter. It’s an illness, I know, but I accept that. I have a rather large collection of high-heeled shoes that I really treasure, and I was so excited to see that I could buy a black high-heeled shoe shaped tape dispenser <squeak>.

Desks do me in – all the possibilities with wood choices and pull-out trays, shelves, file drawers, and let’s not forget the super comfy leather chairs. I could happily get lost in the accessories aisles, with matching magazine holders, paper trays, pencil cups and the like. Alas, my eyes are bigger than my budget (or my need) for such things.

Calendars – so many pretty options, and some that are just plain funny. Different layouts, monthly, weekly, lined, boxed spaces, unboxed spaces, – too many to count!! Landscape scenes, political themes, sports teams, Bella and Edward and Jacob, motivational quotes, inspiring Christian themes, hobbies, celebrities – you name it, you can find it. Barnes and Noble is especially cruel, with some really special calendars in December… Oh the choices!!! It’s almost too hard to decide!!

Probably my favorite part of the store (even more than the Clearance section, which I really love), is the Planner section. I have a serious crush on anything time-management related, or organizational, and the aisles with the planners, refill pages, special notebooks, journals, daily agendas, etc, just makes me want to move in.

I’ve always had another problem – this one is something shared by millions of people… I can’t say no. Sure, I can do that, no problem, I can help with that. Ugh, well, who needs sleep anyway, right? I am a college professor by day, and teach for 3 different universities. I am a co-owner of our fledgling business AndersonPens, this year I am President of the PenCollectors of America, a homeowner with its associated responsibilities, and oh yeah, a wife and mother. While I certainly am NOT an expert, nor will I ever claim to have all of the answers, I do embrace wholeheartedly the concept of time management. Conquer it, no way…

I’ve tried almost all of the systems out there. Early on, I tried the At-a-glance DayMinder system. I then moved on to Day-Timer and Franklin Covey. Filofax was fun but the binders were really expensive, but the paper was nice. I’ve tried many of the family-type organizers, pocket sized, purse sized, you name it, I’ve tried it. After spending far too much money over the years, I realized that I prefer the largest Folio/Executive size – the same as a 3 ring binder, so that I didn’t have to resize anything. I did really enjoy the now-defunct Geodex system, but it’s been unavailable for like, forever. <sigh> I’ve tried making my own pages, but quite honestly, it was too much effort for too little reward.

I came to realize that much of my professional routine is fairly static. For four months twice a year, my Tuesday/Thursday schedule is exactly the same. The kids are in high school, and have the same routine every weekday during the school year. My husband works the same hours fairly regularly, so I was wasting too much time and money on the wrong type of planner refills, feeling obligated to fill the hourly pages. I also heart Outlook and use that to keep track of my life. Outlook is my memory, and I am grateful for that…. What I DO have, however, is far too many things on my daily/weekly/monthly To Do list. I finally found the PlannerPad, and so far, this works really well for me. Each page works like a funnel, filtering down your tasks, priorities, and appointments. I can separate my home tasks from my PCA tasks from my different teaching tasks, all in one place. Not only do I have the looseleaf letter sized PlannerPad, but I recently bought the desk blotter sized as well, which makes it really really easy to stay on top of things.

I’m really excited about it, because now my To-Do list is organized & much easier to manage. “Buy cat litter” no longer is sandwiched in between “grade journals” and “plan PCA meeting agenda”.  I’m just a fan and satisfied user, and this is not a paid promotion. I just wanted to share. This time of year, much is made about getting organized, decluttering, living more simply, re-prioritizing and balancing your life. I’m trying some different tactics this year, since I realize that my life is changing, my priorities are evolving, and I would, actually, like to sleep once in a while. I hear it’s pretty awesome.

How about you? How do you stay organized?