Planning Our Day

I have always kept a journal in some way, shape, or form for as long as I can remember.  Earlier this year, Matt and I started co-journaling, too.  We have found it to be a tremendously helpful process in planning our days and weeks, as well as keeping track of all that we get up to.
Our Life Is An Adventure journal, made by the ever-crafty Becky from Life for Us.
See, we've both always been list makers.  I tend to write them in my journal and day planner.  Matt tends to write them on scraps of scratch paper.  We decided that perhaps we'd be better off if we combined our efforts.

I think the idea for co-journaling came from about after Matt read The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's 60 Years of Self-Sufficient Living.  He said they made a list together every evening of what they planned to do the next day.  It struck us both as a very good idea.

This is the key difference between our old way of list making and the new way.  In the old way of list making we'd end up with lists of things we wanted to do a mile long.  But, some of it would be long-term dreams--like building a greenhouse-- and some mundane, day-to-day stuff--like paying the water bill.  It wasn't always the most helpful list and sometimes the sheer length of it could overwhelm me giving me the sense that there was too much to do and not enough time to do it all.

So instead of all that we now only make a short list of just the things we want to do the next day.

That's it.

We check them off the list as they are accomplished.  Then that evening when as we make our list for the following day we make a second list for the current day, if necessary, listing anything else which we accomplished that didn't make the to-do list from the night before--the bonus tasks, if you will, that we didn't even plan to get done.

Here is are some real-life examples:

-Went to Pompey’s Pillar for birding
-Planted six hills of butternut squash
-Pulled weeds
-Birthday party at Patrick’s
-Symphony in the Park
-Started hard cider with 3711 yeast, also started rhubarb wine
Mix shredded paper into compost pile     X
Turn other compost pile     X
Thin chard     X
Transplant peppers
Harvest oregano
Hem tapestry     X
Mail tie-dye to Jamie     X
Plan Menu     X
Plant YNP trip/food     X

6/29 – 30/2013
Yellowstone trip
-Cut scapes (1 lb 13 oz)
-Weeded and pulled aspen sprouts
-Sketched garden
-Plan food for 4th of July:  Crackers & hummus, falafel, fruit, PB & J
Transplant peppers
Harvest oregano
Bake bread     X
Make crackers     X
Soak garbanzo beans     X
Make garlic scape pesto     X
Work on ticket art
Look up YNP campgrounds     X
Water houseplants     X

-Pulled weeds at the community garden
-Baked bread (two loaves which were huge)
Transplant peppers (couldn’t - still too hot out)
Meet with Chelsey
Water garden     X
Finish garden sketch template     X
Work on ticket art     X
Meet with Ryan    
Pressure cook garbanzo beans     X
Make garlic scape hummus     X

-Harvested all cauliflower
-Checked cherries at RMC (should be ready next week)
-Hung out with Ryan
-Met up with Chelsey
-Made another batch of garlic scape pesto
-Played guitar
Pack car up with all tie-dye gear     X
Make sure we have enough money for change     X
Prep food     X
Sell lots of tie-dye     X

Watched fireworks and sold tie-dye in Laurel
Pack clothes     X
Order dresses
Water garden     X
Move seedlings out of direct sun     X
Wash Vibrams
Empty photos off of camera     X
Charge batteries     X

-Emptied tie-dye gear from car
-Transplanted peppers and eggplants outdoors
-Packed for Yellowstone
-Transplanted tomatoes and cauliflower into bigger pots
Go to Yellowstone!     X

-Hiked Fairy Falls-->Imperial Geyser-->Meadows Trail.  Saw Grand Prismatic from above on a ridge.  Stormed.  We ran, but didn't quite make it.  As I write we’re in the tent listening to the continuing rain.  Crazy traffic today compared with May visits.
Hike somewhere fun     X
Eat something delicious     X

-Hiked the North Rim Trail
-Unpacked car from Yellowstone trip
-Inventoried tie-dyes
-Purchased more white fabric to dye
Hang out tent     X
Hang out sleeping bags     X
Tie-dye work     X
Order dresses
Check other supplies before ordering     X
Deposit checks     X
Price spotting scope     X
Price telescope lens     X
Contact Chantz – WSP     X

Some days we forget or are too tired to make our list.  We just pick it up again on the current day.  Many normal, day-to-day activities--such as laundry, cooking dinner, and the like--are not ever listed.  If something makes the list, but doesn't get done it just gets added to the list the next day if it still needs to be done.  Some times it takes several days before it gets check off, but that is okay.  Other lists and plans get scribbled in the margins as needed, too, like menu and trip planning.

It works well for us.  Its interesting in that having our day's tasks laid out in advance really seems to make us more productive.  And its satisfying to lay out a day's worth of work and systematically check it all off.


  1. What a wonderful idea! I just wrote a blog post about my 2014 goals. I should definitely make small, attainable lists each day to help me accomplish my rather intimidating goals.

    1. It can be intimidating when I list it all out there....but I feel I get a lot done breaking it down into the manageable, daily chunks.

  2. How I laughed when I saw your comment about your lists in your journal and his lists on scraps of paper. That is us all over! I once read a very funny blog post about how a woman and her boyfriend agreed to meet for coffee in town midweek to go through their diaries as life was becoming rather complicated. She took out her filofax he took out an old envelope.....

    We don't sit down and write our lists together but after over 20 years of marriage we have come to some kind of unwitting division of tasks so that our lists complement rather than mirror each other. There are some jobs I always do and some he always does so that's quite easy. But I like the idea of having that time each evening planning the next day together.

    1. Oh, this comment made me smile. Thanks. Matt has a drawer where I put all the scraps with notes that I find laying about--heaven forbid I should recycle them when the information was still nessessary! So, we designated a space. I look forward to our years together to "perfect" our organizational system--imagine where we'll be with 20 years under our belt. Good for you for having found such balance--to complement not mirror, as you said.


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