Sixteen Days: My Life Notebook (Revisited)

In spite of falling somewhat behind in the Sixteen Days schedule I set, the experience has proven tremendously rewarding and purpose-driven.

Being a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend and church member, and attempting to be sensitive to how the Lord would order my days (as opposed to me rushing into my own schedule and asking Him to bless it), the truth is that ordering one's house cannot always take top priority.  However, the good news is that I've learned much in the process and am moving forward with continued inspiration and determination.  For my own sake, I needed to plan the days the way I did, understanding they would be tweaked as circumstances required ~ things like, oh I don't know, spending two days processing a moose in your backyard??  You know, random things like that.

Here are a few reflections on my Sixteen Days journey so far:  

1)  Making the Plan.  At this stage in my life, I become more easily distracted than ever. (Case in point: Fireman just now called up the stairs: "Is there a reason for the assortment of frozen foods sitting on the garage bench?"  Ummm, yes, that was me about 45 minutes ago setting out supper things from our chest freezer, but then I began antiquing a trunk and completely forgot about the food...) Even though I knew my Sixteen Days plan might change, it was important for me to prioritize the spaces I wanted to organize, put the days on my calendar, and move forward the best I could.  If I don't finish by the time I originally planned, that will be okay; however, finishing is still the goal.  Making a written plan of which space I am Getting In Order next has been a tremendous refocusing tool in the midst of kids' homework, antiquing trunks (ahem), budget meetings with Fireman, decorating for baby showers, hosting a birthday lunch, cleaning and cooking supper, etc. etc.

2)  Finishing the Space. Recognizing I may not return to my newly organized Spaces anytime soon (I intentionally set a deadline on this process), I've been extremely motivated to continue working until I feel the space is truly "done."  (Or "done" until we can do more major work down the road if needed.)

3) Getting My House in Order!  How can I overlook the intrinsic reward of sorting, cleaning, and organizing spaces that need focused attention?  Then afterward, when the Space is done, I love to casually stroll by that clean closet, or that organized cupboard, or turn the pages of my recently re-compiled Life Notebook, intentionally pause, and thank God for new clarity, order, and ~ most especially ~ the time to walk through the process together.

So, on that note, today I'll share with you a valuable tool I've used for the past few years called, simply, My Notebook (you can read about the original Notebook, and its inspiration, here).  However, this year it seemed to warrant a more official title page so I have newly dubbed it Mom's Life Notebook.  Technically, my Life Notebook falls under the category Kids' Systems, but could also fit right in with Office order.  

Either way, I suspect I will probably have one of these notebooks from here to eternity.  It really is that valuable to me.  In a day of constant technology everywhere we turn, the stability of this paper/pen/binder notebook is my calm in the storm.

Let me assure you, I am not fancy!  All the items I used to compile my Life Notebook are easily found at Walmart, Office Place, or most grocery stores.

Although my original notebook was 5"x 8", which I used and loved for years due to its convenience  in purses and to hold with other small books, I started itching for larger days in my calendar, full-size paper for journaling, and just a bigger feel overall (could this be a result of my recent need for eyeglasses while reading?  Hmm.)

The cover of Mom's Life Notebook is a plain and simple, white 3-ring binder (with a cover sleeve) used for holding 8 1/2" x 11" paper.

To decorate the front, I used my computer, cardstock, stickers, and a pretty sheet of scrapbook paper.  First I printed the title and a couple quotes to remind me of how to live my days, backed these printed papers with cardstock, and used a gluestick to attach them to the scrapbook paper.  Next, I went through my daughter's stickers and tried to find pretty ones that didn't seem too young.  I thought the flowers were perfect, especially considering that tulips are my favorite flower.  When done decorating, I slipped the paper into the sleeve on the front of the binder.  (It was not worth it to me to buy anything new to decorate my notebook.  These were all things we had on hand, and I've found that trying to make pretty with what you have tends to be more rewarding anyway.)

The inside cover dons an, okay ~ rather young-looking ~ sticker identifying me as the owner of the book.  I did this impulsively, but I do like the idea of my name inside just in case Mom's Life Notebook gets left behind somewhere.  I should probably add my phone number as well.  Not my favorite sticker, but it makes me smile because my daughter loves it.

First in my notebook is the calendar.  I found this floral one at Walmart last spring bound with coiled wire. I used a pliers to unwind the binding, then  3-hole punched each calendar page to fit in my notebook (my 3-hole punch can tackle 3-4 sheets at a time).  This really didn't take too long, under 10 minutes, and now the full-size calendar fits in My Life Notebook.

 I like my calendar to show a full-month view, and also a weekly view.  Here is an example of August, 2015, on my monthly view:

Here is the daily view:

These views help me grasp an overall picture of what the month holds, as well as a place to list my daily to-do's.  I try to cross things off as I complete them, and when a new week is upon me, I rip out the previous week's page.

I use simple dividers to break up My Life Notebook into categories, and then insert lined paper behind each divider.

My current categories are:

Kids ~ This is where I write out prayer declarations and specific prayers for my children.
Prayer ~ This is my prayer journal for needs and thoughts of all kinds, including a page for my husband.
Goals ~ I list out my goals in the areas of Spiritual, Financial, Educational, and Recreational.  This is also a place I list my Personal Affirmation as a reminder of my life priorities and who I want to be.
Blog ~ A place to list blog post ideas, quotes from other bloggers, paint colors, inspiration, books to read, etc.
Home ~ Here I list out home project ideas, paint colors (again!), room measurements, etc.
Personal ~ A place to write inspirational quotes, sermon points, anything affecting me personally
Women ~ As part of our women's ministry at church, I like to have names and meeting notes handy.

These tabs could be personalized for anyone according to her own interests and needs.

Here is an example of a page from my Kids section where my oldest is pictured with Scripture declarations below him (I like to tape or glue pictures of my kids into the book so I can look at their faces when I pray.  I love this, but it's certainly not necessary):

As a result of Stormie Omartian's wonderful book The Power of a Praying Parent, I listed these topics in the front of my Kids section as a reminder to pray over these areas for my children.  I placed a date next to each topic, planning to focus on one per week.  I highly recommend having her book on hand while you pray through these topics as she lists powerful Scripture pertaining to each one.  Praying Scripture is one of the most effective means of praying for others in our lives. I believe in its power with all of my heart.

I carry my Life Notebook everywhere.  To gymnastics.  To wait for the bus.  To church and church meetings.  To the dentist and doctor.  At any given moment, I can turn to my Prayer section and pray for a few minutes.  I can open to my Personal section and journal.  I can write down an idea for a Blog post that just came to mind.  I can plan out meals for the week in my Home section.  I can jot down things I need to do the next day on my Weekly View page.

This notebook continues to be a wonderful organizational tool that works hard for me each and every day.  It is another step toward Getting My House in Order.

Next up? Linens and Floors :)


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