Saturday, October 31, 2015

7 Smart Ways to Attract Readers to Old Blog Posts

Dear Fellow Bloggers,

I feel your pain. I wrote blog posts in the past. 

Some are awful.

The perfectionist in me wants to fix them.

Some were brilliant, but no one had discovered my blog back then.

purse, surface pro 3, computer, library, outdoors

Some are incredible, jammed-packed with great information, and went viral.

People still visit those posts. And, frankly, letting them look at them is the digital equivalent of that picture of me in the 1980s with my mullet.

(Stay tuned for that goodness, later in this post!)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

3 Brilliant Ways to Remember Your Stuff When You Leave the House

On any given day, I'm bringing a lot of stuff out of the house with me.

My kids and their Kindles, my work bag, lunches, snacks, water bottles, choir robes (that, frankly, we forget about every other Sunday), a change of clothes, reusable grocery bags, coffee (because "they" expect me to remember my coffee PRE-COFFEE!), an extra phone charger, a pot luck dish...the list is endless!

(What? You haven't forgotten your kids before? Not even once, in a sleep-deprived stupor?)

time management, parenting

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

10 Essential Sections to Transform Your Daily Plan

***This post may contain affiliate links. See my "Disclaimer" link for additional details.***

Whether you use a planner or not, you should consider making a plan each day.

I solemnly swear that a daily docket will change your day, whether you are an office worker, a stay-at-home mom, or a business owner.

planner, quo vadis, daily planner page, daily docket

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How a Blogger Becomes a Writer

I never majored in English.

Back in college, my destiny seemed tied to dealing with people one-on-one, possibly as a counselor, teacher, or lawyer. 

write, writer, notebook, pen, keyboard

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Comprehensive Guide to Organizing Tasks in a Planner

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Some people plan with just a calendar and a to do list.

On any given day, that's a good plan.

But over time, organizing your tasks is a more efficient and effective way to plan.

planner, tasks, projects, dashboard, weekly, you tube,

Sunday, October 25, 2015

10 Tips to Completely Transform How You Use Your Day Planner

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On Sundays, I remind you of a classic Giftie post that you might have missed.

context codes, monthly, planner, ring bound planner, weekly, flashback,

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Achieving All Your Fitness Goals by Understanding What Motivates You

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Staying in shape this summer was super easy.

fitting in fitness; getting fit; finding the time to workout

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Peek at My Planner

Enjoy my You Tube video about my day in my planner.

planner, you tube


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Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Parenting Trick That Actually Works

A concerned friend recently asked me, "how is your second grader doing?"

I felt that distinctive wetness settling into my eyes. My throat struggled to create sound around the choking sensation. I was at a work event and determined not to cry.

My friend truly cared, so I wanted to give her an honest answer.

But what was the truth? And could I say it out loud without tears?

parenting, ADD, epilepsy, defiance, defiant children

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dump Your Smart Phone (For a Planner)

I understand. You love your smart phone.

I do, too. I am a proponent of technology. I use my smart phone all day - to check email, make calls, look up information, and check Facebook.

But for planning, I think it's time for most people to break up with technology.

planner, technology, glasses, pens, cell, cell phone, smart phone

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to Cope with the Harsh Realities of Life

***This post may contain affiliate links. See my "Disclaimer" link for additional details.***

This is my favorite picture of me that has ever been taken.

No, it's not because I am hiding from the camera. I'm actually not.

I was caught dancing!

I was at my 20-year high school reunion, at the best residential high school in the world. I was surrounded by friends and my kids were at the grandparents' house for the ENTIRE WEEKEND.

off topic, parenting, organizing, health
Photo Credit: Sean Farley

Monday, October 19, 2015

5 Easy Steps to Transform a Blank Page Into a Planner Page

As I write this, I'm thinking about tomorrow. It's going to be a Monday. I'm working on reducing stress, so having a plan to start the week is essential.

I often use pre-created daily forms of some sort, but I am not too uppity to just use blank paper!

I have five key steps that transform a page of blank paper into a form for making a schedule.

planner, paper, schedule, menu, checklist, budget, daily docket,

1. Double Hole Punch

Double hole punch the blank page, as I've explained before, so that the blank page can go on the side of the planner OPPOSITE tomorrow's weekly entry.

2. Fold in 1/2 (or in 1/4s or 1/3s)

Fold the page, keeping the edges even, to create straight lines.

TIP: Find a layout that you love on Pinterest and copy it by folding the page accordingly.

In the example below, I folded once in half, to make a vertical middle line. I dotted the line for my own visual help. Compare the middle, dotted line to the horrible hand drawn line on the left by the rings.

The folded, dotted line looks so much better!

planner, paper, schedule, menu, checklist, budget, daily docket,

3. Label

I labeled the upper right corner is the day/date, the times (6 a.m. to 9 a.m., right between the dots), a.m. specific tasks, p.m. specific tasks, and menu (all on the right).

The left column is for my tasks (from top to bottom) and my prep list (or things to bring out of the house with me, from bottom to top).

4. Add Monthlies

Monthlies hold my appointments. Obviously, they are the backbone of a daily plan for most people.

TIP: If you have very few appointments, choose a task-based layout instead of my appointment-based one.

Once I add appointments to the daily plan, I strike them out on the monthly calendar pages.

5. Add Weeklies

Weeklies contain my tasks. As I recopy them, I move any that are time-specific to my a.m. or p.m. list.

The best thing about this set-up?

I can change it EACH DAY to reflect my priorities and whether it is an appointment, task, or list heavy day!

For more great Giftie organizing and planning posts, make sure to follow me on Pinterest!


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Sunday, October 18, 2015

You Can Solve Your Planner Problems

Some people have called me a planner guru. They tease me about how I have to write everything down and comment, "you're so organized."


I am such an imperfect plannerd!

Today's Flashback Post proves it. (Make sure to read it.)

flashback, filing, pen, planner, post-it, technology,

Since then, I've changed the tip that I gave in that flashback post from writing computer-related tasks on a post-it app to using OneNote with my Surface Pro 3.

Depending on your laptop, you might decide to use a post-it app or OneNote.

Otherwise, though, I doing things the exact same way. The solutions still work years later.

If you learned something, please share on social media!


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Saturday, October 17, 2015

I'm a Work at Home Mom, Who Rarely Works at Home

I'm sitting at my small desk in the living room, laptop booted up, legal assignment in hand. Or I have my planner open on the kitchen table, complete with an outline of my next blog post.

Three minutes later, I'm surfing the tv channels, tossing some laundry in the wash, or defrosting dinner.

The bed in the next room looks so warm and cozy.

Maybe I'll make a snack...

computer, green purse, work-at-home, work at home

Time's up!

My children arrive home from school. No work is done. Working at home doesn't always work.

In the world of laptops and smart phones, work-at-home jobs can be done anywhere. I will work from home if I must (after doing chores and with all entertainment turned off).

But I would rather work somewhere else. Mostly, I frequent the local library, since it is quiet and free. There's also a great little coffee shop near my kids' school.

For those of us who don't work in an office, self-discipline is so important.

I know what motivates me to work - a quiet, public place. If possible, I met a work at home friend to keep me on task. It's like my own little office.

What motivates you?

A timer? A deadline? A schedule?

Whatever it is, figure it out.

It will change your work life for the better.


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Friday, October 16, 2015

How to Trick Your Teen or Preteen Into Getting Organized With a Planner

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Teenagers and preteens don't get enough credit.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Guest Post: The Importance of a Planner System

Go visit Planner Fun to see my guest post there and to get some fabulous printables.


Becky at Planner Fun has a system designed based on mine, but she puts her personal touch on it. Her perspective and her collection of free forms and planner pages are worth a visit.


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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How Productive People Actually Get Stuff Done

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You know those (ahem, STRANGE) people who actually get stuff done on time?

productivity, planner, time management, coffee, coffee mug, orange studio planner, quo vadis

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crying in Public

On Tuesdays, I move from my blog niche (that's the fancy term for writing a blog about a particular subject) of organizing and order to an off topic post.

Usually, that post is about a topic that I feel strongly about, like kids with exceptionalities, and I speak from my heart. But I distance it from myself a bit. I don't get too personal.

Today, I'm getting personal.

off topic, medical, weight loss,

Lately, I've been crying in public.

I'm not saying that my eyes water and I choke back tears. No, that would be fine.

I mean wailing, sobbing, uncontrollable crying, complete with confessions of whatever happens to bother me at the moment.

And right now, there is a lot bothering me.

My youngest kid is struggling. He is getting in trouble at school, dealing with seizures, and finding coping with life difficult.

I've had some health scares. I'm fine, but I have to work out regularly and eat better. Those tasks take commitment, time, and planning. It's exhausting sometimes.

I'm not sleeping well or eating well.

So when the school calls about yet another behavior incident, I burst into sobs. 

When I go to Mass, I weep in the pews. 

If anything the least bit emotional happens, I lose myself to the tears.

It needed to change.

I'm not one to sit back and just let it happen, so I am facing the problem head on. 

Here's how I am dealing with crying in public, in case it helps someone else.

Seek Treatment

I called and made an appointment with a mental health specialist. I am now in therapy and getting meds to help me cope.

Make Peace

There are a couple of people who I cannot avoid and must interact with, but they have hurt my feelings lately, so I find myself crying during or after any interactions with them. 

I made appointments with the people. At the very least, I can at least say that my feelings were hurt and I'd like to find a way to move forward. If I am really lucky, I'll repair the relationships.

But if I try and fail, at least I won't feel guilty when I cry over their actions.

Move More

I'm working out at least two out of every three days. That creates a boost in mood.

Do Pleasant Things

I enjoy walks outdoors, reading novels, and chatting with friends. I'm scheduling more of that and less of things that I hate doing.

Accept Sympathy

I'm a smart lady. I realize that none of this is the answer to my problem. I'll still lose control and cry in public sometimes. But I'll let my friends listen and comfort me.

I am determined to get over the embarrassment of this new, overwhelming symptom and live my life, instead of hiding! I am a strong woman and refuse to let depression keep me locked inside my house.

If you are struggling with depression or some other form of mental illness, seek help.

Crying in public, for me, was the breaking point that pushed me to seek help. I hope you don't get there.

I truly wish that, instead, reading this will be your catalyst to get mental health treatment if you need it. 

If you know a friend who needs to hear this, please share this link with them on social media. You might just save her life!


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Monday, October 12, 2015

How to Make a Household Routine Checklist in a Planner

My house is often out of control. Stuff gets piled up on the island in the kitchen, and the bathroom counter, and the side desk, and the table, and, and, and...

Yes, I blog about organization and order. Yes, I teach people how to manage their lives. Yes, my therapist called me "high functioning" just this week!

Doesn't matter. If I don't do certain things every single day, I drown in housework.

planner, menu, household, household notebook, clean, organize, chores, checklist, post-it, graph paper, Frixion, Frixion blue ink, Frixion pen

Since nothing ruins a Saturday more than hours of household chores looming over my head, I have a MAGIC list of things that I do daily to keep things in check.

In addition to erasing the evidence of everything that I do throughout the day, I do my magical dailies every single day to keep my house and life in order.

PLANNER TIP: In your planner, use graph paper to make a simple chart of your Magic Dailies. Check them off as you get done! I keep them in my Projects section with other active projects.


15 Minute Quick Clean - Sweep through the house and put things away. Clean areas that need wiping down. If the house is orderly, vacuum the carpet or clean a toilet. If everything is clear (HA HA HA!!!), organize the junk drawer.

Laundry - Throw in a load of laundry in the morning or as soon as you get home from work. Try to follow through to wash, dry, fold, and put away (or delegate to the family to put away). For times when it doesn't all get done, put those items away on tomorrow's laundry day.

(This laundry technique changed my life!)

Dishes - Unload/load the dishwasher. Hand wash dishes as needed.

Hot Spot - Pick the one hot spot that needs to stay clear and clear it off completely (by putting things away). For my household, the island in the kitchen is that hot spot.

Food Prep - Prep your food for dinner. Maybe that means jotting down what you are cooking. Maybe that means pulling something out of the freeze. Maybe that means chopping veggies. Perhaps you are ordering pizza. Just make sure the decision is made and any advanced steps are done.

Special Dailies - All of us have daily stuff that we need to add to our checklists. Maybe you take medication each day or you have to check email. I blog most days. Make a place for that stuff on your checklist.

Prep - Include prepping for the next day, including planning food, clothes, and any items for errands, work, or school, on your checklist.

PLANNER TIP: On your weekly pages, put a repeating task tab with the word "Dailies" on it on today's entry. As you complete your dailies, move the tab to tomorrow!

At first, it is hard to learn the routines. But if you put an X if something doesn't need doing (for example, if your hot spot is already clean) and a check mark if it is done, the empty spaces will remind you where you are slacking!

And you can give up cleaning all day on Saturday...your house and life will already be magically in order!


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Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Ultimate List of New Ways to Use a Planner

Think a planner is just fancy calendar?

planner, menu, time management, shopping, flashback, medical, projects, tasks, checklist, routines,

Definitely not! A planner is so much more!

Check out my favorite post about new ways to use a paper planner by clicking HERE. Don't skip this step, as that classic Giftie post will teach you something new about paper planning!

As I do for every Flashback Sunday post, I wanted to share an update of new ways that I am currently using my planner since I wrote that previous post.


Currently, I have a check to deposit and a list of books to check out at the library in the front pocket of my planner.


I use a sticky note to track my billable time.




I list the money or things that I owe friends and family and the money that they owe me in my planner. For example, I put in with my sisters to buy my brother-in-law a gift, so I owe them money next time I see them! I also loaned a movie to my godchild.





For example, I have the steps in my weekly planner review on a checklist. I also log my exercise daily.

Don't forget to check out the post that inspired this one, all about new ways to use a paper planner, by clicking HERE if you haven't already done so!

Remember that sharing my posts on social media is the biggest compliment that you can give. 


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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Amazon Wish Lists (and How to Use Them)

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If you shop on Amazon and aren't using it to create Wish Lists, you are missing out on an excellent organization tool.

When you are shopping on Amazon, if you have Wish Lists set up and don't want to buy yet, you can just click on "Add to Wish List."

off topic, technology, Amazon, organize, wish lists, Christmas wish list, Christmas gifts

Friday, October 9, 2015

I Bought a Planner...Now What Do I Do?

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A new planner comes with infinite possibilities, but it also comes with infinite questions and decisions to make.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Quickest Way to Reschedule Your Plans

If you use a paper planner, sometimes you have to reschedule. 

daytimer, hot list, daytimer hot list, paper planner, planner, schedule, schedules

The extra burden of rescheduling on paper one of the biggest drawbacks of paper planning, but there are things that you can do to minimize the extra work involved in rescheduling when plans change.

Circle Items to Reschedule

By circling them, the items visually POP so you don't miss rescheduling something.

Use Movable Notes

Use sticky notes for combination tasks so you can reschedule the entire project or set of tasks at once.

If you have a single errands day, for example, consider putting all the errands on one sticky note.

That way, if you get a flat tire and errands don't get done, you can just move the note to another day.

Schedule Wisely

Include time to prepare, travel, and clean up after each appointment or task, so that you don't run out of time and find yourself forced to reschedule.


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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

When Kids Are Exceptional, But Adults Can't Tell

I studied child development as an undergrad. I've been a preschool teacher, high school teacher, and middle school teacher. In addition, I spent most of my legal practice as an attorney focusing on juveniles, most of whom had special challenges of one sort or another.

So when I say that I have failed children over and over, it is quite a confession.

But I have failed children - and their parents - by often not recognizing special needs when they were not visually obvious.

off topic, special needs, exceptional kids, 504, parenting

As the mother of a kid with some exceptional needs, I figured I'd come clean and help the rest of you avoid making judgmental, self-centered idiots of yourself.

Learn from my mistakes!

Don't assume that a kid is "okay" based on appearances.

When The Loki is tired after a night of seizures, outgrowing his epilepsy meds, or trying a new attention medicine, he can appear to be a seven year old of normal intelligence and physical ability. And, in fact, he is. He doesn't need a wheelchair or a sign language translator.

Except, and this is the tricky part, he might get lost. Or he might have trouble remembering or following simple instructions.

He isn't okay without some extra help. He isn't safe or able to perform to full ability without some adjustments.

So, side eye to the lady who was glaring at me when I made my seven year old hold hands on our walk across campus. Yes, he knows not to cross streets without looking. But without a buddy, he'll sometimes wander across the street anyway.

Do assume parents are the EXPERTS on their kids.

I know a lot about child development in general. But there are only two kids that I can tell you everything about - their medical and educational histories, their motivations, their emotions. My kids. That's it.

So, if I am put in charge of your kid or I am bringing him somewhere, I no longer hesitate to ask, "is there anything I should know?"

Tell me that he gets scared in the dark, won't go to the bathroom without a crack in the doorway, or is allergic to sesame seeds. Let me know that she needs structure or more time or someone to hold her hand.

Parents, don't be scared to share those things with others. If they don't know, they can't help.

Adults, don't be afraid to ask. If you truly mean well, you might just make someone's day!

Remember that we ALL have strengths and weaknesses.

Grace means that we accept that about others and ourselves.

I am great in social situations. So I look around, find others who struggle, and give them a way "in" to the group. But I am aware that they might not want that, so I leave the decision up to them.

On the other hand, I cannot navigate or drive well. I let others drive whenever possible. So if I bum a ride, be kind! I'll cook you dinner or watch your kids.

Kids are the same way. Some are so sweet. Others are funny. Each has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, regardless of disabilities and abilities.

Sometimes, challenging kids make it hard to remember that. Sometimes, we don't see the exceptionalities.

We are too busy not looking or judging.

It's time to change that and start making the world a better, more accepting place, especially for children facing special struggles.


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Monday, October 5, 2015

How to Schedule Your Errands ... Backwards

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Last week, I ran out of gas. As I rolled up to the gas pump, running on fumes and a prayer, I stared at the little EMPTY sign on my gas tank.

The computer in my car does this neat little thing where it tells you estimated miles of driving that you have left.

Mine said (smugly, I swear), "0 miles."

I was relieved as I finally and miraculously cruised on fumes up to the gas tank, especially since my baby nephew was snoozing in the back seat, blissfully unaware that we had almost gotten stranded on the side of a busy road.

Of course that particular gas tank was having problems with its credit card reader, because that was exactly how my week had gone.

It was my own fault. I had driven to the bank, then back across town to the YMCA, then back to the bank, then to the store (where I forgot to get the most important thing on my list). I ran out of time to get gas, so went to carpool and took my chances that I could make it to the gas station in time.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Take Care of the Insides of Your Planner

Most people take care of the outsides of their planners - wiping them down, protecting them in bags, or treating leather.

But the insides of a planner are the important part!

What are you doing to care for those parts?

budget, filing, flashback, future, note, parenting, planner, projects,

Check out this Classic Giftie post to find out how I care for the insides of my planner.

As always when I look back on a classic post, I update with things that I am currently doing. So, this morning, I read the old post and did the following:

*pulled out some projects that are complete and filed them away,

*filed away my September calendar pages, and

*created a task to redo my ABC Notes tabs, as they are worn out (and I don't have time to do it immediately).

Let me know in the comments what you did to care for the insides of your planner this week.


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