For two years now, I have made my own calendar notebook, which doubles as a journal/planner. Like many people, I used to buy a paper calendar every year. However, I never found a calendar that allowed me to do everything I wanted to do with it.
When I used pre-made products, something always felt problematic. Sometimes there wasn’t enough space for each day. Other times the calendar was set up like an appointment book, which made it inconvenient for non-timed items. There generally wasn’t space for notes for the week. And if there was, the date section no longer seemed right. A daily view model didn’t give me enough perspective on my week (e.g., to make sure we have adequate down time). And very few calendars offered me a year-at-a-glance view. Then there’s my desire for a space for non-date-based lists and notes as well as all of the other information I need to access. A few pre-made planners may have space for all of this. However, the only ones I encountered were big and awkward; not something I could carry on a daily basis in a regular size purse. All that to say, I could not find a pre-made solution that met all of my needs.
So, I started experimenting with making my own calendar notebook. It took me a month or two to develop a set up that really works well for me. Since I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted based on the virtues and shortcomings I encountered in the other products I tried, the process was fairly quick and rather fun. Further, it’s easy to modify it as my needs change.
For my calendar, I keep track of dates in two ways. I keep a one year view as well as weekly views. Other people might want a daily view, but my days aren’t that heavily scheduled and I value the perspective of seeing my entire week at once.
For my weekly calendar view, I keep a separate column for each day. I make my Monday through Friday columns bigger than my weekend columns, as they are my most heavily scheduled days. At the bottom of each column, I have 10 small boxes to track my water intake. I also have a small space to note whether I took my vitamins (which I have a really hard time remembering) as well as my exercise habits. I also make sure I keep a big empty space for the week. In this space I list all of the things that I need to carry out that week, but don’t have to be accomplished on a particular day (e.g., writing a thank you note to a friend, picking something up from the store, and so on).
I use a specific set of symbols on my calendars in order to help me quickly see what I need to do. If I have to be somewhere at a specific time, I put an open triangle in front of the commitment. That way, I have a visual indicator of a firm commitment. If I have a task to do that is not time specific, I put an open circle in front of it. After I’ve finished a task or attended to a commitment, I fill in the open circle or triangle so it becomes solid. That way, it’s easy for me to see at a glance what remains undone. And, there’s a nice feeling of satisfaction when every open item on my list is filled in. If I have a note I want to make about a particular day (e.g., something I want to remember, but I don’t need to do), I place a dash in front of it.
I try to keep my daily and weekly lists reasonable, and not to add more to them than I can accomplish. I keep a separate list for medium and long-term goals and tasks, so those do not appear on daily lists (unless it’s the day to do one — or a part of one). That said, every once in a while there is a task I don’t finish. When that happens, I put an arrow through my open dot and write the task in the list section of my following week. That way, I have a record of what I need to do. Another way to do this is simply to flip back to see if you have any open tasks from the previous week, but because I do this rarely, I prefer to just rewrite the item as part of my fresh list.
I keep all sorts of lists and notes in my notebook. I keep notes on medical issues I want to remember or to discuss with a doctor (for me and for each of my boys). I track my moon cycles. I keep wish lists for my kids. I keep a list of books that I want to find as we browse local used book stores. I keep notes for my kids’ classes. I have a page for notes that I want to remember about my grandma’s and mom’s appointments. I write down things I want to remember to tell my husband, and funny things my kids say. I jot down items we need to replace or buy. In short, all of the various lists and notes that I take, I keep them all in one place.
In the front of the notebook, I keep a table of contents. This way, I can find my various lists and calendars easily, without searching through each page. There’s actually a dedicated space for a table of contents in the front of the notebook I use, and the pages are numbered. This detail makes keeping my lists organized simple.
I use this notebook for my calendar. I love that it has dots, so I have straight lines as a guideline if I want them, but there aren’t lines to dominate the page. This notebook also has two built-in bookmark ribbons, which are quite helpful. I use one to mark the current week of my weekly view calendar, so I can quickly flip to see my day’s commitments. I use the second one to mark my first blank page, so I can easily find a place to start my next list, weekly calendar, or whatever else. I’ve tried other notebooks, but this one is by far my favorite.
I’ve been using my particular calendar notebook for over a year, and I’m only about half way through it. I’m guessing it’ll be another year before I have to buy another one. It’s also held up well. The hand cover and elastic closure work together to protect the inner pages from getting bent or rumpled. And the notebook itself still in good shape, even after a year of daily use.
Making your own calendar is all about figuring out what works for you. The above is what works for me. And the wonderful thing is, you can adapt it to pretty much any need you may have.
If you’re keeping a food log, it’s easy to make space for it within your homemade calendar. If you have a big project to complete, you can break it down into a list of small tasks and check them off as you go. You can keep this as a general list, or even go so far as to set a time line with one task daily or weekly, depending on your needs. You can track progress on your various goals. You can track your kids’ and/or partner’s commitments and schedules. You can use it to monitor your progress on a particular homeschooling curriculum. Truly, the possibilities are endless.
The idea is to simplify your life by creating a calendar notebook that documents everything that you need to track. This way, you won’t lose or forget information because it’s spread out in too many different places. I find making my own calendar is really helpful. Maybe you will, too.
Do you make your own calendar? Is this something you would find helpful?