September 15, 2019

Other people's planner pages

Through the years, I've purchased more than a fair share of used planners.

Many of those arrived with an an assortment of some leftover pages - some clean and unused, while others have some writing on them. In some cases, the sellers of the planners weren't the previous users of the planners, so the partially-used pages were not theirs.

For some reason, I find myself unable to discard those used pages. They're not in my planner - instead they're stashed along with my other refills in a stationery box or zippy bag.

So a perfect example in this case is: I have a few Goals forms now, in someone else's loopy handwriting, with some of their long-term goals. Some are location-specific... across the country from me. Some are written in pencil... does this imply the goal wasn't from the heart - safely tentative by eraser -  or did they simply prefer pencil to pen? Some of their sheets didn't break down the additional steps and target completion dates at all, but rather have just the Goal written at the top of the page. Sometimes just writing down the sentiment is all that is necessary.

These goals are not mine, yet I somehow attached a value to them anyway on behalf of someone out there somewhere. In general, I try to stave off clutter and not cling to things that are not being used, or which someone else can be enjoying or using. Yet here are these pages I am still unable to discard.

Nonetheless, time and time again as I sift past these Goals, among some other sheets with someone else's plans, etc., I take a moment to wonder and I hope they did reach that goal, or if they changed directions, reached the new goal.

August 29, 2019

Working in a Classic Planner

A couple of years ago, I shifted my work planner into a Franklin Covey Compact size and I used that for a good while. I've since gone back to the Classic size (also known as Desk, half-sheet or 5.5" x 8.5").  Franklin, Day-Timer and DayRunner all make this size (regardless of what each brand calls it).

The current planner is an inexpensive, somewhat flimsy binder from the Day-Timer brand. It's an energizing shade - happy and bright hot coral-ish-pink-ish color. This joyfully un-fussy binder offers very little in the way of pockets, slots or gussets, but the pure simplicity of it has a hold on me right now. I just love it! The ring size is also great at about 1.25" it's what I've found to be my favorite ring size in this size of binder. Just right.

Day-Timer planner

I'm uncertain of the longevity of the binder materials although I've already had it a few years. Since I'm not yamming it into a bag or hauling it around out of the house each day it's been holding up nicely.

I'm using this work planner much like before, with a few modifications:

Monthly Pages
  • I use my Monthly pages now much more in planning ahead in my current work. This is more because I'm in charge of my own plans, rather than working for other people in charge of the plans. The monthly pages give me more of a vision now instead of a view of the horizon. 
  • We printed up some monthly pages sheets for my use in the Classic size (same format as we sell in other sizes). At the start of each month, I number/label the weeks on each row (as described here).
  • A regular note page is inserted in the middle of the month pages to list the goals and tasks for the month.  I like how it's sort-of in the way, because I see it constantly (no escape!). 
my monthly pages in Classic size

Weekly Pages
  • The weekly pages are a layout we made for myself, easy to read and with clean lines, based on how I've been using weekly sheets for so long.
  • Before we printed any, I was hand-drawing them for a while (much like here). I like to test-drive my layouts before printing. I also appreciate the reflection time along with the soothing and meditative experience of drawing out the page. 
  • I use the weeklies much like I did way back here, so:
    • agenda at the top, 
    • daily stuff in the middle section, 
    • lists and stuff for any time during the week all across the bottom. 

my weekly pages in Classic size

  • Daily sheets are not a constant. When I need one, I'm using a simple dot-grid page with the date hand-written across the top and just using the sheet however I feel that day - much like the freedom of using the bullet journal system. Some days I might use two sheets, and some days none at all. 
  • If the day's stuff written on the weekly sheet will suffice for that day, then that's fine. When looking back, if there's no daily sheet, I know to flip to the weekly sheet for that day's info. 

sample daily planner page on dot-grid paper
  • If I've been doing OK (getting chit done) I don't make my "time logs" each day. When I find myself wildly distracted or drifting off course, I will add the time logs onto a daily sheet until I get my act together again. 

Lists & Notes
I've developed some inexplicable aversion to filing my current working to-do lists behind a tab so they are usually sort of stuffed into the current week. In my defense, I do make sure to read through them each day or so to capture the relevant stuff into the planning pages.

August 14, 2018

Too Much Stuff in My Planner is a Distraction

One of the reasons I prefer to keep separate planners is for clarity and focus. My planners are used to keep me on task, on track, and remind me of what I intended to do in the first place, and reel me back in when I'm drifting off course.

I'm particularly bad about rabbit-trail thinking. I'll see one of my random notes and think of something else similar and then wonder about another thing, and so on. Some of my distraction hazards I've identified:
  • Lists, ideas, notes, etc. that aren't near-term to-do's 
  • Stuff that is out of context (e.g., home stuff in my work planner)
There is a time to refer to these other items, but since I don't review every single 'warehouse' item every single day, having them taking up space in my main planner causes me a loss of focus. Instead, having them organized into another separate binder or digital warehouse is part of my trusted system. 

Keeping these additional items clear from my in-use planner helps me do what I need to first and right now, and with being honest about my priorities. 

July 23, 2018

Suggested Notation in Your Planner for Monthly and Weekly Planning

Beginning last Fall, I've studied and practiced the original Franklin Planner and modern Franklin Covey planning systems. One of the strong parts of their system is the master task list - you have a master task list each month. From the materials I studied, the emphasis is to get your important items into a timeline.

In setting monthly goals or objectives, I have observed that I am very sloppy with that large chunk of time an entire month provides. I know that I know that I need to do a thing, the thing is on the right lists all of the time, and then next thing I know that whole luxurious month of plentiful and abundant time is coming to a close. Oops.

There are week numbers throughout the year on many calendars for all 52 weeks. That doesn't really help me with my monthly planning.

Being very weekly focused, I like to think of months as 4 weeks. So I've added a few new notations to my system which have been very helpful.

At the beginning of each month:

On my monthly calendar, to the left of each week I scribble in Week 1 on the first row, Week 2 on the second, Week 3 on the third and Week 4 on the fourth.

On my corresponding weekly planner pages for that month, I write the same Week 1, Week 2, etc. at the start of each week.

On my daily pages, I write the same Week 1, Week 2, etc. on each Monday, the start of my working week.

Any other lists for "This Week" get the same week number notation as well.

This small and simple notation has helped immensely for me not to get too comfortable swimming in that deceptively large pool of a month.

I hope this gives you some helpful ideas as well.

July 01, 2018

Mini Filofax planner swap for July - and why :)

I've changed up my main Mini planner today to my Topaz Filofax in Sapphire.

This is a sentimental choice, because this month of July is our wedding anniversary month. When we got married in Alaska, we had a small and simple morning ceremony with a handful of great friends in a beautiful little park, under a tree, alongside a little garden.

At the time, we dedicated this same Topaz Sapphire Mini to our wedding planning. We chose a simple event and a short engagement. From choosing our park to arranging a beautiful (gluten-free!) cupcakes order, to a breakfast after-party at our favorite downtown cafe, the Mini was a perfect companion to our plans and was always in hand.

Some planning is just fun!

This color was a limited edition, and the Topaz model remains at the top of my list in beauty and style (and of course, we all loved this red one when starring in the 27 Dresses movie!). So, this one is now in rotation as my main - same set up and contents as before (just the binder swap). Oh, and here are the photos!

vanilla folders
mini filofax - topaz sapphire (limited edition)

April 09, 2018

Suggestion for Recurring Routines in Your Planner

There might be some things you do daily, or frequently, that you just don’t want to rewrite again and again.

Here is a small idea that you might find useful for those times -

Every Monday-Friday morning, I have routine business tasks that - even though I already know I will be doing these - I like to block out that time in my planner. So, I have assigned a code to that first morning routine, in this case it’s “AM-1.”

I have second routine batch of tasks to do a bit later. So that code is AM-2.

Instead of rewriting anything else, I just scribble the short name into the timeslot.

I also have code-nicknames assigned to various schedules and routines throughout the week, whether they are weekly or some other random recurrence.  Such as “Fri-house” would be some home chores I (intend to!) do early every Friday morning.

This way, if you’d like to write or print out just one detailed list for each routine and give it a name, you won’t have to rewrite it in your planner on each day.

I hope this is helpful to you! Happy planning : )

March 31, 2018

March 2018 - How I Used My Mini Filofax Planner

This month was the arrival to our new home... there is a welcome message to our fabulous location in my little drawing on the monthly page.

The movers delivered our stuff last week so we are sorting through it all and setting up our little home.

It is absolutely beautiful weather this time of here out here. It's hard to focus on unpacking and such when I just want to be on the patio all day, every day!

The Mini is getting new lists of things we need to do here now, and plans of things we'd like to arrange in our yard, patio, etc. Those are sticking out all over the place, as usual.  I accept full ownership of this mess!

mini monthly - mar 2018

I hope you're having a lovely Spring, and thank you for visiting :)

Last month:  February 2018

March 19, 2018

Another Useful Way to Use Appointment Times in Your Planner

In addition to using the scheduled/time slots in your planner for scheduled appointments or tasks, another great method is to log exactly what you've actually been doing.

It turns out that some activities can take more of our time than we suspect.

The way I've been doing this is, in addition to appointments, is to fill in any activities and tasks which I intend to at a certain time.

If that time slot is spent as intended then I don't mark it up any further.

However, if I end up doing anything else, I go back and scribble in the actual activity in that time slot.

Some benefits I've seen from doing this and reviewing them are:

  • This has been very helpful and honest assessment as to how much time I loafed off or allowed myself to get wrapped up with something that wasn't on my original day plan. 
  • It is a very good technique for course correction, especially if you are trying to exchange one habit for another, etc. you can see opportunities to swap activities. It is easier to plan for or make progress on that upcoming deadline when other hurdles and hindrances become apparent. It is easier to make time for that special project, reading books, taking walks, etc. at home when I can step away from the cat videos. 
  • It is also helpful to help see what times of day I tend to stray from the plan. I am way more focused in the early mornings, and pretty much useless in the afternoons. 
  • It's clearer (or less fuzzy) to see where I need to build in some times to break away. Sometimes if I work too intently on something for too long, my eyes start to play tricks on me and thinking becomes difficult, which just results in taking longer than it should. 

And, best of all... reviewing these time logs is a wonderful insight to how much you have been accomplishing! Sometimes it's easy to feel like you're not seeing much progress on your to-do list, but it can be a real eye-opener and source of motivation when you look back over how much you have actually been accomplishing!

Thank you for reading, and happy planning! : )

February 28, 2018

February 2018 - How I used my Mini Filofax planner

We're currently on the move from east coast to west coast. We have limited access to WiFi during the road trip so who knows what day this will actually get posted!

The monthly pages are full of scrawls and scribbles with the activities before the trip getting ready for departure. During the trip, I like to write where we were staying each day.

We are using the trip plan sheet mentioned in last month's post. It's a simple list of each day's guesstimated drive from one city to the next, how many miles, etc. We're driving short distances each day and stopping to see a few people along the way.

mini monthly - feb 2018

Not everything fits in a mini

Thank you for visiting and reading : )

Previous month:  January 2018

February 07, 2018

Shops - Service Announcement

As part of our big move, our Etsy and eBay shops will be on hold from approximately Feb 16 through Mar 7. Also, access to messages will be sporadic during this time. Please get in touch before Feb 16 if you have questions! Thank you! :)

February 06, 2018

Smartphone Addiction | Hanging Up series

Today's share in my ongoing smartphone break-up is another excellent video, Smartphone Addiction: The Epidemic Grows from Computing Forever.  This video is nearly five years old now but still sounds like it was just made today.

As previously mentioned, I am still untangling from the mindless and seemingly endless tendencies to pick up a device to check things, which I did for years when using a smartphone. I am still wondering when I will quit feeling this auto-pilot need. Anyone else?