Upscale Planning: Rising Above A Mere Calendar With Projects And Notes | Giftie Etcetera: Upscale Planning: Rising Above A Mere Calendar With Projects And Notes

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Upscale Planning: Rising Above A Mere Calendar With Projects And Notes

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Buckle up, Plannerds! This is an unusually long blog entry, but I promise it will be worth it.

planner, projects, project management, project management in a planner

UPDATE: Since posting this post, I've also done a video about Project Planning in a Planner. Watch it here.

Today, I bought a new purse. (See, I told you! You are already smiling.) 

I have a very nice, neutral cognac-colored handbag and a bright, fun purple purse

What I needed to round out my wardrobe was an inexpensive, but classy, mid-sized gray purse. It needed to be big enough for my planner, inhaler, keys, wallet, and phone, but small enough to tuck under my legs at a restaurant. 

So I purchased this gray beauty (no longer available):

gray, purse, planner

Having three purses might seem like too many for One Purse People. 

(One Purse People are strange sorts, and I cannot suggest that you hang out with them. Surely, they are unstable. What's next? One shoe?) 

And having ONLY three purses might seem like too much to build a wardrobe around for most ladies.

({Jedi mind trick hand swipe} - Look away. Ignore the hamper of other purses in my closet. Those do not exist.)

But the reality is that, for most of us, we do need a few bags for different reasons. 

It rounds out our closets and makes us look professional, put together, and a little more upscale. On the other hand, a purse for every single outfit is an organizational nightmare. So three active purses is my compromise.

Using a planner to its maximum potential can also upscale our lives.

A planner is not merely a calendar. 

It is a personal assistant, who works for and with you, to make your life easier. A good planner leaves you looking successful and polished. A fabulous planner goes beyond the calendar and the task list and becomes a tool that pulls your life together.

So, without further ado, how to upscale your planner in two easy steps:

1. Add a Projects section.
2. Add a Notes/File section.

Ta da! Upscale and classy.

Oh, right. You probably want to see how I create these sections so that they are easy to use and actually useful, right? 

Okay, here goes. It SOUNDS intense. It's not. I solemnly swear that creating these sections is a simple, quick process that will free you up to actually get your stuff done.

Step 1Consider which sections you can consolidate in your planner

I personally have only a few sections.

*My dashboard, which is the first page and only blank, lined paper:

blank paper, planner

*Projects (which we will explore today):

projects, planner tabs, planners, blue planner

*Monthly and Weekly (the meat of the planner, including all appointments, task lists, and future planning page for dates falling beyond this year's calendar inserts)

*Notes/Files (which we will also explore today)

pink planner tab, planner


Planner supplies

Step 2Gather supplies - blank paper, small post-it flags, and an ink pen or two

Notice that I take the post-it flags out of their packages, so they take up very little space to store in my planner.

UPDATE: I now use bigger post-it labels for my Projects and Notes sections. Consider getting these Post-It tabs, as they work really well and look nicer.

post-it flags

Step 3Pull out anything in your planner that does not belong in the calendar part and decide if it is a Project (ongoing) or a Note/Files (you need to have it with you, but only as a reference)

I interchange the terms Note and Files, as both sort of make sense to me. 

UPDATE: I now only use the term "Notes." Files refer to my at-home file cabinet instead.

Fortunately, I had already started a list of Projects and Files, though in a very messy way. 

Almost everything either belongs in the main part of your planner, is a project (several steps, currently active, and ongoing), or something to be filed away (either in your planner or elsewhere).

pages, paper, tabs, projects, index

TIP: If something is not either a Project or something you might need to reference away from home, perhaps it needs to be discarded or filed in your files at home. 

Today, for me, that meant filing away the records of a medical insurance claim (now that the bills have been paid and the claim accepted by our insurance) and tossing my notes of food intake (now that I am tracking calories on-line instead).

Step 4Write the letters A-Z along the right outside edge of a blank sheet of planner paper

(I added pink. You don't have to.)

abc, file section

planner, paper, keyboard

Step 5Make indexes for Projects and Notes/Files, respectively

I make a very simple list, in no particular order. I just add things as I think of them, and cross them out (and remove and file or toss the accompanying papers) when they become irrelevant.

abc order

TIP: I number projects just so that I can make sure that I don't have too many at one time. I don't number files.

TIP: If you deal with several vendors or clients, those might be some of your "projects" (active) or "notes/files" (inactive). If you have enough clients, add a section to your planner for clients, but use this indexing system.

A sneak peek at the ultimate goal (including my personal favorite "projects" - Nanowrimo, tracking my current medical conditions that are in flux right now, tracking my kids' allowance, Christmas planning, and home room mom planning):

project section, projects section

Step 6Make a label on a post-it flag for each item and match up the label to the ABC order area on the notepaper itself. Then, put the projects in the same order as the index list (which means your latest project always gets added to the end of the Projects section.

Note that it's important that you not just list your files in ABC order, or the labels will hide each other. 

By literally putting the project or file name on the index AS IT OCCURS to you and putting the newest labeled section last in the Projects section, you keep the labels mixed up (though still in ABC order) and easier to access.



Boy routine, kids routines

The final result makes it really easy to find whatever Project you are working on or important information in your Notes/Files:

ABC Planner Files

Some Notes that I have that you might consider carrying with you include:

*a list of current medications, 

*your weekly review routine (and any other routine that you just need to refer to), 

*a list of service providers (A/C repair, babysitters, etc.), 

*a locations page (tells where the swimsuits hide during the winter and where the turkey tray is stored come November),

*packing lists (just use old ones to make new ones),

*birthday party planning lists (again, use old ones to make new ones), and

*insurance information (in case of wrecks, disasters, or hospitalizations).

Having a working Projects section and a good handle on your notes and files will work miracles in your life. 

Try upscaling your planner and let me know what works for you!

For more insight into my project planning process, make sure to watch my You Tube video on project planning.



Songbird said...

You are a planner GODDESS. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. This is just pure gold. I've been following your blog casually for awhile, but today I officially signed up for email updates. ;-)

Question about that blue pen you have pictured: it appears to be a Frixion, but which one? Is it a multi-pen? Inquiring minds want to know.... Thanks!

Giftie Etcetera said...

The pen is a blue Pilot Frixion Point 05, with a cap, that I got on clearance (packaged with a red and blue) for $1.00 at clearance at Office Depot. I haven't had luck finding more, but since I write in any dark color (blue, green, purple) and highlight in reds/pinks/oranges, it works for me.

Songbird said...

Thank you! btw, I noticed a small "typo" on your project alpha/file page: no G and 2 J's. But you've probably already caught that by now, and Frixion'd it into oblivion. :)

I'm getting so many great ideas from your blog!!

Debralyn said...

Giftie, thank you for all your tips. Of all the the ideas out there your "speak" to me. Have you done a video on the subject of this blog subject?
I switched out from a ring planner because being left handed they bothered me while writing. As I watched some of your YOU TUBE presentations I observed you are a leftie. The rings did not seem to hinder you. Any advice for me on that subject?
Lastly, what size planner works for you? Is your FC a classic or smaller? I'm currently using an ARC (large sized) and love it but it's a bit big to fit into my bag.

Giftie Etcetera said...

Songbird68 - I totally missed that, but now I've fixed it. :) The funny thing is that in kindergarten, I was tested for dyslexia because I mixed up Gs and Js so much! That's the thing about our planners - they truly reflect ourselves.

Debralyn - FC Compact sized (so smaller than Classic). I don't do videos on the weekends, since my kids are home from school, but you just picked next week's video topic! Will show you how this leftie does it...

maccie2 said...

Re the wonderful Frixion pens: has every color in the world and they are quite inexpensive.

Brianna said...

I feel like i've found planner-nirvana since finding your blog today! :-)
I must be awful slow because i just don't understand the flag/index system for your projects. I'd like to 'get it' since i have to dig and hunt for mine.
I use the Arco planners ... mostly because they are so much quieter than the 3 ring binders, i can work on my planner without all the constant snapping clicking sounds day or nite that bother the man of the house.

Brianna said...

BTW, your new gray purse is absolutely gorgeous! If you are tired of it by now, give me a call! :-)

Giftie Etcetera said...

Bria - I'm still loving the gray bag. :) I use it often.

As far as the projects, try watching some of my videos. They show the flags better and I don't have many.

Anonymous said...

This is just what I need!! Thank you. xxx

Anonymous said...

This is the second time that I have read this material. It made perfect sense the first time, but I did not see how I could change my "system" to incorporate your ideas in my planner... Well, the light is now "on" and I am quite at" home".

I do have a separate section for "Health" matters because both my husband and I are now "seniors" and our medical issues are getting a whole lot more complicated.

The only contact information in my planner now, is "nest of kin" and "Medical Providers" because if something should happen, we want our doctors; not someone who knows nothing about us.

I have been subscribed for some time now and I will be sticking around for awhile. I follow your blog by email and I also read your page on facebook.

Thank you for your clear-headed approach to planners ad planning. It is not about how pretty the inserts and dividers are. It is about how to make a planner work best for the individual.

Dianne in the desert

~ Mari said...

I can't quite remember how I got to your website yesterday, but here I am lol nonetheless. Thank you so much for this post. It made me realize what was wrong with my 2015 calendar -- I'd managed to leave out the Do2P monthly calendars that I fell in love with last year. duh!! I knew my planner was missing something - now I know what that was. :)

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories said...

Love the way you indexed your projects. I have a spiral system so it can fold and lay flat bUT I love the flexibility to add pages to sections that ring bound planners allow. Hope you'll link up this post with Small Victories Sunday linkup this weekend!

Unknown said...

I love bringing my planner next to me. It's really awesome and cool to use a planner.

Jaime Barfield said...

I love the project section. Added it to my planner and I love how it works. Makes things so easy to keep up with like my daughters driving time, etc. Thanks for this idea!

Unknown said...

Your system totally makes sense to me! Question... How many projects do you consider too many? Thank you!