Monday, January 10, 2011

Administrative Assistance

“I’d have my secretary do it, but she’s dead.” 
(Don Draper, MadMen)

How do you stay organized?

Since this is the time of year for resolutions about getting organized, I thought I'd share my best tip from 2010.

A friend of mine swears by the Moleskine notebook. Here is a crazy cool tip sheet that he found online for the many ways that you can put your notebook to work for you:

And why Moleskine? Is it because they are trendy and available at places that attract literati and latte drinkers like Indigo? Maybe...

For some of us, the key is to find a notebook that fits into your lifestyle. I wanted something that could fit into my purse or pocket with pages that could be torn out easily and a handy pouch in the back.

Over the years, I've had every sort of PDA and Blackberry and nifty electronic thing imaginable, but none of them have lasted more than a year or two and so, they have no archival value for me. They need to be charged and they provide other distractions like email and photos when what I really need is a calendar and a place to make notes.

My system for the past year has been to use the iCal function on my MacBook for tracking dates and appointments and to keep a small Moleskine in my purse to track things I need to do, ideas, prices, notes from meetings, grocery/shopping lists, etc. On January 1, 2010, I started a list of major tasks that needed to be address over the course of the year and every week, I'd return to that list and see if there was anything that I could do to advance any of the items. By December 2010, all of the tasks were completed.

There is a freedom inherent in this system because if it is in the book it will get done and there is no need to worry about trying to remember what those blue sky goals were at the beginning of the year - they're right here with me in my pocket!

I even created a price chart for diapers in my notebook! Since every store sells packages with different quantities, it's hard to compare when a sale price is actually a good deal and doing math on the spot is kind of hard with an unhappy infant along for the ride!

DIY Rating: 10

Unless you can afford to hire a secretary, 
you're going to need to get organized on your own!

Keeping it simple works for me and maybe all we need in this world 
is that ancient little packet of paper in our pockets 
rather than the newest and most-advanced electronic gadget!


  1. We use a wall calendar in the kitchen to keep track of appointments, meetings, etc. I am also a compulsive maker of to-do lists, which I generally put on small sticky pads and carry around in my wallet. Grocery lists are likely to be scrawled on the backs of envelopes. The thought of carrying an actual book around with me -- or an electronic device, for that matter -- seems too cumbersome.

  2. How bad it is that I am addicted to the highschool agenda! I started using it back at the turn of the stone age and I have somehow managed to get my hands on one every year since. (I guess it helps that I`m a teacher). Not sure what I`m going to do at the end of this school year. Perhaps moleskin is the way to go...

  3. CBurrell and Carolyn - It sounds like you each have a system that works for you!

    I am a notorious envelope user and sticky note addict, but I've tried to limit myself to only using those methods for disposable lists. The best use of a sticky note is to put a few in the back of your notebook for handing out book recommendations and referrals to people you meet along the way.

    If the highschool day planner is working, stick with it! I used to love my school agenda back when I was a teenager!

    The moleskine + calendar just happens to be my sanity saver!


Thank you for visiting The Do-tique. Please let me know what you think - I love hearing from my readers!