Monday, July 7, 2014

What I write in my planner

The short answer is, everything. I'll tell you what, if I could go back in time and talk to my 20 year old self about my current planner use, I'm sure Past Me would think Current Me was a freak. My life back then was just not complicated, and neither was my planner. But now with kids in activities, pets, a husband whose travel schedule changes all the time, and a home to maintain and run I need all the planner power I can get.

So I'll tell you what I write in my planner. It looks like a lot, and it is, which is further proof of why my planner is so indispensable to me. You might not need to write all this. Or, you might need to write different things than what I write. But hopefully this will give you some ideas on how to use your planner more effectively.

Schedule and appointments. These are the very basics of planner use. Some people use their planner only for scheduled events, but for me it's only the beginning.

Special dates and school holidays. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays all get written into my planner before I start using it. I also write in school holidays and long weekends right away so we can schedule around those. If we are planning to travel or if we are having visitors stay with us, I write those dates in asap to avoid any clashes.

Tasks, on the day or week they need done. I write tasks way in advance. For example, last year my Christmas shopping and preparations crept up on me and took me by surprise. So this year already in my weekly pages I have written reminders of when it's time to finalize gifts, reminders to buy wrapping and cards, and when to deliver gifts to people like my kids' teachers. On any given week, I have a list of things that MUST be done that week, and a list of lower-priority items. I also list my household cleaning tasks so I can check them off when they are done.

Kids' and husband's schedules and events. My kids are in loads of activities, so I write them into my weekly pages so I can avoid double-booking (because despite the fact that I take my kids to them every week, I'm still likely to forget when put on the spot to schedule an event). Also my husband has an erratic and ever-changing travel schedule, so I capture those dates as soon as I know them.

Deadlines and due dates, and reminders. I write in recurring deadlines and due dates as soon as I know them, on this year's planner and into my future year's planning pages so they don't get forgotten. I have loads of these and can't afford any of them to slip through the cracks. Some of these are annual and some are more frequent.

I write reminders for these a few weeks before they are due so I can take the appropriate action. For example I make annual doctor's appointments before they are due in case it takes a couple of weeks to get an appointment time.

Annual things I write into my planner:
  • Insurance renewals (cars, home, life, pet)
  • doctor checkups
  • chimney sweep and boiler maintenance (August)
  • changing the batteries in the smoke and CO2 detectors
  • TV tax
  • dog's annual vaccines
  • car MOT (inspection)
Semi-annual like car tax and dentist appointments twice per year.

Monthly: I still pay some bills by phone or online, so I write reminders each month on which days I have to pay the bills so I don't get charged late fees. Now we have a dog who needs wormer and flea control monthly, so I write those in too, otherwise I'm sure to forget!

Other things need renewed farther in the future like passports, drivers licenses and vaccines, so I write all those in too because I absolutely can't afford to miss those.

So you see, I use my planner at least as much for recurring and future events as I do for day to day planning.

What do you write in your planner that's different from what I write?

11 comments:

  1. My biggest problem with planning (after years of stumbling around learning) is Projects and Tasks related to projects. How many ring binder projects sections have I made that just languish! My brain stops working at a project page. Think the answer has to be a list of project titles and a separate list of next actions. Otherwise, same as you, which is why I think a bound planner is the answer.

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    1. I had trouble when I first started using a Palm Pilot way back when: the built-in to do list was too simple for multitask projects, but the project manager apps were too complicated. When I eventually went back to a paper-based Filofax, the project pages never worked for me, either.

      For now I am following the Bullet Journal system in staplebound notebooks with separate project pages (indexed in the front of the notebook), and transfer the individual tasks to the daily lists as needed. So far it's working pretty well, but I haven't had a ton of special projects going since I started in March. We'll see once things get more complicated. I just like that *everything* is in one place in my "fauxdori" now.

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    2. That's a good way to do it. I've been considering different methods. Thanks for the ideas!

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  2. I actually don't use my planner for any of those things (one of the reasons I think I had so much problems with planners in the first place; trying to do all the typical planner things wasn't the right thing for me). I use it more as an official record. About once a week or so, sometimes several times a week, I record stories submitted and rejected; word count; the names of projects I completed. In this case, it doesn't help me to write to a task list to "Write X," but I want the documentation for the tax man.

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    1. That's a great use for a planner. I write myself and will probably set up a separate calendar using your system.

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    2. I found Planner Pad to be easiest for my projects. Having a heading and then listing below each step kept it organized. Then plugging steps into my week helped get it done. I could easily see which ones were making progress and which were not.

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    3. I used Plannerpads for about 6 years & loved the list functions along the top. They really did help me with project steps. Stopped using them when my job's available desk space shrunk to personal planner size! I may go back to Plannerpad when I leave that job later this year.

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  3. The allergist asked me to keep a food and allergy symptom log, and he emphasized it needed to be written down at the time "remembering" wasn't accurate enough. Since I carry a planner anyway it was easy to write notes at the time.

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  4. My appliance check ups that have to be done annually to keep warranty. Also when warranties end.

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  5. Coupon expirations are good too.

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  6. I write my goas for the month, and then at the end write how I did. I have space for both in my planner. I also keep day to day track if I have tracked my Weight Watcher points, draink my water, drew in my sketchbook, wrote in my journal, practiced my violin. I do these on a simple sheet of graphed paper. Put the date down the side and list the things on top that I want to track.

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