My Planner

In my role as time management coach, people occasionally ask what my planner looks like. So today we’ll look at it. Please keep in mind that what works for me may not be the best tool for you. So take a peek and use what you can.

My planner is paper. This was a change a couple of years ago when my days became more mobile. A binder, that is small enough to hold easily, can come with me from place to place and be where I need it. In addition to the calendar, it also holds coupons and shopping lists. I’m not a huge fan of paper in general, so having every bit of paper I need in one place is helpful.

The calendar is a week per spread. This is the right balance for my days — enough room to write various appointments and details but still small enough to see the whole week at once. A monthly option isn’t quite enough room, and a page per day leaves too much empty space unfilled.

The days contain appointments and tasks. One side of the sheet is marked hourly, so I can put appointments and commitments at the right times. The other side is for a to-do list, so I can keep track of tasks for each day and the week. Having them side-by-side is important for my success. Both parts work together to map out the day.

The pages are plain. Color-coding can be useful, but I don’t get enough benefit from it. I use whatever pen is handy (one on my desk or the one in the planner loop) to write what is needed. It just needs to be legible until it’s past or crossed off.

It’s simple, but it works.

Spot Check

Life gets away from us. Time flows so quickly, a year is gone before we know it. We are dealing with so many right-now needs that we don’t realize all that we are doing over time. Emergency mode can take over and planning fades to the back.

Our focus onĀ big responsibilities can be hard to keep. We know some things are important, but making time can be hard. Dragging our eyes off the crisis to the crucial is difficult. Keeping priorities front and center is usually hard work.

One thing that will help is regularly taking time to regroup. It may only be a few minutes — on a car ride, maybe, or while washing dishes — but it will be good for you. If you can grab a little more time, look at your calendar as a prompt.

  • How are you really spending your time? Does that match up with your priorities?
  • Have you added a lot of stuff that you didn’t plan on? Do you have room for that or do you need to look at saying “No” to something for now?
  • Are the tools you use doing what you need, or do you need to find something that works better?
  • Do you need help?

Sometimes you find something to change, and that helps you going forward. Sometimes you find that your time is being used well for that to which you are called today. Take that encouragement and walk on. Either way, spot checks give you confidence that you are not letting “life” get away from you, that you are managing your time and activities wisely.