A short while ago, I read a blog (apologies, I forget whose - maybe Helen Hollick, maybe someone else - or possibly even a comment Helen made on someone else's blog!) who commented that they carried round a notebook to jot down all those ideas they had when not near their PC, because otherwise they just forgot them. A problem in the shower, which is where all my bestselling ideas occur, but the principle was sound. I have plenty of notebooks, I thought, I should do that. (Yes, I know, I should *already* have been doing that, but cut me some slack.)
Then, as part of my continuing effort to lose weight (and to encourage the other members of the household without sabotaging my own efforts, let's be honest!) I started planning menus. Too often I had found that mealtimes would come round again, the fridge would have only half the ingredients for a sensible meal and we'd end up eating pizza. Or chinese. Or fish and chips. (Never all three.) By planning one proper meal a day, and ensuring that I had not only the ingredients for that but also a few things for small meals and snacks for the rest of the week, some of the stress was taken out of it, as well as quite a lot of the calories. Apart from anything else, many of the recipes I've done are 'serves four', so it helps with the old portion control too.
In addition to all this planning, I had often scribbled on a piece of paper the more urgent things that I really needed to get done that day, whether it was checking online for planning permission information for our community newsletter, working out what I was doing with my pupils that week at school or remembering to collect a parcel from the post office - and then with joy I could cross things off the list as I did them. Or transfer them to a new list the following day.
My kitchen table was beginning to look like the result of an explosion in a paper factory. Bits of paper everywhere, all with essential information, perhaps. I needed a system.
Now, way way back in the dark ages, last century, people used something called a 'diary'. They would jot down things like appointments and birthdays in them, a little aide-memoire. In fact, when I was based in New York and working with the fabulous Penny England, she was super-organised and would spend the first few minutes of each working day building up the list in the office diary of what needed to be done, always transferring over the few things from the previous day that hadn't happened (it was off-off-Broadway theatre, there were always things cropping up that meant the usual stuff didn't get done).
You're probably thinking here, 'There's an app for all that.' Well, I have tried. I really have. I use the calendar app in my phone and have linked it to my gmail calendar. I use the reminders app. I use the notebook app. I even paid for a couple of To-Do-List type apps, one of which, Clear, is really clear and easy to use. (Business Insider has it down as one of the 7 Best Apps to organise yourself with.) But the trouble with all of these apps is, you have to use all of them. You have to go to each of them and open each of them and then do the stuff in each of them! I know, it's not really a hardship, but it's too easy *not* to do it. Plus, I suspect I have over-cluttered Clear with lists of plants to buy - eventually - for the garden. The biggest problem I have is that it's easier to write something with a pen (or pencil) than it is to type it in on an iphone keyboard.
It's a bit late in the year to buy a diary for 2013, so I've redirected one of my many notebooks, written the dates for the next couple of weeks at the top of each page, and started including *all* the stuff I need to know in that. And I've bought a proper diary already for next year, an A5 lined page to a day. I will still use the calendar app on my phone, and the reminders. But I now have several ideas for blog entries jotted down at the back of my notebook - you could even say I've got a little list! - and I can also cross off one of today's 'things to do'. Now to tackle the next one - cooking lunch.