Monday, June 9, 2008

The Stress Less Journal

Okay, I have used Flylady's Control Journal for several years now. It does indeed, provide a significant degree of assistance in pulling all the craziness of life together.

I like the concept, but I think I would like to restructure it a bit, add some dividers, take some away that I dont use, and put some emphasis on where my areas of stress are.

Also, a friend has recently showed me the website "Keeping the Home" and she uses a "Home Management Binder" (HMB)- the same idea, but with some added tabs that I liked.

So I think I am gonna use some ideas from both and make one that all about stressing less!

Here is what I have working so far:

I like to use the small 3-ring binder, better than the full size one. Its compact and easy to grab on the way out the door if need be. It has a pocket on the inside front and back covers that use alot.

The only drawback, they dont carry the notebook paper or dividers at Walmart. I know they carry them at the office supply stores, but check first before you plan on that size. I love it, but you may find the full size one works better for you.

I use one that doesnt have a clear front - I am a less is more kinna gal, so stuff on the front would feel cluttered to me. However, another friend who is building her HMB decorated the front of hers and she said it makes her happy to see her creativity on the front. So, whichever creates less stress, do that!

A tip: place an address label on the inside cover of your SLJ in case you were to ever leave it out and about!

Then, inside but not behind dividers yet:

Focus - This the first thing you see when you open your SLJ. Its where you plainly see what you are going toward. I have the verse, "But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD" Joshua 24:15. I have my top 6 priorities listed (five was one too few), and a short declarative statement of the kind of person I want to be.

This is a great place to refer to when you get overwhelmed and you need to decide what to do next! Its a place to renew your focus! Make it yours ...

A Monthly Calendar - I love the planner line at Target. Their calendars and inserts are so cute, and have added little "to do" lists on the calendar itself that I like. Also, they are tabbed which makes it easy to get to a month either in the past, present or future (Thus making it unnessessary to put a divider also)

My list of Emergency Numbers/Family Addresses and Numbers - I have these set behind my calendar. I have listed (typed, cause it feels less cluttered to me) all the doctors we use, pediatrician, dentist, family doctor, ob/gyn and our pharmacy. These are quick access when I need them.

Also, I have listed all my family's individual addresses and phone numbers. I live away from all of my family, so we do alot of mailing and calling eachother. Its a quick reference for when I need to mail a package or whatever.

NOTE: you may prefer putting another set of address/number tabs in your binder. It makes it feel too heavy for me, and as I dont use those that often, I keep a separate address book to refer to when I need it.

I keep this current not only for me, but in case anything were to happen to me, someone (i.e, the husband) would have easy access to all the info very easily.

Then, my dividers. I use dividers labeled with these names, with lined paper behind them:

Stress Lists - Here is where I do my daily planning and listing. The first page is the most recent list, which I update and carry over from another day's list if I need to.

I also have a lists specifically for the House, Husband, and Kids. The Husband and Kids are new lists I just started, which I will tell you about later. But the idea is being aware of the things that cause them stress, and making those part of my planning as well.

Your Home SL can also double as your "Hunny Please Do" List.

From here I can go to my other dividers and plan menus, shopping trips, my prayer list..but this is where it starts.

Shopping List - The FIRST page of this, I have a WONDERFUL piece of paper that I have been working for awhile, and use often. Its a running list of meals, recipes, etc. that I have made before. Its so that when I am menu planning I can just refer to my list to jog my memory into the things that I like to make or have made before.

This one is accessible to the Husband as well. I keep a running list of items that I need to get next time I go to the store (grocery or Walmart/Target), so he can add stuff to that if he needs to. And, when I think of something I need I just write it there.

When its time to go, you just grab the list and go, and not worry about having to remember everything you have thought of the last week!

Menu - To be honest, I dont have one of these. I have figured out a system that works better for me. I plan my menu with my "Menu List" in my Shopping List section, and I use my calendar to write in the meals I have planned (based on what I have stocked up, and what is on sale at the grocery store). But, it makes sense that some people would prefer a separate place to put their recipes and lists. So, if you are one of those, and it would reduce stress..add it! :)

Routines/Schedule - Remember that routines, and schedules arent the same thing! Some people get stressed at the very idea of a schedule. But whether you are an organizer or not, we all do better if we have a plan for our day!

Routines are things you do regularly to keep your home, kids and priorities in order. We will talk more about this later. But for now, this is a place where you can get a rough idea of how can keep the house, laundry, and regular activities in order.

Schedules can be helpful for planning out today. Take your "DO" part of your SL and plan which of those have to done today, and when are going to do it. Dont worry about specific times - rarely do those work, but rather times of day (morning, or by lunchtime/dinnertime). Also, if there are things that dont need to be done today, but by a certain other day, put those on your weekly schedule.

Every Monday I look at my calendar and Stress List, and plan my week out. Its general, but I get a plan in mind. I know that this week I am out of pocket all day on Tuesday for a class, and I need to nap Friday afternoon becuase I work Friday night, Adrian has class Tues/Thursday nights ..and then I fill in the open time slots with the things I need to do. Its general, flexible, but helpful.

If you are a homeschooler, use this place to list the order of the day for each child or group of kids.

Goals - This is a new one, thanks to a friend who shared the HMB with me. Its a place to put specific goals related to yourself, children or your home. I like the children part.

She uses it to plan for her kids teaching goals (learn shapes, colors, scripture memorization, how to say please every time, etc.). She, and alot of you, homeschool. Use this area to put your childrens educational, and learning goals. I like the idea of putting character building goals.

I plan to put goals for myself related to healthy habits, bible reading, prayer life, scripture memorization.

Even if you are NOT an organizer, it still helps to have things in writing.

Try to have a plan when you write your goals - how are you going to accomplish it, and by what date.

Prayer List - again, working from my SL, I add to my prayer list constantly. This is a great place to refer to in your quiet time, or leave open on the kitchen counter to add to and to reflect on throughout the day.

Add verses that you think of or find to boost your prayer power, and solidify that prayer in your mind. I am praying for a sweet friend who is about to have twin boys anyday. I have a verse I use when I pray for her makes me feel that my prayers are more effective when I have a promise to back it up :)

Its also a great testimony to Gods power when you look back and see what He has done in the past for you ..dont throw this list away. File it to the back and when you are feeling doubtful, read it.

Scripture Memorization - This is place to put scriptures you want to, or are currently working on memorizing. I have the scriptures written out so I can glance at them easily.

Bible Study - if you are studying something specific, or for a class this is a great place to keep notes. I am using this section to study for the class I have mentioned with the ladies at church.

Ideas/Projects - I am a creative thinker, so I like to have a place to put my thoughts when they come to me. Whether its about my blog, a project I am working on for my Mommy and Me group, something at church, a gift idea for birthdays or Christmas. Its a great place to put things that come to you to work on later! And because you have them written down, you dont have to stress that you are gonna forget that great idea you had!

These are a few ideas, but tailor this book to your needs and projects. Some more ideas of dividers, are budget, deepcleaning lists (or Zones, if you are a FlyLady person), car maintenence, home maintenence, christmas/holiday planning...whatever divider will help decrease your stress by having it written, and planned make a tab!

Some more tips from someone who has had one of these for awhile:

  • clean it out frequently - all those little pages can add up. Throw away when you are done, dont let it build up. It adds weight, clutter and stress!
  • pay attention to sections you use, and ones you dont - it may surprise you which sections you dont use at all, get rid of them!
  • I keep my stamps, and some blank notes in the front pocket of my book so I can easily write a note to a friend if they come to mind while I am praying.
  • Keep a clear zipper pocket in the front of your book to keep pens, highlighter, white out pen, stamps, paper clips, etc.
  • If you want to see if this would work for you but this is all a little overwhelming - start with a calendar, some paper, and set of dividers. Make a divider for SL, Shopping List, and Prayer List. Try those, and go from there. You will naturally add more dividers as you see it being helpful!

This can be a tremendously helpful tool with practice.

Setting it up takes the longest, the rest is just maintenence and reference.

Got more ideas for dividers? Do share :)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Love it! I really like my "family planner" I bought at Wal-Mart, with its perforated grocery lists, and its menu planning sections. But what I like about yours is that it helps keep the spiritual focus. I like the verses, goals, and prayer lists. And I love the idea of a stress list. Plus, I, too, have an idea book, and it would be nice to combine it all. So, in short, I think I'm going to try to make something like this. Good idea!

  3. That deleted by the administrator looks like I was being ugly about something...It was just a duplicate! :) And, thanks Kim (my fellow list lover) for the comment :)

  4. I am very much a list person! I hadn't thought about writing down verses on my list, but that's a great idea - it's where I look the most frequently, so it would be there when I'm looking at my other stuff, too. I use a large Meade datebook, and so far it works great for me, but I like your ideas, too, and will probably implement some over time :)

  5. I love this idea, but for some reason it seems just a bit overwhelming to think of all of the contents the binder needs to have. I may need some guidance to keep it simple on my end. I tend to get wordy and over prepare.

  6. I am a list person and a goals person. I must say that I have not been as organized as you have with yours. I struggle with having time between running to all of Nicole's events, working full time, etc.

  7. Okay, Courtney, I am deep into list making and setting up a stress less journal. I honestly think that putting all the things in one place will help. I am making my son nervous since I am gleefully assembling lists with medical information containing doctor;s insurances, dentist's numbers, etc. all together. I am updating extending family lists and numbers. I think he is afraid I am planning on running away or kicking the bucket soon---LOL. I have always been a list maker but not always a good filer. I am trying to reform.


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