I've already given you a peek of my planner for the new year. It's a combination of a thin Moleskine and a monthly/weekly greenroom calendar from Target (held together in a notebook binder, also from Target, that has a pen loop and space for an ink pen and a sticky note notepad.
Currently, I use the Moleskine notebook for anything that is not really planner appropriate for Americans. My research on paper planners has revealed that Europeans often use planners more like a diary. My Moleskine is more like that. Right now, it's being used for:
-specific lists like Christmas gift lists and a running wish list
-planning special projects (like redoing the kitchen or a kid's birthday party)
-tracking my job hunt
-noting prayers that I love
-making notes about the size and style of comforter I want to order
-listing blog ideas or novel ideas
-a list of phone numbers that have to be added to my new smart phone (long story about electronics circa 1990 and no backed up numbers...sigh)
It's probably the best planner idea I have ever had. Before this, I didn't quit know where to keep a running gift list for Christmas. I knew I wanted it archived (so I can use it again next year for a starting point of that list) and I wanted it with me when on the road (in case I saw something that I wanted to buy), but where to keep it? My planner was too full if I keep all those lists in it, when I had the binder kind. Now that I have a bound planner instead, the Moleskine seems to be a good solution.
My top ten tips and tricks for my Moleskine:
1. I number even pages. No need to number every page. I number the even pages because I end up folding up the odd page corners.
2. Once I am done completely with a page, I fold the bottom left hand corner up. That just marks the archived pages.
3. Active pages (like the current Christmas list) get a folded down corner in the upper left hand corner. Now, they are super easy to find.
4. I keep an index on the front cover. (e.g., Pp. 1 - 2, Honey Do List; Pp. 3, Things Borrowed; Pp. 4, AM/PM Routines, Ideas for New Jobs...)
5. I date every page, just in case.
6. If something really important is on the page, I make a one or two word note in a box in the upper right corner.
7. I leave some small sticky notes on the inside back cover.
8. The cover shows my name, phone number, and start and end dates.
9. Old copies of the Moleskines are archived with my old planners.
10. I buy the Moleskines with 16 removable pages, perfect for writing little notes to the teacher or anything else you need to tear out.
The Moleskine takes care of the *extras*, but, truly, most of what I plan goes in my planner. As the year begins, take a moment to copy your Future Dates 2013 page into the proper spaces on your 2013 planner. Some of the things that I copy include:
-doctor and dentists for me and the kids (including eye doctor, dentists, annual exams, and specialists)
-birthdays (I mostly just keep track on facebook, so I only copy birthdays where I plan to buy a gift or have dinner with the person, mostly my immediate family, my godchildren, and my birth family)
-my annual licensing renewal due date (I'm an attorney)
-my driver's license renewal due date
-my Continuing Legal Education due date
-my car inspection due date
-a reminder to inspect my engagement ring so that it stays under warranty
Also, designate a page in your planner for 2014 Future Dates.
Next, populate your monthly calendars. I have limited appointments (usually, less than four a day), so all appointments go on my monthly calendars. I'm a huge proponent of only writing things in one place, so NO time specific stuff goes in the weekly calendar. None. But if you decide it does, maybe you don't need a monthly calendar, too. I like looking at the glance at the full month of time commitments, while having the extra space afforded by the weekly calendar for details and tasks. January's monthly calendar is already pretty full (with the dates that school and karate start back, a zoo trip with friends, and carpool reminders), but the rest of the year just has a couple of follow-up doctor's appointments and my volunteer commitment on the third Monday of each month through the end of the school year. I especially like that monthly calendars are tabbed in my greenroom planner, so I can open to any page very quickly.
The coolest thing about my greenroom planner (available at Target, by the way) is that after each monthly calendar, there is a two page spread for the month. The first page is lined and the second has little squares all over the page. You should designated a space for tasks that are not time sensitive. For me, this is the space.
On the left, lined page, I list tasks. Stars indicate deadline specific/must do, the date or arrow indicates a due date or no due date, the description always starts with a verb so that I will know exactly WHAT to do, and then it gets a category, like E for errands, C for at computer, H for at home, or none for everything else.
* 01/15 Sign up for Express Scripts C
>>>>> Deliver paper to doctor E
01/31 Call to book hotel for vacation
* 01/15 Call to order art frame
01/31 Label tax folder and gather together tax papers
The next page is currently blank, but since it is composed of small squares, I will probably use it for goals checklists. I will check off each time I exercise, track my calories, etc.
Finally, fill in the weekly squares as things come up, Since school is out, weekly school reminders are now listed in the first week of January. If things are going to repeat, I write them the first time and circle them, so that I know to recopy them to another date once they are completed. Right now, I have the cafeteria payment (due January 3rd) circled. It is due monthly, but does not go on my monthly task list because it must be done the week it is due, and not just anytime during the month. I also put FYIs here, like that my husband is going to the movies with a friend. I write down Mass days when my children must wear a special uniform to school. I note report card days and birthdays and school registrations. In the Notes section, I write down a weekly dinner menu and start my grocery list as I run out of staples. This is my working area, so mostly, this section will get full the week it happens, as I jot down ideas and things I need to do. But it will get full - probably overfull.
Enjoy setting up your 2013 planner.