How I Organize My Brain

I”m a creative.  That means that my brain is constantly in overdrive, thinking about current projects, future projects, ways to make my blog better, ways to make my home better, {ways to make my house clean itself}…  If you could pop open my head and take a peek inside, it’s a bit scary to think of what that might look like.  So, to keep all those thoughts and ideas in order, I developed a system to Organize My Brain.

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceI’m a lister.  I have lists for everything – grocery lists, to-do lists (a mile and half long), blog post idea lists, social media lists….you get it.  Lots of lists.

{Did you notice I even listed the lists I have???  It’s a sickness. Dont’ judge me.}

I’m also an avid planner, and it’s no secret that I couldn’t live without my Erin Condren Life Planner.  This baby makes sure I’m where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be there, doing whatever it is I’m supposed to do.  I live by my planner.

Being a wife and mom and working full-time comes with it’s own set of stresses and tasks to juggle, right?  I had to go and complicate things by becoming a blogger, too.  I’ve tried blog planners…all different kinds, and I’m a sucker for pretty printables.  However, I have finally discovered a system that works for me, and encompasses my blog life and my real life!

MY TOOLS:

1. Erin Condren Life Planner

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceThis is my third Erin Condren Life Planner.  I can honestly say I have never stuck with the same style of planner for so long, but this one really, truly works for me.  For the longest time, though, I was only using it for my non-blog life.  With this year’s planner, I decided to combine my non-blog life with my blog life into one planner.

And you know what happened?

Magic happened, that’s what.

Let me show you how I set it up:

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceEvery weekly layout is broken up into three sections that you can use however you like.  Some people use them for morning, afternoon, and evening tasks.  Mine is a bit different.

In the top box for each day, I write anything going on that involves my family – doctor’s appointments, chorus concerts, events, activities, reminders.

In the middle box, I write my blog post for the day.

In the bottom box, I write any to-do’s for the day, whether they are blog-related or not.

You may also notice that I write sideways in my planner. After two planners, I learned that it’s up to me to use it however I need to, and because I write kind of big, I need more space than the daily box allows if I write “normally”, so I write sideways.  It works for me!

I also dig lots of colors.  Color makes me happy.

2. Spiral bound notebook – AKA Massive To-Do List

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceI’m an owl lover, and I scored this super cute owl notebook a while back at Target.  This, my friends, is my ongoing to-do list!

I have divided my notebook into categories, and each category has it’s own to-do list.  I have categories such as “home”, “blog post ideas”, “blog to-do”, “to buy”, etc.  I even printed off a year-at-a-glance calendar, cut it to size, and taped it inside the front cover for reference.

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceIf I have something that is only for a limited time, for example, our upcoming Halloween party, I create a tab for that, too.  Once it’s over, I just tear out the page and toss it.

3. Post-it love

Post-it notes rock, don’t they?  I use two different kinds of Post-it’s for two different things.  Let me show you:

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceIn my Erin Condren Life Planner, I use Post-it Page Markers to tentatively schedule blog posts.  If it’s not a hard and set date, it goes on the Post-it so it can be rescheduled easily if something changes.  It’s also great if I just have an idea for a blog post that may not actually make it to the blog.

Once the post is written and scheduled, I remove the Post-it and write the title of the post in my planner.

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceIn my  big to-do notebook, I use Post-it tabs to subdivide my to-do list into categories.  They can easily be peeled off and moved to another page if I need to add or remove pages from a section.  I just label them with a Sharpie pen and stick it to the page.  Easy peasy!

4. Small spiral bound notebook – 6×8

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceFinally, I keep a small spiral bound notebook in my bag at all times to jot down sketches and ideas as they come to me.  It’s in no order, and I have several of these little gems filled to the brim at home.  Sometimes when inspiration strikes, simple words won’t do – I have to draw it.  I just grab this notebook and put my ideas on paper.

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving GraceLater when I’m planning my projects, I can pull out this idea book and make them come to life, then add them to my planner!  I usually keep this small notebook with me at all times, so I can jot down ideas when I’m out and about, keep measurements and colors and ideas close at hand while I’m shopping, etc.

——————————————-

So there you have it – my brain, organized!  For you bloggers out there possibly wondering, I do have a separate editorial calendar that I use religiously.  It’s a spreadsheet in Google Drive (color-coded, of course) and it’s quite fabulous.  I learned how to set it up when I took Content Brew on Blog Clarity a few months ago.  Well worth it, if you ask me.  I’m happy to write a separate post on how I use it if you would like.

RESOURCES:

Erin Condren Life Planner

Spiral To-Do List Notebook – Similar

Spiral Ideas Notebook – Similar

Post-it Page Markers

Post-it Tabs

Content Brew on Blog Clarity

*Please note, these are affiliate links.  This just means that I get a little incentive if you purchase, but it doesn’t affect the cost of the item at all.

And because I love you, I’ve put together a little “Get Started” kit that I’m giving away to one lucky wannabe-organized reader!

PRIZE PACK CONTAINS:

How I Organize My Brain  |  Sweet Tea & Saving Grace

1. 8.5 x 10.5 spiral notebook (like my “to-do” notebook)
2. 6×8 spiral notebook (like my “ideas” notebook)
3. One pack of Post-it Tabs
4. One pack of Sharpie pens

Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Now it’s your turn:

How do you organize your brain?  What works for you?

68 Responses

  1. This system is so similar too mine. Huge to-do notebook here too. I have a blank,page next to my weekly calendar, so that’s where I write weekly to-do lists. It’s lovely to see someone else’s system!

  2. I use a very similar system too. Trying to go electronic, but it’s hard when you can’t use the nice sharpies anymore.

  3. I have a calendar and tons and tons of paper pads with my to do lists-I LOVE your idea of having a master to do notebook!!!! Totally stealing that idea 🙂 hehe love this post!!!

  4. Love this idea!!! I use the Family planner from orange circle studio.. mainly bc they have stickers.. lol.. but I love your idea on caring a smaller note book for crafting ideas….. hmmm..

    on a side note- can’t wait to see how your laundry room turns out. =)

  5. I love your system!! I especially love your to-do notebook. I am trying to use Evernote for that. I can take pictures or scan docs then upload them to be along side my notes in my Evernote notebooks. I’m pretty much a digital gal, but sometimes I miss paper.

  6. Hey Monica! I have a hard time going strictly electronic, too. I like my Sharpies and paper too much 🙂

  7. Steal away Katie! I’m so glad I started using this – it’s much easier to keep up with things.

  8. Oooh…stickers! 🙂 My Erin Condren Life Planner has stickers, too – the colored label stickers. They just made them removable, too – it rocks! And on your side note, I cannot WAIT to share the finished laundry room! Thanks a bunch!

  9. I used to have that same issue – all the little pieces of paper everywhere. It’s so much better having it all in one place! 🙂

  10. Thanks Lisa! I love Evernote for blog stuff, but I’ve had a hard time switching completely to digital. I love my pen and paper! 🙂

  11. What a fantastic post! Love getting this glimpse inside your beautiful brain. 😉 To answer your question, I have a weekly calendar I whipped up for myself in Mac Pages that has hourly time slots…and a spot at the top for my blog to do list and life to do list. It’s no Erin Condren planner (which is on my wish list, for sure) but it works. Thanks for the chance at winning this grrrreat giveaway of organization goodies!

  12. I love your system…and glad to hear you love your EC planner, I have debated on getting one about 10 times, but hate to spend that much $$. I am a list person, I love checking things off 🙂 My problem is I have too many lists all over, not organized… I need a good place to compile them all. Thanks!

  13. Thanks Kim! I was hesitant to spend the money, too, but that EC planner is really worth every penny. Glad you liked the tips – hope it helps!

  14. I bet your calendar pages are fabulous, because everything you touch turns to glitter 😉 Thanks bunches for stopping by!

  15. Oh!! Is this your first life planner? You’ll quickly be addicted – they are fabulous! Thanks Courtney!

  16. I also LOVE my Erin Condren planner — but I have several ‘to-do’ notebooks. one for work, one for coaching, one for school, one for home… (you get the idea). Switching to one with tabs might work wonders!!

  17. I could definitely use some brain organization. When I actually sit down and make a list for anything from planning a party or a trip to the grocery store things go pretty smoothly… imagine that! I also recently got a family calendar to hang in the kitchen that I’ve been pretty good at writing down what the family is doing. I use MS Word to keep recipes I’m working on… I list out all the ingredients, instructions, and I include websites I referenced for the recipe. Previously I would’ve just put in a pinch of this or a dash of that… it would come out awesome and I wouldn’t remember exactly what I did. lol

  18. I hope I win.
    I’d lo e to order one of those life planners but it’s sooooo expensive to ship to the uk. Postage was about the same as the planner itself 🙁
    Will just have to find something similar in the uk.
    Xxx

  19. I have a boring planner (via Walmart!! ) I put everything for myself, hubby and two boys sports, school and appointments, etc. I also have a little pocketbook size notebook where I put my ongoing to do list. It is not as organized and cute as yours, would love to win this! Love your blog!

  20. I’m definitely a list maker! I make notes on my dry erase board, pads of paper and my calendar! Thanks for this great giveaway!

  21. This is something I desperately need!!! I can’t wait to meet you Saturday and maybe you can tell me what to buy ahead of time and help me with some pointers then! I’m desperate. Lol. I love your page to by the way!

  22. I don’t keep my brain organized! That’s my problem! I use my outlook calendar at work to try and combine home/daycare/extracurriculars on it. I love the idea of the running To-Do notebook! I might have to start one! Thank you so much!

  23. I flip between several different methods to keep organized. I’ll get bored with one method, so I’ll switch to another. And the vicious cycle continues, lol. Someday I will find something that works AND doesn’t bore me after a while. 🙂

  24. This is genius. At my previous job my boss insited we do the notebook to do list as well. Anything we were working on, had to work on, phone messages etc, had to go in that book. He hated post its, and felt this way, if we were ever not there, someone else could look inside and know what we were doing. I also have a smaller notebook to keep sketches and idea of projects i would like to do. Helps not to forget, so when I’m not busy later down the road, i can just pick and choose. Its nice to know my brain is somewhat organized as well!!

  25. Love how organized you have everything! I am bad at having too many notebooks so I can never find what I need when I need it! The only thing I am consistently organized with is our house budget – I have an Excel sheet that I peek at every Friday to see what bills need to be paid, what we have left after bills etc. It makes it easy to plan ahead for holidays, birthdays etc for when you need to budget extra money!

  26. I have a planner that’s portable and just for me, I have a calendar on the wall for all family/school stuff, and tons of lists!

  27. My system is almost identical to yours – Erin Condren planner and all. I still have a separate blog planner but most of my “to do” items, blog-related or not end up in my planner. The master list notebook is the best thing ever. I can write down everything and get it out of my brain and then transfer just a few things at a time to my planner. Great idea on writing sideways in the planner. That might be my only complaint about it thT I can’t fit everything since I write big. 🙂

  28. Hi Kirsten!
    I found your website via your sweet comment left on Becky Higgins post about me winning the box of randomness she gave away. I clicked on your name, went to your instagram and saw you had a blog (yippy!!) – and here I am! The title of this post spoke to me and I just had to leave you a comment to tell you that I love this post! I am a list maker too! I have not found a planner that “works” for me, so I have been making my own (I am a graphic artist by profession). It’s still not a perfect planner but it gets me through! And I love that you use lots of colors too! It’s not just me that loves multi colors!! Thank you for writing this post! It’s nice to see how others organize their brains too! I’m off to check out that planner you use – Thank you for posting the link to it! Have a terrific day! Maureen

  29. Hey Maureen! So happy you tracked me down! (And congrats again on that awesome giveaway you won!) I seriously LOVE my Erin Condren Life Planner – it just works the way I need it to, you know? So glad you got in touch!

  30. Found this on Pinterest. Love it. I’m an Erin Condren loving list-maker myself. Question: do those Sharpies not bleed through your EC planner? I use colored Pilot G-2’s for my planner, but there is no way I could use them for those Post-It tabs.

  31. Found this on Pinterest. Love it. I’m an Erin Condren loving list-maker myself. Question: do those Sharpies not bleed through your EC planner? I use colored Pilot G-2’s for my planner, but there is no way I could use them for those Post-It tabs.

  32. SarahSt1 The darker colors do bleed just a tiny, tiny bit, but not to the point that I’ll quit using them.  And to be quite honest, I write so much on my pages that you can’t tell – there’s writing on the front & back of my EC pages so you wouldn’t notice a bleed if it was there.  🙂  Hope that helps!  Glad you found me 🙂

  33. My system is fairly similar.  I use a Plum Paper Planner, which is very similar to an EC, but they allow me to add additional pages at the back, which is where all my lists go.  This way I only have one book.  It’s also bit cheaper.  I had to give up my beloved Sharpies, I couldn’t take the bleed through, but I found Stabilo pens and feel in love with them.  I also add a fair amount of washi tape to my planner, especially for things that span multiple days.

  34. I’ll have to check out the Stabilo pens for sure. I love my Sharpie pens for their bold color, but they do have a slight bleed. Nothing I can’t live with, though, since I write enough to cover the front/back of the pages. 🙂 And me & washi tape go way back – love that stuff! Thanks for stopping by, and for the suggestions!

  35. I love this post! I have been needing to revamp my personal organizational system. When my kids were still in school, I kept a dry erase calendar in my kitchen. We each had a color and I kept our schedule of who had to be where on the calendar. Kind of like family central.

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MEET KIRSTEN

I'm Kirsten & I'm happy you're here! Sweet Tea Ministry provides a space for women to enjoy encouragement and practical tips for living a more intentional and fulfilling life through Bible study, efficient use of time and space in their home, and finding joy in the simple things in life. Enjoy your time here & be blessed!

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