Image Map

Organising My Life

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

I sometimes think that my entire life is written down in one way, shape or form.  I blog. I tweet. I email incessantly.  It might be the digital age but I still like to write as well and it's an odd day when I'm not lugging around one of my 9000 notebooks. I use the notes function on my phone every now and then but let's be honest here, deleting something you've done is NOT as fun as drawing a big line through it.  All the to-do list apps seem to tick things off and that's just not right.

The bulk of my life goes in my diary. When I say diary, I mean writing-down-your-thoughts-diary, not appointment diary. I don't like to call them journals as it always seems a bit American and annoying but you know what I mean. The stack of notebooks in the above photo contains my life for the past 5 years or so.  I started writing a diary a few years before that (in the pre-blogging era) after reading a lot of autobiographies and books of diaries/letters.  It really struck me that we don't have that sense of physical documentation any more. I really don't think anyone will ever want to write an autobiography about a normal girl in Liverpool but if they did, what would they have as a document of my life? A load of scribbled notes and an overflowing email inbox?

I don't write it with any grand sense of purpose.  It's just there as a way of clearing my head at the end of the day and recording what's happened.  It's also very useful for recording what I've read that day - I'd have no chance of remembering them otherwise.  It takes up a certain chunk of time each evening but it's part of my night time routine now and life would be weird without it.

I'm fussy though.  My diaries must be A5 sized and have plain pages.  You wouldn't think they were that difficult to find but the A5 notebook market is about 98% occupied by ruled pages and I hate ruled lines for proper diary writing.  My current one is a beautiful Rob Ryan design.

When it comes to appointment-type diaries, I swear by Paperblanks. I've tried a few different designs and they're all really beautiful. One constant is the size. I struggle with A5 sized diaries for everyday life but these mini ones are big enough to write everything in, small enough to fit in my handbag and deliciously chunky to hold.

Oh work.  So chaotic at the moment that I'm running two massive A4 notebooks full of stuff to do.  The green one, as you can probably tell from the above photo, contains my daily to-do lists. The stripy one is full of slightly longer term planning type stuff. I'll get it all done one day.

For sheer kitsch value I have also this one.  It contains all my novel writing-related ideas and lots of middle of the night scrawls! Does anyone else get their best ideas when they're drifiting off to sleep?

The only thing I didn't have a special notebook for was my blog.  I'm trying to be more organised with it this year but up until a couple of weeks ago that organisation consisted of some scrappy bits of paper, vague ideas in my brain and some draft blog posts with just a title and a sentence written. Must do better.

I saw Rosie's post about personalised planners at the end of January and it spurred me into ordering one for myself.  A short while later this arrived:

The size I chose and the length of my blog name don't quite mesh, but I like the simplicity of it this way.

I chose the beautiful illustration that Sarah did for me on the front cover.

And an Instagram snap of one of my best ever charity shop moments for the back cover. I ninja swooped these Georgette Heyer hardbacks off the shelf in the Oxfam shop in Harrogate last autumn.  They were SO cheap!

A little bit of personalisation on the contact info page...

And a pretty starry header for the top of the pages, and it was done! Well, almost. I also added in a to-do list at the bottom of the other page (we have established that I love a to-do list, right?) and chose the address option for the back pages in the hopes that I might finally get round to writing them all down in the same place. 

I'm super pleased with it.


  1. Hurrah for lists. For they are wonderful and ensure that everything in our lives is awesome and goes according to PLAN.

    And we may feel like we have actually achieved things.

    Do you write things on that you've already done and cross them off? I totally do that and some would say that's cheating but actually it means at the end of the day when I can't work out why I didn't do the things initially on my list, I can see why by the things I added later.

    I have just been introduced to One Note on Windows at work and I am a woman possessed. Unfortunately it is a tick off rather than a cross through, which I agree is much more satisfying, but it offers me the ability to do prioritised lists and then sync it with other things - like my Outlook calendar. So I can take notes and actions in a meeting and then email them straight to the person who organised the meeting with one click of a button.

    Stop talking now Becky.

    1. oh my gosh I totally write down and cross off the things I've already done (thought I was the only one that did that)! I do think it's slightly cheating, but then I'm only cheating myself (and all that crap) and like you say I like to see I have done other things!

  2. I love this post : ) I wouldn't consider myself much of a diary keeper or list writer. I tried a diary during my late teens/early 20's (the wild and most exciting years to write about!), but never kept it up. When I worked in London in 2001 for a few months, I kept one and just found it recently. It was soooo funny to read back. There were lots of things I'd forgotten, so I was glad I'd written it at the time. I would always use a lined book though, so I'm intrigued to know why you prefer blank?

    For the past year or so, I've properly written in a notebook for my blog. I jot down ideas, to-do lists (as well as general day to day to-do) and also for The Shoe Girl Diaries, I write the image numbers I want to use as I'm flicking through them, then cross them off when I've edited them (all very fulfilling!). When I get really stressed, I do find it helps to be able to write down what needs done and start prioritising.

  3. I love a notebook. I have many yet to be touched. In an effort to curtail my notebook habit I left a particularly gorgeous one on the shelf one Saturday and then made a trip back into town on the Sunday morning specifically to buy it! Madness.

  4. Impressive organisation, i really need to improve on this!

  5. You have such pretty notebooks! I can so relate to this post; I can never be without my notebooks. If I don't write things on my daily to-do list, they never get done.

    I've kept a diary since I was 14. When I was in college, one of my history professors said to the class, "I hope you're all fulfilling your obligation to create primary sources by keeping a journal." I can't imagine mine would interest anyone but me, and sometimes I wonder how much sleep I've given up over the years because I can't go to sleep without writing, but it's far too much of a habit to ever stop.

    1. Awesome! I love a good notebook... TK Maxx is rather good for cool ones :)

  6. I've always wished I was the type of person to maintain a diary. I just can't. I've tried so many times. The closest I can get is blogging, which I am sporadic at anyway! I only just about keep on top of my filofax thing, with the briefest of notes!

    Wouldnt it be amazing if in 300 years time or so your diaries get found and published and you're like the female version of Pepys!

  7. I love stationary! As I said on twitter this is like stationary porn!! Haha!!
    I've never been very good at keeping a diary, I've tried writing it and doing on a computer but for some reason it's always seemed a bit if a chore! I never even used to keep an appointments diary as I was pretty good at holding it in my head but I have a filofax at work (even then I usually know what appointments I have at what time the next day it's the ones months in advance I forget! Although a few of them I know too!)
    I considered a blog planner as my filofax is just work but as I'm already lugging that around I'm trying to figure out who to use my filofax as an all encompassing work related/personal life/blog planning machine!

    I haven't managed it yet.

    Jenni xx

  8. I've got a huge stash of notebooks because I can never bear to write in them. It's really silly, I know, but I have endless scraps of paper. I really ought to designate a few notebooks for different purposes and really use them. I've managed to get into using my (appointments type) diary regularly & enjoy having things written down. Hmm.
    Thanks for the push, and for showing your different types of notebook :)


I'm easily pleased - a simple comment will cheer me up no end. So do drop me a line below...

Sorry to readers who prefer to comment anonymously but I am getting clobbered with spam at the moment so have had to disable anon comments. Feel free to get in touch with me in another way!