Commonplace Books

I just discovered what I had been calling my Bible Journal is more aptly named a Commonplace Book. Commonplace books are blank books people have been using , since the Middle Ages, to store information on one or more subjects. Hence, the derivation of the name as all entries have something in common. The information was gathered from many different sources and recorded in the book. It may have been a drawing, pressed plants, a tidbit from a conversation, or a copied entry from something they had read. The recorder may have also included their thoughts on a piece of information noted in the book.

What fascinates me is how very, well, common they were. I guess anyone who could read and write carried one around with them which enabled them to capture the information on the spot. In Early America, a tradesman was not only required to teach his/her apprentice trade craft, but also reading and writing. So many Americans knew how to read and write, therefore, many Americans were running around with these books. Making them a good source of information for subjects being discussed and written about in a certain time period.

Posted in Totally Off Topic

Flooring, Deadbolts, and Doorknobs

I’m all for being up to a challenge, but it seems for the last few months it’s been nothing but challenges.  I feel like I’m running track: one hurdle after another with not much of a break in between and the track seems to be endless.  A prime example is when my deadbolt broke and I got locked out of my apartment.

I unlock my deadbolt to go in the apartment and the door won’t open.  It has to be the deadbolt because that’s the only lock I use.  I happen to know where the maintenance man is, so I decide to wait out in the hot sun, so I can waylay him when he finishes his current job. (No, I’m not impatient or pushy at all ;-))  He finagles the deadbolt and gets me in the apartment.  It was kind of late and he was going fishing (making me very glad I had waited for him), so we decided to change it out the next day.  I simply wouldn’t use the deadbolt.  No problem.  I had some more work to do outside so simply closed the door without locking it.  All’s well.

Finished work, returned to my apartment. I’m locked out again, but this time the maintenance man is off fishing.  I call a neighbor to help me with the dead bolt, so I can get back in the apartment.  Once in I remove the dead bolt and shut the door.  Problem half solved – now there’s a hole in my door.

Went to leave to get a new dead bolt and the door won’t open.  I’m now locked in the apartment: a big improvement over being locked out, but still not good.  I jimmy the door open with a screwdriver and remove that knob. No knobs on my door and no chance of being locked out again, but it means that no one else is locked out either.

(Now, you may be thinking it was the doorknob, not the deadbolt, causing all the problems.  I had that same thought myself.  I would agree with that idea if someone can tell me how messing with the deadbolt makes a broken doorknob work.)

By this time I have to go the restroom.  I get in there and through some bizarre happenstance my belt has gotten turned around and the belt buckle is hiding under a strap.  I’m now locked into my pants. Being distracted by my bladder it took me longer than it should have, but finally figured my way out of that one.

Taped a piece of paper over the holes in my door to keep out the resident wasps and head over to the shop to get a new doorknob and deadbolt because no door knobs mean no putting it off until tomorrow.  I get over there and my key doesn’t work.  I’m locked out.

I get some help with that lock, get in the shop and there are no lock sets in inventory.  There are some old doorknobs and deadbolts lying around, but not ones with keys.  It’s okay because I know enough to know that it’s more than likely the shaft that is broken and the rest of the doorknob works fine and I don’t need a key for the deadbolt.  For now I just need something to fill the holes and actually works when you turn it.

Parts in hand I start replacing doorknobs and deadbolts.  Doorknob goes in fine, but the deadbolt doesn’t fit.  By this time I’ve had enough.  I’m done.  I say screw it, re-tape the paper over the hole, block the door with a heavy chair because a locked doorknob with a hole right above it is not very burglar proof, and call it a night.

The next day everything went much smoother and I’m happy to say I have a working deadbolt and doorknob.

But that’s how my life has been for the last month or so.  And that’s how I ended up installing a vinyl plank floor.  Call someone to do it.  They don’t show up.  Call them again.  They say they’ll be there the next day and don’t show up again.  Stop calling that person and call someone else where the entire process starts all over again.  This lasted for a month.  At that point I decided to do it myself.   I was so disgusted with bad attitudes and no one showing up there was no way I was going to let any one touch that floor but me.   I actually locked the door and hung on to the key, so no one else could go in there (Working on the very slim chance they did happen to finally show up).

After some mishaps and a relatively small learning curve the floor was finally installed.  Here it is:

Unfortunately, I can’t claim credit for the baseboards.  The maintenance man did those and a lovely job he did.

All-in-all, not bad for my first floor.  The planks were no trouble at all.  The problems I encountered had to do with leveling the floor.  That wouldn’t have even been so bad had the products advertising themselves as self-leveling actually were.  In my mind, if it sits there like a pile of mashed potatoes, it’s not self-leveling.  This ended up costing a lot more time than needed, but it got handled and the floor is finally finished.

So how’s your life been?

May everyone have a blessed day!

Posted in Totally Off Topic

Theology and Revolution – An Open Book: July 2017

A new month and new books to read.  That’s the great thing about books: one never seems to run out of them, especially with the advent of the ebook.  Now we not only have a choice of new books to read, but old books that were no longer in print or were hard to find are becoming accessible. I wonder if this could be considered the time of the bibliophile?

But for book lovers reading them is not enough.  Always on the lookout for a good book we are ever curious as to what others are reading and are more than happy to share our current reads.  Hence, An Open Book monthly linkup hosted at My Scribbler’s Heart blog and  Let your fellow book lovers know what you’re reading by posting a blog with the title and description of the book(s) you and/or your family are planning to read this month.  Don’t forget to include the links to those two blogs in case others want to share and/or find some possible new titles to read.  After you’ve posted simply  link up your post at My Scribbler’s Heart or and you’re done!

Before July–June

Luckily, I was able to fit another book in June.  Since it wasn’t on my An Open Book list for that month I want to include it here.  The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun is the story of how the author came to found his own nonprofit Pencils of Promise. 

In college Adam signed on to the Semester at Sea program where students study on ""board a ship while traveling and visiting different countries.  It was in one of these countries that he asked a poor child, “If you can have anything in the world, what would it be?”  The child answered, “A pencil.”  With further questioning Braun discovered the child wanted a pencil because in the child’s mind pencils were synonymous with education.  Being a real eye-opener for the author he continued to ask the same question of other children and found the same answer everywhere he traveled.  Where education wasn’t available to them he found that’s what they wanted.  This eventually led him to found Pencils of Promise which works with local governments to build schools in areas where they otherwise couldn’t afford them.

But the story doesn’t just explain why he started this ministry, but also how he started it.  Using his own experiences Braun shares the valuable lessons he learned along the way.  His hope is that others can benefit from these experiences to found their own ministries.  So, if you’ve ever wondered what it takes to start a ministry, then this would be a good book for you.  I also recommend it because he shares some valuable life lessons.  There’s wisdom there which I found surprising from one so young.

Now for July reads

First up is Transformation in Christ by Dietrich von Hildebrand.  I’ve been wanting to read this every since reading a review in the Catholic Herald.  The review included a quote which as soon as I read it I thought to myself, “This man knows God.”  Now that ""might seem like a silly thing to say about a theologian, but not all theologian’s are created equal.  I’ve heard some strange teachings coming out of their mouths, enough to know they don’t all know God.  Now,  I’d heard about von Hildebrand to trust him as a theologian, but never anything about any particular book that would make me sit down and read one.  At least, not until I read that quote.

Apparently it’s a “modern spiritual classic” (sometimes I feel so clueless) which “gives a penetrating analysis of the true path to holiness for those who love Christ.”  Below is a description from Alice von Hildebrand on how the book helped her:

“Again and again as I read it, I was led to realize how often I had fallen into illusions about myself, and how often I had followed a path that actually had led me away from the true goal: to be transformed in Christ.  It was as if scales had fallen from my eyes.

I hope it helps me as much.  It just came in the mail today and I’m only two pages into the introduction by his wife, Alice, and I’ve already discovered three gems.  I think I’m going to love this book.

Interesting factoid: The book was originally published in German.  It had not yet been translated into English when Alice Jourdain, later to become von Hildebrand, first heard about the book.  Her interest in it was so great that she learned German just so she could read it.""

Rules for Radicals: a Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul Alinsky is another author I’ve been hearing about since around 2008. I don’t know what made me read it now.  Maybe for the same reason I read Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement last month.  I’m just looking for answers.

Alinsky says he wrote it for those who want to know “how to create mass organizations to seize power . . .”  Another reason was the only revolutionary writings available to those who wanted to bring about change at that time were ""communist writings;  “Here [in communist writings] they can read about tactics, maneuvers, strategy and principles of action in the making of revolutions.”  But those following communist writings were getting defeated in the outset because their methods were so closely tied in people’s minds with Communism.  Alinsky apparently wanted to put some distance between the two giving revolutionaries a better chance at success.  Clean up revolutionaries’ reputations, if you will.  I’m not sure he succeeded here as I can’t say his reputation is any better than communism’s.

I’m only about a quarter of the way through it, but, as can be expected, I don’t agree with much of his philosophy which seems very Machiavellian in his outlook in that any means justify any ends. Just get the job done, even if you have to corrupt your soul in the process.  Alinsky doesn’t see corruption as a problem though. He’s decided that everyone and everything is corrupt.  He uses this belief to justify any type of behavior which furthers his or the revolutionary’s goals.  It’s an old tired worn out excuse for committing evil, so Alinsky is doing nothing new or original.  He’s simply making some money off of communist ideas.

For all I disagree with him I do plan on finishing the book.  Only because I want to read about the strategies and tactics.   Even though published in 1971 others have claimed the rules are still in use today.  I would like to be able to recognize them when I see them in action.  ""

Because of the recent Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America called by the USCCB I’ve interrupted my reading of Pope Leo XIII encyclicals to reread the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelli Gaudium of Pope Francis on the the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World. Simply because this exhortation was the inspiration and goal of the convocation.

And that’s it for reading.  No fiction lined up this month either.  I guess I’m just not in the mood.

I hope you find some great books to read.  I look forward to learning what everyone else is reading, so don’t forget to link up at


Thank you Ben White for the use of the lovely photo via




Posted in Totally Off Topic

Real or Fake News? Catching an Electric Car, May 1893

I ran across this on the front page of the May 24, 1893 edition of the Livingston Herald.  I can’t make up my mind whether it was fake or real news.   Being on the front page makes me believe it was a true story, but knowing the entire paper only had 4 pages makes being on the front page a little less impressive.  I did learn that by 1885 electric trains pulling 8 cars were getting speeds up to 25 mph and by 1890 speeds on streetcars had reached 40 mph, so 60 mph in 1893 is feasible.  The idea of jumping, from a standstill, onto a vehicle moving at 60 mph seems truly unlikely.

You read it and let me know what you think: real or fake news?

Catching an Electric Car

Not So Easy As It Seems When It Is Going a Mile a Minute

There is one elderly gentleman in Boston who will think a long time before he again boards an electric car while it is in motion.

He was standing on Tremont street with a nervous glitter in his eye that showed that he was in a hurry to get somewhere.  Car after car whizzed by, but they did not seem to suit the old gentleman’s fancy, and his glances up the street became more frequent and more apoplectic.

At last one appeared in the distance that caused the watcher’s eyes to brighten.  It was a very handsome car, with a broad green belt and a yellow dasher.  True, it was bounding along at a rate of 60 miles an hour: but what of that?  The old gentleman was in a hurry, and then he knew how to get on easy enough.  He had seen lots of people do it.  All you had to do was to wait until the middle of the car was opposite to you, and then stretch out one hand and one foot, grasp the rail, and there you were.  Nothing could be simpler.

The electric car came bounding playfully along, and the elderly gentleman shifted his weight on to one foot so as to be ready for it.  When he was opposite to the middle of the green belt, he leaned a little forward, stretched out one hand and grasped the rail as it flew past.  Either he hadn’t ascertained correctly how the thing was done or else he was a trifle slow with the other foot.  At any rate he didn’t board the car.

There was a terrific jerk, and the old gentleman found himself streaming horizontally behind the car like a pennant on a masthead.  After he had flown for several blocks in this manner, the elderly gentleman concluded that his position was ridiculous for one of his age, and with a short mental prayer he let go the rail. Before he landed he turned five double somersaults and a very difficult handspring, besides knocking down three inoffensive passersby.

When he had been restored to consciousness, and his hat and glasses had been fished out of the snow by some kindly souls, he sent one meaning glance in the direction of the retreating car.

“Some people may call this civilization,” he said bitterly, “but I call it h—.”

And disdaining the sympathy of his rescuer he jammed his snow covered hat over his eyes and tottered feebly int he direction of the Parker House.–Boston Herald.


Posted in Totally Off Topic

My Reads for An Open Book: June 2017

""MyScribbler’s Heart and are hosting Open Book: June 2017 where you share what you’re reading for June.  One would think a blog all about words would include more posts about what I’m reading, but those type of posts have been few and far between.  So I’m taking advantage of this opportunity to make up for that lapse.

The Encyclical Providentissmus Deus on the study of Holy Scripture by Pope Leo XIII

I’ve been sticking to my resolution to read all of the Church encyclicals.  It’s been a great experience.  Reading them has both opened my eyes and left me in the dark.  They’re enlightening both for what they teach and how they show the problems the Church ahs faced at the different periods in history.   For example, Providentissmus Deus, my current read, was written by Pope Leo XIII against the Rationalists who “are in possession of numerous schools, taken by violence from the Church, in which, by ridicule and scurrilous jesting, they pervert the credulous and unformed minds of the young to the contempt of Holy Scripture (10).”  That was something I never knew before, but who are the Rationalists and how did they “violently” take schools “from the Church”?  As to that, I’m left in the dark.

The Pope goes on to say how the study of Scripture should be taught in colleges and who should teach them, but it leaves one asking, “Are they doing this somewhere?” Where would I have to go to be taught in this manner?  Once again both light and darkness.  If anyone can suggest a good book regarding this period in Church history I would be grateful.

Next on the list by Pope Leo XIII are Immortale Dei on the Christian Constitution of States and Superiore Anno on the Recitation of the Rosary.  Perhaps others, depending on the amount of time I have.

True Devotion to Mary: With Preparation for Total Consecration by St. Louis de Montfort and translated by Rev. Faber

I’ve heard so much lately about this devotion because of the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparition I finally decided to read it.  I’m having a harder time with it then I thought I would.  Before anyone gets offended my problem is not with the Blessed Virgin Mary.  There’s nothing good you could say about her that I would disagree with.  The problem is the way I’m built.  It’s the same reason I have a problem with the communion of saints.  Not with the reasoning behind the communion of the saints, but simply going to them rather than directly to God.  As long as I can remember I’ve gone directly to the source when I needed something.  No intermediaries, just straight to the source.  I do understand the Son is the intermediary to the Father, but He is also God.  It just makes no sense to me to have an intermediary to the intermediary.

Anyway, after going back and forth while reading the book I’ve finally decided to let the Holy Spirit lead me in this.  Whenever, I’ve had a problem with any teaching of the Catholic Church the Holy Spirit has always showed me why the Church was right.  I have no doubt the Holy Spirit will do the same this time.

Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement by Sue Ellen Browder

This is the next book on my list to read.  I’ve been dying to read it every since I first heard the author interviewed on an episode of Women of Grace.  If anyone had asked me the sex of person behind the sexual revolution I would have bet everything I owned on it being a male.  A reprobate male, but still a male.   Seriously, sex without ties and on demand, no commitments, and no babies; it would be a reprobate’s dream.  But according to the author it was a woman, Helen Gurley Brown, who was pushing this.  I still have a hard time fathoming that, so I want to read the book to find out if there was a man behind the woman.

Another thing I’ve always wondered about was why the sexual revolution took hold.  It seems odd to me that someone came up with the idea and everybody decided to jump on board.  Well, apparently, they didn’t.  The idea had to be sold.

Which brings me to the next reason I want to read it: how did they manage to sell it?

Yes, I do read fiction, but I just finished Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb and haven’t chosen my next read yet.  I started reading The Quest by Nelson DeMille, but can’t get into it.  That’s unfortunate because he’s one of my favorite authors.  He’s the only author whose writing has the ability to transport me to another place.  Apparently, The Quest was the first book he ever wrote.  He’s, obviously, developed his craft over the years. So no nonfiction until I run across something that will hold my interest.

Posted in Totally Off Topic


I’ve written in another post about my daily planner.  If you haven’t had a chance to read it it’s basically some blank pieces of paper and post-it® notes.  The great thing about it is its fluidity.  No scratching out and penciling in: everything can be moved around easily because it is all on post-it® notes.  It’s also handy.  Need to remember something? Just jot it down on a post-it® and slap it on a piece of paper in your binder.

This is another use I get out of it.  It’s great for keeping lists organized.  I prefer this method to trying to remember or trying to locate the name of that book I wanted to read somewhere in my journal or a scrap of paper in my purse.  The types of lists vary.  I have one for:

  • Books I want to read: I write down the name of the book and the author on a post-it® and slap it on a page I have dedicated for that.  When it’s time to read a new book I just peruse the post-it®s on that page to see what I’ve meaning to read.
  • Household chores.: I made up a page with nothing but individual post-it®s listing the different chores. When I’m planning my week I just pull the chores off and put them on my daily planning sheets.  When I’m done it goes back on the list.
  • Blog post ideas: Any time I get an idea for a blog post it goes on a sticky and on the page for ideas.

This method works for any type of list that you can think of.  It also works great for projects which are nothing more than a bunch of tasks aimed at one goal.

Project sheets

When I start a new project I get out some blank pieces of paper and some sticky notes.  I start writing down all of the individual tasks on their own sticky and place them on the paper.  Once that’s done I organize them in some logical order.  When I’m ready to do them I pull them from the project sheet and place them on the planner.  When they’re complete I move them from the planner to a page for completed tasks in that project.  I add any notes on another sticky, if needed, and also place that on the completed task page.

Below is an example of project sheets I have for a current endeavor I’m starting.  The pink stickies are headers and the rest are tasks or notes.


This method makes organizing and locating data so much easier for me.  I hope it helps you, too!

God bless!

#Time Management

Posted in Totally Off Topic


I read a great book a while back about the heroin-opioid epidemic in the United States.  It’s called Dreamland: the true tale of America’s opiate epidemic by Sam Quinones.  Quinones listed many factors underlying the epidemic, but the root of it all was unemployed, anxious and depressed Americans.  This was especially so in the Rust Belt of the southern United States.  Most of these people were unemployed due to American manufacturing jobs closing their doors and moving overseas.  It’s pretty obvious the corporations did this to lower labor costs.  While I didn’t understand the effect it had on the people living in these areas until I read the book, I did know why so many jobs moved overseas.

What I didn’t know was what made it possible for those companies to open shop in these other countries.  According to the Freakonomics podcast “Did China Eat America’s Jobs” that occurred because of trade deals.  Trade deals that the economists knew would cause manufacturing jobs to leave the U.S. and leave low-skilled workers unemployed.  Now, the economists did believe that these workers would be able to transfer to other jobs in a relatively short period of time.  However, they miscalculated badly: the number of manufacturing jobs that left was much higher than they predicted, the ability for the unemployed workers to find new jobs was much, much longer than they estimated and they didn’t even consider the emotional impact on these people’s lives.  That gives us insight to how we ended up where we are today..

I’d like to leave you with some good news, but the only solutions the economist had to offer was government assistance in one form or another.  But for all of that I found the podcast helped me to fill in some blanks and if you want to give it a listen, here’s the link.  If you decide to also read Dreamland, then you might notice the ensuing epidemic was not just caused by the economic policy discussed in the podcast, but other government policies as well.  I think we really need to reconsider our policy making process.

Favorite quote from the podcast:

“You know, it brought 400 million Chinese out of poverty, raised incomes in Central and South America, caused investment throughout Africa, right? This is sort of the best thing to happen to the global middle class in at least a millennium, right? But it was it was tough on U.S. manufacturing.” -David Autor, Economist

Photograph supplied by Samuel Zeller @Unsplash.

Posted in Totally Off Topic

Quick Take: How will the Legalization of Assisted Suicide Affect the Medical Professions Reputation?

I know a couple of people that suffer from depression.  In order to better understand it I read The Catholic Guide to Depression: How the Saints, the Sacraments, and Psychiatry can Help you Break its Grip and Find Happiness Again by Aaron Kheriaty, MD.  After reading this book I was convinced that those who suffer from depression should seek counseling. Many don’t because of the stigma attached to seeking psychiatric help.  I was going to do my best to convince them that they should.  But now that California has passed the assisted suicide law, which includes mental patients and, since, depression is a mental disease, I’m not so sure anymore.  Do I really want to urge them to go to someone who may not want them to get better?  Someone who may encourage them to do the opposite? Even if presented as “an option”?  Those suffering from depression are more than aware of that option and have rejected it in favor of getting better.  So a doctor encouraging/suggesting death is a complete turnaround for the medical profession.

Then I wondered has the medical profession even considered how this is going to affect their reputations?  There is already suspicion among some groups who doubt the safety of immunization shots.  This was at a time when the medical profession was still thought of as healers.  What happens when they are no longer believed to be healers alone, but also assistant killers? How will they be viewed then?

I’ll be adding links to stories as I come across them:

Terminally Ill Mom: Medicare Offered me $1.20 for Assisted Suicide Drugs, Refused me for a Clinical Trial

Posted in Totally Off Topic

My Coffee Maker Died

Six o’clock in the morning is a horrible time to discover your coffee maker no longer makes coffee.  If you’re like me, you can’t quite process information well until after your first cup of coffee.  So when the coffee maker died it didn’t quite compute.  I ended up standing at the counter for 5 or 10 min. staring at the coffee maker, pushing the button over and over again waiting for it to start producing coffee.  It didn’t.  What was I going to do?

My first desperate thought was to grab up my coffee and start knocking on neighbor’s doors and beg to use their coffee maker.  “If I could just impose on your generosity for 5 or 10 minutes, while I make some coffee?  You can go back to bed (Did I mention this happened on a Sunday morning?).  I’ll let myself out and lock up when I leave. No worries.”  Even with my brain not hitting on all cylinders I figured that wasn’t the best way to treat my neighbors.

I ended up turning to the internet.  People have been drinking coffee a lot longer than there have been coffee makers.  There had to be a way to make it without one.  I was right.  You can actually make coffee simply by adding it to boiling water.   You know what?  It was better.  The taste was richer, plus the aroma of coffee filled the entire apartment.  The place smelled so good, even my 8 yr. old granddaughter commented on it.

I’ve only been drinking coffee for a couple of years.  (So this is the coffee maker death I’ve experienced.) I’ve always had coffee from a drip coffee maker, so I hadn’t realized that I was giving up taste and smell for speed.  I’m tossing that old coffee maker right into the garbage and I’ve decided to replace it with a stove top percolator.  It sounds like it will give me both that richer flavor and aroma.  It may take a little longer to brew, but I think it will be worth the wait.  I’m really glad my coffee maker died.

Image courtesy of Worthy of Elegance @Unsplash

Posted in Totally Off Topic


Keeping track of the things you want and need to do can be tough.  Yes, you can write down meetings or upcoming quizzes in the middle of the other notes you are already are taking, but then it becomes words mixed among other words that may not relate to each other creating a huge mishmash.  This makes it easy for some items to be overlooked.  Day planners, on the other hand, help you keep all of these words organized by assigning them their own categories.  Appointments are put in one place and tasks in another.  This is an improvement, but they never did what I wanted them to do, though I could never quite pinpoint what I did want them to do.  Then it hit me: I wanted flexibility.

I wanted to write down tasks that I needed to do in the future without having to assign them to a certain day right away.  If I had a lot of tasks and a few appointments, then I wanted the task section for that day to expand and the appointment section to shrink.  I wanted all the tasks having to do with one project in one place, so I could see everything that needs to be done and everything that has been done.  If I didn’t get something done I wanted to be able to move it.  If something got temporarily shelved, then I wanted to a place to keep it, so I wouldn’t forget about it.  I got what I wanted with a monthly calendar, some blank pieces of paper and Post-It® notes.

 The Basic Idea

Monthly Calendar

The monthly calendar is for keeping track of anything that is fixed: deadlines, meetings and appointments, and important dates; such as holidays and birthdays.  The calendar serves two purposes.  The first is it lets you see what’s coming down the road, so you can plan accordingly.   Second, you can see how committed you already are before adding more, so you don’t overload yourself with tasks creating unrealistic expectations.  This can lead to disappointment and discouragement.

If a meeting gets cancelled or you do find that you have extra time on your hands, then you can always pull a task from another day and work on it.  It’s all about flexibility.

Daily and/or Weekly Calendar

What you do here is really going to depend on your workload.  If you only have a few things to track, then six days on one page will probably work for you.  If you have a really heavy workload, then you might only want one day per page.  You can use sticky flags for the headers or print it out.

Paper and Post-It®s

Think of the blank paper as a whiteboard.  Whiteboards not only let you step back and look at the big picture, but because the writing is not permanent they are easy to manipulate and reusable.  However, if you want to capture that information, then you have to transfer it someplace else more permanent.  This is where the Post-It® notes come in.  By writing it on a sticky you can easily transfer the information from the project page onto your calendar.  The great thing about using paper is you can have as many whiteboards as you have pieces of paper.

Say you’re planning a birthday party.  Pull out a blank piece of paper and your stickies.  I find the 1/2″ by 1 3/4″ page markers work best for most things.

  • The first note you will need is what that page is all about. In this case it’s a birthday party, so write that on the sticky and use this one as a page marker, so you can easily locate it in your binder.
  • Next, write all the tasks you can think of on a separate sticky note and put it on your blank paper. I tend to start each task off with an imperative, so it I know what action I’m taking. For instance, Order cake, Buy invitations, Decide Venue, . . .
    • If a task has a due date, then include that on the sticky.

That’s it.  You have the tasks laid out that need to be done.  Now it’s just a matter of doing it.

You don’t have to limit yourself to project planning.  You can also add pages for places you want to go, movies you want to see, etc.  I have a page for blog post ideas, books I want to purchase, and one for research questions.

How I use my planner

Monthly Calendar

At the front I have the monthly calendar(s).  I actually have two months at a time, so I can always see a month ahead.  About mid-month is the time to print out the next month’s calendar.  For dates that are fixed, such as certain holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries go ahead and type those in before you print, if you like.  Printing out an Outlook or Google monthly calendar would be good for this.

A project planner and Post Ideas page showing the stickies laid out.
Project planner page on left and Post Ideas page on right. I end up using larger stickies for those.

Next comes the current week with two days per page.  Each page is flagged with the dates for those days.  Following that are some pages with six days.  No dates on these. I don’t date them until I put something on them.  No sense in having a bunch of blank pages that I don’t use.

Two day planner on left and week planner on right.  I use both.

Once a week, I make up stickies for the appointments and special days that I’ve marked on the monthly calendar and put them on the corresponding day.  I don’t do this for due dates because that is already listed on the specific tasks and the monthly calendar.

A project planner and Post Ideas page showing the stickies laid out.Then I pull out my project sheets which have all of the sticky tasks and I start sticking them on the days that I plan on doing them. Then it’s simply a matter of completing the tasks for that day.

When I finish tasks I have a couple of ways that I deal with them:

  • If it’s a repeatable task, (which I’ve notated on the task sticky), then I either leave it there, since I’ll be reusing the page next week or I’ll move it to the next day that I’ll be working on it. For instance, I try to write five days a week, so at the end of Monday that task gets moved to Tuesday.  If it was something that I only do on Wednesdays, then I just leave it there.
  • If it’s a one-time task and I don’t care about tracking it, then I just pull it off and throw it away. An example of this would be a task to buy a book that I’ve been meaning to read.
  • If I want to keep a record of the task, then I put a little check mark on it.   I then put it on a separate page I made for all the completed tasks on that project.  This is in case I need to jog my memory on a particular task.  It’s also a record of how much work I’ve accomplished.

And for those tasks that I didn’t get finished, those get moved to another day.  At the end of the day you should be back to a blank slate ready to go for next week.

That’s pretty much it.  It’s a simple, but very flexible system that you can design yourself to meet your specific needs.  I hope it helps.  If you do decide to give it a go, I would really like to hear back from you on how you liked it.  Is it really awesome or is it just me?