Where To Write Things In A Planner | Giftie Etcetera: Where To Write Things In A Planner

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Where To Write Things In A Planner

A Loyal Reader asked me to do a video on planning a project completely, including what goes where. I plan to, but since there are too many people in the house to do a video today, I thought I would go through my decision process about where to write things in my planner.

Perhaps the single most difficult thing about using a planner is deciding where to write things down. I have several sections in my planner - dashboard, projects, tasks, monthly, weekly, future, and notes. (If you are not familiar with my system, and want to learn more, spend some time exploring my older blog entries, mostly from 2013 and early 2014.)

But if you are new to planners, I recommend a more streamlined approach of dashboard (blank paper) and monthly/weekly or monthly/daily or weekly/daily pages (where the first part of the dated set-up is for appointments and the second part is for tasks). The reason I think you should keep a planner so simple at first is because you first need to learn to actually write things down. Appointments (time or day-specific) go on those pages, while everything else, at first, goes on the weekly or daily pages.

But for more experienced planners, a strong system will tell you where to write things down. That's what my system does for me.

The key parts of my system are my monthly and weekly pages, and as much as possible, everything goes there as a default.

Things that go on my appointment (monthly) pages...

*Carpool obligations (on school days, but they vary a bit depending on my husband's work schedule), since it is important that I don't schedule something else during carpool. Yes, I should remember to pick up my kids every day. But no, I don't always remember without writing it down (and setting an alarm on my phone), mostly because I get involved in work or housework and don't notice the time.

*Special events that I will be going to, like the school fair

*Doctors' appointments, wedding showers, and graduations

*Holidays that affect me directly, like Mother's Day, Father's Day, or my anniversary or birthday and my immediate family's birthdays. Things like my adult sisters' birthdays don't, though, since they would rarely cause me to change my schedule. Instead, they go in my weekly area.

If you think of something (or receive an e-mail or invitation or flyer) and don't know where to put it in your planner, first consider whether it is a scheduled item. If so, put it in your appointment section.

Most other things go in your weekly or daily task pages.

*Due dates (for library books, bills, or deadline tasks)

*Things to do today (my short-term plan)

*Things I want to tackle during the week or might do today (longer term plans)

*Weekly homework

*Weekly menu

*FYIs, like "husband working overtime today"

*Reminders to work on projects (which I will talk about later in this post)

I have complicated systems of separating lists spatially, codes for the context of what I am working on (like C for "at computer"), and highlights to remind me of important stuff.

But you don't NEED any of that. What you do need is one place where you can see all your tasks! If you develop subsystems and they work for you, great. If you don't, still great! You need to do what works for YOU, not for anybody else.

So, if almost everything goes in those two places, what goes elsewhere???

Dashboard -

The dashboard captures any thoughts that I don't have time to categorize. If I jot something down in the carpool line or while I am cooking supper, it often goes there. As soon as I have time to sit down with my planner, I go through the dashboard and put items in their proper places.

Projects -

Projects are strange, because they are usually a combination of brainstorming, lists (shopping lists), and action lists.

Sometimes, they are a list of actions that must take place in a particular order, like "1. book hotel (with hotel info.), 2. pack for trip (with packing list), cut hair (with name of stylish and appointment), and get babysitters (with a list of potential sitters), and 3. take trip."

The thing is that projects STILL HAVE TO BE CAPTURED ON MY MONTHLY/WEEKLY PAGES. The details don't, of course, but if some reminder doesn't show up on my main pages, I will forget to do the project.

In the example above, the tasks (book hotel, pack for trip, and get babysitters) would go on my weekly pages, but the "backup information," like the contact information, would go in the project section. The appointments (hair cut and trip) would go in my monthly section.

There is an exception. Some projects, like my books that I am writing, are not on a deadline. Those just go in the projects section for whenever I feel like writing. Of course, if I schedule a day to write, get a publisher and a deadline, or participate in a writing contest, the relevant dates would go in the main part of my planner.

How to tell if something is worthy of project pages?

Well, if it is taking up too much space on the main pages (monthly and weeklies) or if it requires a lot of lists or brainstorming, it's a project.

*Book outlines

*Events (like a vacation, a trip, a party, or a volunteer weekend)

*Committee notes (like PTA or room mom notes)

*Anything that is complicated

If something is complicated enough, it may merit it's own, temporary section. For example, wedding planning might merit it's own section.

Tasks -

Tasks is a dumping ground for tasks that might happen, someday or maybe.

*cleaning out the car

*sorting through the medicine cabinet

*making an emergency tote bag

*redoing my planner tabs

Eventually, most tasks either get deleted, completed, or moved into the weekly area. But this dumping ground task list ensures that I don't have to worry about things that are nagging my brain constantly.

Future -

No planner can hold enough pages. It doesn't matter how big and bulky your planner happens to be. Eventually, you will run out of space. The future pages capture those things (appointments, tasks, and FYIs) that happen after your planner's calendar ends.

*Birthdays - coming up next year

*Doctor's appointments

*Reminders to renew my domain name, inspect my car, and do my continuing education requirements timely

Notes -

I suggest that you keep your notes section as trim as possible. It is for carrying information only (not active tasks or scheduled items) that you might need outside of the house.

*meds you currently take (in case of ER visit)

*car and home insurance information (in case of emergency)

*sizes (in case of shopping...sort of an emergency, right?)

*old packing lists (for reference when making new ones, something I tend to do outside of the house)

*ideas for exercising

*logs of spending on tax deductible items

I know this post was long. But it addresses a question that comes up again and again - how to decide where to write things down in your planner.

Bottom line - if in doubt, write it on your page that you look at EVERY SINGLE DAY.

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Jeanne said...

This is a great post! I have recently started using a planner and this was so helpful.

Charity CEO said...

Thanks so much. I have been using a planner for basic planning and reminders, but, after reading this post I might start actually keeping track of housework & such more consistently.

lisa rioux said...

Thank you for the very informative post. I am a newbie and have been looking for firm advice on where all my items go in my planner. This will be helpful going forward.

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