Musings and Amusings

“I really must get organized.” says Sammy D. every day of the week

I fear that will be my epitaph.

Actually, I’m Capricorn-esque Organized. Came out of the womb with a big ‘O’ on my forehead.

Nothing falls through the cracks. Taxes filed, library books returned, work projects completed? I ‘git ‘er done’ ahead of time. Keys, insurance policy, ID from college, photo from 1955? I can put my hands on it within five minutes.

But my blogging mind and blogging-related paper piles?

by Sammy D.

by Sammy D.

Utter organizational failure.

I am a paper person and information hoarder: scribbling notes, compiling lists, snipping magazines, printing online articles – a pen and scissors are my BFFs.

We bloggers discuss the difficulty some incur channeling our thoughts into cohesively constructed posts. I can’t tackle that challenge until I stop blocking myself by searching the same piles repeatedly.

Thus my 3-step mission:

  1. Categorize note taking and list making
  2. Create file/purge system for articles
  3. Design mapping schematic for constructing blog posts

After researching multiple ‘official’ note-taking processes, tools and apps – none of which appealed – I created seven categorized notebooks for recording and retrieving information.

My notebook of choice is the standard 8 ½” X 11” lined, spiral. It’s the right size, right price, flexible to modify, and comfortable to use – like a pair of broken-in shoes.

In each notebook, I reserve the first 10 pages for Index. I number the remaining pages in the top right corner and complete the Index as I use the pages.

When I begin a page, I ‘guesstimate’ how many pages I should reserve depending on whether I’m starting a list, recording notes or writing a draft. (It’s a work in progress; ask me about a specific notebook if you have questions!)

imageMy Seven NoteBooks:

Blogger Reference:

  • Info on bloggers I follow – URLs, locales, interests, notes on our interactions. Enhances my blogging relationships.

Writing Resources:

  • Writing craft URLs; books recommended by writers; my notes on writing craft tips; info for online classes

Visits and Explorations to Consider:  

  • Upcoming calendar-specific or ongoing events, exhibits and activities
  • Shops, buildings, trails, neighborhoods, parks, towns


  • I handwrite a draft only after I have composed it in my head. Composing in my head is hard. So is trying to write it on paper without first doing so in my head. Hence my decision to experiment with mapping schematics (future post)


  • Future draft material I need to remove from current brain clutter.
  • Includes aspects of previously published posts I forgot to include or couldn’t rhythmically incorporate; musings about trends, technology or society; interesting websites or triggers from reading other blogs.


  • Flash thoughts or questions occurring out-of-context. Again – get it on paper out of my head. I might research, ponder or simply cross them out at year end


  • Prompts, words I like, words I’ve never heard, active verbs, foreign phrases, ditties, clichés, slang, mis-used words, made-up words

In addition to seven notebooks, I’ve used this journal for years:

imageQuote Book with a beautiful antique Parisian-style cover and handmade paper pages. Along with the typical quotes, I record quotes from you or me – phrases from posts or comments that resonate (with proper attribution, of course).

One month after Notebook Launch, I’m very happy with my system.

I’ve gained significantly more focused bandwidth for composing mental drafts by using separate notebooks for Drafts, Snippets, Thoughts and Words.

Better yet, I use the Indexes to quickly retrieve previously recorded information.

What’s next now that I’ve organized my extensive note-taking?

A File/Purge System for my articles-hoarder-habit.

I know …   

It’s called Read Once to Recycle Bin.

Comments on: "Getting Organized: Brain, Blog and Bytes Between" (81)

  1. Wow–no wonder your posts are so wonderful! I’m impressed by the amount of thought and effort you put into them.
    I am a lazy blogger, so put about 5% of that kind of effort into my posts, but I DO create notebooks for travel, and I LOVE you idea of saving the beginning pages too create an index. Now why didn’t I think of that? Brilliant!

    • I am with Shelley on this one. The most effective tool I use for writing is Scooter’s leash. My muse likes to walk and joins me about a mile out. (don’t tell my wife I said that)

      I also use an iPad to write at least 500 words every morning. It’s not so much a journal is it is a place to simply write about anything. It’s like a warm up exercise for my writing day.

      • My typing is terrible on an IPad; i’m not sure I will ever use it to write anything other than comments. But your method definitely work for you – your writing is always above average!

      • I find the on-screen iPad keyboard completely unusable too. I use a clever little blue-tooth keyboard. It is very light weight and rests at an agreeable angle. It is easier to work with than my laptop or desktop keyboards. The only thing I use it for is the journal and writing short pieces as I travel.

        But of course you are right, we need to find what works best for us. I wish I was more organized like you though.

      • I’ve thought about getting a keyboard, but I have too many problems with WP (which they can’t de-bug) to type directly into their Beep or classic, so right now I work in Word until I’m absolutely posituve I have a publish-ready draft then I copy it into WP.

        Do you use some type of writing software on your I-Pad or do you work directly in WP?

    • Shelley, I only put that much effort in because i can’t stop the hoarding or the monkey mind!! Sadly my travel journals consist of recording flight day and Day 1 and 2 then perhaps a paragraph or two after I get home.

      I’m glad you can use the Index – i like it a lot 😋

  2. Wow… I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of blogger. My desk is in total disarray (which I can’t stand and am in the process of cleaning up). Of course, if I had a system such as yours, those fabulous ideas for blog posts I get whilst walking Zeke or lying in bed would not get totally forgotten…. Mind you, I DO compose in my head when I do have a subject.

    Yep. Going to look into getting myself more organized… yep, yep, yep.

    • Yep,yep,yep. Word to the wise – DON’T buy a desk organizer. Mine – purchased a year ago – is still sitting in its box on the desk. It didn’t organize a thing !!!!!

      • Oh I hear you on that one! I think I have to do the decluttering thing: Remove every piece and then take each one, one-by-one, determine where it goes and put it there!

      • But don’t you find, when you pick up the 2nd or 3rd piece that it leads you to some other half-finished project and hours later you’re nowhere near completing what you started out to do?

        I call it ‘Paper Walks” 🙂

      • Yes, yes it does…result? No blog post! I definitely need to organise myself!!

  3. And my OH is amused by my lists… 😀
    Now I wonder if I can take anything from this post to help me sort out my zillion and one photographs, most of which should reside in that recycle bin …sigh!!

  4. Guilty…but grinning.

  5. I think you may just be the most organised person I know – I’m impressed … and glad that you’ve found a system that works for you. I’m a ‘lists’ person but I do confess to having a list which categorises all my other lists!

    • That’s perfect, Eileen 😋 i would love to know what’s on some of your lists !!

      I’m not organized; just driven mad by my self-critical voices!

      • I’m in the process of writing a post about my lists, so keep an eye on my other blog:

      • Thank you, Eileen!! I had your photography blogsite, not this one so I thought you weren’t posting. I’m glad you gave me this 😉

      • Crikey! Now I know why I gave up on following the playroom blog – because I comment using my IPad, and I enter all the right info at the end but when I press the button to finish, it all looks like it sends, but I don’t think it ever shows up on your blog. Now I wonder if your Playroom posts will even scroll through my Reader. I will watch it fir a few days and enter your URL manually to read your post, but the commenting doesn’t seem to work.

  6. That all sounds pretty organized to me and your blog reflects the effort you put into it. I am electronic. I use Evernote for blog ideas, snippets and such an dI use Trello for organizing what little schedule I actually maintain. I’d love to carry a notebook, but it would be another pound in my laptop bag and I’d probably leave it on my desk at work on Friday or in a bar on Saturday,

  7. Wow. I’m impressed. And a bit intimidated. Here I thought I was a good organizer, but I’m no where near this level! But I love what you’ve done. And that quotes book is gorgeous.

    • Thanks, Carrie. No reason to be intimidated by obsessive paper hoarders 😋 Run if you feel a twitch to follow that hobby!!

      • I have switched to trying to organize things online rather than paper. I’m finding less sticky notes around the house which is always a good thing!

      • It’s hard for me to transition from holding paper, plus too much screen time is murder on my eyes, so I will continue my dinosaur ways. But I’m glad you are able to switch – in the long run it will save you time, I’m sure.

      • Well, I don’t know about that, but we’ll see. I still do my grocery lists and my day-to-day to-do lists on paper. Some habits die hard.

  8. Gobsmacked. Erm. I have a Big Book of Blog that sits on my desk. I use Evernote, @DanAntion and the ScatterBrain app on my smartphone. I rely heavily on tags on my posts and categories, so I can see quickly what I’ve done previously. Organizing images will be the death of me!

    • Love that – Big Book of Blob … ‘er Blog 😋

      I think I would crumple if I undertook organizing photos, and I probably only have 1% of what you or Jude do!

      I believe I invented Scatterbrain App before Al Gore invented the internet!!!

  9. Wow. I just write blogs. I just sit down and type them.
    I do have paper writing, jotted here and there, tucked in books and notebooks, and perhaps under other piles of paper. I don’t reckon it bothers me. Sometimes I’m specifically looking for the one blue paper or the torn piece of receipt, because that’s what I’ve jotted on…I am the only person who will sort paper, recycle paper, or shred paper, so it’s always been fine…

    Your system is like…a REAL system!

    • That’s ‘cuz I’m a REAL headcase 😆

      I ramble when I write and then spend hours editing. Others write well-edited work from the get-go; others ramble without self-criticism. They all result in fascinating reading.

      In the end we all write and read what fits each of us. It would truly bore if we all worked in the same mode, eh?

      Thanks, Joey. I always appreciate hearing your ‘take’.

  10. Sammy D. Great post! We are opposites Capricorn/Cancer people but with the same detailed brain! I’m a paper person, so have piles of paper for different projects. I’m not an everyday blogger so have a specific project planned, work on it in a Word.doc with added pics, then copy to WP. That works great for me too. It may be a plus to have notebooks like you. Now, I have plastic sleeves so I can see the contents. Could put those in notebooks. Good ideas Sammy D. I always find a take-a-way in your thoughtful posts! Thanks! Christine

    • Thanks, Christine for your information.

      I have plastic sleeves from when I played Bridge and had all kinds of ‘notes’, I but can see where those might be useful in my “system” for a couple things.

      Honestly the bottom line is I love collecting info on paper, then I love letting a pile percolate for 3 weeks when I love sorting, re-reading, re-piling and purging. It’s sort of like a compost pile now that I think about it. I stir it up once in awhile and add or subtract ingredients. It all goes back to ‘earth dust’ in the end 🙂

      Will have to look up Cancer – am as unfamiliar with that sign as I am Jude’s Libra (another blogger). Love horoscope-y stuff 🙂

      • Yep, I’ve got my paper piles all in order! I’m more Gemini than Cancer based on the European Astrological charts. But, opposites in the chart complement one another. It’s fun, but don’t take much stock in the daily forecasts, just the overall characteristics. Now that my desk is clear, on to the writing! Take care, Christine

      • I love a few Geminis 😋

  11. Your notebook system is so old-school and I love it! 😀 I have too many apps, websites, bookmarks and electronic filing systems that basically nothing gets used and I effectively lose all of the information I wanted to save for later. It’s so hard to search through gazillions of electronic files, and it’s too easy to just keep adding to them. It makes much more sense, to me at least, to take the time to write down something you want to remember – you’re more likely to remember that you actually wrote something down, what that something was, and where you wrote it. Since you’re the one with 7 notebooks, I’m sure (hope???) you know what I mean!

    What caught my eye about your post was your tangle drawing – it so reminded me of those old biology textbooks with black-and-white drawings of phytoplankton and zooplankton and single-celled animals. I always wanted to color them in and give them personalities!

    Keep up the great writing, as always – I still lurk about occasionally and wanted to say hi! 🙂

    • Oh my gosh, what a treat to hear from you, Marci. Today is my 1-year blogging anniversary and I actually was looking at some of our old comments back and forth. Hearing from you today is the nicest gift possible 💖

      I totally get what you mean about writing vs electronics. It’s like vintage vs pseudo-vintage!
      Loved your comment about plankton – i tangled those over a series of evenings while watching mindless tv, and kept thinking ‘amoeba’.
      Hope all is well with you. You mean so much to me. 🎀

      • Happy blogiversary, Sammy! Awwww – we’ve had some good little convos on our blog posts, haven’t we? I’m so glad that I popped over to Bemuzin today – you mean a lot to me too! It’s always nice to see such kind words in a cyber-world that can be, well, cold sometimes. It looks like your blog is doing great – are you doing the A to Z challenge this year? I’m undecided as of yet…if I do, it will be much scaled back from last year. Maybe 26 days of cat photos, which I definitely can do 😉 =^.^=

      • I decided not to do A to Z – at least not blogging, but I look forward to lots of good reading and, perhaps, kitty cat photos 😿🙀😹😼😾

  12. I was reading this post thinking it could have been written about me … the notes, articles, lists, … yup, me too. I even have the 8.5 x 11 notebooks … except I have only 3 compared to your seven. You mentioned pen and scissors as your best friend. I would add scotch tape to that list 🙂

    … and I love your idea of an index in the front of the book! Brilliant! I think I will ‘borrow’ your idea 🙂

    btw – using WP on an iPad is the WORST. It’s not you. I would rather use my dinosaur computer than my new iPad if I’m on WP. I simply get way too frustrated … and I have an external keyboard.

    • Thanks, Joanne, for the confirmation that I-Pads and WP seem to be collaborating to frustrate us. Mine worked perfectly until Apple’s new operating software and WPs ‘awesome’ (so NOT awesome) beeps and bloopers.

      Glad to know I have kindred dinosaur spirits in the paper shuffling arena. Adding scotch tape …

  13. Sammy, you are a great example — I should really take notes. I’m not surprised at this wonderful organization after having read your articles. I keep too many things in my head, should really do something about that, but I hate papers all around, and computers can only be trusted so much. Thank you for sharing your way, and what a most wonderful post!

  14. Organizing! What’s that? I don’t even go to bed in proper time….

  15. This sounds like a great system! I really need to get more organized myself – I’m great about setting up my editorial calendar ahead of time, and tracking the blog promotion I do, but am lacking when it comes to organizing ideas and resources. Thank you for the inspiration!

  16. O…M…G… Sammy, I am in complete awe of your organizational skills. Seriously, my office would send you into cold sweats. It is overflowing with notebooks, paperwork, receipts, books, not to mention envelopes and scrap papers with ideas scribbled on them for my blog. I actually have a notebook for this, but it’s not always handy. My new favorite note-taking helper for blog ideas is the “notebook” app on my iPhone, which is especially awesome because I can type a thought quickly and have it handy later when I go to write a post – no searching through piles or trying to decipher my handwriting. (I can also use that app in the middle of the night and not wake anyone up looking for a pen and paper, lol!) I LOVE your idea for a quote journal (and the notebook is beautiful, too).

    I wish I could say I’m going to turn a new leaf and get organized, but I do believe I may be a hopelessly cluttered cause! 🙂

    • LOL oh, Jen, I talk (write) a good story but now after all my organizing I have 7 notebooks, 14 files of articles and still 4 piles which will grow to 8 before I know it. I’m an incurable paper hoarder. By Feb 2016 when I write “Hey, I just got organized with a new system!” you’ll know you’ve heard THAT before 💥😆

      I would totally love your office. Never met a pile I couldn’t putter in 💖

  17. Wow! Must get back to my notebooks…you’ve inspired me to get more organised. My week off blogging has me feeling completely scattered!!! How are you this week Sammy? 😉

    • I’m good, Lainey! Completing that post and sorting/recycling a stack of paper made one of those chattering voices stop for awhile 😋

      What the heck?!? A week away from blogging should not make you feel more frantic! What did you do – start too many new projects?!?

      • lol! I did, I never learn! I just wanted to run around too much and then I remembered that I’m not 19 anymore and needeth to nap 😉 x

  18. You ARE organized. Awesome!

  19. Wow! I have tiny pieces of paper with notes everywhere. The notes I write one day make no sense the next. I know that I need to be more organized but I can’t get much past the creation of a notebook. It’s full of good intentions, but not much else.

    • Those work … good intentions. They pave the road to hell, right ? 🙂

      Just kiddin’ you. As I’ve noted in other responses, I’m a paper hoarder and sometimes don’t follow through with Best Intentions (woeful follow-through). Hub already knows the post-it scribbles all over the house aren’t going away!

  20. Oh, Sammy, you have started 2015 with such an organizational and inspirational bang you leave me amazed. I love the thought of a notebook approach. Actually, I love the thought of an organized approach to anything. (And it sounds like the system is working for you.) That is an area in my life that would certainly benefit from more attention! Thanks for sharing!

  21. I’d love to say I’m organized, but I have a bit of inspiration here, there and everywhere. Generally, I write everything by hand and then type it out. Since I’ve always loved the feeling of marking things up/crossing things out, that’s my preferred way to get things spinning in head, heart and soul, netted and up on my blog.

    So glad your system is working for you, Sammy.
    May it continue to.

    With heart,

    • Thank you, Dani. I think I’m in good company knowing you are handwriting, crossing out and working those mind machinations in the process. There is something quite soulful in putting pen to paper.

  22. I was so sure I responded to this Sammy D but I see I didn’t. I had fun reading it again and all the comments!

    I’m a little haphazard re organisational skills but somehow among the chaos is order .. it’s lovely to throw away lists of things to do, buy whatever, and put other scraps of paper into note books – of which I have far too many ..

    I keep a quotes file on computer though I have several other notebooks containing them as well. Journals for Africa into which personal thoughts are jotted …

    • Well you’ll love this, Susan – now that I’ve gotten myself somewhat organized and patted myself in the back, i can’t get in gear for a new post. Every time I sit down to write, nothing happens. Total word constipation. I’m thinking if chucking the whole system 😋

      Journals for Africa sounds so exotic … ( wait a second, you live there!)

  23. “I really must get organized.” says Sammy D. every day of the week. Ha. I love it. 🙂 I use notebooks, too. And 3-ring binders with dividers. That way I can move notes from one binder to another if I find it would be more appropriate somewhere else. Anything to keep the clutter off my desk and out of my head.

    • The 3-ring binders are a good idea because there is a lot of crossover (just like in my mind!!).

      The chances of me acquiring binders is far higher than me getting organized 😋

  24. If any one thing can disprove astrology (and if Capricorns are supposed to be organized), then I’m it. I sit here surrounded by paper–scraps, notebooks, book-books, bills that will, somehow, almost miraculously, get paid before they’re overdue, bits of packaging to remind me of things I need to re-order, leaflets I was going to do something with but I can’t remember what because they’ve been here too long and I’ll end up making notes on the backs and then losing half of them.

    Somehow, though, most of what matters most gets done. Maybe someone else comes in on the night shift….

    • Have you been in MY house Ellen? You have just described it.
      I’m an Aries, does that have anything to do with it?

  25. No No, I’ve ALWAYS had piles, piles, piles on the floor and in my mind yet stay organized enough that nothing falls through the cracks. You and I are true Cappy’s Ellen and heaven knows about Dale 🙂 Although I’m pulling out my Capricorn book to see about the Airies connection.

  26. This is awesome stuff, here. I am so in love with the idea of being organized in all areas of my life. I always have this feeling that if I were just “organized” then…(sigh.)

    • Well the organization comes in fits and starts. Mostly I’m appreciative (and astounded) that Hub, who is a neat freak, so lovingly overlooks my piles.

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