New year, new agenda

There’s something wonderful about starting a new year with a fresh agenda.

Around early December, I went out and purchased my usual planner – a Moleskine weekly format planner – and proceeded to begin inputting dates and appointments for 2017. I really like the weekly format, which allows me to see the whole week at-a-glance on the left, with space for notes and lists on the right. December is usually fraught with google imaging different agenda layouts to experiment with before I commit to one for the next year. About a week ago, my sister sent me THIS LINK, which started me down a whole bullet journal Instagram rabbit hole…many of which were beautiful, but necessarily replicable because they would just take way too much time.

Then we went to New York City. And we stopped into Muji.

Let me say first off that I love Muji. I love their pens, their inexpensive notebooks, their clear storage containers…and Kelvin has his eye on their bed frame. I happened to pause at their agenda display, and flipped one open. The layout isn’t dissimilar to Moleskine, but instead of a lined page on the right, they have grids. Plus there’s one month of overlap on either end of the year (December 2016; January 2018). Having quite a number of extra grid pages at the end of the agenda didn’t hurt either.

I’d already made my agenda purchase for the year, but I kept turning this planner over in my head. At roughly half the cost of a Moleskine, this would definitely be a more cost-effective planner moving forward. I hemmed and hawed throughout the trip, and when we stopped into a second Muji in the city, I decided to pull the trigger.

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I’ve had the agenda for a few days now, and I am in love. The week-at-a-glance is split into 3 sections, so I use it for AM appointments, PM appointments, and tasks/notes. The right side I split into Life To-Do, Work To-Do, and Notes (miscellany). At the back of the planner, I have my goals, my chore tracker, and my reading log. I’ll add other things as necessary.

This is the happy medium I’ve been looking for between a traditional planner and a bullet journal.

 

My planner

I love tech. I am all for integrating it into the classroom, and I love what the cloud has been able to do for remote access. That being said, there is something about a pen and paper agenda that just trumps everything.

I’ve been using paper agendas all my life. In grade school, I was given a new one each year by my teacher (you know, the ones with the clear “today” ruler/bookmark and the holographic covers), and when I got to university, I stuck with the same day-at-a-glance agenda that I bought each August. When I graduated, I moved to using moleskine’s weekly planner. 

Then, shortly after Kelvin and I got married, we started using magneto cal to coordinate our schedules. It is no longer available, which makes me sad, because I might have actually stuck to it had that been an option. We moved over to a shared google calendar after that, but I was not thrilled with all the notifications and emails amongst other things. Yes I could have turned those off, but I just found myself disregarding most everything I put into it. 

When I knew I was going to be going on mat leave, I decided to bring the paper agenda back. I looked online for inspiration about how best to organize it, and after playing around with different options, blending a number of journal styles (like passion planner and bullet journal), and testing for the last few months, I’ve come up with what works best for me.  

  
I am still a huge fan of the moleskine weekly planner, and have already purchased my 2016 planner already. You’ll notice that this particular one is red – in an attempt to organize my agendas I will be using a red hard cover one for every year that is a multiple of 5 (e.g. 2015). 

On the left side is a weekly view starting on Monday. At the very top of the page I have room for my top 3 priorities. Now that I’m not working I don’t really have a lot of super pressing priorities, but I usually have one or two each week.

I divide the space allotted for each day in two. On the left I write down appointments and on the right I put day-specific notes and tasks. The weekend is usually not as nicely delineated because I have less space, but it’s fine. 

On the right, I have four main sections:

  1. MEMORIZE: when I come across verses in scripture that I want to commit to memory, I write it in the next available week so that I have a new verse each week. Then, every time I open my agenda that week I practice memorizing that verse.
  2. TO DO: I keep a running list of tasks that I need to do that week which are not day-specific, with a checkbox beside it. One strike through the middle means a task is in progress, a full my stricken box means I’ve completed the task, and an arrow means I’m referring to next week. 
  3. NOTES: This is a catch all section for things I come across or need to remember. Mostly these are bullet points, but I also have an icon code specifically for notes related to websites, blogs, eating, priority, ideas and books. 
  4. TRACKING: I keep track of whether or not I’ve done my daily devotions and also how many times I go to the gym. Sadly I only went once on this particular week.

There are other nuances to how I record daily life via my planner, but these are the essentials. 

2.

Has it really been two weeks?

My parents and sister returned home this past Sunday (March Break is only one week), leaving Kelvin and I to get to know Andy a little better on our own. Daily, I have been getting texts from them with requests for photos, and mentions of how much they miss Andy. Something Kelvin and I didn’t entirely realize was the effect that Andy would have not just on the two of us, but on our immediate family. We see qualities and emotions in our family members that we’ve never seen before, and it’s so nice to see the way that they pour out their love on him.

Though we are far from having any semblance of a hard and fast routine, we are starting to find a rhythm. For the most part, Andy likes to be fed every 3 hours or so, and he is usually content to sleep between feeds. He’s been alert a little more the past few days, giving us time to enjoy his cuteness in a waking state. We’ve been out and about almost every day, and I’m learning that he absolutely loves being in the car. Just like me! Both of us can pass out in the car almost instantaneously.

We have been making a concerted effort not to introduce Andy to any screens or tech, but it seems we have a harder time pulling away from it. I actually discovered this app last week and found it to be immensely helpful at the beginning of the week for tracking what Andy is doing and whether he needs to be changed/fed soon. When you download the app, you get a 14 day free trial of the features, and though I originally thought I would pay the $5.49 to make the trial version permanent, I became all too aware of just how much time I was spending glued to my phone because of it. I would document every diaper (including colour and texture of any BM), every waking moment, every feed…I have now reverted to just keeping one of our boogie boards with me to jot down times of when he feeds, and a tally of diaper contents. “Low tech” for the win.

Now, on to this week’s top 5:

  • reusable nursing pads – I hear this happens to most women, but it seems that my body is tuned to produce milk whenever Andy cries, resulting in less than uncomfortable dampness and stainage on my clothing. I just picked up a few sets of these to use, and they’ve been serving me well. I couldn’t imagine how many disposables I’d be going through!
  • our car seat cover – it’s supposed to be spring, but alas the snow can’t seem to stay away. With how often we take Andy out, we couldn’t imagine toting him around without something to keep him warm and toasty. We like this one in particular because it goes over the car seat bucket (as opposed to into the car seat itself), allowing us to still keep his 5-point harness buckled nice and snug around him.
  • a goal and something to look forward to each day – it’s very easy for days to blur together without setting some sort of priority for the day. I reverted from my phone calendar back to a moleskine agenda this year and it is proving very helpful in keeping me productive each day
  • leftovers/freezer meals – I was super ambitious on Sunday and planned out our meals for the week. Alas, we had maybe 2 of the meals…neither of them on the day they were assigned. There were definitely days during the week that we did not feel like whipping something together, and were immensely thankful to have food that we could just reheat and enjoy
  • whatsapp – for my family to receive real-time Andy updates…among other things. Nothing like technology to keep your family close haha

Andy’s features are definitely more pronounced this week (he is less of a crying blob) and he is on the verge of learning to smile while awake (he smiles all the time when he’s sleeping…weird kid…). I must get better at taking (not grainy) pictures of him.

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