My Daily Docket is my daily lifesaver

My Daily Docket is a personalized form I made to help me manage my day at home. It’s my most often-used form in my home management notebook, and it really works for me.

There’s a lot of info on the internet about scheduling your day as a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve tried to apply a lot of these different tactics. They never worked for me. They were too rigid — a system would encourage me to write out a specific timetable for my day, and rotate weekly jobs set in stone on different days of the week. By writing this schedule out and hanging it visibly, I’d know what to do next.

It’s a great idea, but my life’s a lot more… unpredictable. When I tried to make Thursdays my Laundry Day, or One-On-One Time With My Daughter at 11 o’clock Monday through Friday, I was trapped.

I was trapped because life happened — one week I’d have an abnormally large amount of laundry, so by trying to do it all in one day, I set myself up for failure because I just couldn’t do it all. Time with my daughter would get pushed back because we really needed to run errands at 11 a.m., or she needed an earlier nap and 11 just wouldn’t do.

I wanted to throw any semblance of routine out the window. But I really didn’t want to do that, because a routine helps me. I love checking things off a list. I’m visual, so it helps to see my day’s plan.

What has evolved as my Daily Docket is a marriage of scheduled routine and flexibility. It provides the skeleton for me to hang my agenda, but it allows for wiggle room because I fill out a new sheet each day.

Instead of a set routine for Mondays, I fill out a fresh sheet for that very day, using a Weekly Checklist as my resource (also found on the downloads page). My week’s goal is to get everything done I need to do by that week, but I’m flexible as to when specifically I should do it..

Let me show you how this works.

The night before, I take one of these and fill it out for the next day. It helps if I fill it out in pencil because things are so unpredictable in our home that I have to be flexible.

The smaller categories on the page are as follows:

  • My MITs – The three most important things on my agenda today.
  • Current Scripture I’m working on memorizing/meditating over.
  • What’s for Dinner? – When I write it down, I remember way in advance what the dinner plans are, and what I need to do in advance for preparation, so I’m not scrambling at 5:45.
  • Health stuff – I’m trying to log my water and my food choices, so I like checking off that I’ve done that. And by writing down my work out plans, I’m more apt to do it.
  • Blog and/or Graphic Design stuff – To-do items for my blogs and my graphic design business.

The bigger items are my day’s to-do list and my day’s general plan.

Coffee Cup on Table --- Image by © Michael Prince/CORBIS

Coffee Cup on Table — Image by © Michael Prince/CORBIS

My to-do list: it’s short.

I limit myself to 10 things, because I know I realistically can’t get more than that checked off. I’ve actually almost never gotten all 10 accomplished in one day. By keeping it short, I’m making success – finishing my list – more of a reality. If I remember additional things throughout the day, I jot them down in my notes section, possibly for tomorrow’s list. I like Jamie’s idea of sticking with six items.

My day’s general plan: it’s general.

General is the key word here. The Docket looks a lot more structured than it is, but I don’t write out every last thing I have to do that day. I only assign a time and slot to those things I want to get done at a time of day. I want to get computer work during my kid’s nap time, so I remind myself that it’s a 2 o’clock job. I want to get breakfast on the table by 8, so I make a note of that. And most importantly for me, I want to get to bed by 10:30. Seeing it on paper reminds me that it’s important.

Here’s an example of what a Daily Docket looks like filled out (click to enlarge it):

For you!

Feel free to download this Daily Docket (or the smaller one) for free. But you don’t have to use this — use what works for you. The point is to have a plan for your day, and to approach it proactively.

Whatever you use, keep it simple, easy-to-read, very easily accessible throughout your day, and thorough enough to manage your whole day on one sheet.

What do you use to get you focused on the day? If you use the Docket, do you have any suggestions or feedback? I know several of you have asked for an even smaller one than the Pocket Docket… I might get to that. Someday.

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I would definitely be interested in PDF downloads! I need all the organizational help I can get.

    I just found your site via Twitter, and I will be back!

    Lynnaes last blog post..You Tell Me: What do you make from scratch?

  2. I would love a pdf of your form. I picked up a spiral at Target and made a to-do list with my three MIT on it. Working on those this morning. Motivation is always what I lack, hopefully this will get me moving! That, and some good ’80’s music!

  3. @Lynnae – I’m a huge fan of your site already! Thanks for stopping by.

    @Leslie – Ooh, 80s music is the best while getting things done around the house! Unfortunately, my husband disagrees, so I stick to it when he’s not around. 😉

    Good to get input about the PDF idea, so thanks.

  4. I would love to have some PDF downloads! The most frusterating thing for me is seeing all the detailed calendars but not one that works for me. This daily docket looks like the ticket. I’m working on memorizing scriptures too and this would be so awesome have with me. Thanks for sharing adn I look forward to the PDFs. I LOVE your blog by the way!

    Rean Day

    Rean Days last blog post..Final test

  5. I’m a list person so something like this would be great to keep all my plans for the day organized. I’ve also been getting into GTD and think this would be a good way to sort out all my actions.

    Marys last blog post..Making Bananas Last Longer

  6. @Rean Day, Mary – Glad something like these might help you. Sounds like I’ll be getting these PDFs out to you!

  7. Hi! I found your blog through the thesis theme website (which I have just downloaded too) Your customisation looks great!
    I love all your organisation tips – I really need some help with this so PDFs would be great. Looking forward to more tips!

  8. @Guera – hi there! Isn’t the Thesis theme great? I’m so glad I found it.

  9. Great post! I love learning about how other people schedule their time.

    Jessicas last blog post..Yummy Granola

  10. Hi Jessica – I remember your site from Today’s Creative Blog! Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I think part of my problem is I have a mish mash of management forms. I need to whittle my stuff down into something simple like this. 🙂 I found you through bloggy giveaways. 🙂

    Audra Maries last blog post..Bloggy Giveaway Hangover Anyone

  12. This is such a helpful post at the most opportune time. I’m usually organized but lately have been lacking motivation. I love the format you use (pdf please!). It has everything I care about, without the excess tasks that I’ll never get to anyway.

    Rachels last blog post..Herb Parade

  13. I love this form!

    Tamis last blog post..Winner! – How To Keep Your Kids on Your Team

  14. This is EXACTLY what I need! I, too, have struggled with the “set in stone” schedules some systems require. I get frustrated and quit. I need routine and I need flexibility. I would LOVE a PDF download of this docket (free or not). Great design and so workable!

    Megan@SortaCrunchys last blog post..Another Way – Shampoo Free

  15. @Megan – Hope you found the PDFs! They’re at the Home Management Notebook main page.

  16. i am a FTM and a SAHM and a Christian and I like to tell people that I’m a graphic designer kinda like the way George Costanza used to tell people he was an architect.
    so you pretty much had me at hello.
    pdf forms? yes please!

    Jills last blog post..22/30

  17. @Jill – I just emailed you. Love that George Costanza line! I wish I was an architect sometimes.

  18. Hello! My first visit and first comment–what a wonderful site you have here! I would love to have PDFs of your forms. I currently use a Planner Pad, but your Daily Docket looks a lot more like an at-home mother’s day. Thanks!

    Amy G.s last blog post..More of the same!

  19. That is *exactly* the type of form I need! I would love it as a .PDF, but I would relish it as a spiral notebook or pad even more!

  20. Just found your site via and will be following you on twitter. I was super-organized as a single college student, but have been married 1 1/2 now (no kids yet) and still need to figure out how to organize and plan life for two. Thanks for the super resources!

    Lori Anns last blog post..Crayon Fun

  21. I would love a copy of that pdf when it’s available! This looks to be a very helpful tool for all us stay at home moms.

  22. I would LOVE a pdf format. This would really help with by daily routine! (or lack thereof) 🙂 I, like you, do not like the others that are offered b/c they are too rigid. So having a pdf of yours would be great! Please let me know when it will be available. Thank you so much. God Bless!! -Ashley 🙂

    Ashleys last blog post..New Look

  23. This would be a very helpful tool. Thank you for thinking about us and the offer to share what works for you.

    Susans last blog post..Retreat Thoughts Still Swirling

  24. Hi, new readers from Tip Nut – the Daily Docket is available on the summary post about Home Management Notebooks – see above! Thanks for your interest.

  25. wow – this really looks like a great resource for me – thanks so much – I have absolutely loved finding your site!

    jodi’s last blog post…Giveaway # 1 has a winner!

  26. Thank you for some much needed help. I googled looking for something get my life in order and I found you! I am forever grateful.

    Heather’s last blog post…A Day in Our Life

  27. Wow, You sound just like me- I love structure, but need flexibility. Thanks so much for your example and encouragement through this blog.

  28. Oh, I ADORE you for this post! I just found your site today and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love everything here. I was thinking about making a daily docket of sorts; I thought maybe that would be nuts but hey, whatever works, right?? This is great!

    Michelle´s last blog post…Fun with Puffs

  29. I don’t know if THANK YOU would suffice for this wonderful device! I swear it’s like I wrote your post! I have had the exact same problem! I need something to help me stay on track, but anything set in stone keeps me stuck! I have four children, three of them are 3 years old and younger – life HAS to be flexible around here…flexible, yet predictible to some point. Esp. because I also homeschool my 6 year old. Many times I found myself singing to the tune of a song I know, using the lyrics, “Chaos reigns in this place….!” You know something’s gotta change when you’re singing this in your head once a week (or more). Thank you so much.

    Christin´s last blog post…J.O.Y. is Mine in 2009

  30. Thanks so much. I found MyDaily Docket on your blog months ago, and wanted to stop by to say thanks. This system is helping me get organized!


    Nisha´s last blog post…My Confession…I am not Ms.Suzy Homemaker

  31. Great concept. Also, I LOVE THE FONT in your filled in docket… What font is it and where can I buy/download it?! Thanks in advance, Deb

    • Julie Bertrand says:

      I love you DailyDocket which I will adapt in French !!! I would also love to know the name of this LOVELY FONT ! Thanks in advance

  32. I am an at-home, homeschooling mom. Over the years I have used & enjoyed many different agendas but this year I’ve felt they haven’t been working for me anymore. My life is getting much busier (my children are 3, 9 and 12) and while I am very organized and well-planned I’ve known something needed to change to help me stay on top of everything more effectively. Anyways, I made the leap to creating my own planner using your Daily Docket download and am thrilled! I have enjoyed the creative aspect of setting up my own planner but, more than that, it is making a huge difference in helping me manage my time more realistically. Thank you for your willingness to freely share your wonderful ideas.

  33. Not sure if it’s still possible, but I would love a pdf version of your daily docket. I’ve been trying my hardest to get myself in order as a SAHM, and love your format.


  34. Hi! Wow i’m just all over your blog right now trying to cram all ideas into my head before I have to start cleaning up the mess I’m letting my children make so i have blogging time hehehe. Wow I’m making a notebook now too and i was so happy to find this list! Of course I’m gonna have to think of a way to cutomise it more for myself but I lvoe all the ideas you added that I never thought of liek thae water drops to make sure you drink enough water.
    I want to add an exercize checklist to my notebook. That way when i get demotivated to exersize I’ll just force myself through the checklists. I can’t wait to go through the rest of your blog…. lots of fab stuff . tahnks for taking the time from your life to make our lives bettter. Much appreciated.
    (sorry typos but i’m in a hurry, i betcha know how that feels!)

    American Muslima Writer´s last blog post…Poem: Women’s Silent Tears

  35. Thanks for posting this! I made my own version, and it has been soooo helpful! I too feel trapped by strict schedules, or even just doing the same things each day. Now, though, I can keep focused on what I need to do for the day without being overwhelmed… a big help when you’re sleep deprived and taking care of a young toddler. I love reading mom blogs and learning so many helpful things!

    Kendra´s last blog post…Throw Away the Parenting Books…

  36. WOW! Thank you for sharing this – found it by surfing and it’s AMAZING! Can’t wait to download it and start using it!

  37. Thanks for giving more ideas.I already maintain like this .
    But it is very organished and useful for me lot.Thanks once again

  38. Found you through Meal Plan Monday and I am making some notes on using the daily docket. Thanks for such a great idea.


    Christy´s last blog post…Menu Plan Weekly for 3-15 – 3-21

  39. Tried to look at the jpgs but it’s saying the page can’t be found….hmmmm…..

    Jolanthe´s last blog post…First Hacking, Now Counterfeiting

  40. jennifer says:

    I have attempted to see & print your daily docket and weekly checklist multiple times but it just won’t show up on my computer. I have seen it through my sister in law & thought it was a great idea. Any suggestions on how to get it to come up? Thanks!

  41. I just wanted to say that I printed this out several weeks ago via your downloads page. Since I don’t have a printer at home and hate “wasting” paper, I bought a certificate frame at target. (I opted to purchase the one that wasn’t the cheapest, just to keep it nice.) I put the sheet in the frame, and I write on the glass with a non-permanent marker every night. It works like a charm. I love it.

    I also did the same thing with the weekly checklist, but I am not as good at following that one.

  42. globalnomad63 says:

    Daily docket is perfect! I guess i’ll have to download Adobe 9 to personalize it? I just printed out 30 pages for my Circa from Levenger – great combo! Thanks for your tips!

  43. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve modified it some for my personal use but it has totally changed my life. Each morning as I drink my coffee after my kiddo is fed and playing, I fill out my own daily docket. I now not only get done what I must get done, but I also avoid over-scheduling myself and my daughter so our days are productive but pleasant!

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Keep up the good work!
    .-= Marie ´s last blog ..Wash Your Face – with Oil? =-.

  44. I wanted to thank you again for the daily docket… I really liked it and printed me several, but as I started filling it in, I realized it wasn’t totally perfect for me. So, I took your same idea and made a few slight changes including putting my dailies in there already. I LOVE it… today is only day number 2, but I got so much accomplished yesterday. LOL!

    So, thanks again!
    .-= Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog´s last blog ..Freebie Friday, January 8, 2010 =-.

  45. This is a great series of posts, I love organizing. To bad the images don’t show up any more though… :-/
    .-= iHanna´s last blog ..Fun Spraydate with lots of Spraypaint and Stencils =-.

  46. Hi simple mom!
    I’ve enjoyed reading your website! I’m a SAHM to 3 very little ones and your site has been an encouragement! At first when I read about your 3 MITs, I thought, that’s really very simple and not necessary! I can just make a mental note. But after trying to stay afloat taking care of my kids and my home and keeping my sanity at the same time, I decided I’ll try writing down my 3 MITs.

    This is how beginner I am to all of this. My list includes: 1. Unload the dishwasher, 2. Start one load of laundry, and 3. Get a shower.

    I’m a neat freak, so I can’t stand dirty dishes in the sink. It makes me moody. If I don’t start one load of laundry, I’ll procrastinate until we won’t have any clothes to wear. And I have to have a shower to feel the least bit put together.

    I know those are so basic, but somedays I barely get it together enough to do those 3 things. Seeing that list helps me though. I think I can start small and feel a little bit of accomplishment and move on up!

    Thanks for your great ideas and encouragment!

  47. It’s so important to stay organized. Days that I’m not, I feel like I’m lost!

  48. I love your daily docket and have tweaked it for myself; thank you! I’d love an iPad version though!! Am looking for a workaround.

  49. Idea: Print out one on cardstock (do front and back if need be).
    Laminate it and then you can use a dry erase marker on it and reuse it over and over thus saving on paper and ink.

  50. Tsh, this is fabulous! I’m having trouble viewing your sample images, though.

  51. I just came to print out more of these (I love them!) and its not coming up to download. Is there someplace else on the website to download from?

  52. I purchased your book and after making a silly mistake of UNBINDING the whole thing so that I could make copies, I found the spot where you advised readers to come here and download the template.
    Thanks for this! I’d love to see an editable version so I can add things that might make it a little more usable for me, but still use your wonderful format!

  53. Wow! So simply brilliant! I would happily pay to use it, if the daily docket were an app, especially if to-dos that always happen on Monday didn’t have to be plugged in every Monday, etc… and especially if it synced with calendars and shopping lists that I could also manage online!!! Oh my goodness! I’m excited at the thought of it! If anything like this ever happens, PLEASE sell it to me, first! 🙂

  54. I really love your daily docket and am using as inspiration to create my own and even a master grocery shopping list. That’s what I’m doing today. Thank you Tsh for sharing this!

  55. Jonathan Cox says:

    I’d like to add / edit a couple of the items on your awesome docket for my own purposes. Would you mind sharing the name of the software that you used to create these glorious things?

  56. This is waaaay later, but hopefully you still get these comments! I love the Daily Docket, but I’m trying to find a way to print 4 on 1 page- 2 on the front, 2 on the back so I don’t go through the paper so fast- is there a way to do that? I’m having a heck of a time trying to do it online. I ended up using the one from your (wonderful!) book and cutting and pasting to get it that way, but the quality is lower from my copier than from the site. Any chance there’s an easy way to do this and I’m just missing it? Thanks! Love your site!

  57. Staceyann Dolenti says:

    Very useful ~ thank you!

    Stacey ann Dolenti

  58. Very helpful ~ thanks
    Stacey ann Dolenti

  59. Julie Berry says:

    There aren’t any pictures of the Daily Docket. It’s just a square with a ? in it. How do I see the docket?

  60. Stephanie Pease says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this! And I’m stuck… I would really like to use this in a paperless way.
    I follow with some technical questions, feel free to ignore if you don’t know how to answer. 🙂

    I can’t figure out how to get this download to Evernote, and my hand-me-down 3G iPhone downloaded a version of Evernote it can’t open, so even if I did figure out how to put it on Evernote, I could only use it at home…

    I also thought perhaps that I would try and open this in Pages (I have a Mac), but I can’t figure out how to save the pdf so that I can open it in Pages. 🙂

    Or I could try putting it in Google documents?
    Any other hints about how to use this in a paperless way?

  61. Thank you for this insightful article and the PDF file! I so needed this clarifiation in my life as a SAHM of two under 3yrs old. I had tried other methods but this looks o much more attainable! THANK YOU!!!!

  62. I just came across your blog and organizing tips. I love your daily docket form. Any plans on turning it into the perfect iPhone app. 🙂 Where anything that didn’t get completed on your to do list from the day before automatically shows up on the next day’s to do unless you remove it. Then you don’t have to keep writing down the same things each day. Although, maybe that’s one way of making sure you complete them…so you don’t have to keep writing them down.

  63. allison says:

    would love this in an app form, the paperless version really appeals to me and something that would sync up between devices (comp/iphone/ipod) of course.

    do you use something like this with google docs?

  64. I have to tell you I stumbled acrossed this site when looking up home made house cleaners, and I’m in love! This is exactly what I’ve been needed and searching for. I’m a mom of 2 now almost 5 and 5 weeks! And new to the stay at home mom thing, I’ve been going insane with figuring out a balance in my life when there is no structure. I’ve been reading blogs after blogs cause I can’t put it down, I have some questions and just skimming you have many answers! Thank you so much, I think I might be able to find peace in this chaos!

  65. Thank you so much for this lay out! As I read about your day as a stay at home mom and how you felt with other daily plans when you did not finish all on your list I completely understood. I have tried so many lists because I too like to have something to follow but my day is never the same. I sometimes laugh at the end of the day because most of what happened was not planned at all and what I did have planned either got canceled or I never got to. I just thought I was really bad at keeping organized in this stay at home mom thing!! Thank you for the encouragement in sharing your experiences and what helps you. This is my first time on your blog and I look forward to reading more!!

  66. I love this updated daily docket! I just had a conversation this morning in which i explained that i NEED the structure of a schedule but it seems as soon as i say “this is what going to happen Thursday” i get a call or something of the wall comes up and I’m constantly having to change the schedule! I have the old daily docket on my fridge in a sheet protector so i can fill it out with a dry erase marker and just erase it when its time to fill it up again! Would work great like that in the home binder too! I’m loving your blog more and more … Thanks for all the great info!

  67. I love this!! I need an app for sure!! (I realize this goes against the screen-limit theory, but it would definitely be easier for me to use, as I am not a SAHM)

  68. I used to make soemthing like this around 10 years ago. I’m going to go back to it. Thanks for stroking my memory.

  69. I think these are so great!!! We really have to watch our spending so I made 5 copies and used clear shelf liner from the dollar store to laminate them! Sharpie markers work fabulously and easily comes off w/ rubbing alachol or a regular pencil eraser. I get my week organized and update as often as I need w/ hardly any cost =) Thank you for helping me get more organized!!

  70. Hi! I have been enjoying your book “Organized Simplicity” and I love the idea of you scheduling notebook. I currently have a simplified version I use, but it is only for work at this point in time. As I work full time, I am trying to find the best way to leave that planning tool at my desk so work doesn’t come home with me, and to incorporate something similar to what you have for my evenings and weekends at home. I love your MITs and weekly cleaning checklists – I certainly need those.
    Do you have any suggestions for those of us who work full time and still love the daily docket idea?

  71. Thanks for the article. Imho, calendars and to-do-lists are tedious and unintuitive for most people to use. Over 2B people use email but a tiny fraction use calendars and to-do-lists. Lot of things we need to get done come through email and get buried under other email – e.g. a meeting request, spouse’s reminder. Or they may pop in our heads at a random times. It is not convenient to pull out a calendar or to-do-list to put it on there. Just the # of clicks it takes to enter an appointment is arduous.
    It is much more natural to “tell” it to someone to get reminded about it – e.g. text it, send an email. Probably, why busy (and rich) people hire personal assistants.
    We have created a service: to do exactly that. It makes calendars, to-do-lists and time management as simple as sending an email or a text message to your free personal assistant.
    Please check it out and give us feedback.

  72. Your book Organized Simplicity and your blog is fantastic – love it! Any chance you plan on making an app version of the daily docket sometime?

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