The bane of my existence is the word planner. I have tried it all. I have tried every organizational/time management/household management system out there. I won’t link to them all, but, essentially, if you can think of a name in those fields I’ve either read their books, tried their programs, or used their products, or all of the above. And at different stages of my life, most of them have worked for me, but this new stage? This stage is beyond anything I’ve ever tried to use and trying to come up with a solution has nearly killed me.
I started the year using a new version of the planner that I used last year, but it didn’t work. When it was remade, they moved the weekend days to a separate page. While this would be ideal for a lot of people, my work week is really Thursday through Monday, so I need to be able to address that. Ideally, I need as much space on Saturday and Sunday as I have on the other days of the week, but realistically, I’m not going to find that.
I tried keeping a to-do list and a journal combined (in the vein described here by the amazing Karen Walrond. It is due to her that I do carry around a journal everywhere I go, but I can’t get the hang of the to-do list in the journal thing without feeling utterly disorganized. I even tried combining it with an electronic planner and that didn’t work either, but the journal goes with me and there are sermon notes, notes from discussions and lectures I’ve attended, children’s art, bible studies, you name it, you can find it in my journal. Except for the planning/organizing stuff. I bought the one month at a time moleskine planner thing thinking I could combine the two, but realized that probably won’t work. However, that planner does start until 2012, so my plan is to give it a try using the planner I settled on as a back-up. If it works, I’ll re-retire the other one. If it doesn’t, well, retirement was boring I suspect.
Among the things I used in the past, was a Dayrunner. Specifically, a Dayrunner pro. Last weekend, I sat on the floor of our local Office Depot in front of the planners and was practically in tears. A very helpful employee pointed out that the “current” pages in the planner were only one day off (I stopped using it in July of 2000, apparently), so I bought 2012 materials for it, came home, and made new stickers for the whole thing changing the dates on what is currently in the planner to match 2011, and that’s what I’m using. A week later and I feel a bit more in control of the personal stuff, the blogging stuff, and the school stuff.
But, you’ll notice that something is missing here. A big something. Yeah, the homeschooling stuff. Here again, I’ve tried several things. I was using Well-Planned Day, but it doesn’t fit the way we do things the way that we want it to. Using it, I was flying by the seat of my pants and that doesn’t bode well for times when P might have to take over schooling for a day or three or five. Here again, we found bloggers to be the biggest help. Sam’s brilliant post on planning opened my eyes to a completely different way of thinking about how we organize the physical material of our homeschool and it was only a small leap from there to an approach that better fits the way we do things in terms of how we talk about where we are with school. We’ve organized our materials into 36 folders or units. We work on each unit until it is finished. Ben learned with unit one that it is not a good idea to pull all the “fun” stuff out first because you still have to do the other stuff in the folder before the next round of “fun” stuff appears He loves science, logic, and bible study, but doesn’t like anything involving writing, but he’s learning, slowly, to think and plan and organize his school time so that there is a good mix of fun and “other.” For six, I think that’s pretty darned good.
But, how to document the units? How does someone else (read P) come in and pick up if I’m not right there to explain where we are what we’re supposed to be doing. Well-Planned Day doesn’t work for this. Trust me, it just doesn’t work. I think it’s a great planner, but for what I want it doesn’t work. Enter Jolanthe of Homeschool Creations and her planner. It’s about as perfect a fit to what we do as we can find and it makes organizational sense for us when we put the journaling pages on the back and fill them in as the week goes. It’s been really useful as we’ve started the year.
We’re using the preschool planning pages from Raising Rock Star Preschool even though Katie isn’t ready for that program yet. We’re using Cara’s Tot School ideas for this year and will use Raising Rock Stars next year when Katie is a bit older and more ready for it. We’ve added Jolanthe’s journaling pages to the back of the preschool planning page and that helps us capture Katie’s learning more accurately, too.
And that’s how my search for the perfect planner has turned into three planners and a journal and possibly a partridge in a pear tree :).