Essential Parts of a Planner | Giftie Etcetera: Essential Parts of a Planner

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Essential Parts of a Planner

As a new year begins, many people make resolutions. They plan to workout or eat fewer calories or budget or finally write that novel. But real life makes achieving goals troublesome. Heck, real life makes getting anything done troublesome.

The best way to achieve goals and deal with the overwhelm of life?

A planner. 

No, I'm not talking about a calendar, though a calendar can be part of a planner. No, this post is not about notebooks, but they can also be part of a planner. And while I am a fan of actual writing - a process that encodes the plan in the brain - an e-planner might work for some people.

The key difference between a planner and a calendar is that a planner is for making decisions, mapping out strategies, and tracking information, while a calendar is a simple way to note dates.

There are some parts of a planner that I consider essential in order to distinguish a planner from a calendar. 

TIP: When setting up your 2015 planning system, consider including parts that serve these functions.

Quick Access to Writing Space

A good planner includes a place where you can jot a thought as soon as it enters your head.

Area for Actual Planning

Blank space is not enough. In order to plan effectively, you need a place to organize your thoughts. For me, I call that place my Projects section.


A calendar should be dedicated to time and date sensitive items. 
If you dump everything that you want to do on your calendar, the space gets overwhelming and doesn't do its job very well. 

Some people use a phone or computer as a calendar, so that alarms go off.

Dedicated Space for Lists of Tasks

I use a weekly calendar to list tasks, but you might use a notebook for that purpose.

Dates Beyond the Calendar Area

Set up a Future section if you are using a paper planner, so that you are not confined by the dates in your calendar.


A good system includes a place to file information for reference.

TIP: Put the whole system in one place - like a ring-bound binder from Filofax, Franklin Covey, or Daytimer - for easy access. But if you use different systems (like your calendar on your phone or a notebook for listing tasks), at least don't duplicate the information in two different places.

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