Portability article about organizingBy Nicole Gabai
Published in Cape Cod Parent and Child
February • March 2007

Do you tend to collect “little papers” throughout the day? (and who doesn’t?)
Did you get the phone number for a great plumber and just don’t remember where you wrote it? I have created a solution that has worked for me for the last 17 years…

It’s called “portability.” This is a term I created to describe a system to remain organized whether at home, in the office or on the road. This means anything from being out all day at work, on errands or carpools. The first item you’ll want to have at your fingertips is a catch-all notebook preferably with tab sections. This can be spiral bound or a 3-ring binder. Make sure to use separate categories for each tab. For example: one tab for each child and member of your household. One for any special project you are working on, perhaps a renovation, decorating ideas or planning an upcoming trip. You might want a section for Health & Dr.’s for all the recommendations you get.

The basic idea here is to provide a home for all the notes and papers we accumulate during the day. You can tape in some of this information that might have landed on a handwritten note or any other reminders you want to hang on to. The key here is the categories, so that you can refer to and retrieve information easily; much more efficient than flipping through pages and pages of random notes. This special notebook I affectionately call the “halfway house,” since the information stored in it is halfway between your ever important “bible” (more on that below) and your permanent files or perhaps it remains as fleeting tidbits of information to live in the “halfway house.” It’s very important to date the notebook in the front, say January 2007 through April 2007 and you’ll want to hang on to these notebooks for approximately 5 years.

So, now the “bible!” The “bible” is a datebook and address book all in one. This very important item can be either electronic or paper. For a paper system, Filofax and the Franklin Planner, as well as other similar brands, are still very popular and every bit as efficient. A Palm Pilot or other electronic device is excellent too, just be sure to think through which one you will commit to and remember to use it religiously.

The bible works together with the halfway house, preferably using the bible to note the time of an appointment and then using the halfway house for all expanded notes about the appointment. Use at least a “day-on-a-page” layout if you’re on a paper system to note appointments in the corresponding time slot, and then refer to it throughout the day. In addition, use the “month-at-a-glance” layout for better planning. This is 2 pages where you can see the whole month at once. Use this to clearly mark, in simple notation, when you have appointments. Now, in one glance, you can see how best to manage your time within the context of the whole month.

In the Palm Pilot system, this is easily maintained as you regularly input new entries. For the busier times when quick input isn’t possible, tuck the information away in your “halfway house” until you have more time for updating. In a paper system, it’s important to input all entries on your computer using a program like “Outlook.” This way you can print it out for your book and it is always backed up on your computer, just in case.

Another time-saving tip is to “maximize your A-Z.” Basically this means to add an entry in your address book, for example, under “B” for books. How many times do you get recommendations and just don’t know where to store that information? Your phonebook is the perfect place. The same is true for Movies to rent, Babysitters, etc…

Remember to have these 2 items with you at all times. Whenever you leave the house, check to see that you have your “halfway house” and your “bible” with you, just like you would make sure you have your cell phone with you.

Finally, keeping a current ‘TO DO” list is essential for your daily tasks, as well as weekly and monthly tasks. These can easily be updated if you store them in your computer. A classic index card is another helpful tool to keep track of daily tasks. Also, make a “CALL LIST” and a “THINGS TO BUY LIST.” As you move through town, frequently check your lists to stay on track. You’ll be breezing through life in an efficient way and you’ll realize how wonderful it is to B. Organized!

Special Tips

When creating your daily schedule, remember to allot time for all of your activities including:

• Appointments
• Meetings
• Kids after-school activities
• Carpools
• Errands
• Exercise
• Your personal time!


For keeping track of your kids schedules, keep all schedules in clear plastic sleeves and hold them together with a metal ring. Hang these in the most visible place, such as the kitchen. Remember to jot down all pick-up and drop off times in your schedule to keep yourself on track!