Incoming Paperwork: Processing With A Planner And A Highlighter | Giftie Etcetera: Incoming Paperwork: Processing With A Planner And A Highlighter

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Incoming Paperwork: Processing With A Planner And A Highlighter

Most pieces of paper are simple to process.

Wedding invitation? Note the date and address, mark the RSVP card and put it in the mail, and toss the invitation. Bill? Write the check and put it in the mail. Note mailing date on your planner. Junk mail? Toss. Graded papers? Sign and return to school.

But, sometimes, a more complex paper enters your home or office. Today, my complex paper was the instructions for the upcoming Krewe of Kindergarten Mardi Gras parade.

What makes me call it complex? Well, it's basically an entire project, summed up in one page of instructions. 
Make a float. Dress in costume. Buy or gather up throws. Deliver the float. Pick up the float. Supervise the parade. Sign out the kids. (Indeed, I do see the irony in the fact that the kindergarten parade is a complex project.)

When multiple steps, including dates, times, and tasks, are included in a written document, there are two goals. One goal is to get the information into your planner in a way that is workable for you. The other goal is to 
complete all tasks and appointments without missing any. These two goals are obviously closely related.

The way that I tackle such a project is three-fold.

First, I highlight any tasks, dates/times, and FYI information that are important. In this example, I used a yellow Frixion Colors marker (which isn't, technically, a highlighter, but a highlight color).

Notice that I put boxes around schedule stuff (goes on my monthly calendar) and underline details or tasks. (If you are a color-sensitive person, use one color for schedule, one for tasks, and one for FYI.)

Second, I copy scheduled stuff onto my monthly pages and tasks (including a DUE date for the project) on my weekly pages.

See the little check marks in the above picture? I check off each item as it is copied into my planner so that I don't accidentally miss anything.

The scheduled events go here, in my monthly pages.

Tasks that must be done on a certain date go in the weekly pages, along with a DUE date for the project, written far enough in advance of the actual date to ensure that all tasks in the project will get done. 

If you have not read about how I handle due dates, it's worth reading here.

All other tasks, the catch-all stuff that just needs to be done sometime before the deadline, go on the project page.

The third step, then, is to make a project page. (This step may not be necessary, depending on the complexity of the information. The highlighting trick works even for less complex, multiple bits of information. In those cases, just copy all schedule information and tasks into the appropriate parts of your planner.)

At this point, you have the option to discard the paper (if you have copied absolutely all the information that you might need into your planner), put it in your planner to carry around with a discard date written on it, or put it in your pending folder/file/box with a discard date written on it.

I put it in my pending box, since I don't need to carry it around with me as most tasks must be done at home, anyway. My pending and in-boxes are simply a divided magazine holder.

I hope this helps you the next time you need to process a more complex piece of paperwork.

Now, I'm off to find some Mardi Gras beads! Laissez les bons temps rouler!



Erin said...

This is awesome! Thanks. I am just starting my planner so these type of tips ROCK! I LOVE your blog!!!

Antonisha said...

You know I've been stalking your blog for like forever and I don't comment often but this deserved one. My 3 year old just started preschool and he has multi step, multi due date activities like this and I had no clue how to deal with them. Thank you so much for this. I also have pages similar to what you use to break down the project and I had no clue how to use it. Off to read that post!! said...

Great post, Kristy. I would do it nearly the exact same way except I don't have a project section in my planner. I would probably put the different steps on a separate piece of paper, though. I probably do need a project section.

nursefriendly said...

Very good tip.

Bree said...

Great post. I do something similar, but file the paper in the appropriate child's folder until we work on it. Some of my second graders work is multi pages of instructions and I don't want to clutter my planner with details she needs to complete just jog me to remind her.

Filohacks said...

This is awesome. Favouriting this post,

Houdini said...

Thank you so much- I can rsvp, file bills etc. with the best of them, but I really struggle with keeping on top of these more complex pieces of paper. Your detailed descriptions of how you handle them are the most useful tips I've come across. Off to read the rest of your blog now!