FrangipaniDreamz

Sometimes there's a lot of words in my head and they need to come out

Seriously, three years? (And 4 different planners) 8 February 2016

Filed under: Life,organising/organizing,Planning,Progress — frangipanidreamz @ 9:13 pm
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Aaaand, once again a ringed planner is winning for me.
I can’t believe it has been three years since I last did a blog entry. I think my last entry was just before I got my iPhone. So I can conveniently blame my lack of blogging on having the Internet in my pocket. That and other things going on IRL.
 I did Kikki.K’s Planner workshop in 2015 and began lusting after one of their new planners. So in the January sales I grabbed this lovely Teal one. Since my last entry about the fantastic personal sized $1 binder from the op shop (they are on eBay and Etsy but people say they fall apart – however mine hasn’t) it wasn’t working for me because it was TOO SMALL. 
At the end of 2013 we flew over to visit relatives in Blackpool, UK. There is a Staples in Blackpool. Yeah!!! Woo Hoo! I found out which bus route it was on and got myself down for about 3 shopping trips. 
There was Martha Stewart planner lovelies as well as Staples’Arc M range. Oh for a larger suitcase! I flew home, halfway across the world, with the heavy Arc punch and some A5 and A4 stuff and a selection of extra binder discs. As well as some fun stationery items like post-its and stickers picked up in Sainsburys, Tescos, The Pound Shop, 99p Store, some quaint stores around other northern towns  and the massive Morrisons at the northern end of Blackpool’s seaside tram. [Oh Blackpool in winter, what a delight, seriously fun looking at all the winter seaside and spooky crumbly old buildings. (While everyone at home was sweltering, we were running around the countryside experiencing crisp cold, slippery roads and icy footpaths and hoping for snow!)]

I used the lovely Arc A5 plum leather planner cover for a bit, but I decided it was too small a page size and too bulky to carry in my handbag on days out and the large discs in the middle made it hard to write in (I did my usual silly trick of trying to stuff my entire life into it…). So at the beginning of 2015 Staples Australia were finally shipping to my state (yay!) and had 20% off Arc, so I bought hot pink leather (hello p0rn spiders!) A4 with matching hot pink discs. That was great, I was so excited to have an A4 planner, and I used it – at home – it was huuuge and too big to fit even in my Bag of Holding for work on an everyday basis. Then because it wasn’t portable I didn’t plan at all for several months until my life became a circuit of running around “extinguishing hotspots” instead of keeping them from appearing in the first place. 

Enter the lovely ladies from Kikki.k. I go there for touchy feely window shopping expeditions. I am a tad embarrassed to say they know me by name and I’m on friendly terms with the store managers in the city and my nearest suburban store … They mentioned their organising workshops and planning workshops. Oooh. I attended the kikki.k Organising workshop and had so much fun I booked into the kikki.k planning workshop. I met the lovely Helle Weston from Cool Kind and Conscious who is a workshop facilitator for kikki.k and makes the workshop evenings so much fun. I have since gone on to attend kikki.k’s Goals workshop (revolutionised my life, it did) and the Christmas Workshop. Booked in to the Habits workshop later this month, woo hoo!

Oops, sidetracked!

After the planning workshop (seriously, I should have done one years ago) I bought a set of kikki.k’s planner dividers and revamped my Arc M planner from Staples back to A5 in a polyvinyl black and white floral. The planner workshop taught me to seriously evaluate what whT I needed to have in my planner, to condense things a little and to not be afraid to. Ha get things in and out if something isn’t working. Tweak tweak tweak!) The polyvinyl A5 was awesome with a kikki.k planner dashboard set, except I missed having pockets inside the cover and a pen loop (I was holding my planner together with pens in a notebook strap from kikki.k) I used that setup until December when I switched back to the A5 Arc M in plum leather. It has a pen loop and cover pockets. But …

There is no happy medium of Arc M by Staples discs for me. Too big or too small. Yes I know some other companies’ disc binding systems work with Arc, I will try a few when I get planner restlessness again!

I longed for the convenience of holes and rings again so I could punch pages on the go.

I stalk kikki.k’s website every few days and was eyeing off planners on sale around Christmas time. Patience rewarded me when last month the Teal Personal Planner went on sale for half price.

So here I am. Once again proud owner of a ringed planner. 

I am still using the A4 Arc M but now as a “home management binder” with meal planning and seasonal cleaning and other checklists kind of things in it. I plan to print the contacts off my phone and computer as an address book and use one of the A5 Arc M from Staples to house the address book.

My problem with small electronic device screens is that I can’t plan very well. Stuff gets buried in my device. Things like meal planning and writing letters or emails, managing finances and booking appointments and taking notes of conversations all work better for me if I can spread multiple information sources out in front of me and have note paper there as well. Computers are nearly there with split screens but small devices just don’t cut the mustard yet. (The Psion nearly did though, but that was 16 years ago and the device was ahead of its time!)

Next blog I’m going to start some pictorials of the different systems I have been using and writing about above. IMHO THERE CAN NEVER BE TOO MANY PLANNER PHOTOS OUT THERE!

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In search of Planner Nirvana: Paper Planners v PDAs 14 July 2013

Filed under: Gadgets,organising/organizing,Planning — frangipanidreamz @ 8:00 am
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I flirt with different sorts of planners.

Repeatedly.

I have re-covered my 1987 DayRunner ™ (which I abandoned in 1999) with some pretty fabric, and briefly used it for a few months until I realised it was TOO HEAVY.

DayRunner

DayRunner

I had abandoned the DayRunner paper approach for my first and the best, PDA the Psion series 5, which my DH had bought me for Christmas as he’d been aghast at the huge heavy DayRunner I’d insisted he bought into the hospital for me.

Psion Series 5

Psion Series 5

I loved that Psion. I still think it is the best small computer out there and would buy another in a flash if they were still available. It synchronised seamlessly with both Outlook and Lotus Organizer. You could type a properly formatted letter on it and beam it directly to a printer, sign & pop the letter in post! It ran for 3 days on a set of AA batteries (I cycled through 2 sets of rechargeables). It lived through two expensive repairs until the screen cable died for the 3rd time and the HP Pocket PC was on the market for less than the cost of repairing my faithful Psion.

My HP Pocket PC’s had a fantastic “today” screen like the one still buried inside Outlook, but better. They had colour screens with pretty wallpapers. Unfortunately the first one suffered a fatal BSOD when it was only 3 years old. But it was little more than a mobile internet surfing device, mobile email reader and electronic diary/address book.  It didn’t have the sophisticated truly mobile office nature of the Psion.  You couldn’t really plan anything in it, stuff tended to get buried. They ran out of charge quickly, especially if you left the wi-fi on, sometimes it didn’t last 6 hours without needing a charge so you had to lug the charger around. After a while I began carrying a paper diary again. Paper doesn’t need recharging.  Your kids don’t want to play MineSweeper with a diary. Then I discovered that the Pocket PC was creating duplicates when it synchronised with Outlook and so my address book was a mess.  Its synchronisation with the PC was flaky.  Opening documents created on it, on a PC was becoming a nightmare.  It was on its last legs when the iPad 2 arrived. I gave the Pocket PC to my son so he could play that addictive bubble game on it.

Bubbles!

Bubbles!

Finally! I sighed.  A device which promises to keep me organised! (hmmmm …)

I downloaded a heap of productivity apps on my new iPad 2. But still, there was/is nothing that kept/keeps everything in one place like Lotus Organizer did, or, in fact, like a Filofax or DayRunner does.

I now carry around my iPad 2, and, as a backup, a paper diary. I NEED Toodledo and it’s overall task scheduling, that is something that I can’t yet do with paper.

I’m a huge fan of DIYplanner.com so I keep trying different versions of paper planners in different sizes.

I lust after a Filofax but practically, one would be just as heavy as the DayRunner and I know I’ll end up with Planner FAIL again. But …

Kinokuniya

Kinokuniya

At the moment I am using a knock-off binder I picked up for $1 at Op Shop Alley. This planner is a pictorial post in itself, for another day.  It fits “personal” size refills from the major planner brands so it’s a work in progress and of course I already have all the tools for DIY planner making.  The best thing about this binder is it has a seperate zippered wallet section at the back. And on a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur I found Kinokuniya, a giant bookstore with a stationery section at the top level of the KLCC Towers and scored myself a bunch of cheap refill bits for it. This store might possibly be one of the last outposts for paper planner lovers in existence. Kinokuniya stock several brands of planners and refills in all different sizes. I wish I could have spent all day in there with the vast amount of books as well as stationery! (My haul from there is also enough for another post!).

I also lust after an A4 M by Staples™ Arc setup, but they still are not shipping to my part of Australia so I endure a torturous wait.

So, I am always in search of Planner Nirvana and the internet tells me I am not alone!

 

Running my day to the maxx 4 April 2013

I start my day by writing a To Do List as I drink my morning coffee. Sometimes I even start my list the day before, especially if I have appointments and need to work out traveling time, factor in child procrastination time etc. I keep the list somewhere I will be using several times a day, (near the kettle in my kitchen works best for me!).  I cross off what I have completed as I finish it. If other unplanned tasks are done, I tack them on the bottom of my list & cross them off. When interrupted, I refer back to my to do list (this is truly a Bacon Saver). When feeling overwhelmed and distracted, I pause. I have a drink of water, and walk down to the letterbox and back, stopping to smell

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

any flowers that might be blooming. I grab a pad & pen, and do a mind dump of what is on my mind, even if it’s just a whine. Then it’s OUT of my mind. I’m free again to attempt to concentrate on my priority tasks, until the next interruption. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I use the “do today” section of the  Home Routines app with what’s come out of my Toodledo app. I then write my paper to do list from that. Er, on a good day. Lol.

I use a hash of different organisational methods for my personal peace of mind and paper clutter control. I use aspects of Sandra Felton’s “Messies”, David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) and Mary-Anne Bennie & Brigitte Hinneberg’s “Paper Flow” system. I really like GTD but there are parts of the system I know I won’t get to, maybe ever,  like high level reviews and the like. I am not comfortable with keeping comprehensive reference files as I have too much out of control paper as it is. The GTD concepts of Mind Dump and Lists are superb. Sandra Felton and Marsha SimsVertical In Tray” concept for corralling miscellany is another essential for keeping crud off my desk. Paper Flow keeps stuff flowing though, apart from the filing tray which tends to get overloaded.

Help!  The paperless (or nearly) challenge

My paper is taking over!

I find my filing gets overloaded really because I am lazy/busy.  If I could just get my hands on the hole punch right away without having to find what box I buried it in, and other excuses, then less than 5 minutes per day would take care of it. And I know this.  But still …

 

That Daft Feeling Is NOT “all in your mind”!

Filed under: Life,organising/organizing,Planning — frangipanidreamz @ 7:42 pm
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I recently stumbled on a very interesting article by Tom Stafford, from the University of Sheffield, also co-author of Mind Hacks the website companion to the book.

This article, “The psychology of the to-do list” ostensibly about planning and GTD (Getting Things Done) described some research by a couple of guys, Masicampo and Baumeister, at the University of Florida about something called “the Zeigarnik effect”. In a nutshell, they found that planning frees the mind.

But what rang a bell in my mind is they were REALLY describing the effect of parenthood on the brain, and how to get things back on track. If you read some of my old posts you’ll get what I am on about. What happens when you are doing something and you smell one of THOSE nappies, or get that little voice calling “Muuuum????” or the phone rings for the millionth time today with “Honey, what’s for dinner?”. You deal with the interruption, go back to work, not necessarily on what you were doing because by now you’ve forgotten what that was, and then your mind starts chiming in with thoughts of lots of other unfinished tasks (and how many there are) and you have trouble concentrating on anything. You feel overwhelmed. Spending half an hour distracting yourself from reality by playing FarmVille or Bad Piggys or reading random newsfeed articles on FaceBook suddenly seems very attractive …

What Messers Masicampo and Baumeister discovered in their research (see Abstract) is, and I quote “Allowing [participants] to formulate specific plans for their unfulfilled goals eliminated the various activation and interference effects.” I interpret that as meaning that if the research participants were able to, at some point, write down what they had been doing when they’d been interrupted, and what they needed to do to finish it, even if they couldn’t finish it then and there, then their mind would feel free to keep working on whatever without those nagging, discouraging, overwhelmed feelings dragging them down.

To me this also applies to clearing your mind in order to fall asleep. Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed. When you have all those thoughts swirling around in your head as you lie against your pillow, write them down. Even grab a big fat texta, if necessary to write “DON’T FORGET TO …” in huge letters so it jumps out at you the next day.

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Why I HATE iTunes. Really really really hate iTunes. 18 March 2013

Filed under: Gadgets,Troubleshooting — frangipanidreamz @ 3:30 pm
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OK, I was so excited to find out that I could upgrade my iPad 2 to use the new iOS6. (I was hoping to get Siri, the “personal assistant” but that doesn’t come to iPad2, and that’s a whole other gripe).

I was firstly peeved to read that in order to upgrade your iOS device’s OS you have to upgrade to the latest iTunes, because given prior experience with iTunes upgrades “losing” music or not opening or completely stuffing up in a myriad of other ways, I have learned to not upgrade the bleeping thing at all unless absolutely necessary.

Firstly, let me state that I am a Windows PC owner, not a Mac owner, so this may be the very reason for my woes?!?!

So I went ahead and let it upgrade iTunes. All looked well and great. But I realise here I made my first mistake. I did not check that it hadn’t “lost” all our music. I went into preferences and checked that itunes still had the correct location (which it did). And it looked OK with its splashy new start screen. So then I went ahead and started the disastrous process of upgrading the iOS.

I started by backing up my iPad. Second mistake – I did not make a copy of that backup on removable media, somewhere other than where iTunes stores it.

The download/upgrade process failed, not once, but TWICE. And it takes around an hour on my computer (and that’s hi-speed ADSL with an ethernet connection to the router too) for iTunes to do the whole thing, so that was two whole painful hours of babysitting the darn computer. Then I found this useful thread which said temporarily disabling your Antivirus/Firewall/Internet Security may help, and that (my particular suite) was known to be a culprit. I paused my security suite protection for 15 minutes and hey presto, that allowed the download/upgrade to complete.

But then … After I got my iPad going again, yes it had the new iOS on board, but my contacts, calendar, music, photos and apps were all missing. My iPad had essentially become a blank slate like it was fresh out of the box.

More googling on the big computer revealed that redownloading apps from the app store would bring back all their settings (it did) but this is a time consuming approach I am still pursuing at my leisure. Everything else I just re-synched from iTunes. I had to reset allmy preferences in iTunes as if it were a brand new out of the box device.
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I raised the question of Windows v Mac with friends and found that Mac users were similarly afflicted with problems updating their iDevices.

Now come on Apple, why should such a seemingly easy process, cause so much pain?

Now we can upgrade our iOS devices wirelessly, but I’m still more than concerned. What new can of worms could be waiting to be opened? Approach with caution!

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Yummiest Slow Cooker Tomato Soup EVER! 6 June 2012

Filed under: Life,Planning — frangipanidreamz @ 8:17 pm
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Wednesday’s are scary nights in my house, we have kids activities involving taxi duties from 3:45pm to 7:45pm, so dinner needs to be easy and fast. We are also trying to avoid preservatives and packet gunk as well as eat less red meat. Slow cooking is always helpful as I can cook in two parts and there’s minimal clean up at the end.

After reading about five Internet recipes for slow cooker tomato soup I decided to make up my own. And it was a HUGE hit.

Super Easy Tasty Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

Ingredients

1 can (410g) diced tomatoes
6 fresh tomatoes
1 large onion
1 tspn cooking salt
1 tbspn minced garlic
1 cup water
2 tbspn sour cream

Slice the onion (I used my food processor). Add to slow cooker bowl. Open tin of tomatoes and add that to bowl with salt & garlic. Cut tomatoes into quarters and purée (I used my trusty Magic Bullet), pour over onion etc. pour water over tomatoes. Place lid on slow cooker and turn on to high. 3 hours later, take a stick mixer (hand held blender whatchamacallit) and blend the tomato onion mixture until it’s coarse and there are no big chunks left. Add the sour cream and blend that in.

Serve with a hot bread maker loaf & butter or whatever you choose to eat soup with.

Serves 4 with leftovers for lunch.

Yummmmmmy!

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Anti-Flash Rant 6 December 2011

Filed under: flylady,Gadgets,Planning — frangipanidreamz @ 1:20 pm
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I do most of my browsing and reading from my iPad.

To me, this makes sense. I make use of my commuting time or sitting in front of the TV time, by reading all those juicy looking emails from retailers wishing to persuade me to part with my hard earned cash.

Yet how many times have I followed up an interesting looking product and been confronted by an ignorant retailers’ website that reads “you must upgrade your version of flash to use this website” or “this website uses flash, please click here to download it” etc, effectively ending my interest right then and there. I mean, HELLO, I’m on an iPad, we can’t have flash because big brother Apple won’t let us, so where is the iOS friendly version of this website?

Why do many businesses with a web presence still think that the only way to get a consumer’s attention is with wiggly jiggly inter-flipping-active Flash coded web sites?

It can’t be that hard to iOS enable your website (or use simple plain vanilla HTML, even!) as there are quite a few smaller web shops out there that work fine. It is more the old established retail dinosaurs that I seem to encounter who can’t get with this new fangled idea of portable computers and using them to buy or browse to buy later.

I’m not saying I want to be able to purchase everything on my iPad, but the simple concession of having a browsable website with static pictures of products and their descriptions would, wouldn’t you think, be an advantage to your business?

Imagine, I’m sitting on the bus going to work. (OK I could be in the car, but I’d rather someone else drive me through peak hour). Another bus is in front as we sit at an intersection. There’s an ad on the bus in front for a well known women’s clothing store advertising a 20% off sale and I think “ooh, I must check that out, I wonder what their new range looks like?”. So I go to their website on my iPad. But oh dear, all I get is the annoying no flash message. Can’t look at their gear. Being a Monday or a Tuesday, and me a modern consumer with the attention span of a goldfish I am likely to have forgotten about the sale by the time I get a chance to go mall trawling on late night shopping Thursday or the next weekend. But if I had been able to look at the clothes on the website I would have some images sticking in my mind and may actually remember to look for an outlet that sells them. Gasp, shudder, I may even have clipped images of products I want to check out, and pasted them into some reminder or note gathering software like Evernote.

I could be sitting in the waiting room at the doctor or dentist. Reading a women’s magazine full of interesting looking advertisements *ok, don’t choke on your coffee!* and see a miracle cleaning product I’d like to check out (sorry, not interested in wrinkle creams, celebrities or new cars). Same thing, if I can’t find out more, by the time I get to the supermarket or pharmacy I’ll have forgotten about it. But if I’d had a little website surf while I wait, with pictures and facts I might remember to look for it when I get to the store.

Tablets were also popular for shopping – the research showed that consumers were making more and more purchases on their tablets.

Read more: from The Age.

So I’m not the only one, you see.
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In the mean time I’ll just have to revisit my favourite web-stores that are not frightened of iPad users. Big shout outs to Ezyshop who deliver my groceries (Perth), kikki.k who cater to my designer stationery fetish, and flylady.net where they’ve been Apple understanding from the very beginning (and helping me keep my house clean!).

 

 
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