fail to plan… plan to fail

Planner p 1

I missed an important commitment recently because I double-booked and then completely forgot to get someone to cover for me. That’s not cool. I was so embarrassed; I had to work up the courage just to apologize.

In an effort to get on top of my issues with time management, I recently took a class called Seeing Your Time. One of the principles we learned was to visually plan out your week, your month, and your day. To plan backwards, knowing where you want to be and walking through the steps it would take to get there.

Although I had suspected as much, this class really emphasized that I am a paper-and-pencil planner. Google calendar works really well for me as a database of appointments and events, but even though it sends me little reminders, that format still doesn’t seem to register the reality of my time. Unfortunately, I’ve tried various Day Planners over the years – of every single shape and size – and though they work well for a short time, I stop using them. This, obviously, defeats the whole purpose.

What now? Well, I have been working to construct a physical planner that suits my needs exactly. I figure that if I am the designer, I can make it as pretty as I like, give it the exact sections that I like, and – when something doesn’t work out, as is always the case – make the changes that I like.

My launching point was the Daily Progress Report designed by the author of a book called The 7-Minute Life (which I highly recommend). I found that I used certain sections and did not use others (which I admit is contrary to her whole philosophy, but I’m looking for what works for me). There were also a couple of additional things that I wished I could track with it.

I busted out my Microsoft Word skills and mocked up something that I have been working on (and working with) for the last week:

Daily Planner pdf

It’s pretty! It’s colorful! It has cool sections! It reminds me of tasks and appointments, but also of non-urgent things I want to be doing on a daily basis. I’ll break it down in another post, because there is just too much to explain, but click on the link above and take a closer look.

Planner p 2

I’ve broken out my Arc System punch and notebooks to set up this new planner.  I like these because they hold papers like a spiral notebook, but allow you to move pages and change them around.  (I need that flexibility or I just give up on a system as soon as the growing pains begin.) The one I am using is 8.5″ x 11″, because I need all the room I can get. A smaller one is easier to carry, but if it’s too cramped for me, I won’t use it, so I’m sticking with full-sized for now.

What about you? Do you use a paper planner? Have you ever tried to make your own? Are you electronic all the way? What works best for you?

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