Why You Should Keep Your Old Agenda

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of purchasing a new planner. The temptation to throw out the old one and start afresh is real but there’s a few reasons as why to you shouldn’t throw out your old agenda (at least not yet).

Unless you keep an excellent diary, your agenda acts as a reminder of what you did every day the past year. This alone can provide a huge amount of valuable information to you. Your planner could act as a record of the shifts you worked, the vacations you took, appointments you had, etc. Having this as a reference could serve you in your future planning needs. (For example, when was the last time you visited the dentist? Took your dog to the vet?)

Every year when I conduct my yearly review, I use my old planner as a guide to help me set up my new one by transferring information such as birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates.

Based on what your schedule looked like last year, you may want to use your agenda to schedule reminders for yourself to visit the doctor, or get your roots touched up.

Looking at all of these dates in your calendar can also help you identify patterns and trends when planning your schedule for next year. For example, last February was so busy that I’ll think twice before scheduling any major project during that time. On the other hand, August is usually such a slow month that I’ll plan to use that time vacationing and working on more personal projects. What are the busiest times of year for you? When are you at your most productive? When do certain clients like to schedule their meetings? Your old planner contains all of this information and more.

I usually like to hold on to my old planner for a year before tossing it, but depending on your storage needs you may find you’re able to hold onto more planners for longer. (Just don’t fall into the trap of holding onto paper for the sake of it!) Not only can they be incredibly useful in identifying productive patterns, they can also provide a fun, nostalgic experience each time you flip through them. For some people, it may just look like an old agenda, but for people like me (and you!) it’s a way of remembering the past and planning for the future.

How long do you hold onto your old agendas for? Do you find this practice useful? Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below and let me know what you do with your old planners. For more organizational and productivity ideas, click here and here.

2018 Year-in-Review

I’m not going to lie, readers; this has been one crazy year for me, both personally and professionally. At times it’s been almost a struggle to keep this little slice of Internet going. (Here’s a post a about a particularly difficult time I had with this blog.) But as another year reaches it’s end I can reflect back on all the things I did manage to share and I still feel pretty proud of myself of what I was able to accomplish. Sometimes recognizing the strength it takes to get through the day is an accomplishment in and of itself. Here are some of the things I’m most proud of this year:

This cherry vanilla cake was my most popular recipe post this year.

This was the first savory baking post I ever wrote. (Judging by the way it turned out, it won’t be my last!)

Here’s what I read in the spring, summer, fall and winter.

I shared my quickest, dirtiest organizing tips for when you only have five, ten or fifteen minutes of spare time.

I finally got to write about one of my favorite books of all time and ‘fessed up to my love of YA fiction.

My family suffered a great loss around the holidays last year, so I didn’t get around to baking for Christmas. (I did it in 2015 and 2016.) I’m so glad I started up the tradition again this year.

These are my favorite books I read in 2017 that I almost never got around to posting, and my favorites from this year.

What were some of the highlights of 2018 for you? What do you hope to accomplish next year?

See you all in 2019!

How to Do a Yearly Review

KBB_notebook_and_coffee_cupA little while ago I published a blog post on the wisdom of the weekly review. It’s one of my favorite ways to get perspective on all the roles I juggle within my life, but what happens when we’ve lost sight of why we’re doing and what we’re doing? Where exactly are our paths taking us? What does it all mean?! (Hey, I never said this blog wasn’t deep.)

I got the idea for a Yearly Review from Chris Guillebeau (he’s not my friend or anything, I’ve just read a bunch of his stuff) as a way of taking one giant step back and looking at the lessons you’ve learned over the year- what you’ve accomplished, what didn’t work for you. As a workaholic, I love the idea of getting stuff done but it all becomes meaningless when you find yourself working for the sake of working instead of actually working towards something.

At the beginning of last year, I told my story about how bad I am at goal-setting and keeping New Year’s resolutions (for the full confession, click here). It was a brief but interesting experiment in pulling back and examining what I really wanted out of my life. Inspired by Guillebeau, I’ve decided to take it to the next level and force myself to look at all aspects of my life in the same way, not just reading.

Depending on the commitments and goals that you have in your personal and/or professional life, you may want to tailor this process to fit your own particular needs. There are no right or wrong answers, and there aren’t really any rules. What I do suggest is booking some quality time with yourself- grab a latté, listen to some great music and take a little trip down memory line. (It may be handy to have your agenda and a notebook for this process.)

What did you accomplish this year? What deadlines or goals did you meet? Which new habits did you adopt that worked for you? What did you say yes to? What surprised you? Which project makes you feel the most proud? The happiest? What did you enjoy? What got you the most excited?

The ebb and flow of life means we experience positives and negatives, ups and downs. I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of both this year. You’re not alone in this- we all have! But instead of looking at the past year with regret, we can use these less-than-perfect moments to remind ourselves of what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just be honest.

What was a challenge for you this year? Which habits or behaviors didn’t work for you? Which projects or goals did you walk away from? Which things did you say no to? What would you like to see less of? What more do you wish you were doing?

If you’re a daydreamer like me and keep a someday/maybe list (here’s how to make your own here) you may want to use this time to review and gauge what you’ve accomplished, what you’d like to work on, and which of your priorities have changed.

What would you like to work on? Where would you like to be? What do you wish you had tried? What do you dream about the most?

This is not necessarily about goal-setting (although it can be) or forming a plan of attack for the year ahead (although in some aspects it is). Instead, I’m looking at my Yearly Review as a way to check in with myself- not as a daughter, or a sister, or a blogger- but my own human being self, the one that has wishes and goals are dreams that exist in both my external and internal realities that are all my own. It’s my cue to stop working and start thinking about what I want (and continue to want) from my life. It can be difficult because you’re asking big questions that don’t always have easy answers. Am I happy? Am I satisfied? Am I fulfilled? How do I continue to give to myself and to others?

More than a workflow exercise, the Yearly Review is a great way to figure out who you are right now as a human being, of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Don’t think this is a static exercise either! We’re constantly changing, learning and growing as human beings. You may want to make this a bi-annual practice, or something you do at the end of each month to feel a little more grounded. In any case, I hope that you all have an opportunity to take the time to yourself to figure out what you really want out of life. I give you permission. You deserve it!

KBwB-BFlower-50Do you have a similar ritual at the end of the year? What are the things that you’re the most proud of? What do you hope to work on for next year? I want to get to know you better so leave your comments below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and we can have a chat.

Stay tuned because tomorrow on the blog I’m going to be celebrating the year’s end by highlighting some of my own favorite moments from my 2016 Yearly Review. Hope to see you then!

10 Things to Do on a Snowy Evening


  1. Give your boots some love. Good maintenance is key in extending the life of your expensive footwear. Shower some extra attention on your boots every once in awhile by wiping them free of snow and salt residue and cleaning with a leather cleaner and/or a spray protector. Store boots in a well-ventilated area with low foot traffic and wait 24 hours before wearing again. (For more tips on this process, click here.)
  2. Start a scrapbook. A creative project that organizes your memorabilia can be both productive and fun and it’s a great way to store your memories in a way that they’re accessible and can be treasured more often. Not into scrapbooking? Create a shadow box, organize a photo album, or create a book online instead.
  3. Dream of summer and plan your garden. Just like a hairdresser needs to plan out a cut before he or she even picks up the scissors, those of us who are fortunate to have green spaces must do advance planning in order to enjoy them. Determine what needs to be done and what improvements you’d like to make to your yard or garden and plan accordingly. Do your research and plan a budget to avoid any unexpected expenses.
  4. Make a Someday/Maybe list. I think wintertime is the perfect time to sit indoors and daydream, don’t you? Take an evening, grab a journal, pour yourself a glass of wine and make your list- books to read, movies to see, music to listen to, restaurants to try, countries to visit, certifications to be earned. The possibilities are endless.
  5. Put together a Command Central binder. If you haven’t done so already, you must. The start of a new year is a perfect excuse to get your organizing system under control and I think there’s no better way to manage it than by using one of these. (I explain how to put one together here.)
  6. Have you done a Yearly Review yet? It’s not too late. Figure out how to do one here and get a firm grasp of what you really want for the year up ahead.
  7. Get your shine on. After all of the glitz and glamour of those holiday parties it’s a good idea to clean and store jewelry pieces carefully for the next round of special occasions. Put on a great playlist, grab your tools and give those goods some elbow grease!
  8. Thank the ones you love. I still believe in the power of a well-written thank you note. It’s a great way to keep in touch and shows people your appreciation and care. Didn’t send out Christmas cards? Sending out non-denominational New Years cards also seems to have become a thing. There’s no reason not to correspond now!
  9. Organize those tax receipts now. Don’t wait until the weather is nicer and you actually want to go outside. Use this period of hibernation as a productive way to get things done!
  10. Pick a drawer, any drawer. That’s it. Dump it, clean it, organize it and make a vow to yourself that you will never, ever let it get disorganized again (or at the very least for another year, until you have another snowy evening on which to organize it again).


I’ve shared with you some of the ways that I spend my snowy evenings- now I’m interested in hearing how you spend yours! Drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or contribute by commenting below. Are you looking for other productive boredom busters? I’ve got plenty of thoughts on organizing here. Looking for something a little more creative? When I’m not busying myself with some project or another I’m reading or whipping up something in the kitchen. Read all about it here and here.