Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Planners at work

I know a lot of people use electronic scheduling systems at work (whether corporate-enforced or by choice), but there are still lots of people who use paper planners at work. Some people (like myself) just plan better on paper. Others have to keep official written records. And for many, it's just nice to have a break from the screen.

Moleskine planners are popular at work (as they are everywhere). Mstraat did an excellent guest post here awhile back on how she used her Moleskine Taskmaster planner at work. You can click here to see the details of her post.
Weekly schedule
Weekly lists

Dora did a great guest post here on Plannerisms on how she has used large softcover Moleskine day per page planners as her work diary for several years. Click here to see her excellent post.
Daily records

I've used various planners for work over the years. There are two planners in particular that I used at work when I had to schedule my time heavily.

One of these was a Full Size Uncalendar. I liked the 8 1/2 by 11 inch pages with all the space to write my categorized task lists and schedule each day. But I had to be careful about how much I wrote on the pages, especially tasks. If I had too much written in each page, I had trouble prioritizing my tasks and would just stare at my planner like a deer in the headlights, wondering what I should be doing next.

A planner that worked really well for me was my Quo Vadis Septanote. I used it for everything: work, part-time classes, grad school applications, etc. I liked having everything in one planner.

I have a lot of online friends who use a Filofax or Franklin Covey binder for work, but a common problem is the binder gets overstuffed because people try to put absolutely everything into the binder. Often, work project notes are better off in a separate binder or file at work and don't need to be carried with you everywhere you go.

What planner do you like for work? Do you use it for your entire life, or only work things? I'm especially interested in how working mothers use their planner to coordinate work, kids, after schools, home, and your own stuff. Please post a comment!

19 comments:

  1. I'm a working mother and I do this, which sounds a lot but works for me currently. I have a planner or diary at home with all our home and kid-based stuff in it and some of our work things (eg an event or important date). I manage work stuff at work, in my Outlook, spreadsheets and a paper notebook for daily to-do lists and meeting notes. In my bag I carry with me just a very slim paperback planner which is A5 size and only a few pages (double spread page per month). Here I just note school semester dates, important events, dates to remember, etc.

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    1. Hi Jackie, thanks for your reply! I have a question about your system: for example, if you needed to remember to pick something up after work or or get something ready for your child's after school activity, where would you write that reminder? I'm very curious how working moms keep everything flowing.

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  2. When I worked full-time, at a law office, I combined electronic and paper. I had a master to do list on my computer. The tasks were grouped by type and marked with deadlines and urgency. But I had a 6x9 spiral notebook I kept with me everywhere I went. Anytime I stepped away from my desk, people gave me information or tasks. So I wrote them in my notebook. When I took phone calls, I wrote the information in my notebook. When I was in meetings, I took notes in the notebook. I dated the bottom of each page. I drew a horizontal line between each different item. And when the information on the page was "processed", I drew a diagonal line through the page to show it was done. Periodically through the day, I went back through to be sure everything was done.

    Years later, there was an issue at the office, after I had been gone a couple of years, and they needed some information. They called me to see if I remembered anything. I remembered a little but told them if I could come in and look through the file I could probably come up with something. I went in and found my old notebooks (all of them had dates on the front indicating the time period they covered). I found the appropriate book, located the notes, and gave them some helpful information. Those books were invaluable!

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  3. Oh, by the way, I did try using a Franklin Covey Classic planner but it didn't work for my situation. Like you said, it couldn't hold everything I needed and it just wasn't practical. And I definitely couldn't combine work and personal because the information at work was sensitive - it wasn't appropriate to have it in my personal planner. I don't think any traditional planner would have worked but the system I came up with worked really well most of the time.

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    1. Patty brings up a point I've been struggling with; I really find that one planner for everything works best for me, but I work for a public university and under Connecticut Freedom of Information law my planner is almost certainly considered a public record. Of course, if I had to release pages from my planner I could redact all personal and/or irrelevant information, but that would need to be approved and I'd likely need to demonstrate that it is not work related and/or is not relevant to the request for records.

      Which brings me to the point where I think a work planner would be a very good idea, but I just cannot figure out how to swing it. When I start to divide things I find I cannot keep track of anything.

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    2. Josh I can see how one planner, for scheduling, would be beneficial, but can you separate out work notes and anything else work related into a different book? That way at least only scheduled items are in your own planner and other information is out, minimizing the amount of work information in your personal possession. I know this is easier said than done!

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    3. I'm trying to gauge how much work planning I do when I'm away from work. I definitely want to keep contacts and schedules in my personal planner for easy reference whenever, wherever. But for day planning, task management, project plans, notes, etc. I wonder if I could just put a binder on my desk which I can carry into meetings and such? Seems so complicated. But keeping all of this mixed in a personal planner seems likely to bite me in the butt someday.

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  4. Wow what a great system!! I will definitely do this.

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  5. I think I've finally figured out how to handle work related planning. I keep all my work notes separate from my planner. I was using a notebook, but I switched to Evernote for work notes a few weeks ago. I used to keep a separate to-do list for work tasks, but that wasn't working out. Now, when I get to work every day I just jot down 3-4 things I need to accomplish that day in my main, everyday planner. I love having all my to-dos in one place now. It makes things much easier. I also copy appointments from my Outlook calender into my planner.

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  6. I use the Erin Condren planner for work and home. The planner has a week on two pages, and separates each day into morning, afternoon and night. I've modified that by using a PlannerPad-like method. The "morning" boxes at the top of the page are labeled by task or project (in my case, legal matters I'm working on), and capture everything on my weekly to do list. I funnel tasks from this list into the middle boxes, which become my daily to dos. The bottom "evening" boxes are for daily appointments. The planner has a section for goals and to dos on the left hand side- I use those for my personal items, although, if it's a busy week personally, I just use one of the boxes across the top. It's imperfect, but it combines the best of the PlannerPad funneling system with an attractive, hard back, compact planner. I will occasionally use a sticky to do some brainstorming or project planning, but for the most part this system forces me to think about my tasks, and be realistic about what can be accomplished in a week/day.

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    1. paperiris that's great you've managed to adapt the format you need in the design you love! I love it when people find ways to adapt their planner.

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  7. I am with you on the rabbit in the headlights thing.
    I need empty white spaces around my written plans for the day or they all merge into a big blob of panic.

    After many years (the internet is SO ancient now) of trying online planning tools from Todoodledo to Remember the Milk, a flirtation with the expensive Things (which I bought thinking that since I was investing, I would use it, how wrong I was) and several others, the ONLY online tool I used with any regularity is the free Teux Deux which is simple, minimal and really just a series of lists which roll over to the next day if you don't do them. It's deliberately feature light, and the developer resists all requests (rightly) to add this or that feature.

    At home there is a need for a planning tool which everyone can see, a collective To Do list. Why should it be just one person who needs to know that the trash goes out on Thursday and that this week it's the recycling trash, not the regular trash? If everyone has the information then it ceases to be one person's responsibility. Bathrooms need cleaning, wild bird food needs topping up and packed lunch boxes need to be washed for the next day. Family life is a team effort, or at least it should be, and if one person holds all the information then that's neither fair on them or an anyone else and it does not develop all those important planning skills.

    So we have a white board. A BIG white board. Weekly chores (not allocated, just a reminder to everyone of what needs to be done), shopping list so that small people can write Peanut Butter on it too, reminders to wash Judo kit before Friday.

    Planners for work are different.
    Paper.
    Paper.
    Paper.

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    1. lbff I love your idea of using a big white board at home so everyone has one central location to see what's going on and what needs to be done. I might have to implement that myself!

      Can I ask what paper planner you are liking right now?

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    2. I do think that sometimes in our efforts to be The Most Organised Mum On The Planet, we forget that part of our job is to build a family team and to give kids the skills to assess, prioritise and decide for themselves what needs done first. Producing confident young people who, when they leave home, can plan to do their own laundry before they get to the very last pair of socks is a success. It doesn't mean we have been slavedriving harridans.

      I am using an A5 Filofax for work, and I just ordered an A5 Professional set of inserts for it. Working with just a basic diary is OK, and that's what I have tried so far this year but I find I need to work backwards rather than forwards.

      Instead of thinking "I have so much to do", I should write down July - annual holiday and track backwards (with dates) adding travel immunisations (at the right time before leaving), insurance, packing lists etc - all put into the plan at the right time so they are not some huge chunk of STUFF.

      I think the structure of seeing weekly and monthly and yearly plans will be better for me. I hope it will be like a paper GANTT system but all in one binder.

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    3. I fully agree; a good method to keep your planning under control is to delegate as much as possible and trust your team (work colleagues, family, people you live with, committees, church, whatever) to do their part and pull their weight. To be effective, you must set very clear expectations and have some sort of method to keep track and make sure things are done, but that tracking need not (probably *should* not) be in your personal planner.

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    4. Where would you put it?
      Do you mean that people might read over your shoulder (or upsisde down) and therefore it's not "safe"?

      Or should it be somewhere everyone can see it, like my whiteboard?

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    5. I think the whiteboard is a great way to manage it.

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  8. Hi Laurie,
    When my children were young and I was working, I found that I was having a hard time trying to coordinate everything in my A5 planner. I was working full-time so I carried my A5 planner in my large tote, but if I had a lunch time meeting I still needed my planner and my wallet. It was so much to carry around. I also realized I didn't need to carry all my "home" info.with me all the time. To solve this problem, I put my home info in a Family Organizer. I also found a wallet planner at Walmart called The Wallet Wiz. It's a planner wallet combo wristlet.
    It has a separate zipper section for the planner and a zipper section for the wallet. I don't know if Walmart still carries The Wallet Wiz. I think I bought it around 2001.The Wallet Wiz became my " on the go" planner. It kept my shopping lists, children's schedules, dentist appt. etc Since it was a wristlet, it was easy to take to meetings and I could just grab it and go when I was with my kids!

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    1. Carolyn that's very interesting, I would have expected it would be easier to keep track of everything in one planner. But I can definitely see how it's not useful to have home stuff staring you in the face when you're at work. Thanks very much for these details, it's something to think about!

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