Organizing Your Life in 2015: Using Your Planner
Now what do you do with it?
There’s a million ways to use your planner, none of them being “the right way.” But, no matter which way you slice it, there are a couple necessary components:
1. Keep it with you.
You should always know where your planner is, so figuring out a routine to help you keep track of it is essential. For me, when I am at home, I keep it open on the kitchen counter. I pass by that counter nothing short of a gazillion times a day, so a quick glance at the planner ensures that the planner is doing its job. So, when I wake up, my planner is open, right there. When I go to bed, my planner is open, right there. Easy.
2. Develop a system that allows you to “sync” your paper planner with your digital calendar.
Even when we have a paper planner, most of us also have some sort of online calendar (gmail, ical, etc.). While that may be a source of confusion for you, it doesn’t have to be. Here’s what I do:
I use google calendar as my master calendar. Why? Because it is set up to do that perfectly. I add my mom’s birthday and set it to repeat for forever and always. Same thing with others’ birthdays, anniversaries, yearly events, so-and-so’s wedding 6 months from now, treats I need to bring to class in May, whatever. My husband also uses his google calendar and shares it with me so that I can also easily plan whatever needs to be planned with his schedule in mind too (and vice versa). You can’t do that on a day planner.
BUT, the day planner plays a totally essential role to life organization. While the Google calendar lets me major on the majors, the planner lets me perfect the details. My planner is for my daily breakdown of what needs to happen- chores, exercise, Scripture reading, a last minute Target run, a reminder that it’s a field trip day and I need to make a lunch, chess club, renew library books online, a specific blog post I need to write that evening, even what I want to do each evening. As the details unfold for the week, I write them down on a specific day… and then cross them off (YES!).
Something that may be unique to me is that I don’t have a to-do list in my weekly planner. Each item that I need to do is assigned to a specific day, so, I just make sure that those things are done on that day. And if I finish the 3 “to-do” items on that day, I can just hang back and relax for the rest of the afternoon. I am “done” for the day. It feels better to me than having a giant to-do list looming over the beginning of my week.
So how do you sync the digital and physical in a simple way? Again, I’m sure there are a lot of ways, but here’s what works best for me:
- On Sunday evenings, I sit at my computer and look at my master calendar for the week. I then write down everything on my planner that I need to remember that week. Each day right then and there.
- I then add in “What’s for Dinner?” in the bottom corner of each day.
- Next, I add in “What am I doing after the kids go to bed?” This helps me to use that oh-so-precious-time wisely. One night is writing a couple posts, another is reading, Friday night is always date night, Thursday is always Parenthood, etc.
- I then look at my current project list and 2015 goals and see what parts I can fit into open spaces…but just a couple (knowing that I have all year to accomplish these goals and that burnout in the beginning is not cool). So, I see that I want to catch up on scrapbooking this year, so this Wednesday is scrapbooking day. When kids nap, I scrapbook. When the kids go to bed, I scrapbook. I get a 30 minute chunk of kids playing independently by themselves, I immediately scrapbook because it’s already planned. I don’t waste the 30 minutes thinking, “hmmm…i have this time, what should I do? oh, i guess I’ll just Facebook…” :).
- I suppose people would add chores in there too. And if that’s you, go for it. I don’t have a daily chore schedule– I kinda do what needs to be done at the time and if the floors aren’t really dirty, well you better believe I’m not going to spend my precious time mopping a pretty much clean floor just because it’s on the schedule. That’s just me. If you like the schedule, add those chores in on the days you want :). Sometimes I’ll add them in as I see the need arise, more as a reminder to do it by bedtime.
4. Transfer undone items to the next week
Don’t let things get lost. At the end of each week, whatever isn’t crossed off, transfer to the next week and make it a priority!
5. Each week could have a small section for a continual grocery list.
I put mine on the top of the page– when someone needs something at the store or I run out of a grocery item, I jot it in that section and add it to the grocery list when it’s time to make it. Or, if you are more into keeping that on your phone, of course there’s a great app for that. But, I’m a paper person in that regard, so this works well for me.