My choice of calendar and diary/planner for 2014 - keeping life organised

Every year I've become more and more organized. I'm definately still working on it but let me put it this way. Where 6 years ago I was almost always 20 minutes late to EVERYTHING I am now usually (emphasis on the usually part) on time or even 10 minutes early.

The only way I could possibly ever stay organized with just about anything has been writing it down. I have tried phone calendars and apps which dont seem to have the same effect on me. I'm a pen and paper woman through and through.

So far I have come to this combination:
1. Calendar on the fridge
2. Diary/planner on the workdesk

Using both together works best for me. I'll use my phone to jot down notes or store an address the day before so I dont have to take my diary with me since now my planner is large. Some might say having everything jotted down in two places is a time waster or not necessary. Fair call... but for me personally it's the only way I can function.

I have adapted my use of the two, and the type of the two that I use, over the last few yrs. So here's what I've learned:

SIZE: I started off with a small planner. The same size as a student one. I soon discovered this was far too small for the running of a household not to mention child-rasing! I liked the idea of it fitting in my bag... though I found I never travelled with it anyway. I now prefer a desk diary which is at least A4 sized. It's never left me writing up the sides running out of room!

PRICE: You don't have to buy anything fancy. I started off with a Debden personal planner which was about $60 on sale!! (Unmarried with no kids = too much money to spend! Haha) it was too small, yet far too chunky and all the "bells and whistles" never got used. It had the option of using re-fills for each year which sounded great but the re-fills were around $20 a pack and it was hard to find dated refills before late december every year. I now typically will not spend more than $25 on a planner, and no more than $10 on a calendar.

TIP: if you can, wait till just after Christmas to buy, then most places will be trying to get rid of all calendars and planners for 50% off or more! I'm crazy and like to buy mine in october/november or the week they hit the shelves because I go on a planning attack nice and early!

LAYOUT: the font, binding, view and general layout of your planner is definately personal choice. After trying all different things my preferences are as follows:

RING BOUND: I like this because the planner lays completely flat on the table and the pages dont bump up. Easier to write on. I Also like that I can rest it on my lap and still write on it easy. I can rip pages out if I do so feel inclined.

WEEK TO VIEW: day to view is overkill for me. Especially since ive started using a housekeeping master file instead of the diary for housework related things.  As long as my planner is a large desk planner there's still plenty of room with a week-to-view layout. Also, I can look through the month much easier to keep my eye on up coming birthdays and important dates.

Calendars im really not over fussy about and tend to get whats pretty and cheap since its a quick reference for whats in the planner. The calendar is used mainly to have dates the whole family need to or might like to know about. Ill have birthdays, planned outings and sometimes meal-plan info on it. It has "shopping day" and even hubby's RDO's on it. Its a good place to put mother's and Father's day along with anniversarys in bold colour so nobody can forget.

Events or outings are written briefly then one can check the planner for details. For example. The calendar might on the 18th January say

"WASO cushion concert 10-11am" then if you refer to the planner on that date youll find the address, cost, and any other details you might need. This works well for us. Other family members can see at a glance if any given day has something planned and can see each month whose birthday it is and so on.

The planner is much more detailed and has alot more in it.

This year my choice of calendar and planner seem just right. The calendar was a bargain at the $2 shop. Its perfect for what I need. Here it is:

Firstly, $2. Secondly... $2.
But also, this one doesnt have a picture on the top and then the calendar at the bottom so it has plenty of room for the actual date squares. Usually I avoid $2 calendars because their rectangle shape is just too small. But this one works well because it uses both pages... see?

I also like that it uses up all the space well. In sections where there would usually be blank squares because the month doesnt start till mid week or ends on a Tuesday,  there is a little "things to remember" section. On the left of the Calendar there is also the option to write in each family members name and that line is assigned to that persons activities each week/month. We wont use this feature but I think it would be really handy for those with older children who have various activities and hobbies.

Here's a close up:

Ive seen these types of calendars before but theyve always been on the $30 rack. This cheap and cheerful version will do me just fine! Has the holidays/term dates and all that on it.

Now to the planner. I think I've found "the one"... her name is Vanessa. No seriously, the planner is a Collins brand planner called Vanessa... see?

She's all I ever wanted in a planner. I have my preferences but usually I'll have to sacrifice one or two of them. This has it all.
She cost me about $25 and is available from most newsagencies. I didnt like paying full price, but I did anyway and it was worth it.

This planner has my ring-binding and week to view preferences,  like so:

It is just the right size being nice and thin and A4 sized. The cover is sort of, fake leather/plastic mix. Easy to clean. Flexible enough to handle some roughage but firm enough to write on it in my lap. Perfect. It also has the attached ribbon bookmark which I use all the time because they dont fall out. It has every holiday/break/event under the sun pre published In it in small enough print to not be annoying but positioned so that you can't miss "Australia day" or "Anzac day" and so on.

It also has a bunch of things one doesnt need but ill definately use. Such as the little pouch in the front which ive already stuffed a few curriculum guidelines into. Along with a page dedicated to public holidays, school holidays, world holidays, conversion tables, weights and measures, double page year to view planner for current year and following year, phone numbers section, and notes. I really dig the super handy section of colour print pages of maps. Each states major city area, a map of the whole of Australia and a world map too. 

I'm very happy with this planner! And I like that all the features are ones that are actually going to be really useful to me.

Last tips:
 colour code both your calendar and planner. For example:
Birthdays in green
Outings in pink
Anniversarys in red
School related items in purple
Chore related items in pale blue

 And so on. It makes quick references easier for everyone including yourself. Also, fill out your calendar and planner as much as possible before the 1st of January. Be sure to immediately write up on your calendar and also planner, when you recieve invitations, or say yes to anything, from a coffee with a friend to babysitting your sisters kids.

When you are out and "make a date" for something, if you don't carry your planner (I don't. I suppose you could throw it In the car for each trip lol) you can either write it down on a miniature calendar/planner you keep in your purse (I mean palm sized. Kmart sell cute mini planners this year for $2) then copy it when you get home. .. this is what I do usually. Or, you can quickly type it into your phones notes for copying later. Or you could keep small post it notes in your bag. Jot it down on the post it and stick it up on the calendar when you get home. 
I almost always say "id love to! Let me get back to you so I can make sure I don't have anything planned that day. But for now count me in." It shows you want to but its warning that you want to make sure your free.

I like the mini planner idea because I'll jot down every two weeks very quickly and briefly anything coming up so I can check it then and there. Takes 2 minutes.

Hope this has been helpful to you! Please share in the comments, how do you keep life organised? What do you prefer? Apps? Your memory? Calendars? Planners? A mixture? 


  1. Hi thanks for visiting my blog ( which has not been updated for quite some time - ahh homeschool /work juggle!!!) - best of luck with your HS journey - our last year has been such a learning experience and I feel so happy with our decision!


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