Misty Spinney has a beautiful mind. She’s constantly spouting big ideas, can crank out innovative (and viral!) makeup looks, hairstyles and Halloween costumes that the rest of us can barely visualize, *and* she has a heart of gold. I’ve been lucky enough to work with her for nearly two years and witness the genius firsthand. One of her most valuable qualities, in my book, is her constant appetite for self-improvement. Lately, she’s been on a mission to organize her EVERYTHING: schedule, work life, home life and more. And as I (Maddie, hello!) am a closeted organization freak moonlighting as a creative content producer, I was delighted to give her a helping hand.


The game plan: Get all of Misty’s facets of life organized in one space and find a sustainable system for her future endeavors. When Office Depot told us about the TUL™ Custom Note-Taking System, we were definitely intrigued. The note-taking system includes tons of attachable organizational features like tab dividers, pocket dividers, task pads, page flags and rulers that all lock into the TUL™ discbound notebook. Additionally, their hole punch means that *anything* that can be punched can snap into the notebook. My personal favorite part of the TUL™ Notebook is the interchangeable paper — we can use lined, graph, dotted and margined paper all in the same notebook. This is especially key for us creatives, who are constantly sketching ideas as well as writing notes. With the help of this impressive note-taking system, Misty and I got down to business. Literally.


I sat down with Misty and made a plan of attack to take on her organizational goals. We concluded that compartmentalization, labeling, using many types of paper and making lists of action items would be the best planning system for Misty. I set her up with a separate tab divider for each aspect of her life, with different types of paper — lined, graph and margined. We decided that she’d benefit most from tons and tons of lists, as well as a space that she could simply free-flow ideas. We landed on a highlighting and crossing-out system, and, most critically, added a task pad to each section for action items. I also sent her home with a TUL™ Discbound Hole Punch so she could attach extra papers, magazine clippings, and color samples into the notebook.


Onto the interview!

In general, do you feel organized?

“Normally, NO. I know that I function so much better when I can figure out how to be organized, but those moments seem few and far between. I tend to be really good at living in the moment and not thinking ahead or about the past — a practice I’ve gotten really good at in my human life. Nobody warned me about how this would affect my work and responsible life. I forget about deadlines, and things I really want to do and say I’m going to do get pushed back because I simply don’t remember to do them. It feels awful to not be accountable for the things I say I want to do… I really really do have every intention and desire to do them. These things range from simply emailing someone a link to a cool article I want to share to initiating larger scale projects at work.”


Have you used a planner before? Has it helped you?

“I have tried so many. They work for a moment but then I always get confused between what I should write in it and when to use my online tools. I never really felt that a planner had the fun visual elements that align with my creative nature. Honestly, this is the first notebook that has worked for me. The different types of paper, task pads and color tabs have made all the difference.”


What are your specific organization goals?

1. Mind, Body, Soul Goals: AKA what makes me feel good. How can I help myself be healthy in all of these areas? I realize now that if I don’t take the time to feed this part of myself first, then nothing else in my life aligns correctly. That’s why this is the first section in my notebook.

2. Mama Life: This is really all about my home life: adulting responsibilities, car stuff, bills, tasks for my two year old son, doctor stuff and so on. These are never the fun things to check off my list, so I tried to name them in a way that felt creative and in alignment with my personality — “Vroom Vroom,” “Dollar Dollars” etc.

3. Brit + Co Weekly: This is all about my weekly tasks here at B+C. I’d say this was the only space where using the notebook didn’t come naturally to me — I’m used to using online tools for my weekly flow, because that’s how I communicate with the rest of my team. Moving forward, I’ll try and use it for my on-the-go brainstorm and to take notes while on set.

4. Brit + Co Free Flow: I’ve actually reserved this entire work week for organizing, and this tab is what inspired it! I used this space to free flow on all the things I wanted to do A) during this week and B) in general that were above and beyond my normal work flow. Obviously I wasn’t able to get to all of my ideas, but at least I got to list them all out. (They keep coming too!)

5. Misty Artistry: This tab is all about my personal business as a professional hair and makeup artist. It’s last because it does act as my side project, but I love that I work for a company that still encourages us to keep our passions alive and prosperous!


Where do you want to improve your organization?

“I really want to be more accountable. Organizing my life with this notebook is a great start, and I’m really proud of myself for even getting this far. I look forward to the journey I started and believe that in a matter of time I’ll shift my bad habits into great habits. But I also think it’s about being realistic that this isn’t going to change overnight. It took a lifetime to create all of these habits, so naturally it will take time to change them, but I’ve already seen results and it feels SO GOOD!”


How has the TUL Notebook specifically helped you?

“Real talk: I LOVE that I was able to write down all of the things that spiral through my mind. Sometimes it feels like there’s never a place to start because it’s all too fast and overwhelming. Once I sat down and actually had Maddie guide me through the process, it all started to just flow from my chaotic mess of a mind. These five little funnels took one thought and directed it exactly where it needed to go. I was actually a little embarrassed because once I wrote it all down, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought! Don’t get me wrong, I have A LOT to do and each task in each category is a major project in itself, but it’s all there in front of me and that makes all the difference. I also love that it could hold scraps of inspiration, too. Those pocket dividers were real game changers for me.”


Were there any revelations that came from this week of organization?

“I think the biggest surprise was seeing how much of a difference one simple practice can make! By getting into a routine of writing in this notebook AND storing all relevant papers — sketches, inspirational images, memos, everything — it really felt like all of my thoughts were stored in one place. I think the hole punch was crucial for this, because more than just writing goes into my brainstorms. The hole punch let me add any and all papers to a tab — even a printout of my friend’s Instagram.”


What’s your favorite feature in the TUL notebook?

“I love the little task pads. I actually leave a pack in my bag when I don’t want to carry the notebook and add things throughout my day. If I think of something I can write it there and add it in later – super helpful!”


Did the TUL Notebook help you with budgeting?

“I tend to keep most of my budgeting online. But having all of the different categories set in front of me was a great opportunity to become more aware of how I spend my money and how I’d like to redirect some of that spending for my next point of focus in life. For example, I really want to invest more in healthy foods and less on indulgences like vino and cake! This has initially been a setback financially, but will end up being more cost-effective in the end because I’ll be eating out less and focusing on building healthier, heartier, more cost-efficient meals and snacks at home.”


Do you think the techniques we’ve set up will work for you in the future?

“I ABSOLUTELY will use this notebook moving forward. I plan on it being my prompt to be more balanced. I think the beauty of having everything in one place is that I can see it all at the same time. The next step for me with this notebook is to create a way to pull something from each section each week so I can tackle all of it.”


It was so cool to see how Misty made this notebook her own. Ever the creative brain, she added doodles, favorite quotes and her own “Misty Speak” to each page. What’s more, she went above and beyond expectations. The goal was to consolidate her notes to one space and frame them in a productive way, but Misty took the task and downright sprinted with it. After mastering these processes, she quickly moved onto other parts of her life: She kickstarted a new filing system for incoming makeup samples at work and tested new ways to manage VIP paperwork at home.


The Verdict: Success! Misty absolutely adopted these organizational tools into her lifestyle, and thinks they’re very sustainable. We found that dedicating a week to the mission was also vital to realizing these goals. Next up, getting another TUL™ Notebook for her eager mama, who witnessed Misty’s transformation!

Even Misty’s two-year-old son Elijah is on board with her newfound organizational skills :)

What are your go-to organizational tools? Tweet us the response at @BritandCo!

This post is a collaboration with TUL™ Custom Note-Taking System, exclusively for Office Depot and Officemax.

Author: Maddie Bachelder
 Photography: Chris Andre, Brittany Griffin + Misty Spinney