Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How I use my planner

Ann mentioned on her blog that she and I are using organizers again. Why do I say again? Because we've been down this road before.

Several times.

Lots of times.

And I mean that. I have tried the daily planner approach to life many times. I've tried paper, digital, and combinations of both. It has never worked for me.

Now, though, I think it's working. Why? Well, for one, I am not trying to copy anybody else's organizational system into my life. I bought a 2-page a day calendar/planner/organizer. It's made by Franklin Covey, but I bought it at Sam's. Why did I buy it at Sam's? Because it was $40 for the whole thing, binder, pages, everything. If you go to Franklin Covey's website, they have much higher quality binders and leathers, but they really like them. So, I like my cheaper one. I don't figure even the ones on their site will last more than 2 years of constant use, so I can buy this package at Sam's 2 or 3 years in a row for what one would cost me from them. I did buy some accessories direct from Franklin, like their swing-out notepad. Nice stuff.

Anyway, I use the first page for each day to list my task list for the day. These are the things that I need to get done, but don't have specific times. The page is two columns, one is just a lined to-do list, the other is time referenced appointments. I'll put specific appointments with their time, and then just list my daily to-dos in the other column. The second page is blank lines. I use this for daily journaling.

My planner also has monthly-view calendars and monthly to-do lists. I use these for scheduling appointments and activities, and also to jot down ideas for each month. For example, March's monthly idea list has what I got Ann for her birthday, May's has what we're planning to get Olivia for hers, and so on...

I have a couple of movable book-markers in the calendar. I use one for marking today. One is a full-page pouch. I keep a list of church members in it to use as my daily prayer list. The others I'm using to mark upcoming dates that I'm looking forward to.

After each month is over, I take the daily pages out and file them in an accordion file. That way, I have the journal entries and daily logs if I need to look back. The month records stay in, so I can reference major events.

My planner also has long-range planning pages in the back, for years all the way out to 2014. I don't have anything yet for 2014. But if I did, I've got place for it!

I have a pull-out note pad in the back that has pre-punched holes, so it will fit in my planner. I also have some blank-lined pages so that I can take notes. If I know I'll be in a place to take notes, I'll put some blank sheets in on that date. If I'm taken off guard by the need to note, I've got the Swingpad (that's Franklin's title for it).

I also have some nifty software from Franklin that lets me make forms. Which pairs well with the pre-perforated pages that are pre-punched to fit. That lets me print whatever I need and it'll fit in my binder. I do my address book that way. I print address pages and put them in, rather than having to read my own handwriting. I can print all kinds of other forms, some of which I have no idea what to do with!

No planner is complete without good pens. I've taken a liking to Pilot G-2 Ultrafine pens. I can actually read my writing.

Now, the thing works for me, and I know I do look a little funny carrying it everywhere. But I like the space. It's got a big enough pocket to carry a New Testament with me, and various other places to hold stuff.

How about you? Do you use anything to stay organized? What do you use? I find the way I use this planner allow me flexibility with my day. I'm able to keep up with what I've done and what I need to do. If I don't get something done, I go ahead and copy it to the next day's list. I can keep up with appointments, and take about 5 minutes each morning to look at the day's list.

It's not perfect from an expert point of view, but it works for me. And with this, pragmatism is an acceptable judge!


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