How to Use Daily Notes to Stay Organized + Free Printable!

I love staying organized. And one of the ways I stay organized, day in and day out, is by using lists. Or, daily notes. In my bullet journal from work, I copy the same layout for my daily notes page every single day and use it to record my to do list, my schedule and meetings, as well as a few other tasks (like scheduling social media, posting blogs, etc.) 

Not everyone can use a bullet journal. It's just too much for some people. And it doesn't work for everybody. If you're one of those people, I've created a free daily notes printable that you can use instead--so you can test the waters of daily notes, see if it works for you, and then invest in starting a bullet journal. 

How do I use daily notes? Here's how: 

  • I write a to do list for every single day in the To Do section. This is where all my tasks go. If I end up needing more room, I start a list on the next page, but I try to prioritize what I list as an actual To Do. As well, any tasks that I need to get to, but don't have time for today, I put in the Remember for Tomorrow section. 
  • I track my water intake and FitBit steps in habits, as well as things like whether I've scheduled social media. 
  • In the schedule, I highlight the hours I work, add in my meetings and hourly deadlines, and then note Forrest's approximate bedtime. 
  • I use the Meals section to write my meal plan for the day. 
  • At the end of the day, I write three things I'm grateful for without fail. It's a good opportunity to reflect on my day and see what I've accomplished, as well as what has gone my way. 

How to: Stay Organized

I love being organized. I have a knack of being organized even in the middle of chaos: I know where everything is; I can remember each piece of clothing I own and Forrest owns; and even if everything is a mess, I can find everything. In a perfect world, my house would be as gorgeously organized as a fancy lifestyle blog. The reality is, sometimes that's not always practical. I have no own methods of staying organized. Here they are. 

1. Find Your Own Way. 

There is lots of advice out there for getting, and staying, organized. But the truth is--some of it won't work for you. Some of it will. And some of it, you might need to alter to make work. Don't worry about sticking to the way someone else does things. 

2. Throw Things Away

Throwing out things I don't need or use is the number one way I stay organized. At least once a week, I go through my kitchen and office and throw things away--junk mail, magazines, catalogues. One thing I often have to force myself to do is throw away notepads and notebooks that are just cluttering up my house and getting in the way. I like this checklist

3. Declutter

Put everything in its place. It's easy for stuff to pile up--my china cabinet in my kitchen is the most cluttered, awful space and, a piece of advice, don't open the drawer. Step number 1 for getting organized is decluttering: get things put away, put in bins, and organized and cleaned up. Get rid of anything you don't need. 

4. Start a filing system to clean up your important documents.

I used to keep everything in binders--but those rapidly take up space. Now that we have Forrest, a house, and two cars, I have all kinds of stuff I need to keep track of, especially of the paper variety. I use a simple, place filing cabinet, but I know soon I'll need to expand to something larger. 

My Daily Essentials

I have a busy life. 

Those are words I really thought I'd never write. I hate that tendency of bloggers (especially full-time bloggers) to always write or post about how "busy" they are--when, in reality, they're probably not that super busy. Not that this is the busyness Olympics or anything.

But now that I'm legitimately busy, I feel stupid for all the times I thought I was busy in the past. A combination of sleep deprivation (although that's coming to an end), working a full-time job in half-time hours, and taking care of an entire small human has made me realize what it actually means to be "busy." 

The past few months, I've found a few ways to keep myself organized and on top of things, while effectively doing all my different jobs. These are my absolute daily essentials 

1. Bullet journals

I'm a list maker. I always have been and I always will be. I find it easiest, for all the various hats I wear, to keep a running calendar or list of deadlines, things to do, and notes. I started bullet journaling at work 2 years ago and it has worked wonderfully. I keep my bullet journal very simple: I have an index and then a full month master calendar for each month. Each day gets its own page where I record notes, things to do, and deadlines to add to my master calendar. I keep one notebook for my job and one notebook for home and it works really well to keep me feeling sane. 

I also have a "fun" bullet journal where I can do whatever list pages I want--and I don't do daily pages. I keep track of habits, saving, and all the lists I need, from books I want to buy to home improvement projects. 

2. Meal Planning  

Every Wednesday, I sit down and plan meals for the week. I know this seems like a strange day to do it, but I typically go grocery shopping with Forrest on Thursday or Friday morning. I don't use anything fancy: I use Pinterest and make a list in my journal. Then I create a grocery list out of all the recipes and add them to OurGroceries. 

3. OurGroceries

Have you guys ever used this app? I've used all kinds of different ways to try to organize my grocery lists. For a while, I used the basic Notes app on my iPhone, but I needed something better. OurGroceries can sync across different phones, so if Danny and I had the app, I could add a list of things I needed him to do on his way home from work. If I'm grocery shopping with Forrest, I don't necessarily have the ability to carry a notepad (and pen to cross things off). I can, however, hold a phone and tap to cross things out. And I never forget my list at home because it's already with me. 

4. Google Calendar & Reminders

I have an increasingly terrible memory. I used to be able to remember anything without writing it down, but those days are gone, clearly. Just like OurGroceries, it helps me to write things down in a bullet journal (usually my work one); but then I also add everything to my Google Calendar and iCalendar on my phone. I set reminders for 30 minutes and 5 minutes, just in case I forget. If I don't do this, I forget--like the doctor's appointment I completed spaced on at the beginning of June. Oops. 

What do you use to keep yourself organized? Share with me on Twitter!

Let's Get Organized this Holiday Season (Without Shopping)

I love being organized. I don't often consider myself the most organized person around, but when other people see my work areas, they always seem impressed by the order of it all. Mainly, I just like to have a place for everything so even if I let things go, I can quickly clean everything up. However, since Forrest was born, my work areas have fallen into a little bit of a disarray. I've shown up early to appointments and then late to others. Generally, I only know about half of what is going on at any time. I need to get my stuff back in gear and get organized again. I've been looking through Pinterest for some ideas and these are my favorites. 

1. Use this Moleskine hack. 

Almost everyone has a spare notebook lying around. If you've ever expressed any interest in writing, surely someone (well meaning!) has bought you a notebook. Maybe it's a Moleskine, but it doesn't have to be. I love turning Moleskines into planners, either with month calendars or weeks. They really are the perfect size for it. You can create any kind of planner you want: a bullet journal, a weekly planner, or just a book of lists. Whatever. Use it to plan your goals, set up a timeline for the New Year, or create a budget for yourself. The options are endless. 

2. Pick a Planner.

Getting a new planner doesn't always mean buying something. Lots of bloggers dedicated to planners and organization make planner packs for readers that you can download and print for free. How awesome is that!? I like this one linked above, but there are tons on Pinterest. You just need a binder of your choice, a printer, and some paper. 

3. Create a "Family Planner." 

This is something I've been meaning to do for ages. A Family Planner organizes cleaning lists, warranty information, timelines, and more for your family and more. If you have kids, you can include a calendar and school information. Again, there are tons of free templates for Family Planners out there. This is first on my list for holiday organization!

4. Make it cute. 

As with anything, I think the more personalized you make it, the more you're likely to keep using it. I use a Happy Planner to organize dates, blog posts, and my journal entries these days and I love taking 10-15 minutes every week to decorate the next week. It's just relaxing! Check out my Paper & Planners board on Pinterest for some of my favorite free, printable sticker pages for planners, scrapbooks, and more. 

How to Make a Baby Planner

For months, I had a spare Filofax cover floating around. I ordered it last year and promptly realized that it was too small for my handwriting and I didn't like any of the available Filofax calendars. (I know, I know, I'm picky.) I dismantled it and waited to use it for something useful. I follow a lot of #plannergirls on Instagram, which has given me lots of ideas for how to use spare planner covers and more. (Although, I don't see myself scrapbooking my planners so intricately anytime soon, although I love looking at the creations of others!) After I got pregnant, I knew that it would be a great idea to make a planner for my pregnancy and the baby. 

I'd looked through Pinterest trying to find a good tutorial or at least rundown of how another mom made a baby planner... but I couldn't find anything quite like I wanted. I decided to rough it and ended up making 5 tabs for myself: Basics (for to do lists, contact information, etc.), Hospital, Baby, Post-Partum, and Notes & Questions. 

I used a set of tabs that came with my original Filofax diary to trace onto some scrapbooking paper. After cutting them out, I used a hand punch to punch them for the Filofax cover. I used some stickers from a Simple Stories Baby Boy set to make the tabs, although they look a little wonky on the first one (it was my first try, what can I say?). 

From there, I separated each tab into some separate sections.

Basics includes a page of basic information about Danny & I (our birthdates), my doctor, my hospital of choice, and potential emergency contacts (my mom, Danny's parents). Then, I have sections for To Do lists, both pre-baby and post-baby. The basics section is basically a place for me to jot down things I need to remember to do or write a list of things Forrest really, actually still needs (a changing table pad, a carseat, a stroller) without having a million post-it notes floating around my house. 

Hospital has further information about my choice of hospital (including any notes I write down from my hospital tours, since my doctor delivers are two totally different area hospitals), as well as my birth plan, a packing list, and notes for Danny. Basically, I wanted to make sure that I have all my medical information and wishes written down in one place because, while I will remember them, Danny may not. 

Baby has a section for first stats, medical information, and any other notes I might need to write down and keep track of. This section also has a feeding log (to keep track of feeding times and breastfeeding concerns), as well as a diaper log. (If you're wondering why the "Name" section of Baby Stats is blank, it's because there is always the minute possibility that the baby will be a girl and therefore, not named Forrest. Gender determination is still sometimes incorrect.) 

Post-partum is a pending section: mostly, I'll use it for notes from the doctors, any instructions I might receive, and questions I might have. 

Notes & Questions is my most-used section right now! Whenever I think of a question for my doctor, I write it down here. Whenever I notice Forrest kicking more than usual, I write it down (as well as anything that preceded it, such as drinking a soda or eating ice cream). It's basically where I record anything that might be important for my upcoming appointments. 

If I hadn't had this Filofax lying around, I probably would have used a plain notebook (with dividers) to make a working baby notebook, but I'm glad I decided to repurpose a Filofax. It's the perfect size to carry around and I don't have to worry about buying diary refills for it... I can just cut down notebook paper or other loose leaf paper to use in it. I've found a lot of ways to keep myself organized lately, and this is just another way that I keep my memory in check.