Planning is an essential part of being and staying organized. As most of you know I'm a planner junkie! This week we're starting a new Get Organized Challenge, so I thought it would be a good time to share some of the ways I use my planner and planner accessories to stay organized.
Top of the Day List (TOD)
I use the top section of my planner to create a list of things I do every day or almost every day. This may seem silly, but there are 2 things that are really important with this list...
The first, it keeps me focused and disciplined. There’s a tendency with redundant tasks to put them off or “wait” to get them done. When your day gets away from you these basic things get missed, but they are literally the foundation for everything else in your life running smoothly.
Second – These tasks tend to be easy and well defined. Which means you can accomplish them! AND you get to CHECK THEM OFF YOUR LIST. This is amazing for your BRAIN.
Most of my TOD list is work related, depending on your job/life/family, etc. your list will be different. If you think to yourself – I don’t have anything I do every day, you’re probably thinking about big things – think instead about small things…
- Making your bed
- Watering your garden
- Planning dinner – Do you need to take something out of the freezer? Will you need to stop at the grocery when you run errands today or on your way home from work? If you don’t have a dinner plan when 5pm rolls around, you’ll be running to the store with everyone else in town.
There are also things that happen every few days or weekly, things like putting out the garbage, doing laundry, calling your mom…these can also be part of your TOD list.
Sticky Notes First
One of the fun things about planning is having a planner that is fun to look at. For me that means it’s attractive and of course organized.
If I’m not 100% sure of when a task needs to get done, when something will arrive/depart or if I’m going to be able to keep an appointment, I put it on a pretty sticky note instead of writing it directly on my planner.
This serves 2 purposes, the first is aesthetic, it just looks better.
Second – it’s easy to move to another date if needed.
If you can’t find sticky notes you want to use – create your own using a Xyron machine, repositionable adhesive and pretty paper.
I use the calendar at the front of my planner as a “mini” view of the day – this is especially helpful for getting an overall view of the month or week.
Appointments and major events are duplicated on this calendar.
When I’m trying to schedule something like dinner with a girlfriend the monthly calendar will tell me quickly what evenings are available and which weeks are full or empty.
It also helps me avoid scheduling too many events in a week.
With the weekly schedule pages, I often have my to-do list in between the two “week” pages, so I don’t “see” the events of the week.
I use washi tape or Post-it note tape, to note employee vacations, travel dates, or anything that is happening over an extended time period.
The Monthly Majors list is a great big reminder of things that I should plan for a little or a lot in advance.
I use it to remind myself of things like upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, large commitments, etc. One of the best things about this is I can use this list when the year changes and I move to a new planner.
Somethings will obviously change, but some things are consistent year to year.
When my kids were at home, I hosted a huge holiday open house. I kept a similar list of how many people I invited, how many showed up, how much food I served and if I needed more or less, etc. After a couple of years I could plan the event quickly and with confidence. Just by reviewing the lists I had moved forward from year to year in my planners.
The Perpetual To-Do List
This is a running list that is always front and center in my planner.
Every time something pops into my head large or small I add it to this list.
Somethings are major and will require “planning” but many times these are just minor things that can be accomplished quickly, things like; a letter of reference for my girlfriend Georgia, a new book I want to order on audible, a new restaurant to visit, a dentist appointment to schedule, send a graduation card to my niece…