Using Your Planner

With my recent reviews of 2 different planners (PlannerPad & Taylor Planner), this is a great time for me to talk about time management and our planners. This becomes even more critical with all the digital options available. I’m sure there are people out there who will advocate one specific system. You might realize by now, that would never be me. Nevertheless, there are things to consider for a system that will work for you. Our planners are about our time and how we spend it – both our schedule as well as the tasks we need to accomplish.

Most importantly, use what works. If you already have something that works, don’t try to change to keep up with the crowd or for any other reason. Remember how I say, don’t try to fix it if it isn’t broken – this applies to our planners just as much as any other system we have in place. It also doesn’t matter if it’s some “no name” planner. I’ve worked with several people who’ve found some planner and use it successfully – from various non-traditional stores.

Using this idea of thinking about what works for you – one consideration is about scheduling tasks into your calendar which are not time sensitive. We all have tons of things we want to accomplish, those tasks that aren’t critical or time sensitive. Are you more likely to make progress on this if you put it into your calendar? Or if you put it in the calendar, do you end up ignoring it? We’re all unique and there is no one right answer.

  • I tested this out for myself, putting general tasks into “open” slots into my calendar. What I discovered was that unless it was time sensitive, I would more often ignore or procrastinate it. I was more likely to work on those same tasks if I left them on my to-do list and simply had a block of time for tasks in my calendar.

Do you know what will help you more? Play with it and find out – become curious to see how you respond.

With all the electronic gadgets available, exploring them if they’re accessible to you can be great. They do provide some benefits; my husband and I share a calendar and I can see when he’s scheduled an activity for us. Are you working with trying to schedule multiple people for meetings regularly? The electronic calendars are often cloud computing so you can access them from multiple devices with internet access – is this important for you? Of course, the size varies according to the device – so is it big enough on a smart phone to be useful?

  • When my Franklin planner was getting too heavy for my purse, I tried my smart phone for a calendar. I strongly disliked it. I now love the calendar on my iPad – I rely on it, trust it, and it works wonderfully for me. When I recognized this, I got a to-do app for the iPad. I mostly like this. It has all of my tasks contained and I can set priorities, time lines, and categorize the tasks. Then something interesting happened – I was working with paper planners in order to review them and I loved writing the tasks I wanted to accomplish during the week into the to-do areas of those planners.

Using this system provided me with that planning aspect that so many experts talk about – a review of my various tasks and what was most important for the coming week. I think it also helped me because I enjoy the process of writing it down and the color-coding I could do (although I didn’t do much, 2 colors). It also limited me from seeing the huge number of things I have on my general list daily (or more often), making sure I didn’t get overwhelmed each time I had some time to work on one of my to-dos. As I said with both of the planners I reviewed, I appreciated the limited space for to-dos and see too many people thinking they need to do MORE. Anything that can help us limit the amount we try to do is a great thing in my mind.

Do you want a monthly view or is weekly enough? Do you need a daily view? This is something else to consider when choosing a planner system – whether electronic or paper. With electronic you usually can change the view to whatever suits you. For planning to-dos I think monthly is too broad, so you’d likely need something in addition to that. Personally, the daily view is too constricting now and contributes to my losing the bigger picture. What works for you?

Size and weight can often be an issue. Does it need to fit in your purse? I do recommend that if you are using a planner, that it is with you all the time. It will only save you time and energy to be able to make appointments and know you’re available (and not need to reschedule later due to an accidental double booking). It also means you can make appointments on the spot, not after you return home to check your calendar. You can also add tasks immediately and not risk forgetting them.

Consider your personal tastes – do you remember better by handwriting things? Do you try to give yourself too much to do? Does scheduling non-critical tasks into your calendar focus you to actually do them? Do you need to coordinate your schedule with someone else? Remember there is no one right solution. No matter what you choose, it needs to work for you. There are lots of questions here rather than answers – giving you some aspects to think about if you are looking for a new system for the coming year.

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