Are you a list maker? A pen-to-paper kind of gal? I indeed, am one of those. I don’t know if it’s a “type A” thing exactly, because I happen to know some “type B” list makers, but it’s definitely something a handful of us tend to take more seriously, if not more awkwardly, than others. As a devoted list maker myself, I rely on two things to keep track of the rhythm of our days. And you know what, they aren’t seeped in technology nor are not something you can download on an app or through a screen. I have tried those, and they don’t serve me well, for whatever reason.
I am not sure what it is about the art of taking pen to paper, but it keeps me so much more organized as we go about our week. I recall reading scientific literature back when I was studying to become an English and ESL teacher, that something significant happens in the wiring of our brains when we move our hands to write or turn our page to read. This hands on stuff isn’t for the birds, but for the brains, it seems.
No. 1 | The Calendar
This is not the only reason I have a beef with e-readers per se, but it has become a subconscious bag I carry with me on my shoulder as a proud preserver of doing everyday things by hand. Which brings me to my beloved Farmer’s Market calendar. I am going on three years with this beaut, and each month I get excited to flip and see what illustration sweet Johnny B (formally known as John Burgoyne, who also happens to illustrate one of my favorite cooking magazines!) has made for our kitchen. It feel personal now, like maybe, just maybe, he knew how interested I am in the varietals of blue cheese or the heirloom pickings of autumnal pears? Or maybe, just maybe, you are someone who happens to delight in organizational tools that also double as homey art? If so, do tell. Us strange folk must unite.
Sundays tend to be calendar days around here, along with meal planning days, where I map out the immediate weeks ahead to stay on top of school functions, holidays, gatherings, trips, and the like. If it’s not on the calendar, its not happening. Not really, but kind of. I also love how calendars give us a look ahead in a tangible way that tech cannot. You can flip with your fingers, jot little notes, and create visible countdowns as you cross of the days. It feels so much more personal to me, and an outlet that I have come to rely on. I know this method old-school and that someone somewhere is working really hard to create a new speedy system to organize the flow of your month, but I’m gonna stick to this tried and true way or ordering time. It brings me both practical pleasure and bountiful beauty as we make our way through the year.
No. 2 | The Sketch Pad
As for the second fancy smanchy organizational tool I use day in and day out: your basic sketch pad. No lines, no columns, no nothin’. Just wide open space to chart my ideas, doodle, make lists, and write essays. I carry a large 9×12 inch sketch pad with me almost always. And micron pens, usually. My sketch pad is full of blog posts ready to send out into the world, book titles I want to check out at the library, as well as grocery lists. I write and organize page by page, and it all stays in there—a glimmer of what it must look like to peek inside my brain. Yikes. I love the freshness and possibility each blank page offers, especially that it doesn’t block in my creativity. Who says your lists can’t be surrounded by wildflower doodles?
Mary Oliver, my favorite poet, once said at one time that I cannot recall, but I think here, that she always writes her poems on paper as opposed to tapping on keys. Again, science is at work here and how it interplays with our creativity, and that inspires me. On days I am utterly stuck in my work or need to vent, I open up my sketch pad to a fresh white sheet of paper, and do a combination of writing and drawing. And after a chunk of time, not always large mind you, I feel settled in my mind—tidy and true. Last week I wrote about how our mental clutter can in fact clog things up and therefore affect the physical aspects of clutter in our lives. Perhaps using an older method of ordering thoughts and time is the key you’ve been needing, and not more square portals and notifications on your phone. Just maybe!
TIDY HOME TIP & TIDBIT NO. 1 | CLEAR THE SURFACES
TIDY HOME TIP & TIDBIT NO. 2 | CREATE A CRAFT CUPBOARD
TIDY HOME TIP & TIDBIT NO. 3 | HAVE TOY RULES
TIDY HOME TIP & TIDBIT NO. 4 | MAKE SOUL SPACE
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Ellen - Oh I love the look of that calendar! Just ordered one. Thank you! I’m a list maker for sure–and I love Mary Oliver.
admin - Ellen, yay! It’s sure to bring a lot of beauty wherever you decide to hang it. And Mary, oh Mary. xx Amanda
Stephanie - I too am an old school calendar girl. You might also try some of the Taproot calendars. I also love Elsa Beskow calendars.
At some point in this series, could you address how to store children’s clothes that you are saving for later? I hate plastic bins but have not found a better way. And they are adding up quickly! We do, at times, have some clothing moths here in the South so there is that to factor in as well.
admin - Stephanie, it’s on my list of topics to tackle! And as far as Elsa Beskow, those calendars are beautiful. xx Amanda
Andrea - I love putting pen to paper too. There is something timeless about it that makes me feel giddy. Ha. I feel like I have scattered lists everywhere, so I should try your sketch pad idea to keep them all in one place. Every year I get an Ansell Adams calendar, with nice big squares for writing on, and I love the beauty and functionality it brings to our kitchen. My mom always had the same one growing up, so it feels homey to me 🙂 I am loving all your tidy tidbits! Thank you for sharing.
Kathryn DeCecco - Amanda what’s your process for if you’re out and make a plan? i.e. a follow up Dr. apt. or happy hour with friends. Do you jot it down and then transfer it to the calendar when you get home? How do you check your availability? I’ve always had a planner in my purse, in addition to the wall calendar, although I find that sometimes an event will get written down in one but not the other…
Rachel - Amanda, I love this series! Always so inspired, encouraged, and motivated by your insightful ideas. Thank you for the time and effort you put into your work.
admin - Rachel, well that makes me encouraged in return! Thank you. xx Amanda
Julia - Yes to all of this! I’ve always loved a physical calendar for the ability to look back and forward…it becomes a precious keepsake at the end of the year, looking at all the year held!
As far as your sketchpad…talk to me! I love the idea because I need ONE place to have everything from inspirational quotes to meal plans to-do lists!
Do you just go from one page to the next (ie poem on one page, grocery list on the next…) or do you divvy up the sketch book into categories? The actual type-a in me, wants everything to have “its place” (which has led to too many notebooks and wasted paper many times)
Thanks for the lovely post!