Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2011 Life Book Diary

How could I resist a planner that promises to organize my life?? The answer is, of course, I couldn't.

Behold, the 2011 Life Book by Organised Mum!

This diary is absolutely packed with features.  Go grab a beverage, and a snack too if you like, to sustain you while I go on and on about all the amazing pages and extra goodies in this planner!

The 2011 Life Book is an A5 size weekly planner that goes from September 2010 through December 2011 with monthly planning pages, budget worksheets, holiday planning pages and much, much more.

***Edited to add: the 2012 version of the Life Book starts mid-August in response to folks (including me) in Scotland who start school earlier than the rest of the UK. This makes this planner great for US folks starting school in August too!

There's so much to tell you I hardly know where to start, so I'm going to just jump straight in and take you through the book.

(Click on photos for a larger view.)

The very first page is Personal Information, so you (or someone else, in an emergency) don't have to flip through pages to find your important details.

The next page has spaces for more useful numbers for quick reference, and annual calendars for 2010 and 2011.

Next there are six pages of Weekly Routines.  There are several ways you could use these pages.  You could use one page for each person's weekly routine, or use one weekly routine page for each school term.  Also, there is a very handy page to record clothing and shoe sizes for each family member.
Also near the front of the book there is a folded pull-out reference calendar for 2010 and 2011 at a glance.

Next comes the weekly diary section.  Click on the photo to enlarge and see all the excellent features on these pages.
First you will notice that each day space is large, and the weekend days have the same amount of space as the weekdays which is VERY important for those of us with busy weekends!  Under Sunday there is a space labeled Notes and Next Week, to jot those reminders.  At the bottom of the weekly pages are linear monthly calendars for this and next month, for easy reference.

At the bottom of each day's space there is a line for Meal Ideas.  At the left side of the left page, there is a perforated tear-off Shopping List so you can write the ingredients you need to buy for your menus for the week.  At the right side of the right page, there is a list area for Things To Do, and Important notes or reminders at the bottom.

UK holidays and phases of the moon are printed on the day spaces (which as you all know by now I REALLY appreciate).  The font and blue ink color are pleasant to look at, and I really like the seasonal icons on the pages.  Let me just say how much I appreciate that the book is very attractive inside and out, without being cutesy or frou-frou.  I really like it.

As if all that weren't amazing enough, we are only halfway through the book!  Hold onto yourselves, this book gets better and better.

After the weekly pages is a tabbed divider for the Monthly section.

Every month from September 2010 through December 2011 has a generous two-page spread with nice big squares to write in.  Holidays are printed in the day spaces, making it easy to plan around holidays and events.
After every monthly spread there is a page to write Things to Do that month (perfect for writing monthly goals), and a page for Notes for that month (great for logging your Mid-Month and Monthly Reviews on the page opposite your goals).
The next two-page spread is for that month's Budget, and Income and Outgoings.
The Budget page has the most common budget items pre-printed, helpfully reminding you to budget for council tax, insurance, tv etc.  Below the pre-printed categories are spaces to fill in your own categories as needed.

How great is it to have your planner, goals, monthly reviews, budget and expenditures record all in one place??

After the Monthly Planning section there is another tabbed section for Christmas and holiday planning.

Because this planner covers September 2010 through December 2011, there are planning pages specifically for Christmas 2010 and Christmas 2011.  For each one, there are pages for your plans, and your budget for the holiday season:
There are also pages for Christmas gift lists, cards, and extra shopping.

Also in the Christmas and Holidays section there are pages to plan your summer holiday, to make sure your summer is action-packed but not over-packed.  And, here is something I really love: at the back of this section are pages for Thoughts and Plans for 2010, 2011, and 2012.  This is the perfect place to write New Year's Resolutions and Annual Goals for each year.  I love that there is space specifically designated for each year to stretch out your thoughts and dreams for the year.

There are a couple of pages for Notes, then at the very back of the book there is a page with annual planners for 2012 and 2013.  Inside the back cover there is a pocket (that is open at the top, not the side, so that longer papers and envelopes can stick out the top.  Thank you!).  Inside the pocket there are two pages of stickers to indicate special days, and an Address and Contacts booklet.

I especially like the stickers that remind me to pay my car tax and get my car's MOT inspection, which I am very likely to forget without being reminded!

The Addresses and Contacts booklet has alphabetized contacts pages for names, addresses and numbers:

There is a page for Useful Contacts for services and businesses, and a page of Quick Call numbers:
At the back of the Address booklet is a page for Birthdays and anniversaries, so you can refer to it year after year:

The Life Book includes two clear, movable page dividers with top tabs, to mark your place in the weekly and monthly section (or wherever you need to reference quickly).

The cover has a water-resistant coating that survived my test of having water rubbed on it without soaking in.  The cover wipes clean easily, which is important for those of us with messy lives!  Click on the photo to read the back cover.

Even with all of these features and 16 months of daily, monthly and budgeting pages packed in, the book is still less than an inch thick.

This A5 size Life Book is nearly two inches narrower, half an inch shorter, and a whole lot lighter than my A5 Filofax.

This book is an amazing all-in-one diary, budget record, menu planner and overall life organizer!  I'm absolutely smitten. And, I still can't get over the price: it's only ₤12.99, which I think is a fantastic value for everything you get in this book.

There is only one thing (only one!) that I would change about this diary, and that is: I would make it start at the beginning of August instead of the beginning of September.  For those of us in Scotland, school starts in mid-August, and it would be nice for my diary to begin before school does.  Also, despite the UK-specific aspects of this diary, I think it could be a huge hit in the US, and all of America starts school mid-August.  So, Organised Mum, that is my only suggestion.  I know it would make the book thicker, but I don't mind in the least.

***Edited to update: the 2012 Life Book starts in August, to start at the beginning of the school year in Scotland and the US! A big THANK YOU and a pat on the back to Organised Mum for listening to your customers!

Organised Mum has loads of products to help you organize (organise) a busy household.  If you like the Life Book but want a smaller version, check out the Pocket Life Book Diary.  If you want a book identical to the Life Book but would prefer a weekly grid layout to keep track of each family member separately, you want the Family Life Book Diary.  These diaries can also be purchased with beautiful faux-leather zip covers too.

In addition to diaries, Organised Mum has wall calendars in weekly or monthly formats with either large day spaces, or grids to keep track of each family member every day of the week.

They also have their Made By Me line of stationary products that kids can design themselves. Cool!  I especially love the colorful DIY Children's Calendar, with tons of stickers to personalize and decorate each month.  Who could resist designing your own calendar??

There are also loads of accessories for your diary and calendars, including extra stickers of various types, clever arrow page markers, and a beautiful diary stand that I really want!

I ordered my Life Book from the Organised Mum website, and I was really happy with their easy ordering and super-fast shipping.  You can also find some Organised Mum products in John Lewis stores, or use their Stockist locator to find a shop near you.

You can follow Organised Mum on Twitter (OrganisedMum) and on Facebook.


  1. This is the 'other amazing planner', isn't it? [grin]

    This one I think I must have. I have compared the Make My Day with this one and have decided that this one just has more. I can always print out country codes and time zones and put them in the slot in the planner cover......now - do I order NOW, or do you have another review coming up that will throw my brain into another tizzy? [laugh]

  2. This is it Carol! :)

    And yes, this is much more planner than the Make My Day. The MMD is smaller and slimmer and therefore more portable, but I like the larger page size and the way the Life Book is organized. (alternatively you could always use the Pocket Life book). Also, at this time (as far as I know) the MMD is not yet available in the UK or US.

  3. This planner obviously shows the amount of thought that has gone in to its design, and it's been done from experience of what people actually need to plan their family life.

    It has a different role to play compared to a personal planner/organiser and I think they have got this one so right it deserves to sell well.

    On their site they also show covers and a pocket version, but I think the size of this one you have reviewed Laurie would be perfect for most people with a family to organise and keep up with!

    Great price too...

  4. Good point Steve. Actually anyone could use the Life Book, family or no. The monthly planning, budget and holiday pages would be useful for anyone.

  5. I've ordered it - having a place to write everything down will help me (I hope!) to make more sense of things and help me to see the overall picture.

    I've ordered it with the blue cover - can't wait!

  6. Hooray Carol!! I think you are going to love it! It's very comprehensive.

    Be sure to let us know when you get it and what you think of it! :)

  7. This planner sounds perfect! I'll have to see how much shipping would cost to the US...THANKS! I love your detailed reviews with photos!!

  8. emelyn, I took a look at their shipping rates to the US: it's 6.99 pounds, which is about $11.50 with the current exchange rate (I calculated it at a rate of $1.60 per pound, actual exchange rate may be slightly different).

    Now that I have some experience with overseas shipping (and have had a few expensive surprises), in my opinion $11.50 is really good!

  9. I am in Love with my Life book and my family weekly planner. They are now available with Australian Public Holidays and school terms too. Will be purchasing for friends. The best diary I have ever had!!!!

  10. Wow Chrissy, I didn't know there's an Australian version too! That is great.

    emelyn did you decide to order one?

  11. Hey Laurie, great review. Did you know that I emailed Sarah from OM and told her she should get you to write a review on the Life Book? LOL
    Though I couldn't live without my Filofax(es) for work and other area's, I find the Life Book equally irreplacable as a book for all Household Chores. With 4 kids, there's always plenty of chores and so little time. I adapted the Flylady Routines, and it works great together! On the monthly grid pages, I note down the different zones I have to hit in a particular week. Then on the diary pages I have a list of the relevant chores. On the monthly Todo-lists are all the bigger Todo's like: paintwork, plumbing repairs, etc. It's terrific to have them all in one place, because now we aren't so prone to forget about anything.

    Oh, and don't get me started on OM's Family Weekly Planner (wall calender). My life would simply be ruined without it!

  12. Hi Jotje, I didn't know you had talked to them about me doing a review, LOL! I started looking at these products a few months ago and finally caved and bought one! The products seem pretty addictive though, and I'm already thinking of what to get next!

    Great idea using the planner to keep track of chores, household to-dos, etc. The planner is so adaptable to different uses, it's great.

  13. My Lifebook has arrived there is something almost comforting about the information it's designed to hold and the how it's put together. I love the fact that I don't have to wait until January to start using it. I love that it gives me gentle hints about what I might want to keep track of, but doesn't make me feel guilty if I'm not quite ready to be 'that' organised....silly, I know...I think this planner and I are going to be very good friends!

  14. Carol, I feel EXACTLY the same way about my Life Book! Everything is right where I need it to be. Like you said, it is set up to guide me and suggest what I need to do, like the monthly budgeting and weekly meal planning. Obviously a LOT of thought went into the design of these planners!

    And, now that my household is on a school-year schedule, starting my planner in the autumn makes a lot of sense.

    I'm glad you're liking yours! :)