I still use a paper diary. Here’s the 2023 one.

I’ve written many, many times before about how it’s important to know what works for you in terms of planning.

My perfect diary is a weekly format, preferably some space for other notes too and enough space horizontally.

I’ve used the same type of diary as I’m using this year before – in 2018 and 2020. I like that I can zip up a pen or thin bullet journal inside and nothing falls out.

Let me show you more:

This is the monthly goals and planning page – goals, to-dos, birthdays and other important dates.
This is the monthly overview – I LOVE this page because there’s space for plenty of tracking – I track work from office days, exercise days as well as actual events.
This is the weekly view. I use the top section for events and the bottom for any specific daily to-dos. I write my weekly goals in the bottom left section (Priorities) and my weekend to-dos in the notes for the week section.

Here’s the key: I take some time every Sunday afternoon/ evening to update my diary for the week ahead so that this tool is truly useful and not just lovely to look at.

Do you use a paper or digital planner/ diary? When do you update it?

My favourite work notebooks

I’m fussy about my stationery but even I’m surprised at how specific I like my various items of work stationery to be! These are called campus notebooks by Typo and I pay R69,99 each or R100 for two (they have them on special a couple of times a year). They’re spiral-bound, a little wider than A5, have 4 sections (more on these sections later) and have lined paper.

They are my favourite notebooks which I use in the following way:

  1. I keep about 4 pages free in the beginning of the notebook for a few lists: lists of my clients, lists of new business I’m working on and any other lists I might need (sizes of meeting rooms are current favourites because I book enormous meeting rooms during these times, current work projects, and so on)
  2. I then make a daily eat the frog list, and my ta-da list and goals for the week at the end of each week. It’s my whole end-of-work week routine.
  3. I start each day with a daily list, make meeting notes and actions, both in preparation for the meetings I run and when I’m a participant. One day can use up anything from 3 – 8 pages, depending on the types of meetings.
  4. These notebooks used to last 6 months each but during these pandemic times where we work mostly from home and have far more meetings than ever before, they’re stretching to 3 months if I’m lucky. (I just checked my current notebook – I started it on 18 May and looks like I’ll start another one on 18 August).
  5. I completely ignore the partitions. I know some people like to use one section for clients, one for team meetings, one for something else and one for to-do lists. That’s not how my brain works – my brain works strictly in chronological order. E.g. “when was that client meeting? oh, 4 August.” I then flip to 4 August and find my notes. So I (horror of horrors) just cut out those partitions and I keep just one for a few post-it notes.

And now for the enormous disclaimer…

There is absolutely nothing special about this notebook or any other notebook.

The best notebook is the one that works for you!

Confession – you don’t even need a fancy notebook. An A5 exercise book that school kids use will do.

I would say you need a system to keep up with your work actions, a place to hold the thoughts in your mind, a place to plan the important and not urgent matters (quadrant B items) and a place to reflect back and refer to notes.

If you have that, great!

If not, perhaps try my system – who knows? It might just work for you too. If not, keep the bits that work and start tweaking the other parts.

Which is your favourite notebooks to use for work?

PS Whenever I post something like this, people always say, “why should you use pretty stationery for work?” To that I say, I spend 50+ hours a week on work; I definitely want to use that time and make my environment and tools ones that spark extreme joy for me ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekly planning – should you or shouldn’t you?

I started off with the question in the title because we are all different.

I can definitely say that weekly planning helps me in my life, but I recognise that we all prefer to do things in different ways.

If you’re very happy with your current non-weekly planning process, I’m delighted! However, if you feel like things could work a bit better here and there, then, as I always tell my coaching clients, test it and see. At the most, you’ve had two weeks that were more structured and a learning that the exact way you did it wasn’t optimal for you. But who knows? The opposite is also true – you might love something and never stop doing it (menu planning for me the last 15 years).

If you do decide you want to play with weekly planning, here are some ideas you can try planning:

  • meals (supper, or all meals) for 5 or 7 days – put down some ideas and pick from your list every day
  • exercise days – my gym requires that we book our classes to avoid capacity issues
  • connection time with family and friends
  • personal goals – like reading a book or working on your photos
  • house goals – organising your clothes
  • work/ side hustle projects

Please note all of these are just ideas – the thought of doing all of that might overwhelm you. Don’t let it. Pick what you want and leave the rest.

I know that Laura Vanderkam recommends one goal in three areas every week: work, personal, and relationships.

If you don’t like those three categories, choose your own ๐Ÿ˜‰

Who’s ready to try weekly planning? Which categories are important to you?

Other posts on weekly planning:

When you over-complicate things…

I do some planning every weekend:

1) my weekend to-do list

This gets written on a Friday after work and has a combination of events, things to organise, things to do in the house and relaxing things.

This is my sweet spot combination of getting out (for my extraverted sensing self), staying home and being productive and actually relaxing.

2) my weekly planning

This planning gets done on a Sunday afternoon or evening.

I have my Outlook calendar open, my work calendar, my shining planner and my bullet journal.

I’ll make sure I haven’t forgotten about anything coming up, and transfer things I need to action to my weekly planner.

For two weekends, I felt a heaviness, a feeling of not “sparking joy” around my weekly planning.

I questioned myself as to why and this is what I came up with:

  • I’m making my weekly planning process far more complicated than it needs to be.
  • It used to take me 5 – 10 minutes and was now closer to 30 minutes (granted, some of that time was for photo-taking for Instagram!)

So I’m going back to my old ways.

A quick check of the electronic calendars, jot those things down, read through my to-dos, and then get on with the business of actually living ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you felt dread recently about doing things that are usually part of your routine?
Where have you been over-complicating things in your life?

Will I keep on bullet journalling?

Bullet journal | www.OrganisingQueen.com

So after experimenting with the bullet journal for two months, I find myself asking these questions:

  • will I continue to use the bullet journal?
  • do I even have a need for bullet journalling given the fact that I’ve added a to-do list to my diary?

Was I not keeping a notebook before that served the exact same purpose as a bullet journal, except for the scheduling?

Yes, I was.


The only things that are different between my notebooks through the years and this bullet journal is:

  1. the bullet journal has numbered pages and an index
  2. the bullet journal is slightly cuter and much neater than my notebooks used to be

Let’s talk about those two points:

Bullet journal | www.OrganisingQueen.com


I followed the rules and went through the entire 80-page notebook, numbering each page. I made an index but to be honest, I never go back and reference any pages. Maybe that’s because I’ve only been using it for two months but I do have a very visual memory and I tend to remember exactly where in my notebook something was written. Also, because it’s a chronological notebook, once I’m done with a few pages, I attach a binder clip to the pages I’ve done with.

The cute factor

This was an interesting thing for me to notice. I’m not sure if it was because of the indexing or the numbered pages, but I don’t feel like I can just scribble notes in the book, like I do with my “proper” notebooks. I always have a notebook next to me at the computer and when I’m doing transfers between my bank accounts, for example, I scribble figures in my notebook. I would never do this in my bullet journal. Maybe I feel like I need a list of some type?

If you scroll through the #bulletjournal or #bujo hashtags on Instagram, you will see some AMAZING books in the planner community. And they are all very neat, or maybe that’s the stuff we all Instagram? Hmmm.

Still, don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated by all the cuteness. Do what feels right for you.

Bullet journal | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I’m writing that to myself too because here’s what I decided going forward:

  1. I’m going to use both my cute bullet journal and my scribbly HOPE notebook until the Hope notebook is used up, and then hopefully (haha!), I will feel able to scribble figures and such in my bullet journal.

2. If I do move onto another bullet journal this year, I won’t be bothering with indexing and numbers.

And then….. ta da da dum…..

I’m going to have a good think about only bullet journalling in 2017. At the moment I don’t think it would work for my style, given that I don’t want to be drawing layouts and such on a weekly basis, but never say never….


I do know that if I can bring myself to pay for a Legami weekly diary next year, I’ll use that one happily and only need a notebook for lists.

I am toying with getting a small, thin notebook (please let me know if you see them anywhere) that will easily fit into a standard A5 diary, because then it’ll be almost as good as those extra 50 pages at the back of a diary.

Where do you stand on the bullet journal and your personal organising/ planning style?

Ask Marcia – on scheduling or not scheduling regular tasks

Discover yourself | www.OrganisingQueen.com

A few weeks ago I asked on Instagram/ Facebook (By the way, I only publish about half my Instagram posts on Facebook) if people had any questions they wanted answered, and got this great one from Laura.

I have a questions relating to calendars. Do you have a system for regular things that you would like to do but don’t want to schedule per se?

So, for example, your walks. Let’s use the scenario that you want to go for four walks a week but you don’t want to schedule them all out in advance, you just want to do them at any given time during the week. I know one option is to write when you HAVE already taken a walk. But what kind of chart/note/system might help you track things like this. Now when I use the example of a walk, it could be ANYthing – eating more fruit, three handwritten notes a week, declutter one room per week. Just about anything that you want to do but don’t necessarily know a month ahead what exact day you want to do it.

(this comes into play daily for me in my work with the dorms – snacks to give out, kids in for one on one time to play, kids in to eat a meal with me, sleepovers, etc.). So I know I want to give out snack 4-5 times a week but I don’t want to schedule the days a month ahead. It’s when I have the money/time/energy/food available. So is this making any sense?


This makes complete sense, Laura.

I think the question is how do you still get things done without scheduling every little thing?

There are two types of goals – projects and habits. The projects are once-off but the habits are regular occurrences that hopefully will become habits soon.

What Laura is talking about are those habit-type goals.

I can tell you what works for me – monthly and weekly planning. If I have something like 4 socials on my monthly goals list, I know I need to be hitting at least one a week to reach that goal. Sometimes some are already scheduledย  so I only have to plan for a few, but that’s good to know.

Key thing for me to remember – if I don’t have an idea of when I want to do something, it’ll fly right out the window. This is a time management principle – if you don’t plan for your own time, others will. Or the house will need cleaning. Or another need will arise. So it’s best to have an idea ahead of time of when that thing you want to do might actually get done.

One of the reasons I love weekly planning so much is that it is a lot looser than daily planning and doesn’t make you feel like a failure on a daily basis.

Weekly goals | Organising Queen

I do weekly planning every week and write down everything I want to get done during that next week. Usually these are about 5 personal things and 5 (previously) business-y things, now I call them “The Blog” until God talks and I have clarity again. For those interested, I feel just fine with where I’m at right now – I feel like my books are out there and I’m always available to speak but the online thing isn’t clearer beyond my Instagram and this blog. So there we go.

Scheduling or not?

I have to loosely schedule. In other words, I never ever (unless it’s an actual lunch/ supper/ meeting-type thing) write down times that something has to be done in a day. That feels too restrictive for my personality type.

I have my list and then I look at my weekly schedule to see when the best day would be to do those things. Laura mentioned she needs to have time and energy. Agreed! For me, the beginning of the week is when I have the most energy so I like to put brain-heavy activities there (my frogs) and then I’m much more likely to get them done.

If you’re not sure what your energy’s like on a weekly basis, keep track of your energy levels for a week or so. My energy’s also dependent on the weather (!) and that’s why if I check the weather app and I see we’re in for some cooler days, I jump on that and make sure I use those days to get out for a walk.


If you don’t want to schedule at all…

You’ve got to look at your weekly list on a daily basis. Just glance at it to remind yourself of what’s on there, and check in with yourself to see if you have the energy to get to it.

My weekends are very loose outside of my anchor events – weigh-less, gym and church – and I have a big list which I keep visible (open on my desk). So if I have 30 minutes before I have to do the kids’ lunch, for example, I’ll check the list and see that there’s enough time to organise an area, write a blog post, or organise some photos. The thing I could most easily leave and get back to again would be organising, so I’d probably choose to do that task.

Tracking regular goal events

Next to my weekly goals, I usually write 1 2 3 and I circle the number when I’ve completed a goal. It’s not difficult for me to remember on a weekly basis; monthly is usually the issue but I do the same on my monthly goals page.

For my walks, I always take a picture so that helps me remember.

I can track mostly everything else I need to track via my Fitbit app – sleep, steps, water, etc.

I do need to get better remembering to track things like vegetables….

I’d love to hear what your response would be for Laura. Please leave your words of wisdom in the comments.

Do you schedule your habit-type goals or how do you remember to do them?

Weekly planning – setting yourself up for success

Okay, let’s talk about preparing for the week ahead.

I’ll share what I do and hopefully, that sparks one or two ideas for you too.

My weekly prep actually happens in 3 parts:


1. Decide on personal and business goals for the week ahead.

This step happens on Thursday evenings when Beth and I have our accountability chats.

I started a new step to this process about 3 – 4 weeks ago where I actually write those individual tasks in my notebook so I know when I’m supposed to do them over the course of the week.

This sounds terribly obvious but sadly, it wasn’t… and I’d always realise I had outstanding things too late to do much about them.

(30 mins with Beth, and 5 minutes to write the tasks spread over the week)


2. Weekly menu planning and grocery list

I usually do this section on a Friday night/ Saturday morning so that Dion can do the shopping sometime on Saturday.

The key here is to first check the freezer and pantry to see if you can make anything with what’s there, and then to decide what you want to eat, and add the missing ingredients to your shopping list.

I advocate loose menu planning where you have five meals with ingredients ready… but feel free to have Monday’s meal on Wednesday and bring Thursday’s one closer, as you feel led ๐Ÿ™‚ I will say I feel particularly satisfied when a week goes by and I actually stick to the menu plan and cook all 5 meals! Go me!

Once every 4 – 6 weeks, I like to completely clear out the freezer (not of incidentals, but of main meal food). This is good for three reasons: you save money and you get to exercise your creativity in the kitchen. Some of our kids’ favourite meals happened as a result of me getting creative (pasta with chicken sausage and sweetcorn).

(10 minutes)


3. Physical getting ready

I check the schedule to see if anything out of the ordinary might be happening, like events at school, socials, and so on.

I had 5 tops left for work after I used the Konmari method. This weekend I bought two more tops, so YAY – seven! Colleagues will now see me in the same top only one in 8 workdays as Fridays are casual. Based on the weather, I like to have a rough idea of what I will wear on which day.

I prep cereals for the week (actual measuring out of cereals) and two lunchboxes with bread. And then I pack my lunchbox with everything imaginable, and on Sundays I also pack a clean water bottle to use for the week ahead.

(15 minutes)

That’s it – 1 hour a week (and I don’t think I should count the full 30 minutes with Beth in here but let’s be conservative) – and my life runs smoothly.

Do you do weekly planning?

How long do you estimate it takes you?

(I have just started to think about next year’s Let’s Do This workshops. Make a quality decision now to join me for one of those, and we’ll talk more about weekly planning then)

How do you start your week off purposefully?

I’ve been on leave from my full-time job for the last two weeks and I go back on Tuesday.

That has been all the incentive I’ve needed to get our home sorted to start our week purposefully.

Today I

  1. cooked a meal, enough for 8 portions (4 meals for us)
  2. made my weekly menu plan, both for us and for the kids, and made notes about when I have to actually cook (I don’t cook every day)
  3. decluttered my fridge and freezer (is it just me or is there something so satisfying about finishing bits of food, throwing away old foods and organising it all nicely?!)
  4. threw a load of laundry in the machine, ready to go first thing when I wake tomorrow
  5. tidied the kitchen and laundry

Even though everything isn’t as clean or as organised as I’d like it to be (don’t even think about peeking into my laundry), I feel calm, organised in my mind and ready to tackle the week.

We women are the home managers (in most cases) and if we’re prepared and organised, the whole tone of the home is peaceful, calm and in order – just like I like it!

How do you start your week off purposefully?

What are your Sunday night rituals?

Sunday night has always been a transition for me – an easing out of weekend and easing into the work week.

Some things I typically do is:

  1. plan the week ahead – make sure all appointments are in my paper diary and allocate time for my weekly tasks
  2. plan our menus for the week
  3. plan the babies’ food for the week
  4. pack my work bag (I use a fun handbag on the weekends)
  5. pack my lunch for Monday

What are some of your Sunday night rituals?

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