Yesterday I was stuck in a dollar store, browsing to kill time while my husband and children got hair cuts next door. The store had a display of calendars. Understand, none of the calendars were anything that I would actually purchase. But I like to examine the features.
For example, "mom" calendars these days have separate little squares for each family member. This confuses me.
Mom either needs to know because she is driving/cooking/chaperoning/dressing the kids or she only needs an FYI - in my mind that means two columns are needed, not a random five columns. And what if she has more or less than three kids? I used a Daytimer Family Plus for a while, but the squares were a waste for me. (I loved the layout otherwise.)
What I really focused on, though, were the little pocket calendars. They are about the size of a checkbook and have little sayings or designs on the outside. Inside, they are simply a monthly calendar.
Honestly, for a person who has no stressful planner needs - doesn't input appointments on their cell phone, isn't running a household, isn't a student, and uses something like Outlook at work - one of these would likely succeed in keeping track of a schedule. Add a pretty, tiny notebook, and you might survive the world with a pocket calendar. Maybe.
This is my favorite pocket calendar (not like the ones in the dollar store)..
A smart phone might work, if you use it in all the ways that a person can use a planner and if you aren't a person who learns from writing things down. But it would take a lot of work, strategy, and input. I, personally, don't like a lot of work.
A planner, on the other hand, is a tool instead of a mere calendar.
With a planner, you can go so far beyond a calendar.
Experienced planners know what a mind dump is - taking everything that is bothering you or keeping you worried or awake and dumping it onto a piece of paper. Mind dumps are not a new idea. Counselors have suggested for decades that you write down your problems before bed (or at 3 a.m. when you wake in a panic). But instead of their silly notepad next to your pillow idea, try your planner.
Valuable ideas, thoughts, and reminders have been lost on random sheets of paper. If you dump your thoughts, but fail to dump them in a place where you can process them later, they are gone. How can you rely on that?
I brain dump directly onto my dashboard (a blank page at the very front of my planner).
Brainstorming is different than a brain dump. Brainstorming is purposeful and generally limited to a particular topic.
If I am thinking of ideas for a blog, I might brainstorm.
At the beginning of setting up any project, I brainstorm.
For example, for Christmas, I need to think of everything that I need to plan. Gifts, Santa, wrapping paper, parties, travel, decorations...everything gets brain dumped, but it's a topic-specific dump, without much filtering. Then, I organize the ideas and create a project.
Sometimes, you need a visual of a project. How long will each step take? What order should the outline of the legal memo take? A planner gives you an instant notebook, available to you whenever and wherever you are.
A smart phone doesn't let you draw a picture of what you are envisioning. Now, I know that many of you are not artists. But for those who need a visual, paper has a strong advantage over technology.
I don't draw beyond a rogue doodle, but I sketch charts for goals, to visualize progress.
At a meeting? Meeting with the teacher?
A planner is an excellent place to take notes. I suggest a two-column approach.
A planner allows you to put initial tasks, subsequent tasks, and follow-ups in that order.
That's pretty hard to do on a smartphone.
A planner lets you separate appointments, tasks, notes, and projects.
I'm been trying to lose weight for a long time. The only thing that is helping me achieve that goal and actually working? My planner.
I open it to log calorie intake and exercise. I make notes about what I can do to burn calories in limited time and which snacks are yummy and low-cal.
A planner gives you a place to record the confirmation number when you book a hotel, that you owe your sister $10, and that it's time to get your hair colored.
Finally, unlike mindlessly entering tasks or appointments on a cell phone, and planner, by its nature, helps you actually think about and plan what you will do. You have limited space and have to make decisions on the front end, when you are thoughtful, instead of in a rush later.
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