I took the above photo of my Attic view on Saturday (the last day of February), it was a nice bright day but very cold and wintry still. And now February is behind us for another year and I am very happy to have turned over my calendar pages to welcome in March. Oh, hello lovely third-month-of-the-year that might possibly at some point contain a weeny whiff of Spring! Not a lot of Springyness here yet mind you - second day of March and we had an inch of snow today, just look at my back yard....
....wintry or what? Secretly though I'm loving it, partly because I am still working on my Winter Wreath and quite like that it is still winter, and partly cos I had an argument with J this morning about whether the first day of Spring is on 1st March (his theory) or on 20th March (the Vernal Equinox and my theory). Snow just proves that it's still Winter as far as I'm concerned and that we shouldn't expect Spring until the third week of this month or thereabouts. I know I'm right.
I've got a bright and cheery jug of tulips on my table this week, bending and flopping their sweet heads in the warmth of the room.
I've been gazing at them a lot during the past few days, admiring the many colours contained in those silky petals and thinking for the gazillionth time how utterly uplifting and inspiring fresh flowers are. Aren't they just?
Such a tonic for these rather drab, cold days at the start of the year.
Anyhooooooooooo - I'm not supposed to be jabbering about the weather or the flowers on my table as this post is entitled "keeping track" and I need to discuss. Very belatedly, I would like to thank the 189 people who took the time to comment on this post back in December. Thank you sooo much for chatting to me about how you organise your days and recommending your methods and tools, it was fascinating reading and inspired me to look at a couple of the books and websites that you recommended.
You may remember that I had managed to gather three notebooks (all gifted to me by friends) so at the beginning of the year I chose one of them and designated it my 2015 Book of Days. This particular notebook is pretty substantial with lovely quality lined pages and a fabric cover. It's A5 size (15cm x 21cm) and about 2cm thick so loads of pages - I love the dimensions of it but my only niggle is that it's heavy and the weight of it puts me off carrying it everywhere with me, which means I'm not using it as completely as I should be. But it's only a small niggle. If I were to start over with notebook buying I would totally go for one of these beauties (oh the turquoise one has my name all over it!), as recommended by my lovely friend Christine who recently started Bullet Journalling.
Many of you recommended I look at the Bullet Journal website, so off I toddled into the www to check it out. Fascinating! Actually, it really does look like a superb system for keeping track of a busy life, combining notes and lists in a simple and practical way. The website (www.bulletjournal.com) explains it all beautifully and has formed the basis for my own Lucy-Book-of-Days.
Last week I also came across something else that I thought I would share in case you might find it useful - it's similar to the Bullet Journal system but called The Circle. The idea is that you make your to-do lists, giving each item a circle to begin with. Then as you work through your list, you change the status of the circle according to progress (the above image should explain it, but there is more info here). It's a bit too fussy for me (I'm going with a simple tick) but I thought it was pretty clever.
So would you like to know what's in my Book of Days?
This is my opening page - I typed it out after Heather (that's Pink Milk Blog Heather) shared it on her Facebook page. Quite simply, I love these words. I've not managed to really keep up with all of them yet (eating far too much and not moving nearly enough etc) but they are inspirational and a reminder that simple resolutions are often the best.
On my next double page I printed out the above calendar on an A4 sheet of paper and glued it in. I find that my brain likes "vertical month" calendars the best, much better than "block month" calendars which don't give me nearly the same sense of clarity about where I am in the year. You can find both versions as free A4 printables on Calendapedia.com.
I have always loved calendars and diaries since being a child, I find it very reassuring to know exactly where I am within the 365 days of a year. It makes me feel excited to see all those days laid out one after the other, to look at all those numbers and feel grounded by the familiar rhythm of the days, weeks, months and seasons.
I tried to find printable monthly calendar pages in the internet but when I couldn't find any single page vertical ones (there were plenty of pretty block ones) I made my own in Word. I made it A5 size and at the beginning of each month I just print out a page and stick it in my Book of Days.....
....this keeps me on track for the month ahead, see? I can write in my appointments and mark out the school weeks and holidays and see exactly where I'm at. On the facing page, I make a simple list of Monthly Things To Do. Mostly this list is work related, but also there are reminders of things I'd like to try and do in the house (oh yeah, de-clutter time is here!) as well as personal things I'd like to find time for. It's not a strict list as such, more a compilation of things that I need to think about, things that I'm trying not to forget.
As well as a diary and list-making thing, I'm also using my Book of Days as a general notebook and scrapbook. I'm trying to get out of the bad habit of scribbling stuff on random bits of scrap paper and then promptly losing them. So phone calls, meetings, travel arrangements etc all get written in the book. Likewise crochet patterns and notes get written in the book (no more jotting down on scraps of paper which get lost in an instant!). I'm also trying to keep note of ideas and inspirations as they pop into my head - quick sketches or notes to lead me back to places on the www, as well as snippets cut out of brochures and magazines. I love the old fashioned cut-and-paste methods very much (I loved making scrapbooks as a child), give me a glue stick and a pair of scissors and I'm pretty happy.
I'm trying to make myself sit down on a Monday morning and formulate a weekly to-do list but I confess I haven't really managed to do this very effectively yet. Somehow my brain thinks that because I've written it down then it has been achieved, so much of my weekly lists throughout February remained un-ticked. I am very, very easily distracted I know, it doesn't take an awful lot to throw my to-do-list completely out the window for a whole week. But I am trying to improve.
Have you looked at the page up above there entitled "March HOME"? Do you see the Zones? Uh-huh, I am forcing myself to take on a supreme tidying-up mission this month. Based on the FlyLady's routine, I have declared March to be the month when I try hard to bring about a bit of order to my considerably chaotic home front. Nothing too drastic, but I am going to start by doing the "fifteen minutes a day" de-cluttering thing and see how it goes. I have done this before and it does work, providing you can pull some sort of motivation out of the bag. I really do feel motivated to get things ship-shape here, and I would love to arrive at the Easter holidays in April with the house looking less like a jumble sale in progress.
Pondering the business of Home Loving sent me pootling down the domestic aisle in the local cheap-n-cheerful homestore on Saturday. I was actually looking for a scrubbing brush and bucket but ended up buying an apron and a pair of Easy to Wear Household Gloves with a Luxury Comfort Lining. Oh those gloves!! They make me laugh out loud and truly I cannot wait to wear them and get stuck into a bit of dirty work somewhere, the bathroom probably. Sometime towards the end of this week probably.
It helps an awful lot writing all this stuff down you know, thank you for listening. I always feel so much better when I get all these thoughts and intentions out of my head, onto this page and into your head. I really want to feel some peace and pleasure with being just a tad more organised and spending just a tad more time making my home lovely. And somehow by writing it down, I feel much more motivated to make it happen.
February went by quickly didn't it? And I have a sneaky suspicion March will go the same way.....best make the very most of these days, lets not waste them! Tell me your plans, what's on your monthly to-do list for March?