Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area


It’s Planner Time!

I’m just over the 6 month mark of using my first Quo Vadis planner, and I thought I would give you all an update from my earlier post Keeping The Calendar.

I have always been a planner-aholic. All throughout junior and high school, as well as university, I would be the first one with my planner out, making sure all of my life events were scheduled out. First, let me confess that I used two other planners last year. My first was a small, very thin, planner that cost quite close to $1. If you’ve been an avid reader of mine, than you’ll know that this is not uncommon for me, as I tend to be on the thrifty side. I used this planner (which I got for Christmas 2010) for about 7 months, but I really wasn’t fully satisfied with it. The style had 3 days on the left page, 2 days (plus a small weekend section) on the right. Also, the times slots that it gave were sparse, at best (7 & 10 a.m., 1, 4 & 7 p.m.). I guess those “in between” hours didn’t really matter to them. But, I made due, thinking that all planners are created equal. Then, I moved up a step. Someone gave me their daily Brownline planner, because they didn’t like the style (that should have been a flag, no?). I wasn’t a huge fan either, as each day had its own page, and it was very bulky and heavy. Although, I could include a lot of detail, which was nice. I will admit that I am probably busier than most, but I was never busy enough to have to put in 10 back to back appointments. I used that planner until November 30th.

Why November 30th, you ask? Well, let me tell you. I attended a Professional Organizers in Canada conference at the beginning of November, last year. We had about 5 different sessions, and they were all, for the most part, fabulous. I was incredibly fortunate to also take part in a LinkedIn session, conducted by Margarita Ibbott. Much to my excitement (perhaps over excitement to some), there awaiting me, like a beacon in the night, was a green, medium sized, Minister 2012 Quo Vadis planner. (Actually, I think that it may have been black, and a size up, but I stealthily swapped for one in my company colour 😀 ). Did my eyes deceive me? An actual, quality planner? Just for me? Sweet!

This particular model, so to speak, is fantastic and perfect for me for three reasons:

  1. It has a whole week on 2 pages. When I get into a daily situation, I lose sight of the big picture, plus it would probably triple the thickness of it. Remember: Less is more.
  2. It has a notes section – for each week! Five medium sized boxes to jot down to-dos, or in my situation, driving instructions (no, I don’t have a GPS – I have a love affair with Google Maps, because I’m a visual person). Looking back, there has only been one week when I haven’t used that handy section.
  3. It fits in my purse. Granted I’m not carrying around a clutch, but it is a great size to fit into any medium sized purse.
  4. BONUS: It’s green! Did I mention that I love green? And next year, I only have to order the refill. I don’t have to purchase a new exterior 🙂 Less waste is always a good thing.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a busy gal. To recap from my previous post, I have a colour coded system that I use to keep myself straight:

Blue ~ Toronto Willowdale Aquarium Society (Blue = water 🙂 )

Brown ~ Tutoring

Orange ~ Brownies (Their uniform colour is now orange, not brown)

Green ~ Sort It appointments  (My business colour)

Pink ~ Personal

Purple ~ Church events

To do this, I utilize my Pilot Frixion Pens, which are erasable. Yes folks, erasable colour pens. And not like the ones we had back in high school, that would only take a layer off, but you could still read it. No, these erase fully, which is incredibly useful when a client cancels or changes the time to get together. I have too much going on in my mind to occupy it with trying to remember dates and times. I also hate double booking myself, as I try to be a woman of my word.

So, in short, would I recommend a Quo Vadis planner? Absolutely. It’s cute, and it’s easy to maintain. I will certainly be purchasing a refill for next year, if I don’t happen to “come across” one in the meantime 😉

What quality do you look for most in a planner/agenda?

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Get Organized to Change Your Life

A guest blog post for a fellow blogger 🙂 How does being organized change your life?


Keeping The Calendar

I love my physical, paper planner. I think it’s fantastic. I received this one courtesy of Quo Vadis through a LinkedIn seminar held by Margarita Ibbott. I love that it’s a week at a glance, and that it breaks up my day into half hour segments (although, you could consider it to be 1/4 hour segments, if you’re picky). I, personally, need a physical agenda. I know of plenty of people who use an online calendar (my husband, for one). I also know plenty of people who utilize the calendar on their cell phones (some of which may also be linked up to an online calendar, I know). However, I must have my paper planner! I love the creativity you can add to it using different writing techniques and doodles. I love the accessibility of it (you don’t have to wait for it to load). I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about charging it every night to ensure I’ll be able to use it the next day. Here is my planner:

Okay, I’m not really that lame. I do have plenty of activities during the week. I’ve posted a week for April, so that’s why it isn’t too busy yet. However, you will note that I have colour coded my entries. I find it much easier to figure out how/where I’m spending my time when I’ve associated a colour with it. So, here’s my colour coded breakdown:

Blue ~ Toronto Willowdale Aquarium Society (Blue = water 🙂 )

Brown ~ Tutoring

Orange ~ Brownies (Their uniform colour is now orange, not brown)

Green ~ My business (My business colour)

Pink ~ Personal

Purple ~ Church events

One of the reasons I chose these colours was because the pens that I use (Pilot Frixon) came in those colours. These pens are fantastic because they write smoothly, and they’re erasable! (No, I’m not getting paid to promote these products, I just love them that much). Now, I’ve also been able to transfer this system onto my wall 4-month at a time calendar:

 

I know that this image is a little difficult to see, so here’s a close up of March:

As you can see, I’ve been able to transfer the same colour coded system to my wall calendar as well.

I am a firm believer that every household needs to have a calendar that everyone has access to. If I’m trying to make plans, I can easily check our calendar and have a sense of what might be happening that day and vice versa for my husband.

But what happens when two worlds collide? My husband primarily uses his Google calendar to schedule things, and I’m an avid paper user. Our compromise? I have access to his Google calendar, so I can keep him up to date as to my plans, and he will put his commitments on our wall calendar. The other essential key? Communication. We regularly discuss what we’re doing, and how it might impact the other. This was particularly important when we were sharing one car, however we continue to do so today.

It is a matter of respect to the other people who share your life to inform them of your commitments. Writing everything out is also a great opportunity to visualize how you’re spending your time, and where your time may be used more wisely. Time is precious, we can never get it back.

Are you an electronic or paper calendar person?


Coupon Clutter

I enjoy saving money, as do most of us. I am more than happy to grab coupons on my way into the store (they often have a board by the front door), or cut them out of the mail or newspaper. I’ll print them online if it’s really worth it. However, I believe that coupons create clutter.

I am not referring to having piles of coupons scattered throughout the house (a lot of couponers have their coupons neatly organized in a binder, or accordion holder). Nor am I talking about having stacks and stacks of invalid, expired coupons (make sure you go through them at the beginning of the month, and check the expiry date). What I am referring to is the need to purchase items because they are on sale, or at a “discount”.

When I watch the “Extreme Couponing” programs on TV, I am astounded at the quantity of items they have stored in their homes. They have mini grocery stores in their basements. The participants have had to purchase shelving (presumably on sale, or with a coupon) in order to store all of their “finds”. Coupons will sometimes offer a “buy one, get one free” type of deal, or “buy one, get one half price”. Either way, they are promoting the idea of purchasing multiple items in order to get the best deal. On one of the blogs that I follow, one couponer purchased 36 packages of Advil Cold and Sinus, because they ended up being $.99 each (regularly $8.99). Sure, it’s a great deal, but honestly, unless you suffer from some serious immune system issues, there is no way you can use all that up before they expire. Sure, you can use them as stocking stuffers, but I still maintain that 36 seems a bit excessive.

Let’s establish some ground rules:

1. Only buy it if you would typically purchase it – even if the item is at a drastic discount. It’s only a discount if you’ll use it.

2. Only purchase a reasonable amount of the discounted product. If you can’t use it before it expires, don’t buy it.

3. Consider your space. Your space has value, so use it wisely. If you don’t have the space for the discounted item (say 400 rolls of toilet paper), then it will be more taxing on your stress level than your pocket book.

Do you use coupons?


New Year’s Priorities

Let me start off by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! I hope that it is full of fun and laughter, and many blessings. I also hope that we will all see 2013 – I, personally, won’t be holding my breath on December 21 🙂

This time last year, I wrote my first blog post about… New Year’s Resolutions! Surprising, I know. And this year, I would like to touch on the same, but with a twist.

I was giving this a lot of thought yesterday, as I was thinking about my previous year’s resolutions, and why I hadn’t accomplished some of them to my satisfaction. The main one that came to mind, as I’m sure it does for many others, is weight loss. I would love to get back to my wedding day weight, but I just can’t quite seem to get there. I’ll fluctuate throughout the year, have a few great weeks, then fall off the proverbial wagon (Oh cheese, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… Blue, brie, boursin…). However, I can’t quite seem to keep on the down and down (as opposed to the up and up). So, what’s the issue? Am I motivated? Well, I can be. I want to feel, and look, good. But one has to eat, it’s a necessity, and moderation is key, which can be tough. Also, there’s exercise. I know I need to develop a habit of exercising regularly, just like flossing – I floss on days with a “u” in them, and either SatUrday or SUnday 🙂 But it’s habits like these that are easily broken.

Which leads me to my first epiphany of the New Year – resolutions are nice, but priorities are better. If you make you goals for 2012 a priority, then you’ll be more likely to follow through. Two years ago, my husband and I decided to pay off our debts, and live debt free. A little over a year later, we had paid off our credit cards, our line of credit for our furniture, and our car – around $25,000. And why did it work? Because we made it a priority, so we worked our TAILS off to get there. So, this year, I’m making getting in shape a priority – and now that I’ve written it I have to follow through 🙂

What are your New Year’s Priorities this year? Put them on paper, and make a plan. Wise words to live by: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.


Stick To Your Commitment

I had the opportunity to donate blood today. I made an appointment earlier on in the week, because I had made a note that I was eligible to donate again today (every 56 days, in case you’re curious). During the process, I was speaking to one of the nurses who was conducting my prescreening, and she said that 50% of the people who had made appointments showed up today. Half? Really? That’s pretty sad. So, I got to thinking about the possible reasons that people hadn’t shown up – or at least canceled their appointment if they were no longer available.

It was a beautiful day, so perhaps some people opted to stay outside instead. However, I would like to believe that when people commit to something, then they will make an earnest effort to see it through. Especially in this situation, where one would presumably go out of their way in order to make the appointment, and it is something that could potentially save lives. So, I have to assume the obvious – they forgot.

I have a planner, my husband and I have a 4-month wall calendar, and we also use an online calendar for good measure. I use my planner for everything. Every appointment and commitment that I have gets written down. I also use it to keep me on task for projects and to do lists. My husband and I use our online calendar to ensure that we’re both on the same page, just in case he doesn’t hear me when I tell him I’m spending the evening with a friend. Anytime something goes into my planner, it goes into the online calendar. Our wall calendar is used more often for big events, whereas the online calendar is more for day to day activities.

However, personally, I need to have a paper, hard copy planner. I know that with iPhones and Blackberries (sp?) a lot of people are moving to an electronic format, and I completely appreciate that. I just know that personally, I enjoy writing and scribbling and adding personality to my plans that only paper can offer me.

Learn for yourself and experiment to see if you’re an electronic or paper person, and then use it! Consistency is key. Once you’ve set up a system, use it for a few weeks, then tweak it according to your preference. Doing so will make it much easier to stick to your commitments.