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. 

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.

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)

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 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

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 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

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! :)

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? 

January 2018 - How I used my Mini Filofax planner

Hello, again! This month, the movers loaded up everything we're not hauling ourselves on the road trip for our big move. Yes, it's nearly time! Now we're wrapping up details, odds and ends around here and getting things fired up at the new place!

Speaking of moving... if you're reading this (thank you!), you somehow found us even though we moved this blog (from WordPress to Blogger) this month!  Because things weren't a mess enough already with moving the home. Although I did reward myself with gluten-free pizza. Because pizza.

Plenty of lists of reminders, follow-ups, and so on. One of the note sheets is our first rough draft of our overall cross-country route plan with daily destinations and approximate mileage for each. One of the sticky notes was the weekly meal plan of some convenience-type-fast-food-ish noms. Did I mention pizza already?

We also took a weekend road trip this month to Florida to meet up with some loved ones. As with last month, there was a packing list for the road trip. After a trip is over, these lists get stored in the past planner pages of the dates of the trips. They come in handy when planning new trips. When heading to a similar climate, location, business trip, etc., I find that referencing a previous, similar list makes a great template for the new trip pack list. Also, post-trip I try to remember to append the list with notes of things to remember, arrange, or pack better next time.

 Of course, while phone note apps make perfectly good lists, I like to see the old handwritten ones now and again. It conjures up in my mind stronger images of the road trip, train ride, plane travels and places visited than the electronic version. Especially since it tends to be stored alongside the dated pages, there tends to be other adjacent scribbles and notations to enhance the memories.

On that note (see what I did there??), next month should bring a lot more of those scribbles as we head west!
mini monthly - jan 2018

mini - jan 2018
lists, notes, things sticking out in all directions...
I swear there is a monthly list for January hiding somewhere but not visible in the photo 

I love it if I can ever be of help to someone else, although I tend to be very shy. Writing at this blog helps me with both of those. So, thank you very much for reading! :)

Previous month:  December 2017

Hello and welcome to my new blog

We are moving our blog, so everything is a mess for a bit. It's day one of moving day, yet we have no pizza or beer to offer you right this moment. Also, you might not be able to find what you're looking for because it hasn't been moved or unpacked yet. Some stuff is at the old place (WordPress) and some is over here somewhere needing to be unpacked.

If you were following or subscribed over at WordPress, and wish to remain so, you will need to resubscribe here in order to get updates from this new place.

Regardless, if you have a question or need any help at all, please get in touch (contact info is in the side column).

Thank you for your understanding and please pardon the mess! :)