Sunday, September 28, 2014

Planning and Organizing Projects and Hobbies

A few posts ago, I got a comment from a reader asking me to do a post on how I organize and plan my fun things.  I had to think about this a little because, while I do plan and organize some things, other just kind of fall into place.  So what follows isn’t necessarily a complete list of my “fun things,” but it’s a place to start.

As planners, we (or I) tend to plan and organize just about everything.  My family always jokes that if I were ever committed of a crime, they could defend me by showing my planner to the judge and jury and saying “If it’s not in the planner, it didn’t happen.”  This is (sadly, perhaps) true, though only to an extent.  While many things—most things—are planned, some are not.  I guess it depends on what can be constituted as a planned event or something that just happens.  (In those cases, I fill in the event later, for record-keeping purposes; it’s fun to look back and see what I did on any given date.)

Things like hanging out with friends or family are scheduled in my planner, the way any event or appointment would be—in pencil if the date isn’t confirmed and in pen when it is (or removed if it’s canceled).  I try not to schedule things like that too far in advance because I don’t want to spread myself too thin.  However, there are those things (like weddings or birthday parties and the like) that must be scheduled in advance.

Then there are the things that happen on weekends that I consider “work”—this includes work itself, as I work one Saturday and one Sunday a month, but it also includes volunteering for events at my church or charity/donation walks, and other similar events.  While these are volunteer and I offer my time when I have it, I do take it seriously because other people are depending on me to show up when I say I will and schedule others around the time I that I offer.  So much of my “fun time” is scheduled around all of these “work” and friend/family events.

With all of this said, how do I organize my fun things, hobbies and projects?

Well, first off, I will say that I do keep track of SOME of my hobbies in my daily planner.


This blog is a hobby and a fun thing.  Surprisingly, I don’t have a separate binder for my blog, mainly because I don’t need to schedule blog posts.  Really, I only get to post once a week, so all I need is a running list of topic ideas.  I have plenty of those listed in my planner.


I highlight the topics I have photos for.  Since keeping up a blog is a lot of work, I try to break down the tasks.  On Thursday mornings, I take whatever photos need to be taken; and Saturdays, I edit the photos; and on Sunday, I write the post.  This is only a guideline though; sometimes I don’t do the tasks on these specific days, though I try to keep to this schedule because it allows me more time to myself on Sunday.  If I want to write about a particular topic on a particular week, I will do that.  Otherwise, I just choose something from the list to write about.

Projects are also a hobby of mine.  Any current project goes in my planner behind my “Projects” tab.  The difference (to me) between projects and notes is as follows: a project is anything that has multiple steps and something that will take a while to finish; notes are more of a reference item, information that I want to have on hand but that don’t necessarily require any kind of plan or action.

Right now, I have 6 projects listed in my planner, each on its own colored sheet of paper.  For each one, I write down the project name and any steps that need to be done.  If the steps need to be done in a certain order, I will have a numbered list.  If not, it’s simply a bulleted list.  Here’s some of what I have going on at the moment:

A blog project (to be revealed at a later date):


A new binder project (also to be revealed at a later date):


Christmas ideas, complete with a list of people I have to buy for and any ideas that I come up with:


My Starbucks project:


Yes, I’m a collector and trader of Starbucks gift cards.  This is a list of cards I have available for trade.  On the other side of the sheet, I will write down any trades that are current: the name of the person I’m trading with, what they’re sending me, and what I’m sending them.  The trade gets crossed off once I’ve received my card and the other person has received theirs.

Next, if you’ve poked around on the links on my blog, you will see that I tend to make a project out of anything and everything.  The actual act of creating books for various sections in my life is a hobby, but it also helps me to keep things contained in one place and out of my head.  Writing things down allows me to remove those thoughts in my head and helps me to focus on the things that I need in my head at any given time. 

You can click on the link provided above to see the details of each binder, but I’ll point out a few key hobbies that live within these books.

When I was dealing with a good bit of anxiety, I created a Happiness Binder to remind me of all the things that made my life happy and good.  (I often refer to this book when I feel the anxiety start to creep back in.)  One of the things that makes me happy and to reconnect with the world at large is to hit a nature trail.  One of the sections in my Happiness Binder is “Exercise.”


Behind that tab, I have top tabs to break down my exercise by area of interest:


Behind the “Trails” tab, I have both hiking trails and bike trails.



When I have time to hit a trail, I look at my list, see what I can do based on the time I have available and the level of activity I want to do.  I’ll even add in how long it took to complete the trail/set of trails once I’m done.

Organizing is also a hobby of mine.  I keep a running list of areas that need attention.  When I have time, I choose an item based on the time it should take and the amount I have available, though sometimes it’s based on need.  If something becomes absolutely necessary to reorganize, I’ll do it when I get the chance.  Most often, organizing projects don’t need to be broken down, and therefore don’t need to live behind my projects tab.  I just do it all in one shot when I can.  If, however, it is something I need to break down, then I will put it in my planner as a project and work on it in bits and pieces, like any other project.  You can read about some of the projects I’ve already done.

Other hobbies and activities I enjoy doing are yoga, knitting (which I organize by use of a knitting binder), and reading (you can read further about my book list and how I organize my books and bookshelves).

Finally, one of my biggest hobbies is, of course, planners and planning.  More specifically, I try my best to keep up with other blog posts and some videos.  I plan to go into more detail of my process in the future, but basically I use Philofaxy’s Web Finds to update and add to my list of blogs.

I use Feedly to keep all of my blogs organized.


When I find a post I want to read in full, I either email it to myself (if I need to do some sort of action from the post, like research a product or service) or save it to Pocket to read later.


Feedly does have a save feature but it doesn’t allow for offline reading where Pocket does.  I used to use Feedly for the items I wanted to read first (my priority list) but I couldn’t access them offline and I’d end up saving them to Pocket anyway in order to do that.  So I just cut out the middleman, as it were.

I mark those I want to read first with a star and once all of those are read, I continue on with the hundreds of other posts I’ve saved.

I think this covers how I organize my hobbies, projects, and fun stuff.  I hope I’ve answered the question fully.  Please leave a comment with any questions you might have.

Happy organizing!

*I am in no way affiliated with any of the websites listed above.  All opinions are my own.

4 comments:

  1. Great post :) I'll see if can get at least a Starbucks gift card from Portugal to you :)

    www.organizedscientist.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Ooo, that would be awesome! No pressure though. :) Thanks for thinking of me!

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  2. It takes a special person(s) to appreciate how organizing can be fun, and I'm glad to say I'm one of them! :)

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