“ Brand: Organised Mum / Type: Stationery - Life Book Diary „
It is going to be a busy few months in our house with the oldest starting school and a potential house move on the cards as well. Feeling that this period is going to provide a real challenge to my organisational skills, I decided to invest in a shiny new diary - and treated myself to an Organised Mum Life Book.
* The Diary *
The Organised Mum Life Book is a week to view, 16 month diary / organiser. Mine starts from mid-August 2011 and runs until 6th January 2013. This was ideal for me as I wanted a diary that would cover the start of the new school year - perfect for keeping track of the staggered start dates, complicated childcare arrangements and all those school events that I'm praying will be on the two days a week that I don't work!
It is very attractive - A5 size with a hardback cover and spiral binding, with a turquoise elastic to hold it closed. The front of my diary is a mid-blue with a variety of different graphic style flowers / circular patterns on it and the words '2012 Life Book' down the right hand side. The only issue I would have with the size is that it is a big diary and you will need a big handbag if you're planning to carry it around with you. I tend to keep mine by the computer at home and use the calendar on my phone to make notes when out and about, which I then transfer to the diary at home.
Each week is spread over two pages of the ring bound diary with plenty of space for writing down all your appointments. There are four lines for each day, plus an extra line at the bottom of the day for 'Meal Ideas' - this is a feature that appeals to me as I like to keep a track of what we eat on a daily basis and hopefully it will encourage me to get back into meal planning properly. There is also a section at the end of each week entitled 'Notes and next week' which is handy for things like making a note of birthdays / events you need to be organised for the following week. The other features of the diary pages are a shopping list on the left hand side which is perforated so that you can tear it off and put it in your handbag for a trip to the shops, and a 'Things to Do / Important' list on the right hand side - this is also perforated but if you tear it off you lose the 'Shopping List' section for the following week.
Along the bottom of each page is a handy little calendar of this month and next month so you can check what day of the week each date falls on at a glance without having to flick to a different part of the diary.
* Additional Features *
The Organised Mum Life Book is more than just a diary, it is also an organiser. The 16 month diary section only actually makes up roughly half of the book and the second section provides you with even more tools to help your life run smoothly. In the second part of the organiser, behind a card divider, there are a variety of pages dedicated to each month. These are a Month to View Planner Page which is a double-page spread where you can see the whole month at a glance, useful for noting down childcare arrangements / holiday dates / birthdays which are fixed in advance so that I can work around them when making other plans; pages entitled 'Things to Do in September / Notes for September' where you can write down your plans for the month; a budget page for the month with space to work out all your monthly expenses from the mortgage payment to savings for Christmas and holidays; and an income and outgoings page so you can write down everything you spend (and even add on your earnings from reviewing on here). So far my scribblings in this section just comprises a list of the things that I've spotted in the shops which I am tempted to add to my Autumn / Winter wardrobe, and a few notes on things to do with school, but hopefully I will get into the habit of using the planning pages more regularly.
The final section of the book is for those planners amongst us and is entitled 'Christmas and Holidays'. Again it starts with a 'Notes' page and a page on Christmas plans. It then has a budget page where you can write down everyone you have to buy a present for, allocate a budget to that present and then write down your actual spend. I am hoping this will encourage me to budget properly and shop around for bargains / special offers in an attempt to come in under budget - of course the reality is probably that I will completely fail to budget and run around the shops like a headless chicken in December like I do every year. There is also a two page spread where you can write down your ideas for everyone's Christmas present and tick them off when you've bought them, plus lists with tick boxes for Christmas cards and Christmas shopping. There is also a summer holiday planner where you can organise the whole of the six week summer holiday at a glance, and pages for you to write down your thoughts and plans for 2011, 2012 and 2013... if you want to think that far ahead! Lastly there are basic calendars for 2013 and 2014.
The back of the Life Book has a handy pocket for all those school letters / invitations / notes that you are waiting to respond to. This pocket also contains two sheets of stickers to use in the diary to highlight important events - they include stickers for Activities, Back to School, School's Out, Holidays, Doctors, Dentists, Beauticians, Hairdressers, Day Out, Night Out, Party, Birthday and a host of other things that you may or may not want to remind yourself of like the car tax renewal date or when to file your tax return. If you don't have enough stickers, you can buy additional sheets of stickers from the Organised Mum website - http://www.organised-mum.co.uk/.
There is also a removal Addresses and Contacts file with a birthday list in the back which is ideal as you can just transfer it to the next years' diary when you've finished with this one. The final feature I want to mention is the repositionable clear divider which you can move to the relevant page of the diary to make it easier to find your place.
* Cost and Where to Buy *
I actually bought my Life Book in John Lewis as I had a voucher that I wanted to put towards it, but it is easy to buy them from the website - http://www.organised-mum.co.uk/. A basic 2012 Life Book costs £13.49 but you can also buy them with faux leather or real leather covers from the website. They also do a pocket version (better for your handbag) and a big family Life Book which may be better if you've got children who have busy social lives and do lots of activities.
* Final Thoughts *
So far I am really loving my Life Book - this is actually my second one as I bought one two years ago which I also loved - and I do feel that it is making me feel more organised and in control of my life. I always loved the whole new back to school stationery thing as a child and this Life Book, especially the stickers, really appeals to that part of me. There is so much space for keeping track of life's events and making plans for the future that I can even see myself keeping these diaries once I've finished them and looking back at them to see what we used to do. I would definitely recommend it to everyone who wants a bit more organisation in their lives.
*Originally posted on Ciao as Brownie_Queen
I have always had diaries from a small age I would always get one in my stocking at Christmas usually with Winnie the pooh bear on it. Once I got older I found I wrote in them less until I got my own home and I began to use them a little more. I found they never had enough space for budgets and other details I often had a few different pads around. Two years ago I was recommended to look at a website called organisedmums.co.uk. I loved their idea of the diaries but I was little reserved as how good they actually were and felt I didn't want to spend £14 on a diary for it to be rubbish. So I decided to take a chance and buy the slightly cheaper pocket version from them. I was extremely impressed so when it came round to October last year I took the chance and bought the life book diary.
The life book diary is a hard back, ring bound sixteen month diary. It is a light blue colour with the organised mum logo in the top right hand corner. 2001 Life book is positioned in the centre of the front cover with some nice detailing towards the bottom of the book. The look of the front is nice and simple and although a couple of girlie touches towards the bottom it isn't over the top. Looking on their website and eyeing the 2012 version up I have noticed they have gone a little bit more girlie and larger detailing but still keeping their light blue colour. The diary is A5 size with the hard back cover which I find a decent size. It was a fairly thick diary to start with but after bits I have added to it, it is on the very chunky size now. For me the look of the diary isn't that important it is what it provides inside that counts.
Two main sections
This diary can be suitable for any type of diary keeper. It provides the traditional week view at the front of the diary which I have always been used too. The other section is home to the monthly planning which I haven't come across in a diary before but would want every time now. The organised mum life book is more than just a diary it is what it say it is a book that will keep your life in order for the next 16 months!
The first half of the diary the traditional week view is one I like to write what we have been doing as a family. I don't tend to write appointments' in this section as I would have with a traditional diary I write them in the second section as I find them easier to refer back to. Each week is spread across a double page spread. The left hand side is for Monday to Thursday. On its left there is a perforated shopping list which I find extremely handy. As we run out of things in the kitchen I go to my diary and write it on the next weeks shopping list. I know longer end up with bit of paper with different lists on for me to lose! At the top of the left hand side is the month and year followed by the four sections for each day. Each section has six lines to write on which I find ample; I am not intending to write an actual life story just memories. The last line of each day section has Meal plan written on giving you an option to plan your meals for each day. I like this feature as I am trying to save the pennies and find I waste less in the kitchen by doing this. The right hand side of the double spread is home to Friday to Sunday sections. On its perforated part it has two titles with 'Things to do' and 'Important'. I don't tend to use these as much as you lose then when you remove the shopping list on the other side. At the top of the right hand side is the week number followed by the day sections. As there are four sections on the left there is on the right. The bottom section on the right has the title 'Notes and next week'. Along the bottom of the double spread is a miniature calendar for this month followed along by next month. I do find myself writing in this section day to day on what we as a family have done and like to look back on it from time to time.
The second section
The second half of the diary is what made me choose it over other normal diaries. I wanted a diary that could help me with running my family household as smoothly as possible. The second section is home to the monthly in view. Each month has six pages which are split into some very useful sections. Each month is the same as the others. You begin with a double page spread of the month in a chart style. Each day of the month has a box that measures roughly 3cms by 3.5cms. The date is in the top left of each box leaving I find plenty of room to write appointments and birthdays in. Down the right hand side of the double spread is 3.5cm wide lined column titled 'thoughts and plans'. My birthdays and appointments are always written in this month section so then I can easily see what is ahead. The next two pages are similar in style to each other with just a different title. The first title is 'Things to do in (the month)' the second page is 'Notes for (the month)'. The pages are lined with the title at the top and at the end of each line is a tick box. I find myself writing in birthday presents I need and bills I need to sort in these pages and tick off as I go along. I often change what I use these two pages for, from month to month. The last two pages are what I find the most useful, especially when times are a little harder the monthly budget pages. The first if the two pages is the title 'Budget for (the month)'. It is split into four columns, the bill, the amount, the bill the amount. They have placed a large selection of bills that you would have like mortgage/rent, council tax, groceries and so on. There are numerous blank columns at the end so you can add some of your own. The page next to it is what I find most frightening it is the income/outgoing table. There are five columns title as, date, details, in, out and balance with 20 space for entry. As the table doesn't have that many entries I have decided to adapt it for me. I use the table as a spare money table. I put my allowance for the month for shopping, petrol and other and then when I buy something I write it on and take it away from the balance leaving me a new balance. I find this extremely handy as I have bills coming out of my account all the time and never know if I will have enough at the end of the month this way I do. I know I don't need a diary like this to do budgets but I find I like it all in one place so I can find it and refer to it at all times. I have always had good intensions to do the budgeting every month but I find having this diary makes me do it were before I would lapse.
Christmas and holiday section
At the back of the diary is a fun section that is called Christmas and holidays. I am afraid I am one of those people who likes to plan Christmas from very summer time onwards if not earlier! So this section is ideal for me. The first page of the diary is a lined page titled 'Notes'. It seems who ever came up with this diary like to put a notes page at the beginning of every section. Personally I don't use it for anything as I have found everything has a section of its own. Moving on there is planning for Christmas 2010 as the diary does start in September 2010 and planning for Christmas 2011. Each year's Christmas planning is spread over six pages and I enjoy added to them from time to time. There is places for budgeting and planning for presents, card lists with ticks boxes and extra shopping page with tick boxes. I find it all useful and it gets me excited about Christmas. Also in the Christmas and holiday section is something parents with children will find quite useful. It is a double page spread planned for which has room for eight weeks. For some people I can see it really help them organise what can be a stressful time. My eldest son only started nursery in May so we haven't got to that stage yet. Although trying to explain to him why the teachers have six weeks off has been difficult.
Weekly routine Charts
One section I thought was a little silly when I first bought the diary was the weekly routine charts. There are seven pages with a chart on each. The chart is as follows. There are times of day sections along the top like morning, afternoon, after school and evening and down the side are the days of the week. It is then up to you to fill in the squares. I didn't bother using these as my routine skills have always been rubbish. It was come Christmas last year that I found the week up to Christmas was going to be hectic and was going to try and write a plan. I decided to give the chart a go and actually found it quite useful. One thing that was great was I couldn't lose it as easy as a piece as paper in the mayhem as it was in my diary. I have since then written a weekly routine that when my son is at nursery I try to keep to and find I have a lot more spare time then I used to going from job to job and back!
Other small sections
As well as the two main sections and the holiday section there are numerous pages right at the beginning trying to help you organise yourself as well as possible. The first page you open onto is the personal information section which I am never keen on. It is for you name and address and other personal information that links the diary to you. I rarely have the diary out with me but I have put a mobile number on this page in case I did lose it but nothing else. There is also a useful numbers page for taxi firms, dentist, doctors etc. A page with the 2010 and 2011 calendar, a page with spaces to write peoples clothes sizes and shoe sizes on something I would never have thought of before but we did buy clothes for my nephews for Christmas, 2011 at a glance that folds out and at the back of the diary 2012 and 2013 calendars. All of these add up to make the most organised dairy I have found
What it comes with
There are a couple of bits the diary comes with that are not attached to the diary but help it to work well. There are two repositionable Perspex dividers so you can easily find where you are in both sections of the diary, an removable address book that slots in the pocket at the back of the book along with two sheets of themed stickers to highlight different events like dentist, holidays, hairdressers etc.
I have used the website Organisedmums.co.uk twice now and I am very impressed with their service. On the last occasion there was a problem with my order and the address delivery address hadn't been filled in. A very polite gentleman contacted me the day after and asked if I would like it delivering to the same address as the billing address. I said yes and he said he would put it in the post immediately. I received it the next day! Delivery is £1.75 for orders under £35 which I didn't find too bad.
This diary is an expensive purchase but one I will certainly be making again. The price is £13.49 and then there is delivery to take in to account which is £1.75 for orders under £35, orders over are free.
I have loved using my diary but what you must remember is this is not just a diary but an organiser too. It may have cost me a bit to begin with but I have certainly saved money by budgeting monthly. I know I could have done this without an expensive diary but I have felt it has given me the motivation to do it. I enjoy writing in my diary and keeping everything together is very handy.
Update for the 2012 version which is now available from their website.
Looking on the website they have been minimal changes to the new diary. The changes are as follows.
An elastic bandeau to keep the diary closed when not in use.
Paper that is suitable for all pens.
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