By Caroline Bujold
I get excited when I buy a new paper planner each year. This is the same excitement I used to get when I bought school supplies. I see endless possibilities, new adventures and thrilling things to come.
My planner is definitely my best organizational tool. I put everything in there: to do lists, reminders, deadlines, appointments, birthdays, events coming up, etc.
Although I tried to go electronic only, and failed miserably, I do use some of the modern tools to get alerts and notifications. It’s a little redundant, but this hybrid system works for me.
I’ve been using a Moleskine Weekly Notebook for a couple of years now, the XL version. It is 10 inches tall by 7.5 inches wide. It has a soft cover, a page marker, and an elastic band to keep it closed. It comes in black only. If size is an issue for you, they do have the same weekly format in smaller sizes and they are available in hard cover and other colours.
Are you still with me?
I’m nerding out this week and getting into the nitty gritty of what I use
when planning my life and how I use it.
There are 3 parts to this planner: 1 – MONTHLY CALENDAR (real ones this time). They’ve changed the presentation of this section and I couldn’t be happier, because you know, sometimes you need to see the big picture.
Part 2 and 3 are visible together for the WEEK AT A GLANCE: 2 – WEEKLY CALENDAR on the left and 3 – LINED NOTE PAGE on the right.
I use the left side to schedule meetings, appointments and add reminders for anniversaries and birthdays, for example.
I’ve personalized the right side to fit my needs. This side has seen many tries and it may vary over time. With the help of the lines that are already on the page, I essentially divide the page into 4 sections: House, Food, Work and Personal.
Still with me? I’m diving in …
My WORK section is divided by days because it helps me plan better by only allocating a certain number of items to be completed per day. Otherwise, I’m tempted to cram as many things as there are lines, which are impossible to get done.
I’m a bit more liberal with my PERSONAL to do list and I do pack too much in there most weeks. But it also serves as a brain dumb, so I get floating thoughts out of my brain and onto the page. I also use this side for short notes or thoughts as they come.
The HOUSE section is used as a reminder for the chores I’m bound to forget if I don’t write them down; like backing up my computer or changing the furnace filter. I use the FOOD section much in the same way. It’s just a space to write down a list of meals I’ve chosen for the week.
Focus of that week: It’s uncle Bob’s birthday on Monday, I have to start revising the bid documents for my event at work (plus a few follow-ups) and we have to get the final preparations done for our GSale!
You’ll also notice my planner is in Franglais (Frenglish).
Items are COLOUR CODED in pen … did you really expect anything different?! Black is work, blue is personal, green is Mostly Organized. I use red, pink or other colours for reminders and sometimes I even resort to highlighters if it’s really important.
The system I’m working with is borrowed from something called Bullet Journaling. There are a few different marks to help visualize the types of information I put in my planner: a dot is an event, a square is a task. When a task gets done, it gets a check mark. If I can’t complete it, I mark it with an arrow and I move it to the following week. If it’s no longer needed, it gets crossed off.
I really liked the principle of Bullet Journaling, but it was too free spirited for me. If you are a very creative person and don’t like the restrictions of regular planners, you might want to check it out, it could just be the right thing for you.
So what about online planners and calendars?
I do add events and tasks related to work in my work mail system (we use Outlook), mainly to get alerts. Personal appointments are added to my phone calendar. Because everything is synced, I can see what I need.
I know, I know, it’s kind of repetitive, but I haven’t found a magical way or a perfect tool, so I use both. I guess it creates redundancies that make me feel confident enough that I won’t miss a deadline or a birthday.
Also if the Web fails or my phone dies, I still have my planner. Then again my planner could burst into flames!
In all reality though, I think the act of writing it down, more than typing it, helps me remember things better. It’s also faster to boot up, and frankly, I already spend so many hour in front of a computer so using paper is very relaxing.
I’m not much for embellishments. Many people, well women mainly, like to make their paper planners like a work of art. They’re pretty and colourful and dreamy, but not my thing. I might use some Washi tape on the front, a few stickers here and there and the odd cute sticky note, but that’s it.
So there you have it. Oh and that excitement I feel when I get a new planner? It doesn’t fade as the year goes by. Never knew until now I loved my planner soooo much!
What is your favourite planning tool? Could my system help you or someone you know? Do you have suggestions for me? Leave a comment.
Side note: I am not an affiliate, nor do I get any compensation to mention this brand. It just happens to be the paper planner I like the most at the moment.