How I Plan and Organize

Planning and Organizing-1-14Keeping myself organized is something that has made me happy ever since I was a little girl. I was one of the weird children that would write to-do lists and clean my room and organize my books and toys for fun. Now that I am an adult, I am still an avid planner and have perfected my system through the years. I went from writing lists on random pieces of paper that my husband would tease me about when he would find them all over the place, to trying out different planners and methods to finally finding the system that works really well for me.

What I use today is a very simple planner and several notebooks.

The first notebook is this Moleskin journal. Planning and Organizing-1-15I bought a packet of several moleskin notebooks on sale a while ago and am still using it today. Any notebook in the medium size does the job for me. I love that it’s thin, not too big, easily fits into my purse and has thin lines. I affectionally call this “My Brain”. I find that I really need some place where I can jot down everything – all my projects, to-do lists, ideas for the blog, for my home, for our family, etc. This is where I brainstorm and where I write down anything that I might want to remember later. When I say brainstorm, I really mean “storm”. I write down everything that comes to mind and don’t bother too much with organizing it too much at this point. I may put something down on my to-do list that I don’t plan on doing for awhile, but I want to make sure not to forget about it.

I’m pretty sure I write in it and read it every day. Right now I am in the depths of planning out Nathaniel’s first birthday party, so I have lists going on for decorations, food, things that I need to do, order online, etc.

Planning and Organizing-13My planner keeps “My Brain” in check and on task. This is a planner that I’ve been on the hunt for and finally found a year ago; it’s called a Homemaker’s Friend Daily Planner by Sue Hooey*. It’s as though it was made with all of my specifications in mind:). After trying many different planners throughout the years, I figured out that simplicity works best for me. I was using another simple Blue Sky planner that I bought at Target for a few years and it also worked great, but the planner that I use now has a few additional features that I really enjoy. After using this planner for a few months after getting it last year, I already knew that I would be getting another one this year and now after using it for more than a year, I am even more happy with it.

First of all, at the beginning of each week, I sit down and write out my weekly to-do list, which is conveniently set up at the top of the weekly spread out page. Planning and Organizing-3This is when I look through my notebook and read all my plans, to-do lists, projects, menu plans, ideas and try to organize it into what needs to be done in the coming week.

I also look through the monthly page to see if I have any appointments or other events coming up for that week.  Planning and Organizing-2Every evening (or sometimes morning) I plan out the coming day and write out my tasks for that particular day. I like using the weekly set up, with just a small space for each day, because it helps me to stay focused on what is most important for me to complete on that day. I write the most important tasks at the top of the page. If I have extra time, I can always look back to the weekly to-do list and finish something else on that list. (Who am I kidding? I’m lucky if I even finish the things I put on my daily list!) I also like that there’s a space in the corner of each day for writing in the meal. I recently recorded a video on Menu Planning, so you can see how I do that there, but basically, I write out my Menu Plan in my notebook and then every evening I look through the Menu Plan and decide what I will be cooking the next day from that list.

In the back of the planner, there is a handy dandy place for shopping lists. Planning and Organizing-7While I am menu planning, I write out my shopping list and anytime I notice that we need anything else or we run out of something, I will jot it down there. Planning and Organizing-5I like how it’s broken down into thin strips and once you use that list, you can simply tear it out and start fresh. What a good use of space!

Planning and Organizing-4There are also sections in the back of the planner for Tasks and Projects. Planning and Organizing-8

Planning and Organizing-6This is where I write out the organized lists of “My Brain”. My husband and I are always working on different house projects, so I write down all the projects that we’d like to do and then we decide what we have the time and the budget for. Planning and Organizing-9This is also where I write down the blog posts that I want to do, books I want to read, etc. I look through all the blog post ideas that I write in my Moleskin journal and narrow it down to the ones that I want to do in the next month and a half.

Planning and Organizing-10This planner has more than enough room for everything I need and it also easily fit into my purse. Also, the price is really great too – I only paid $12.59 for it. Now, that’s a bargain!

I also have a designated small notebook for recipe testing. Planning and Organizing-11Anytime I am doing a new recipe, I write down all the ingredients and the method while I am cooking or shortly after I am finished. I used to not write things down at all, or write it down in random places, but I learned that if I didn’t have a designated place to put the recipes, I would lose it. Even if you’re not a food blogger, I would suggest having a recipe book to write down the recipes that you come up with. If you print up recipes from other places, like online or cut them out of magazines, etc, make sure to write down the adjustments that you make, so that next time you want to make that dish, you will remember the things that you did to adjust it to your family’s preferences. I keep my recipe notebook in the kitchen in one of the drawers, so it’s always conveniently nearby when I’m cooking. I’ve filled up several of these notebooks already.

Planning and Organizing-12

Now that you’ve had a sneak peek into my planning routine, I have to admit that even with all my planning, there is rarely ever a time when everything gets crossed off the list and there are many weeks months that things from one to-do list keep having to be moved to the next week, to the next and the next. That’s just how life is; there is never a time when everything is done and nothing will ever be perfect. Of course, there are many things out of my control, and I have had many times in the past few years where I have lots of blank spaces where survival was the most important thing on the list:). However, planning does help to get things done and to keep me on task to get the most important things done first, because there are so many things that could take up my time, but are not as important. Profile Picture 2015-1-5 copyEvery person has a different personality and lifestyle, so my method may not work for you, or maybe you are the person who prefers to “fly by the seat of your pants”:). That’s cool too!

It’s such a satisfying thing when I can happily cross something off the list. It’s like a beautiful bow on a project well done.

How many of you are planners too? Do you like using stickers and making your planners look pretty? What sort of planner do you use?




  • Olviya

    I just ordered the planner, and am excited to put it to good use. I’ve been on the lookout for a good, new planner, so this post was super helpful. Thank you!

  • cyella

    Great post. I found out that after I became a mom I must write things down to be organized or just remember to do things. I really like your idea of recipe testing book , not only it is practical for reasons you have mentioned in our post but also to pass down to your kids. I just recently inherited a notebook from my mom with her handwritten recipes . Every time I look into the notebook it warms my heart up with all the sentimental feelings of my mom and home where I grew up.

    • olgak7

      I completely agree, Cyella, that planning is even more important after you have a baby.
      What a wonderful, priceless gift to have from your mother. I’m sure you will cherish it forever.

  • angela

    I am planning my baby’s first birthday party too. I’m not Russian but my husband is from Ukraine. For my other child’s first b’day we had a matryoshka theme. It will be hard for me top that. 🙂 good luck with your party. Loved the post and looking forward to more 🙂

  • Olga

    I like my simple “At-a-glance “planner, I’m using monthly inserts for general tasks to be completed throughout the month, in my monthly “to do lists”, also mark each birthday/ anniversary/ important dates for my significant people. In the weekly pages I write menus, tasks to complete, errands to run, etc. However, my baby is my “editor ” fo

    • olgak7

      My husband uses that planner and I’ve used it in the past too. I think it’s an awesome planner.
      My baby is my editor for all my plans too:). He’s the true boss, ha ha.

  • Anna

    Thank you for the great post, Olga!
    I once tried using the “Do it All” planner and I never went back to any other ever since. I love it to this day.

  • Tzivia

    Wow love this olya gotta get myself a new planner lmao just realized the price sounds really way cool too where did u get urs love ur demos @ usual btw ur vanilla rice pudding was super delish if it’s still good maybe I’ll make sweet rice balls and for the kiev kotleti I realized I can use a fish like cod or perch sweetie keep them foodies comin cheers

      • Tzivia

        Anytime gurl seriously your recipes surely don’t disappoint gotta try those fish sticks question forgot which fish did you use and also did you use a cookie sheet or half sheet cake pan speaking of cake gotta try they look really scrumptious and very eye catching mmmmm

  • Lilly

    I really enjoyed your video on planning and organizing.I can honestly say that being organized is a big part of persons personality and I’m not one of them however I do love my iPhone to do list and chore list apps that I have been using for last three years and it works great for me personally. I always like to learn how other people keep their lives organized 😉👌🏼and hopefully I’ll get a bit better each year

    • olgak7

      I absolutely agree with you, Lilly, that organization comes more naturally to some personalities. Everyone is different and the world would be a very boring place if we were all the same:).
      There are some things part of my personality that don’t come naturally to me either in other areas, and that’s where I have to put in more effort because I know that it’s important.
      I’ll bet you have lots of great things part of your personality that come more naturally to you that I have to work extra hard on.
      For example, I’m definitely a task oriented personality and I have to make sure that I give my family plenty of attention and fun, because I tend to put those things off because there always seem to be so many more things that need to be done. I really look up to my sister, who is such a wonderful Mama to her 3 children. They are always doing lots of fun things with their family and I want to be like her and enjoy times spent with my family, so that my son will have many great memories, not just chores, lol.

  • angelina

    just ordered the planner…great video!!!! thank you for ministering to us in many ways so we can be more organized moms/wifes!!!!

  • Irina

    Olga, planing works. I was so excited to read about planer for every day, menu, shopping list, as I do the same thing for two years now. I remember one day I set up and thought of a notebook for my planing, menu, grocery lists, that would fit my purse, not heavy. So I went to the store and started to sneak in every single planer. It took some time (about 4store visits) finding a perfect planer with page lay out that I’ve had in my mind)) anyway, I found it)) this year I went to buy one few weeks after New Year and there wasn’t many to chose from(( . All good ones were sold out… I got a cheaper one, as I knew that its a temporary one, till today’s day I couldn’t find the one that worked the best. And here comes your post. I want to thank you personally for taking time to write. Be blessesd!

    • olgak7

      I’m so glad this post was helpful for you, Irina. I hope you enjoy this planner as much as I do.
      Before I found this planner, I always liked to go to the stores and check out the different planners to see what would work best for me. Planning is so important to me. It helps me keep my life somewhat balanced and keeps me organized.

  • Barbara

    Dear Olga, this post was just what I needed to read. I used to weekly meal plan and make the shopping list accordingly but in the recent years I have found the task somewhat overwhelming. Even yesterday I sat down, made a meal plan and the shopping list and, in the midst of it, I just felt that it was too much. I believe that the difficulty is the following: here in Portugal, only in the last 10 years or so there has been a larger number of different supermarkets, all offering different items. Lidl, Aldi, Auchan, Continente, Apolonia, Pingo Doce, etc. and I got in the habit of buying in all of them, their home brand items or specials and now, instead of shopping at the market and maybe one supermarket, I feel I need to rush from one supermarket to the other in order to make my weekly shopping. So this is what I must change. I must narrow down and use only I bigger market that houses all items. Thanks Barbara

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