5 Rules For Using Your First Planner | Giftie Etcetera: 5 Rules For Using Your First Planner

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Rules For Using Your First Planner

I went to Walmart and Target today. I rarely do trips to both, but I needed something only sold at Walmart, so I tortured myself twice this morning. As a compulsion compassionate act of self-love, I took the opportunity to browse the planner sections.

Both stores have stocked their 2014 planners!

Before the New Year, I plan to post a blog about setting up your new planners for the upcoming year. But I know I have some people reading here who are going to be picking our their first planner ever (or in many years) for 2014. For these Future Loyal Readers (a.k.a. Newbies), a brief overview of planners and the basics of using them might be useful. (Many of these basics also work for smart phone and Outlook planners, by the way.)

In addition to the stores mentioned above, you can get planners at stores like Office Depot or Staples, bookstores like Barnes and Noble, and on-line from sellers like Filofax, Daytimer, or Franklin Covey.

Basically, there are three sorts of planners - calendars (stay in one place but not very customizable), spiral or spine bound (travel with you but not very customizable), and ring bound (travel with you and very customizable). 

They are all basically used the same way. Obviously, my blog is very focused on customizing your planner, but for Newbies, it's more important that you know what to write in your planner and HOW to write it.

A ring bound planner is going to have a lot of sections.

This one (PlanAhead brand, a cheaper Franklin Covey knock-off) has monthly and weekly pages, along with sections for to do, work, personal, reference, and contacts.

Feel free to use or fill out the sections in whatever way works for you. But keep in mind that the most important parts of any planner are the weekly and/or monthly sections.

In fact, many spiral or spine bound planners only contain weekly or monthly sections. 
A calendar option often only includes monthly sections. 

Whatever planner you choose, make sure it's the right size for your life. If this is your very first planner, I highly recommend that you go see some planners in person. Pick them up. Open them. Put them up against your purse and see if they will fit in there, if that is one of your requirements. Decide if they have a place for a pen or if you will need to carry that separately. Will you actually go through that much trouble?

(Aside #1: They probably should fit in your purse or work bag, if you really plan to use them.)

(Aside #2: Do not try to fit them in your purse. Don't ask me how I know.)

Now, let's focus on how to use those monthly and weekly sections. Whatever you choose, at first, concentrate on using these parts of the planner well.

1. If you already remember something, there is probably no need to write it down.

I make coffee every morning. I make coffee if I have the flu, if someone dies, or if I oversleep. Coffee is nonnegotiable. No need to write that down.

2. When you write do an appointment, write the time span, the location, and what to bring.

3. When you write down a task, use an action word. Include any notes that are particularly important or will save you time.

4. Look at your planner every morning and every night. (Set an alarm, put it on top of your purse/man bag, or put it on top of your coffee cup.) (You know if you are reading MY blog and you are male, you have a man bag. Don't play.)

5. Write down anything that you need to remember, even if you THINK you MIGHT remember it. Not coffee, obviously, but yes, note that you need to wrap that gift!

That's it. Five rules. You can do this!

An example of planning done wrong, complete with the kind of mistakes that cause planner fail. Try to find the problems:

And now, done correctly:

See the difference?

Bonus Rule: Subscribe to Giftie Etcetera via e-mail, twitter, or GooglePlus. I'll help you get your act together!



Ashley and Jason Faucett said...

Do you have suggestions or ideas for gifting a planner? I use mine for everything and think my mom would benefit from having one but I don't know what to get for her and I want some of it to be a surprise.

Ashley and Jason Faucett said...

Do you have suggestions or ideas for gifting a planner? I use mine for everything and think my mom would benefit from having one but I don't know what to get for her and I want some of it to be a surprise.

Giftie Etcetera said...

The Greenroom Planners at Target are nice as a gift. They are spine bound or spiral bound, have tabbed months and weeks, and are really pretty and simple to use.

LJ said...

Damn - I was looking forward to just looking at the floor on Tuesday then... :o)

Anonymous said...

Love the 'back to basics' posts. Even after 20 years of using a planner I can forget why I put a one word hint on my calendar.

Gail B

oneshabbychick said...

Love the before & after! So helpful to see what a difference those details make in making a planner useful. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I DEFINITELY have a man-bag!

Anonymous said...

can you tell me the name of the bound planner that is in the picture... if you could drop me an email on tweety_pie_45@hotmail.com i'd really appreciate it