Juggling All the Plates Part 2: Get Your Schedule Under Control

If you missed the first article in this series, Juggling All the Plates Part 1: Organization, please read it here.


To briefly recap, you have too many tasks and responsibilities and you look like a chicken without its head running around trying to get everything accomplished in a timely manner, yeah? Yeah, me, too. 

The first thing we’re going to tackle is your schedule and your calendar. I use a paper planner  and an e-calendar with Outlook. 


I only use Outlook because people at City Hall have to schedule meetings with me, and they need to know when I’m available. I don’t think anyone else besides the director uses it at the library. Which kinda sucks because I’m constantly updating it and no one really pays attention to it. 


Briefly, though, color-coding is your friend! Here are my categories:

Make categories that work for you. I work the evening shift on Thursdays, so I have to let City Hall know I’m not available for morning meetings on Thursdays, so that is always pink. Desk assignments are red. Professional development and webinars are yellow and so on. 


Think of it like when you were in school. Did you assign a color to each class? Like red binder/spiral/folder was for math, blue was for science, green was for history/social studies? Think of it like that. 


Here’s what my schedule looks like. I like being able to see at a glance when I have different meetings, Desk assignments, etc.

Now, my paper calendar is where the library tasks and responsibilities are laid out:

There is some duplication between what I write here and what is in my Outlook calendar, but more than just meetings, Desk schedules, etc., I write in reminders to myself. These reminders run the gamut from when to change different displays to a note about a post-summer project I put there months ago that I didn’t want to forget about. 


My library isn’t open on Sundays, so I use the Sunday box to write in tasks that get “scheduled” months in advance, like which weeding list to pull that quarter or a reminder to start working on a partnership newsletter article that was set up to start with the new school year. 


For those recurring tasks that you have to do, type up a mini chart or checklist and tape it in your planner. You can see I’ve done that, above, with which collections I order during each third of the month. Again, that color coding is super helpful for those of us who are visual people! 


I use this paper calendar to then create my weekly to-do list. I like to use a legal pad for this because it’s big enough for everything to be on one page without flipping back and forth. Here is last week’s list:

On the left, I write down tasks I need to work on. On the right, I use my paper calendar to write out each scheduled task that needs to happen. As I accomplish something, I mark through it.  


I always spend the last 15 minutes of the week preparing my list for the upcoming week. Knowing what’s coming is really important for me as an autistic person, so this is a step I never skip. Here’s this coming week’s list:

Items that didn’t get finished last week, get moved to this week’s list. Sometimes This is super demoralizing (I really like marking things off a to-do list). For example, the CSET Branding item has been on my list since late last summer when I was given the lead for that team. We are *this close* to being finished, but lack of communication between people at City Hall is preventing me from being able to cross it off.  


There are lots of organizational strategies out there if my system doesn’t work for you. Adjust and/or combine different strategies until you find a system that works for you. 


If organization  doesn’t come naturally to you, find an accountability coworker where y’all can both try different strategies and then discuss how trial one went at the end of the month. Of, if you really are a lone wolf at work, try a sticker chart where you reward yourself with something you actually enjoy, like a venti instead of your usual tall at Starbucks, a lazy trip to Target, renting a movie at Redbox that’s not available on Netflix or Prime, etc.

Once you get your schedules and to-do list in order and a system in place, you’ll be less chicken-without-a-heading-running-around and more cool-as-a-cucumber, I promise.

Next time in this series: “Part 3: Keeping up-to-date with everything and making sure everything is done in a timely manner.”

“Lucky” Reads

  1. Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
  2. Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
  3. Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
  4. Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton
  5. Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
  6. The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
  7. The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Freedman
  8. Lucky in Love by Kasie West
  9. The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
  10. Just Our Luck by Julia Waltson


Guest Post: Creepy Crafting

Today we have Andrea, the Teen Services Coordinator at Mesa County Libraries in Colorado, doing a guest post on creepy crafting.

Spooky season is one of my favorite times to make things, and the teens in my area adore all things disturbing and creepy. My library system is still making 150 Take and Make kits every month for teens, and finding something that was both cost effective and creepy was challenging. 


My solution? Creepy Eyeball Bouquets:


I used construction paper and wire floral stems as materials for constructing the flower itself. I’m giving folks these basic instructions for making paper roses, but I’m telling them to leave out the last 2 petal layers and instead to use Mod Podge to glue a fake eyeball in the center of the rose. It is startling what a small change like this can make to make something truly creepy. 


The fake eyeballs were the hardest solution for large scale. If I had only been doing it for 20 or so teens, I could have easily bought fake eyeballs from the Dollar Store, but it was too expensive for the scale I was doing. My solution for fake eyeballs is to give them clear glass gems like these:

And then have them Mod Podge these printable irises courtesy of The Haunting Grounds on the back. And voila! Creepy eyes galore in a variety of colors for a very affordable cost.

I love how these turned out, but I’m excited for other possibilities like horror flower crowns made with these flowers. 


What kind of creepy crafts are you going to make this fall with your teens?

Mysteries Are The New Vampire Books

While I love a good supernatural book, mystery/thrillers are definitely making a comeback in a big way. The harder part is finding age-appropriate books for my younger teens who are DEVOURING them. In fact, I am planning on starting a mystery book club for tweens & teens this fall. My search first led to a post on this very blog (!) from last year that everyone should read right after this by our very own Jessica Hilburn Schwartz. Here are a few more to check out. (Summaries are from Goodreads, cuz I’m writing this on vacation!)

Contemporary Thrillers: 

The Cousins 

by Karen McManus 

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each other, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised… and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point—not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over—and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.


14 Ways To Die

by Vincent Ralph

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.



The Ivies

by Alexs Donne

Everyone knows the Ivies: the most coveted universities in the United States. Far more important are the Ivies. The Ivies at Claflin Academy, that is. Five girls with the same mission: to get into the Ivy League by any means necessary. I would know. I’m one of them. We disrupt class ranks, club leaderships, and academic competitions…among other things. We improve our own odds by decreasing the fortunes of others. Because hyper-elite competitive college admissions is serious business. And in some cases, it’s deadly.

Alexa Donne delivers a nail-biting and timely thriller about teens who will stop at nothing to get into the college of their dreams. Too bad no one told them murder isn’t an extracurricular.


Looking for a good historical mystery? 

Pride and Premeditation

by Tirzah Price

(Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit.)

When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates.

Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.


Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (Enola Holmes # 7)

by Nancy Springer (Publishing Aug. 31st)

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!


A historical mystery for younger readers

The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1)

by Marthe Jocelyn

Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal — including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends — to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit.


If you have some mystery suggestions, especially for younger teens, please add them in the comments!