Tag Archive | organization

Review: Artful Agenda

I love planners! And pens! And stationery! And pretty much all office supplies! But a combination of my body not cooperating and having 3 teens who all have calendars to manage means I really need a digital planner. So for years I have used the calendar, reminders, and notes app on my iphone to manage everything. (See my post on using color to organize your family to learn more about how I color-code our calendars.)

These all work, but left me missing the old planner that I could personalize. Stickers, a pretty cover, my own handwriting…I miss all these things. Enter Artful Agenda.

After looking and researching for years, I finally found an app that says it combines the benefits of a digital calendar with many of the things I missed in a physical planner. Here are the highlights:

Cost: $35 per year (as of 8/25/19) after a 2-week free trial. The site lists the normal price at $50/year, which is what I would expect once development is complete.

Format: App for your phone/tablet and web-based access. Seems to work best on Chrome.

Pros:

  • Syncs calendar to iCal, Google Calendar, and Outlook
  • A number of covers and handwriting options
  • Digital stickers (not yet available in apps)
  • Month, week, and day views
  • Priority and other tasks in each day
  • Tracking for water and meals in day view
  • Extra customizable list in day view (I call mine “To Buy” because we seem to need to stop at some store almost daily)
  • List tab (not yet available in apps) to help you keep all your lists/notes organized
  • Weekly and monthly goals section
  • Priority tasks and meals show in week view

Cons:

  • Lists and tasks do not sync with Reminders or other to-do apps
  • Lists and stickers not available on the apps yet (the “Coming Soon” section promises this is in the future)
  • Many of the cover choices are floral and all are feminine
  • You cannot set tasks as reoccurring
  • No alerts/alarms
  • No way to increase the font size in the calendar
  • Only Priority tasks show in the week view, other tasks only show in day view
  • Goals cannot have a date assigned other than than month or week where you type it and do not show in daily view

My Thoughts:

This site/app does offer a lot of the same experiences as a traditional paper planner. It gives you the ability to select a cover and handwriting, which I like. It seems to sync seamlessly with my calendar app from Apple, which means I did not have to enter things twice. However, the fact that the lists/notes and reminders/tasks do not sync with my existing Notes and Reminders apps is a major negative. When paired with the lack of notification from Artful Agenda, it means I still have to use my Reminders app in addition to the Artful Agenda. Also, until the lists and stickers sections are fully functional in the app, using the web-based version is really the only solution to get all the features. I do find that I use the task sections regularly for daily things I used to write in a notebook on my desk. This means the tasks are accessible to me even when I am not at my desk. That has helped improve my productivity.

Final Recommendation:

If you miss the feel and function of a paper planner or want to go digital, Artful Agenda is worth considering. Because this is a newer app/program still in development, some things do not yet work the way I would like, but I am hopeful that this will happen as things progress. If you are just looking for a calendar, there is no reason the to buy Artful Agenda. But if you are willing to pay for the paper “feel” in a digital app, I recommend trying Artful Agenda. Go to https://www.artfulagenda.com to start your free trial and reference code RH14913.

 

Homemade Non-Slip Hangers

DSCN4326My wonderful husband went to a national store on his own and scored me 4 new shirts for $8 each. They are super stylish, nautically striped with a boat neck. I love them and him for getting them for me for no reason at all (not a birthday or anniversary or anything!). But when I started hanging them up, nothing would stay on the hangers. These didn’t come with the clever little hanging straps that somehow always manage to be showing when I wear a top with them. After fidgeting with the shirts and hangers for several minutes I remembered something I saw somewhere about using hot glue to add texture to the hangers to hold wide necked shirts. I really wish I could remember where I saw it to give the truly clever person props, but alas I have no idea. Even if it was on Pinterest, the odds are it wouldn’t take me to the original link anyway, so thank you mystery person.

Here is what you do. Get your cheap plastic hangers out and heat up that glue gun. Starting about the middle of the side of the hanger (mine had handy open hook areas) paint a curvy line with your glue gun. Add a slightly thicker dot of glue at the end. Let them cool. Viola! Non-slip hangers for all those fashionable wide-necked shirts and slippery fabrics.

TIP  – If you did this on plastic hangers, should you get rid of the shirts, you can easily peel the glue off the hanger and return it to its original state.

Saturday Project: Pallet-Backed Bookshelf

DSC_0060I love using bookshelves for organization. For books, toys, china…you name it, I like to organize it on a bookshelf.  Our very first Saturday Project was adding fabric backing to a bookshelf! Imagine my delight when I found the tutorial from Lisa at Over the Big Moon for making a pallet-backed bookshelf. I can’t wait to do this to a black bookcase in the kids playroom!

Happy New Year!

new school year.001Ok, it isn’t really a new year, but back to school always feels like that chance to start over, much more so to me than January 1 actually. This year is the first year our kids are not actually starting a new grade in the fall (we “leveled up” in April, deciding to let the kids progress when they were ready and not holding them back until fall). Even with that, because my husband is a teacher, this time of year seems like a good point to hit “reset”!

Any major changes to chores or responsibilities are done at this time of year. We reevaluate kids responsibilities and privileges. We make decisions about what extra curricular, church, and social activities we will focus on this academic year. Each kid makes goals for the next 12 months.

This time of year is also a great time to do a whole home reset. If you haven’t, consider creating a family calendar.  Set up you home inventory. Do a house clearing out and cleaning from top to bottom.

Happy New (school) Year!

Saturday Project: File Cabinet to Garage Storage

Finished-CabinetI am always looking for ways to get more storage that isn’t built in and can be moved with us. I especially love projects that turn something cheap and junky into something cool. I was positively giddy when I came across this project on Trash to Treasure blog (tttreasure.com). Check out these great instructions for turning an old metal file cabinet into great garage storage!

Reuse Idea: Cereal Boxes

We don’t eat a lot of cold cereal, but we still manage to go through 1-2 boxes a week as snacks or ingredient in other recipes. I hate to throw away all that great cardboard (even to recycling) so I began looking for ways to reuse cereal boxes. Here are thee of my favorite ideas:

Decorative Stars: I have made several of these country stars out of cereal boxes. A good coat of metallic paint, and no one knows cereal file boxthey are cardboard.

Paper Stacker: We have a ton of decorative and school papers to organize.  Glue together 3-6 cereal boxes with top flaps removed for a great paper storage tower. Cover with decorative paper or fabric to match room decor.

Folder or Magazine Storage: Cut off a cereal box at an angle (see picture in link) and use this for students to store folders, to keep magazines handy, or to keep papers together. Just cover with decorative fabric or paper if it will be left out (unless Cheerios goes with your decor!). TIP: You can also use this same shape to store packages of zipper bags or foils and wraps in a cabinet.

Home Inventory: How To Take and Keep Home Inventory Records

Most of us don’t have and will never need a home inventory. I know, that’s a great way to get you interested in doing one. But the truth is that if you do encounter a disastrous situation where you need to know what you have and how to replace it, a home inventory will prove invaluable.

There are a lot of apps and software programs that you can buy to help you with taking a home inventory, but the truth is that you can do this with your own camera, computer, and scanner.

Start by setting up a spreadsheet with tabs for each room plus one separate tab for electronics. This will help you organize everything.

Next, pick a room and start. List each item in the spreadsheet. List the item’s name, brand, model number, serial number, and  purchase price.

After you have the information for an item listed, scan in any manuals, warranties, receipts, and other paperwork into your computer. Save these scans in a file labeled with the item name.

The third step is to take a photograph of the item. If possible, take one of the face of the item and another of the items tag or sticker with model and serial number. Save these photos in the same file as the scans of documents related to the file.

The last step is to back up everything! Be sure that these files are on your computer and on another storage device. Use a flash drive that is with your emergency binder or go bag so that you can grab it and go in the event of a fire or disaster. For added security, consider using an online file storage system, like Dropbox, to keep the files accessible from any location. If you don’t have a Dropbox account and would like to start one, please contact me and I will send you the information. This is a free online storage and sharing system. You can pay for additional storage if needed, but I have found that the free storage is plenty for my needs.