Thursday, March 17, 2016

My Planner Craze

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart
I follow lots of smart and creative people, who've been talking about planners lately in social media.  I resisted, I really did.  I don't have a good track record with a formal planner.  I'm much more likely to buy one, make it all pretty, and then never actually use it.  (The one I made in that link?  I think I wrote in it maybe 30-40 days in the entire year.)

Part of my problem is that I wear so many different hats.  It's hard to gather all the information I need in one place, that's easy to keep up-to-date, easy to use, and scan at any moment to see what's coming up.  

I have the Evil Day Job with a bazillion to-dos at any one time.  My writing career and another bazillion things, which are all completely different from the more technical stuff at the EDJ.  Blog posts that are due (ironically, I didn't get the reminder for this post, so it wasn't on my list today!).  Edits that will be coming next month. A new idea I had in the shower.

Sometimes I want to brainstorm or jot notes.  Sometimes I want to journal because I'm not feeling good about something.  Then add in three kids and their band practices, basketball practices/games, school functions, concerts, spending the night, birthdays, holidays... 

Oh and add in meal planning because I'm the cook.

And a cleaning schedule, because I'm the maid.

Dogs to the vet.  Dogs need their heartworm meds.  Dogs need to go to the kennel.

I need to exercise more.  If I don't put it on the calendar/to do list, I'll never actually find time to do it.

Not to mention this third cleaning job twice a week I've somehow been sucked into with That Man.

It's crazy!  

So what's a stressed-out person to do?  I've found that the key for me is to keep trying, even if it's a complete failure.  Don't be afraid to scrap an idea and start over again.

I've tried formal planners (the one in the crafty planner post is from Tools4Wisdom).  I bought a Passion planner earlier this year, took one look at the inside once I got it, and said nope.  I don't think this is for me.  I think part of my purchase planner issue is I don't want anything too rigid or structured.  I don't always need lots of daily time tables to fill out.  Sometimes I just want to glance at it and see when my next meeting is.  Or if I have practice tonight, so I need to make something really quick/easy for dinner.  I don't want to flip through a bunch of pages I don't use effectively to get to the ONE page I really need.

I tried printing off my own, even buying pretty digital papers for inspiration.  They're still sitting in a stack.  By the time I actually went to use the pages -- I didn't have any interest in them any longer.  There wasn't any "at a glance" capabilities - just daily sheets that I really don't want to have to fill out every single day.

I tried the bullet journal last year to some success (the StarWars Moleskine above).  I like that it's unstructured.  If one day needs a lot of detail, but the next only needs a few lines, that's totally fine.  I don't have whole tables of times for each day that hold one appointment, or blank pages because I got so busy I literally lost my mind, let alone remembered to write something in the planner.  But where it failed for me is the "at a glance" capability.  I didn't understand the calendex at all and I didn't know how to do weekly or monthly spreads.

In talking with my boss at the EDJ, I came up with the idea of doing a small weekly table with only my core work hours.  Then I color coded every hour of the day for a certain task.  I started with meetings (that I couldn't ignore), slotted in a few times to check email, and then laid over the top specific time slots for each thing on my task list.  This let me plan ahead and think about the non-urgent but still important things like growth plans.  It's so easy to get wrapped up in "this project is behind and we're throwing all our bodies/hours at it until it's done!"  and then end up at the performance appraisal time and go huh, I didn't actually do a single thing on my overall growth plan. 

But I don't want to write that in my bujo every single week!

The system I'm attempting now is using that weekly at-a-glance table for the EDJ, printed small enough to fit on a single page in my bujo.  Then I can list out my dailies as I need/want to.  I can also make notes, brainstorm, etc.  I'm still working on getting up the nerve to draw a spread in my pretty new Royal(s) blue Leuchtturm1917 journal without ruining it.

Other resources:
How do you keep up with your commitments and make plans for the day/week/month/year?

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