December 2017 in my Mini Filofax planner

It has been another wonderful year. We're out of state visiting some friends-who-are-family this New Year's Eve weekend.  Behind these December pages in my mini are lists of to-do's for the month and a packing list for this road trip.

Best wishes to you and yours for a Happy New Year :)


mini monthly - dec 2017[


Previous month:  November 2017

November 2017 in my Mini Filofax planner

This month was largely dedicated to gearing up for major upcoming transitions in our lives - part of which is our upcoming cross-country move.

Prior to the big move, we are selling some things. The largest is our rare and vintage motorcoach, so there's been a lot of activity with showing it and having phone time with people near and far who want to see it. This coach wasn't a recreational rig for us, for some time it was our full-time home while we were assigned to various locations.

We are also selling our tiny workshop my husband designed and built by hand.


In addition, we are finding new homes for our Alaska extreme-cold-weather boating, camping, and outdoor gear that we no longer need. Our next planned locale will more about flip-flops at the campsite rather than sub-zero sleeping bags!

This sell-a-palooza really highlighted how long it takes me to make pictures, re-take pictures, upload them, download them, crop them, re-upload them, re-size them, and has caused me to question if I am just so crazy-slow at it, or if it takes anyone else as long.

We also finally got basic cell phones! For months, we'd cycled through several models of older basic cell phones that just didn't work well in our area's very weak signal. We eagerly tried the newest little Nokia 3310 with 3G and, yay!, success!

My Mini continues to faithfully provide comfort and support every day. Here, you can see behind the November pages is the list of my monthly focus items. This particular list is most certainly focused on the above-referenced sell-a-palooza! As from previous months, the simple yet meaningful yellow sticky of lovely and heartfelt reminders moves forward every month.

mini monthly - nov 2017


Thanksgiving was delightful and I'm so happy Egg Nog Season is well underway!

Warmest wishes of love and peace to you and yours for the holiday season. :)



Previous month:  October 2017

Meet my Radley Mini organizer :)

It is no secret that I heart Minis waytoomuch.

Anyway, I make use of a purse-only Mini - it's not a wallet nor a planner; it's a simple, utility organizer. In my purse it stores:

  • notesheets and small supply of stickies

  • contact info for some family and closest friends

  • certain, select few cards that I always want with me (such as roadside assist)

  • stamps!

  • receipts collected when out doing shops and errands, or receipts for something that must be returned

  • If I'm at an appointment and they give a next-appointment card, it goes in there until I get back home where I input it into my main mini (planner)

  • It is the place where we write down dimensions of some odd thing we need to shop for at the store, or some thing we found at the store that we need to check when we get home

  • any shop lists on stickies I've been compiling in my main mini get transferred into purse mini when we head out

  • directions to a few important places where I drive infrequently, mostly remember how to get there but have back-up if I need a refresher

In making Mini size inserts, I have learned from other folks about other organizers that fit the Mini Filofax size refills. It's an impressive list, and one that tickles my heart is the Radley brand. My memory is Cathryn Cook had also began using a Radley mini as well some years ago. Sadly, I can't find her great blog anymore. Her blog was the first I'd ever heard of a Radley mini planner. I don't think they make these any longer.

The adorable Radley organizers I have viewed online are all very slim ring mechanisms. Mine is really tiny, I would venture to guess it is as slim as the Executive Mini Slim I had some years ago.

Earlier this year, this little pre-loved pup took over the purse mini duties.

And now, for the moment you've probably been waiting for... snaps!

The pom-pom, flower-y, fireworks here are actually each individual stitches of leather and thread.





Inside, there are some pockets and a lovely lining which coordinates with the exterior design.




That tiny little pocket you see on the left is lined with that same fabric! The pocket would be very handy for an emergency phone-call quarter, if you had one stashed for a payphone.





Another thoughtful feature you can see here is this nifty, attached, leather page marker. If you have diary or calendar sheets in here, you can just slip that little tethered Radley medallion into your current dates.





Here is the super-slim ring mechanism - also note that this model doesn't have the wallet pocket along the exterior backside, which makes the binder even slimmer. Perfect for my purse organizer since it's not my wallet.





And on back - the brand name and another poof.





I hope this was a fun viewing, and thank you for visiting! :)

Payphones | Hanging Up series

I didn't plan for this particular post. It was sparked by reviewing some of our photos and subsequently prompted by an article we found.

Nearly three years ago, we took a weekend winter wonderland adventure on the Alaska Railroad to the majestic Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley) in Alaska.

We ended up onboard with train conductor Harry Ross who has appeared on the Railroad Alaska television series. (Fun facts - they stop the train when there's a moose or bear close enough for people to take photos, or a clear view of Denali from the distance. They also stop the train to pick up passengers who are waiting on the side of the tracks).

On this glorious trip, we squeezed into a tiny plane (absolutely freezing) on a gorgeous clear and sunny day to fly over and witness the splendor the tallest peak in North America.  On top of it all, the one time I was so fortunate to see the Northern Lights was on this visit.

Our cabin stay was in the tiny town of Talkeetna, which is said to be the town that inspired the fictitious town of Cicely in the 1990's TV show Northern Exposure. (Apologies if the theme song is now playing repetitiously in your head.)




This store is possibly my favorite I've ever visited. Anyway, outside you can see  a payphone. (I wonder if that is an ice machine sitting next to it. I suppose even in the arctic tundra one will want ice in the summertime.)

While looking over  picture with my husband, I had asked the question "if they have a payphone in Talkeetna, why don't we see more of them around other places?"

Since I've embarked on this breaking-up-with-my-smartphone journey, I've read lots of other people's articles about how they have a basic cell phone, or only a home phone!  Some people just have a cell phone they leave in the car glove box (which is how many of us started out with a cell phone in the first place - for just-in-case).

One thing I've learned in my research is that more people than you'd think don't have a cell phone at all. That is quite the contrast with the disappearing payphones in the United States. I've heard "no one uses payphones anymore because they all have cell phones." This Atlantic article mentions they've been removed in part due to no longer turning a profit and for their use in illegal activities. However, after seeing several movies lately wherein the use of payphones stood out at me, I took great interest in this article at Motherboard, Payphones Still Make Millions of Dollars.

With today's smartphones, it seems people are actually talking to other people far less, and rather sending messages via shares and texts, etc.  Sadly, this is also often the case when people are sitting together at the same table - not talking, but buried in their phones. Whereas the payphone is a direct and simple tool, like any regular phone, that connects two people to discuss or arrange something.

I guess so many phone booths have been taken away in the US because they were already losing money on them. Although I can't help but to wonder what is the cost to just leave an already-built, already-installed, existing payphone in place. Particularly in a remote location like the one used by Deb in Napoleon Dynamite. As mentioned in this article at WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, there are times when a hard-wired pay telephone is needed by people. I consider them more as pay-as-you need utility now. And we all know everyone's mobile phone has a dead spot somewhere or has no battery left - assuming everyone truly has a cell phone.

Here are some more payphone-related articles and stories:

Thank you for reading! :)

October 2017 in my Mini Filofax planner

It has still been very warm here overall, although there was some rollercoaster dips into actual chillier temps. You know, 40 in the morning and then nearly 90 in the afternoon. Enough to provide some proof that October did deliver.

This month we began listening to our newest shared audio book for our car rides, the creepy and disturbing 1970-ish novel This Perfect Day by Ira Levin. I also enjoyed reading Walden on Wheels and listening to the Goodbye, Things audio book.

We've begun preparing for our out-of-state move early next year so there's an abundance of random to-do's. In the mini, I changed my weekly layout to two-days-on-a-page for now. This format is working particularly well at this time, since this is my personal-life planner and we have more of our-life to-do's slated for the weekend. The extra spot for notes by the weekend works nicely for that.  And it allows room for the  doodles I've scribbled lately. (I just remind myself it's not an art competition and no one is judging).

The somewhat indiscernible doodles the October monthly page include some creepy crawlies and a cauldron of eyeball stew.  On a weekday sheet, there's a tiny crockpot and cilantro on a day I had some black beans and rice slow-cooking in the kitchen. Not to be confused with eyeball stew.


mini monthly - october 2017

assorted days and weeks in october



I hope you're having a super-fun and happy Halloween! 🎃 🙀 👻 🍬 🎃



Previous month: September 2017

Address books are a lot like diaries

Much as seeing a glimpse of someone else using a planner or organizer, a sighting of an address book also sparks a moment of spaz for me. Old-fashioned and lovely, they seem so understated yet each has its own memories and tales to tell.

The older and messier the pages, the more enchanting they are. The markings through for new addresses when people moved and the updates of other changes are so interesting and endearing.

In days past, some address books stayed at home, with the writing desk (including if that was the kitchen table), or phone table, and the home telephone. Some were card file boxes and caddies, or rotary-flip-style Rolodex.

The nowadays term of “contacts” - rather than family, friends, people, names, numbers, addresses - conjures up more of a business connotation to me.

Mostly now all of those “contacts” are being carried around with us everywhere in smartphones, or stored on Facebook, LinkedIn, Outlook or email accounts on the web – always accessible, even though the number of times many of these contacts are contacted is disproportionate relative to the amount of time they're with you.

I liked how personal addresses were in your personal address book, and work contacts were in your work rolodex, the client database or other computer software – at the office. It's displeasing to me when, on my own time, I must scroll past work-related contacts on electronics, or even to have to click the filter option to take these business people out of view. I've read that our minds process 50,000+ fleeting thoughts per day, and just glancing at a work name on my weekend can send me down a mentally exhausting rabbit trail of eeeeek did I remember to send that email-package-presentation-quote-report-thing-I-promised-to-send-last-Thursday...

I keep a few consolidated address pages in my Filofax - family is grouped together and friends are grouped together.  This friends list isn't every acquaintance but rather my closest friends who are practically family. I like looking at the handwritten entries on these pages when I'm addressing their birthday card envelopes or whatnot. Entries on these pages aren't alphabetical, just all together, one after another, and this eliminates the need for many pages and A-Z tabs.

And now for some fun! Clickies!!!

I hope you enjoyed these, and thank you for reading! :)

Downsizing my work planner (continued!)

There's light at the end of the tunnel! I am mostly moved into my smaller work planner now, and have some additional details and snaps to share.

To recap from last message:

  • I am still mostly following my old system (detailed in just under one million words, here).

  • The new size is the FranklinCovey Compact.

  • I've hand-drawn some pages for the remainder of this year.

Here's some of my hand-drawn weekly pages in the vertical format on the Compact size (4.25" x 6.75" - which is slightly wider than Filofax Personal size).  Federal holidays impact our order shipping, so they are most definitely written into my planner.




As before:

  • top row is items with a specific time,

  • middle section is Do or Due Today, and

  • bottom row is lists for This Week, not tied to a specific day.

I still fill these weeklies out at the beginning of the week, with the objectives for the week.

Daily spiral 6"x9"-ish notepad still captures in the inbound messages, calls, things that pop up, etc.  Any of these type things that get turned into additional action items get transferred to wherever they belong. If they get handled on that day, they just get marked through on the pad and are not copied anywhere else. If there is an important item like phone number or email address, I do transfer that into the contact card or whatever before crossing through the note.

Aside from sizing down, the biggest change I've implemented is adding a 2-pages-per-day. This is in addition to my daily spiral notebook. You could say the daily setup is sorted by planned stuff, vs. inbound stuff.

The 2-pages-per-day is all new for me. I wanted this format to assist me in keeping focus and getting on task.

Let me assure you that when you go to an office, it's better that you aren't looking at your laundry basket near your desk. Likely you can't do your laundry there, so you really have to reconsider doing laundry when you're working out of your home.

So, I am using the 2-pages-per-day to schedule the work day, and also to time-log what I really did. The scheduling is most-essential items for the day and anything that has a real time. Each morning, stuff from the current weekly planner pages gets allocated into the daily plans. My current work has some routine, daily activities, so those are input into the hourly slots as part of my scheduled work day.

However, the time-logging is new to me. It's just a simple input system where each time I start something new that isn't already written into a time slot, I just scribble it into the appointment times. These are just simple entries - abbreviations even - and aren't even down to the exact minute. But if I am updating invoices and decide it's time to break for my sammich, I can jot down "lunch." When I start researching and calling for pricing on a new service, I just scribble in "pricing" in the general time slot. It's a new habit, but it is starting to stick. Oh, and when I would like to take a mental break and just make sparkly eyes at pretty planners online, yes, I have to jot "sparkly eyes" in the planner, too.

When spreadsheets and workbooks need updating, and it doesn't happen today, or yesterday, or even all of last week, then there is nothing to disguise why I didn't do it. It's written right there on the pages.

So this way I am having better accountability about my objectives, goals, and slacking when applicable.  Part of my weekly review on Fridays is to look over these daily pages to help me stay on track.

Here is the simple format I am using for the rest of this year - times on the left; notes, lists, observations, tracking stuff on the right.



Here's the monthly format. These are a reassuring visual overview and reference - no heavy planning.




If it's late at night and you need something to help you sleep, you can read all of the detail on my work planner system here.

Thank you for reading! :)

Also related: Running a Work and a Personal Planner

September 2017 in my Mini Filofax planner

September is my favorite month. It's my emotional equivalent of  Spring cleaning and always feels like a fresh start. Maybe in other places the weather is a little cooler with glimpses of Fall already, but it still feels very summery here to me.

This month we moved, did our first-ever storm running, and very nearly finished listening to the Ready Player One audio book (we've been listening to it when we are in the car together). I continued to focus on paring down stuff I don't need, breaking the chains with my cell phone, and downsizing my work planner.









Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful rest of your weekend! :)


Previous months:

August 2017
July 2017

How small is a Mini Filofax planner?

I'm happy to say that I hear from folks who have just recently received their first-ever Mini planner. I also hear from people who are looking to get one and haven't seen one in person.

I remember when I purchased my first one, the dimensions of course tell you the size, although when you receive the delightfully shrunken tiny mini planner and see it for yourself for the very first time, it's quite irresistible. But I digress...

Here are some side-by-side examples of a few everyday items that might help give you a feel for the size of the Mini planner size.

First up, side by side with a US dollar bill:

20170929_121940782_iOS



Next, the ever-popular Sharpie marker:

20170929_122010386_iOS





Now with a gigantic iPhone 6 Plus:

20170929_123925404_iOS



For contrast, here's the much smaller Blackberry Q10 phone:

20170929_132604514_iOS



And this is a 3"x5" index card. Surprisingly, this photo seems to skew the scale. If you look closely at where the planner is resting on the surface, you can see slightly better that the index card is taller than the mini.

20170929_141112762_iOS



I hope this is useful and thank you for reading! :)







Hanging Up - new blog series

I've decided that the zombie plague that has been feared for decades is already upon us, and the virus is called Smartphone.

Earlier this year, I wrote about breaking up with my smartphone.

I've carried on with this endeavor (it's much harder than it sounds), and although the smartphone is still in use, I am significantly more intentional about how and why I use it.  I'm actually working toward transitioning to a phone-only phone, and will offload the smartphone features to my iPad. More on that another time.

Part of unplugging from the gravitational pull of smartphones, laptops, etc. is reconnecting with other tactile platforms like paper books or paper planners. We can appreciate both digital stuff and paper stuff. Sometimes it's a nice comfort to enjoy the paper stuff when you shut off the digital stuff, for example.

The name Hanging Up chosen for this series is not solely for its connotation with the telephone, but is also a nod to the movie of the same name. The movie stars Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, and Diane Keaton. Diane Keaton is a real-life user of Filofaxes (various articles have stated she uses multiples). Also, in this movie, Meg Ryan can be seen several times with her character's planner (my memory is that is a black, personal-size and that it's quite stuffed). So this all ties in nicely to this blog which is primarily about planners and planning.

Anyway,  since it turns out I am not the only person feeling the zombie smartphone plague, there are many people sharing their experiences and really good info about it.  In this new Hanging Up series, I would like to share some of these finds and especially to hear from others as well.

Today's share is a TED Talk (did you know these started in 1984? I did not!).  This is Anastasia Dedyukhina presenting "Could you live without a smartphone?"



I hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading. :)

Downsizing my work planner!

I had been thinking about this for a while, and didn't want to rush into anything since I rely on my planners so much. The last thing I needed was to choose to hastily and possibly make a planner size swap even more chaotic than usual! I suspect once you cross the brink of chaos, there is no further differentiation between a little chaos and maximum chaos.

But it's official now, and so the binder migration and downsizing
chaosprocess has begun. At this stage, it feels a lot like living out of two suitcases. Sometimes I need to get my hands on something, so first thought is "which one is it in right now" followed by "I know it's in there somewhere!"

It's actually rather fun and all worth it because I really like the new smaller setup - it's the Franklin (Covey) Planner Compact size. I must say it's a magical size. The sheets are 4.25" x 6.75" which is very similar to the Personal Filofax size, although are each wider by half an inch. I really like the extra page space this gives you when your binder is open.

Since the pockets and compartments inside the Compact are smaller, several of the things I had previously stuffed inside last work binder don't fit as nicely.  There's some folding, yamming, and stuffing going on. As well as questioning if it's really necessary for that thing to be yammed and crammed there. The Magic 8-Ball shaker-thingie keeps coming up with the answer YES MOST DEFINITELY and I can't fight that because I didn't know what to do with said item in the first place and that is exactly how it ended up in that pocket. But I am not ready to deal with that yet and so the hoarding continues. The great "in theory" advice you always hear about getting rid of things before you move was clearly made up by someone who has never moved.

The system should remain much the same as my faithful work system.

I do intend to do another update post and a few snaps when the process is further along.

For the remainder of this year, I have hand-drawn some weekly pages in the vertical format, much like my hacked format in the last work binder. I like to do this before making or buying new sheets because it gives me time to sort out what really works for me - format, placement, spacing, etc.

I am also using two sheets per day (also handwritten for now) for prioritizing my work day instead of just the spiral notebook because I am currently working from home and not zipping all over an office throughout the day. Since it's up to me right now to manage my own priorities and tasks, the daily sheets with appointment times is helping me focus on how I am spending my time all day long. I've purchased a 2-pages-per-day from Franklin Planner for 2018. The spiral is still in use much like before for voice-mails and the other things that come up during a day. I still prefer using the spiral for certain things like that - it works well with my memory.

Thank you for reading! :)

August 2017 in my Mini Filofax tiny planner

It's a busy week for us - we are moving.  Downsizing again into very tiny living space so it has taken some prep work and lots of careful consideration of which items to keep. We like living small and are continually evaluating items in our home.

The stickies on the monthly pages are my monthly focus items. Separate stickies for separate topics or areas.

mini monthly - august 2017




The sheets peeking out behind the weeks in these shots, below, are my current weekly focus lists. Separate sheets for separate projects or subjects. These stay in the middle of my week each week but I pushed them aside for this photo shoot. The tiny sticky note is my weekly dinner menu plan.
mini weekly july 31-aug 6


mini weekly aug 7-13



mini weekly aug 21-27


Thank you for reading. Wishing everyone a wonderful Labor Day Holiday Weekend (in every corner of the world!). :)



Mid-year in my Mini Filofax planner

It's hard to believe  the last time I posted snaps of my beloved Mini Filofax, I hadn't even gotten to the first planner page of my own handmade inserts. It's important to me to have at least one picture of our own inserts on this blog! So here's another messy view of my mini hard at work. This time, with first-ever-on-this-blog photo of the inserts made by me and my husband.  We started making them at the end of 2016. I was so proud and excited to finally flip over to the first week in my 2017 planner! And now it's July... already!

I should hurry up and finish posting this before July is over.


last week of June 2017


June 2017


Many thanks to everyone who visits our blog or gets in touch with us. We love hearing from you and are so grateful for your support. :)

Save

Your planner is what you need it to be, and what you want it to be

It can be a notebook, address book, collection of lists, project planner, study guide, business planner, devotional guide, dreams and goals, design and sketch book, coloring book, travel coordinator, photo album, scrapbook, health log, habit tracker, finance binder, home management system, meal planner, recipe binder, creative outlet and book of days.

It can be your guide, your leader and your reliable teammate.

It’s your planner, your journal or your diary.

It is a reminder of things to come, achievements past, challenges now and before, recollections of countless days and moments.

It’s your companion, security blanket and source of great comfort and happiness.

The more time you give your planner, the more it will help you in whatever way you choose.



My Work Planner and Notebook System (unabridged)


 Author’s note #1: Ironically, I’m presently in between assignments right now so I’m not working for someone else. Either way, this is my tried and true system for many years now. I am working on several business ventures of my own, and I still use the below system, although I don’t have meetings and conference calls right now as illustrated below. Anyway, If I were working for someone else right now, I would probably have continued to procrastinate writing this post!


 Author’s note #2: I formerly used the almighty A5 size planner for the same purpose as described below. I switched last year from A5 to a US half-letter-sheet size for convenience. I wouldn’t have switched from the A5 if we used the same standard sheet sizes here in the US! My A5 was the rare, gorgeous, calf leather, tan Sandhurst Filofax which I’ve owned for 17 years as of this writing. I am still hoarding it, which is just plain wrong, and I know it.

my A5 sandhurst... still in captivity


I wanted to write this post because I have written about my system before on my blog and on comments to other ones here and there. I thought I’d delve into detail on my system in case anyone finds a helpful morsel or tidbit. My last post, Running a Work and Personal Planner, briefly mentions the content of my work planner, so here is the whole enchilada, unabridged.  You’d never know from reading my rambly posts that I rarely say two words in any of the work meetings!

 And now, the guest star…

Work Planner

Workhorse. Weapon of choice: FranklinCovey tangerine-y, zip binder (my first zip binder!) with slim rings.

Classic/Half-Letter size with 7 rings. Franklin Planner calls this Classic; DayTimer calls it Desk. DayRunner has one too. These all use the US half-letter sheets (5.5” x 8.5”) and are similar in size to an A5 although they are not the same size sheets or hole punch formats.





This entire planner is centered around one element: the Weekly planner.  Every work action I need to tackle in a week goes on here. It requires some ‘syncing’ but that is part of what feeds the Weekly and it’s the bit on which I thrive.  The key method for this planner is that it’s managed week by week. Hardly anything gets populated in advance in here (because it doesn’t act as my calendar).

  • The ritual is I typically fill in the week on a Monday morning. A Friday afternoon or weekend might work for others, in my case it just tends to make sense based on the ridiculous amounts of work email received over the weekend, redefining your Monday “when you get in this morning” priorities, or their piece of the puzzle they worked on over the weekend which is now back to your court for the next action, etc.

  • The Weekly format I use for work is vertical columns week-on-two-pages.

  • I use these weekly sheets as more of a planner (less of a calendar).

  • I hack this format into my own custom weekly format, as I've described before on other blog comments, but for those of you who are interested and haven’t seen that description before, I am rehashing it here. I came up with this hack-format about 10 years ago and it provides me great comfort.

    • I completely ignore the timestamps. I sort of write over them if writing on a line that has one.

    • Every week, I use a ruler (usually the page-marker-ruler because it’s right there!) and a semi-bold black felt-type ink pen and draw a few horizontal lines to create my custom sections on the planner.

custom hacked weekly format
  • I put my timed appointments and meetings on the top section (I just handwrite the time of the meeting), or anything that is truly time specific. This handwritten time stands out to me enough since I don’t have back-to-back meetings all day. I like it top-of-page because I don’t usually get to control my schedule and this highlights where I need to be when and what I need to prepare for.
appts - timed - sched (as hacked)


  • The section below the appointments, I write in deadlines and rather inflexible must-do-today stuff. I call this section “DUE or DO TODAY.” There’s most always going to be more than fits there, so we will get to how I manage that in a few minutes.

  • The lower section is used to group stuff for this week. Each column might be just one subject/project, or it might be items that are similar in nature - it’s free-form and I just adjust it each week as needed. Sometimes I put a heading or title at the top of these little lists, but not usually because I already know what they contain.

  • Saturday and Sunday don't get drawn on because I don’t need them for work unless there is something out of the ordinary that requires weekend work. These can be used as bonus spaces for more lists or notes.

  • I jot down the entries from my Outlook work calendar, this helps me mesh my work timed appointments with everything else. Just the time and topic, not all of the other details that are already in Outlook – as mentioned in my previous post.

  • The new emails, flagged emails, Outlook schedule and any shared project lists or project software are all reviewed to extract what’s due this week, deadlines, special arrangements, etc. etc. and filled into the weekly pages accordingly. This is not everything under the sun, but rather is focused on my work that I need to do. I don’t replicate every piece of every group project here, just what I need to focus on, my work, etc.

  • This planner is dedicated to work and as detailed in my previous post, I add (sync) only certain personal to-do’s in here as needed (such as a dental appointment in the middle of the work day).
sample of weekly plan (as hacked)


Other Key Tools

Additionally, I stick a large, lined 4"x6" sticky note on the week and I write on there those messy reminders and little stuff that must be done or remembered that week (THIS is my place for that little stuff that we all never really know where to write down).

  • Every week gets a fresh sticky. I use a Sharpie or similar marker to write across the top WEEK OF 4/3 – 4/9.

  • At the beginning of the week, the sticky note goes on the right size of the planner so that it only covers up Thursday-Sunday. On Thursday, the sticky moves to the left side to only obscure Monday-Wednesday.
weekly jumbo sticky note sample


I stuff a trusty notebook (or steno pad) in the planner (perfect fit). This notebook is my "daily planner" and capture device.

  • Each morning I write the date across the top of a fresh page and fill in the musts for the day (many of which were deadlines or tasks already recorded in the weekly planner, so this is copied to the daily pad). This becomes the big blown-up version of the day. Sometimes at the end of the workday, I will start up tomorrow’s page – especially when I didn’t finish key items for today and need to roll them over or there is something wildly important that I need to be sure stays on my radar in the morning.

  • Now that the pad is populated with today’s focus and agenda, I work from that Daily pad for the day. Weekly planner stays open on my desk for quick visual reference throughout the day, and it goes to all meetings with me. Throughout the day, depending upon the ebb and flow of things, I might pluck a few more things off the big weekly view that I can knock out or follow up on today.
daily notepad - planner - capture

  • I typically devote both facing pages if needed for the day. The priority list is on the most convenient sheet and then I usually add notes/capture on the other page. When I don’t use much of a page, I will just append to it the following day instead of turning to a new sheet.

  • This pad is invaluable to my day because it’s unstructured and spacious enough that I do not worry about running out of room for the day’s stuff. The size, (about 6”x9”) is also a very good measure of about how much I can actually do in one day.

  • This pad is where I jot down the zillion little things that come up, transcribing voicemails, etc.

  • The flexibility of the notepad allows me to turn a page just use more pages if needed. I just make sure to put the date at the top for context.

  • At day's end, or in the morning, any of these things that are still undone get transferred to where they belong (the weekly planner, or the next day's list or into a future date or project list or whatever).

  • After everything has been transferred, the previous pages get clamped with a binder clip. This is the signal that there is nothing left lurking back there that still needs attention. If I don’t complete the transfer for a day or few, the pages remain unclipped until the capture and transfer is complete.

  • You could easily use daily sheets in your planner for this, but it’s the simple portability of the notebook pad that make this work for me. When I worked in an office, I carried this pad with me everywhere and left the planner at my desk almost all of the time, except for meetings in which case I would also bring the planner. Having that pad with me all of the time was great because it seemed even when I just went to the kitchen for coffee, someone would ask me for something or I’d think of something that needed to be done, so I could always capture these requests and thoughts.

  • The other reason I favor the separate notebook over the sheet inside the planner is that I can see my Daily and my Weekly at the same time. If both are buried in the planner, then you have to flip back and forth to see both. This works fine for some people although the system I’ve got going works best for me because I am very This Week focused and I want to be able to see it all of the time!

  • These pads I choose usually contain about 80 sheets, so they last about three months and are usually slim enough to stuff into the planner.

  • Tip: the best ones ever were steno pads with colored sheets. They are quick to spot on a busy desk.



Observations and Other Bits

  • The key to this and any planning system is to review everything and make sure anything undone is transferred and not left behind.

  • My system of planning includes re-writing when things don’t get done and also recurring items, and I am OK with that since I choose to use a handwritten system anyway. To me, I like the writing - it’s part of the process and it works well with my mind. When I am faced with rewriting something that didn’t get done, it is another opportunity for evaluation of this item. Even the re-writing of items is part of why my system alleviates stress and worry – everything is accounted for. Here I decide - does this stay on this week’s lists or do I just need to store it on a Remember Me list, etc.

  • It is used in conjunction with project lists that are part of our company’s shared systems. In no way does my planner take place of those master lists and project lists. I do not handwrite long project lists and timelines in my planner. It’s just my week full of detailed things I will be doing and following up on. It’s also a clear illustration of the week’s deadlines and priorities – across all of the things going on that week, not just one project or subject at a time.

I have the Monthly calendar sheets as well. These are great for overviews. Typically, I only put in what I call “highlights” - the deadlines or major events overview. major work deadlines (like go-live or launch dates), and things like that. Even if I wrote nothing on them, the ease of flipping to that visual tool in my planner and being able to see the days and dates so quickly at any time is unparalleled in convenience. I really don’t use the Monthlies at work much day-to-day but they really shine when I’m in a meeting or on a conference call. At a super quick flip to the monthly tab, I can see exactly which day of the month that event begins, the big important dates, etc.

A few other sheets in my work planner that include some pertinent info that I refer to often, along with extra sheets in case I need quick access to note-taking.  Nearly all meeting notes are taken on my computer or iPad, but every once in a while when that is not an option, I go to the blank sheets in my planner. I've been to some meetings at meals or coffee shops where it was easier (and more engaged) to write in my planner than on my iPad.

I keep some cheat-sheet pages in my planner. These are those nuggets of info that you need access to when your computer is frozen, the network is being rebooted, or the Internet is down. IT professionals will assure you the Internet is never down. But you know what I mean. For me, these nuggets of info include a printout of the company phone list, cheat sheets with log-in info for a few people who routinely ask me “what was my log in again?” for our shared project software, the card number details for the credit card I need to use frequently for company purchases but I am not the cardholder, and the hotline emergency number for reaching IT when the Internet is down. It is important that I have this number handy because of the swarm of Internet-less people that crowd my desk with panic eyeballs as wide as boiled eggs looking at me like I am the last human on a zombie-crawling island, because I am the only one packing a planner.

Using my work planner system is the least stressful way of planning (and surviving) my day and my week.

Thank you very much for reading. :)

Running a Work and a Personal planner

Hmmm. For a very introverted and shy person, some of my posts are very long! You wouldn’t think I have that much to say. Perhaps this long-winded writing is part of the reason behind my long gaps between posts in prior years. Because it would take so long for me to make any post, instead of just a simple one. Well, anyway, here’s another long and rambly one!

I strongly believe you should pay attention to how you ARE using your planner(s). Not how you should be.

That said, where do you naturally tend to write things quickly:
when you have an idea,
when you remember something,
you hear a song you really like you want to jot down, or a movie to add to the watch list,
when someone gives you info you need to capture,
you’re on the phone to take a note or a message.

You might have a system for all of the above to which you abide seamlessly.
You might have a system for these, but still grab whatever is nearest.

Whatever place I capture stuff, it’s then up to me to make sure they get migrated to the right notebook or planner in my system.

So happens that I make lots of notes and lists frequently for the various areas of my life. I do NOT want to carry all that information with me everywhere I go. Instead, I currently use several ring-bound notebooks for different areas of my life, but they’re not all actual “planners” as they have no sort of calendar or planning system. I would call them notebooks or containers of ideas and information.

I do have a separate personal planner and work planner. This has been my most-used setup for more years than I can remember, even though I did make an unsuccessful attempt at a combo work-personal a few years back.

Simple Syncing

From other people’s posts or videos, syncing calendars seems to be a common downfall in using two planners.

In my case, the word syncing is a misnomer really because I don’t fully sync the two schedules. You know like when you sync your electronic calendars, everything copies to the other place?  Well, my system doesn’t. My system is simple syncing.

Running two separate books for planning (ones where you are doing actual planning via calendars and schedules), doesn’t necessarily mean you must record all of the timed appointments and commitments in both books.

My use of two planners, particularly when working outside of the home, would only contain ‘schedule overlap’ from the other planner if it impacted the other calendar.

The goal in my system is merely to see what is required of me during the day. Anything overlapping isn’t going to get a lot of data written in the ‘other’ calendar but rather will get a short note or reminder – a placeholder.

Examples:

Morning meeting at office that requires something be picked up on the way into work also gets jotted in the personal planner since this is not a routine event in my before-worktime mornings.

Offsite work event that I would drive to directly from home and not meet at the office first would also go in my personal planner for that morning.

An upcoming after-hours work meeting would get an entry about working late in the personal planner on that date.

A mid-day personal appointment would absolutely be shown on both planners since it’s prime-time overlap. It gets only a cryptic note in the work planner. So, if there’s a 3:30p personal dental appointment during the working day, I would just put on my work calendar ‘out of office’ or ‘out-dental’ at that time. This serves as the appropriate placeholder for the office work and to make sure I don’t steamroll over that appointment with a meeting or something, and to make sure I inform the management of my scheduled outing.

Something work-related that falls on the weekend, which is normally my time.

Making a recipe for a covered-dish/potluck thingie for work.

I don’t need the 7:00a recycles pick-up day at home on my work planner if my work day starts at 8:30a. Whereas I might want a simple reminder on the work planner reminding me to leave on time if I’ve got a personal plan for that evening.

And the best one of all:

Scribbling OUT OF OFFICE – VACA!!!! on the work planner.

It is worth noting that this system works for me because:

When working for someone else, I don’t want to see their workstuff on my beloved personal planner. This is simply a preference. When I look back at my planners (which I love to do), all I want to see is how we’ve been living our life. The places we traveled, memories of the places we’ve lived – different states, cities and homes, the family and friends we’ve spent time with, our special occasions, and so on. These reviews are a source of personal joy.

My work planner is way more than a calendar. It is most common that any place you work is going to have a calendar on Outlook or the like. I do not aspire to recreate the Outlook work calendar in my planner. All of the attendees, details and attachments can stay right there in Outlook. My planner is to plan my work for this week, and for today. All appointments for the week are reviewed each Monday morning. I make a short note of all of them in their time slots onto the paper planner for planning purposes “conf call re: project name,” “HR benefits mtg,” or “covered-dish thingie.” Then I fill in the deadlines and due dates going on that week. From there it’s priority to-do items and getting ready for any of those conference calls or meetings (do I need to prepare something for these, do I need to read any emails or attachments for these, etc.). It is worth noting that many pieces of projects are also tracked in shared project software apps. I am deliberately and intentionally taking the extra steps to copy/rewrite into my planner the pieces I am responsible to do this week or follow up on. It does not replace the project software, it makes my pieces part of MY week’s work plan. There is no way I want to see all of this detailed work week when I am at home, on my time. Likewise, this keeps my focus clear with context clarity. I am at work, focusing on work with less distraction from seeing personal items I can’t work on right now anyway.

I plan with and review my planners often. This point cannot be emphasized enough.

This includes reviewing my personal planner in the mornings at home before I begin work, to see what I’ve got to do that morning, day and evening… trash pick-up this morning?, pay bills?, buy birthday card? Get casserole safely situated into car for the office covered-dish thingie?

Work planner review, with opposite perspective in mind:

Anything coming up tomorrow, this week, next week, that impacts my personal schedule?

This includes looking ahead:

Special upcoming work party in a few weeks and need outfit – loathe shopping, when do I want to do that?

Choose recipe for covered dish thingie at office. And so on.

Work book stays at work whenever possible

In my case, whenever possible, the work book stays at the desk.

There’s nothing personal in it so I am not missing it at home.

Likewise, I am not embarrassed if someone at office sees book contents.

Clearly there are exceptions to bring it with you - any days where you might plan to work from home, or when you absolutely must work outside of your regular hours, or travel.

Alternatively, work book can travel home if you have one of those jobs where you have to work extra a lot. You also have the option to bring it along at uncertain times, just in case, and just leave the planner in the car for the night (knowing it’s there if needed). Like, it might snow and ice tonight and they might want us to work from home tomorrow rather than coming into the office.

Personal book can do whatever doing the workday - I like bringing it along for the day, and it stays in the purse or bag, or car, if needed. Not on the desk – keeps personal info private and minimizes the off-chance it might get left behind for the day.

If you’ve got the kind of job where you can attend to your personal business while you’re at work, and if you’re not going to access your personal planner during the workday for those items, I would prefer to make a small list of those items on a sticky and tack it onto the work planner until those are done (rather than writing them into the work book). That way you’re not leaving your personal notes in the work binder permanently. You can then discard the sticky or put it back in your personal book if you want to keep it.

Other benefits to this separate books system:

If you ever leave the job and have the kind of job that will want to retain the work planner pages, you will not lose your personal info in this exchange.

You can go all out personalizing your personal planner without concern of people seeing all that when you are sitting next to them in a meeting. Or maybe your inner you favors a lot of bling and fluff on your planner and you’re not entirely comfortable with that look in the conference room.

Personal privacy.

In closing, we all know this isn’t for everyone. Some people just prefer a one-book everything. We all have our own preferences. This is my system that suits my mind nicely and I love the fact that we can all personalize our planning exactly the way we like! I am just happy to see anyone, anywhere using a planner at any time. :)

If you made it this far... thank you for reading!

Disconnect to Reconnect

Earlier this year I started a new endeavor: breaking up with my smartphone.

Essentially, I've come to notice that I spent entirely too much time looking at my phone screen, sometimes for no reason at all. A quiet habit that snuck up on me, I caught myself one day just picking up my nearby phone to wake it up and flip through the screens. Wait, what, why? Realizing I had done this for no reason at all, I began to suspect this was going on more than I realized. So, after paying more attention to this, come to find that I actually had to stop myself from habitually grabbing the phone for this empty ritual. Instead of getting information I needed, information was getting me.

When I announced this finding to my husband, he remembered listening to a podcast series on this very topic. Upon some further reading, I came across plenty or articles and books on the subject of smartphones and information overload in general.

Now being fascinating with this finding, and undertaking a new observation of those around me, it became readily apparent just how engrossed so many people are in their phones - no matter what else they are doing. People driving and texting. People traveling the world seemingly on autopilot routines of taking selfies at every view spot and posting to their social sites instead of even looking at what they're visiting. On a recent airport trip, we were seated facing two families. Family One had four people who were each staring and swiping away at their phones - silent and not a single smile. Family Two had five phoneless people, all laughing and talking and lighting up the area with their happiness. I am very introverted and using my phone or pad for reading and listening to books when flying or when waiting at airports is very comfortable for me. Although now I think I'd like to look up from reading and at least say hello to the people near me, and to mindfully enjoy my surroundings more.

So, I've very purposefully removed almost all of the notifications, news headlines, bells and whistles from my phone, and am treating it once again more like a phone. I rarely use any social sites, so those were not already installed anyway. Turns out I really like email, so it's still undecided if it will stay on the phone. Having email at the computer seems truly enough in my case, based on my situation. Also, my phone is getting left behind a lot more these days. It's no longer in my hand or back pocket most everywhere I go now.

If you're interested in any of the above:
Accepting that these marvels of technology provide numerous useful tools, getting a handle on the habits and the apps that aren't actually helping me has been a big eye-opener. I've used a smartphone since they first became available although right now it's fair to say it's being used far less. : )

Update: Hanging Up is a new series on this blog focused on this subject. Click this link Hanging Up  or use the Hanging Up category in the sidebar to see those posts. 

Surprise! Good news about gappy rings (Filofax Mini)

Wait for it... my Filofax mini Bloomsbury has gappy rings - and I didn't even know it!

Over the past few years, I recall seeing many comments and posts about ring gaps on planners, and I think it was mostly Filofax (?). I hadn't actually had any notice of such an issue in my use of planners all of this time so I didn't delve into the topic.

Which brings me to this particularly funny observation of now. I've only just swapped this very dear to me mini Bloomsbury (my tiny black book) away from being my main binder recently. Using it now for some work notes (not fully set up).  Anyway, as I was just putting some paper and inserts into the Bloomsbury and I saw it. Gappy ring!  I was like, no, that can't be. I didn't have any problems using this binder. Now, please note these rings are so tiny. In order to verify my finding, I had to practically hold this binder right up to my eyeball for visual zoom-in. Then I had to try and focus a camera on it - I'm not great with a camera so it wasn't easy for me!










So, I spent some time flipping and flicking papers back and forth over those gappy little rings and guess, what? Nothing! Just business as usual - joy! Had I not seen them, I believe I'd still be blissfully unaware of the gaps. No idea how long they've been there.

In conclusion, I'm super-happy to report that in this case, the gappy rings aren't causing any issues. Maybe because it's so small it doesn't matter so much. I imagine things are different on different binders although I just had to spread the cheerful word that it most certainly isn't always a bad deal. :)