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Hello my friends! This week I was reminded of some basic truths about being organized and focused: write stuff down. As I’ve mentioned my new job is challenging; there are a lot more things to keep track of and I have at least three times the amount of email to wade through. I tried using the Task feature in Outlook but I found that when I got super busy I ignored it. Then I tried creating an Excel spreadsheet but found the same thing: when busy I felt I didn’t have time to type up the task. And too often I was missing critical things in my email. So I grabbed one of my journals (the alphabet notebook discussed in this post) and on the bus on the way to work did a brain dump of all the things I could think of that needed to be done in the office. I didn’t stop until the bottom of page 2. And once I was done it felt great! So much lighter. And throughout the work day I could focus on one thing on the list at a time. I highlighted the ones that needed to be done right away. And marking them off as they were completed was awesome! Such a simple concept but so powerful. We have blank books at work for notes and such but I thought using one of my own would make me more invested and it seems to be working. Hurray!

Another area where I needed focus and organization was picking out furniture for our new house. We sold or gave away most of our furniture before the move. Seems pretty straightforward but we have a limited budget and I wanted to make sure we spent the money wisely. So we started looking at furniture in different places: Pier 1, Wicker Emporium, Structube, Bombay Company. I took pictures of pieces that appealed to us. I made notes of what we agreed upon, what we loved, hated, were indifferent to. I had lots of photos on my phone and wanted to transfer them to a notebook where I could make notes. So I created what I call a Look Book.

furniture idea book 2

I chose one of the Bookblock Original notebooks (blank pages) and got my LG Pocket Photo Printer out. Remember that gadget? It still works great. I love how small but clear the pictures are. Perfect for my journal. In the picture above I’ve created a simple index on the left and pasted my pictures on the right. I can then put model numbers and dimensions next to the photo, as well as where we found it and how much it was. A great way to compare prices and the photos really jog the memory.

furniture idea book 1

Here you can see in closer detail the notes I’ve made about a certain piece. After viewing the piece in person I would look it up on the internet for the specifications, as well as any other pieces available in that line. I like furniture that matches!

I used a black Staples OPtiFlow pen.

furniture idea book 3

Here’s a bunch of photos from another store, ready to place in my Look Book. I even printed a couple of photos of the cats, which will go in my regular journal. Love that little pocket printer!

You don’t have to start a separate journal for a project such as this; I could have added these pages to my regular daily journal. But I wanted to keep these separate because I don’t know how long it will take us to a) find all the furniture we need and b) agree on what to purchase! It’s also a nice keepsake of one of the many house projects David and I will undertake together. How wonderful to be able to look back on the process a year from now, or 10 years from now.

Update: we went shopping in yet another furniture store yesterday (Ashley Furniture) and bought furniture for the TV room, kitchen and dining room. Because we had already done some research I think it was easier for us to pick a style we liked and to know that the price we paid was a fair one. Of course we had to order everything so having the Look Book will help us greatly as we continue the search for furniture and accessories for other rooms, so we can keep the general style consistent throughout each room.

Just one more great use for your journal!