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Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Great Planner Tab Dilemma

One of the great advantages of a ring bound planner is the ability to use tabs and dividers to organize information. In previous posts, I showed how to make custom tabs for sections of the planner and how to use special planner tabs for frequent access pages in the planner.

I've been using all of these tabs as side tabs, so that they would not block my Today page marker. But all side tabs cluttered up my planner and made my section tabs disappear and become useless.

So I tried the special planner tabs (except for two that are far to the back of my planner and don't get in the way) as top tabs.



I love it.


The tabs don't block my Today or This Week page markers at all, since they are all different heights. (See the arrow above pointing to the Today marker.) And the top tabs don't overhang the bounds of my Franklin Covey Boston compact, probably because a Boston is slightly bigger than most compacts.


Thank you to all who inspired me with their own top tabs. They really do work.

Etcetera.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Planner Marks: Dots and Dashes

Loyal Readers will recall that I often use context codes to divide up tasks into times and places where they should get done. Obviously, if I am on the road, I don't even glance at the tasks coded with an H for home. And if I'm working on my computer, I mostly focus on tasks coded with a C.

But when I am swamped, sometimes I need something more visual to help me decide what to do in the immediate future. 


I simply add dots and dashes to task lists to decide what to do first.



Of course, I use my context codes as guidance. So, in the picture above, I used my highlighter to add dashes to things that I need to complete right now, on my laptop in a coffee shop. Then, before I head home, I need to run an errand. So a dot (less significant than a dash) goes beside the errand.

Now, at a quick glance, I can get my critical tasks done.

Another option is to use numbers, but those work better for tasks that need to be done in a certain order.

In my case, today, I can do the computer tasks in any order, but they all must be done before I leave the coffee shop.


This simple tip works with any task list.

TIP: Use the dash/dot technique when grocery shopping. At the beginning of each section of the store, dot the items that are on the list from that section. Before each aisle, dash the items on that aisle.

This technique allows me to stop doubling back because I forget the ketchup. I always forget the ketchup.

Also, since I highlight the items as they are complete, the dots and dashes simply disappear under the highlighter as I mark off tasks, allowing me to dot/dash a second part of the list.

Etcetera.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How To Use A Planner for Newbies

For plannerds, the holiday season is a special time of the year. New planners and calendars for the next year appear on store shelves. There are naughty and nice lists to make, pies to bake, and people to visit. Time and money become rare commodities. A planner can help plannerds allocate scarce resources and enjoy the holiday season with less stress.


But for people new to the idea of using a planner, it's a difficult time to start. Ironically, it also may be the time that most demands a planner. Holidays are stressful and a planner can help to relieve that stress.


Today's post is intended as a guide to using a planner for the beginner, who needs to be off and running without much time to think about how to plan.

Know the Difference Between a Planner and a Calendar

A calendar is only based on dates, maybe with a scribbled task list on a side column.

A planner gives space to think out the day, week, and month, including a place for tasks, lists, notes, and anything else the plannerd might need to make good decisions about what to do with the available time. It can be ring bound or wire bound.

Use Single Planner

Yes, many people use two planners. With experience, managing two planners becomes a seamless process. But at first, stick to one. Otherwise, time will be wasted recopying and ultimately missing appointments that don't quite get recopied.


Map Out Timed Activities

Once a plannerd uses a planner for a while, it becomes second nature to glance at the page and know how much time each item will take, to understand exactly how early to start getting ready for tonight's event, and to plug in daily stuff like carpool into the schedule.

But, at first, it can be daunting to use a planner for time management. Most people do better mapping out time daily and following that plan. With more experience, plannerds can stop putting everything on the calendar.

Write Down Everything

In addition to mapping out time, jot down everything (e.g., tasks and shopping lists) that needs to be remembered. 


Everything does include making a note in the planner when someone-who-will-not-be-named spills coffee all over her shirt at the coffee shop and needs to treat the stain when that same anonymous person gets home.

Writing everything serves a several purposes. It helps with memory. Writing everything also forces one to use the planner on a regular basis, so the habit of opening the planner and looking at it can develop. Finally, for planning, having a realistic picture of the things that must or should be accomplished helps.

As with the calendar portion of the planner, an experienced plannerd can ease off on this rule, once it is clear what needs to be written down.

Bring the Planner Everywhere

Again, with time, an experienced plannerd can learn when to leave the planner in the car. But for now, it goes to the mall, to church, and to dinner. It goes to the zoo and to the opera. Just get a bigger bag.

Become an Expert Plannerd

Eventually, every beginner moves beyond the basics and needs tricks to help write task lists more efficiently or to organize projects.

Giftie Etcetera can help beginners become experts in several ways:

*Join the conversation

*Sign up for emails (right gutter)

*Share this post (on Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus) to start a conversation with friends about planning

*Read archived and popular posts (scroll down right gutter)

Happy planning!

Etcetera (aka Anonymous Coffee Klutz).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Rhythm of Life

Sometimes, an event is so routine that you don't even bother to note it in your planner. For example, my kids currently arrive home around 4 p.m. on weekdays. I don't have to do anything to prepare. My husband simply brings them home. 

At that point, there is supper to cook, homework and chores to oversee, and prepping for the next day to do. But their arrival is quite routine. In fact, it's not even listed in my planner under routine events.

TIP: List routine events on a skinny page between your monthly view instead of recopying every week. Then only note deviations from that routine on your monthly pages.


But, on Wednesdays, there is choir practice and they don't get home until 5:15 p.m.

Doesn't matter. My life is so routine based that, even though I was working very hard on a project for work today and completely absorbed in writing my legal memo, I naturally stopped at two minutes to four. No alarm. No watching the clock. I simply printed out the final document, made a note on my planner to proof it in the morning, and checked the time. 3:58 p.m.

It's funny how, with all the planning that I do, there is still a rhythm in my life that affects my behavior. And now I have an entire hour free to blog and watch "Selling New York" on Netflix.

P.S. New Yorkers pay way too much for real estate! How do you afford it?

Etcetera.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Etiquette of the Coffee Shop

Several times per week, I can be found at a coffee shop, planner and laptop in hand.


The atmosphere of the coffee shop, complete with studying college students, sales people taking meetings, and the chit chat of retirees helps me to focus and feeds my extrovert tendencies.

But, sometimes, I see appalling behavior. In the interest of the coffee drinking public, please keep these coffee shop etiquette rules in mind.

*Don't be a space hog.

If the shop is fairly empty, it's fine to spread out to two table tops. I often use extra chairs to hold my bags and work planner. But in a crowded coffee shop, limit yourself to one small table top and one chair.

*Clean up after yourself.

Yes, someone will eventually come around and collect your dirty dishes. But it's just nice if the rest of us don't have to move your lipstick stained mug in order to claim a table.

*Notice the clues that someone does not want to be disturbed and respect that.

Clues include the wearing of headphones or ear buds, documents spread in an intricate pattern on the table top, or a surly expression.

*Order something.

Patronize your coffee shop. They have to pay for wifi and space. You shouldn't use it for free.

*Use a reusable mug when possible.

Why waste a paper or styrofoam cup if you are going to drink your coffee or tea inside of the coffee shop anyway? If you sometimes bring coffee with you to go, pour it into your own empty travel mug. Save the planet, people.

*Flush.

That one is self-explanatory, right? (And relevant when drinking coffee. Am I right?) Also, wash your hands. You know who you are.

*Talking (even on cell) is allowed, but use your inside voice.

I sometimes see people studying in coffee shops and complaining on Facebook that people are talking. I think that is a little unfair. It's a public place that is designed to be social. But the problem, in reality, isn't the talking, but the use of a boisterous tone. Use a quieter, more appropriate voice level instead.

Don't coffee and a planner make a lovely couple?

Etcetera.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Planner Trick: Quick and Dirty Tasks

A planner really helps us with two things - namely, remembering and decision making.

The remembering part is obvious. Of course, some way-smarter-than-I-am people can just remember things. Even if you aren't gifted with a perfect memory, a simple entry on a web calendar, smart phone, or any calendar can help you remember.

Remembering, while useful, isn't WHY I recommend a planner instead of a mere calendar. Decision making is where a planner rocks (or another SYSTEM, but a system is required and I find planners to be the simplest systems to maintain).

The decision making comes at more than one point.

The first decision is made when I write something - anything - in my planner. It must be something worth remembering or doing to make the cut. Next, I decide which part of my planner gets the information. An entry on a monthly calendar is different than a dumping of ideas on a master task list. I make yet another decision when I create my daily page. Finally, I make decisions as I complete my daily page.


In the example above, the task list (the right column) is rather long.

So I developed a trick to decide what gets down when I get overwhelmed.

Before I tell you the trick, note that anything REALLY important is already scheduled or done. So I am talking here about what I do at the second level, once appointments are done (or between appointments), deadlines are met, and anything critically important is dealt with.

The Trick: Put a dot next to anything quick and dirty. Then complete the dots.


Quick = can be done in 5 minutes or less.

Dirty = does not require concentration or great skill.

In today's example, I did the following:

*check turkey - glance in the freezer and make sure I bought a turkey on clearance after Easter for Thanksgiving (1 min.)

*edline - go to school webpage and look at notes from the kids' teachers (2 mins.)

*daily pages - trim and hole-punch daily pages for planner (5 mins.)

* clean yoga mat - threw it in the wash with some towels (2 mins.)

*choir practice - checked email to write down choir practice times on planner (2 mins.)

Check out the difference in tasks remaining after that 12 minute task spree.


Remember, if you are stuck with a long list, go quick and dirty! It's an easy and effective decision.

Etcetera.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Day of Rest

I'm not particularly good at Sundays. I tend to try and do all sorts of tasks and get worn out. Or I do nothing and get sad in anticipation of Monday. Take solace, Monday. Sundays are truly my least favorite day of the week.

So I'm doing something different lately.

1. I only plan fun appointments on Sundays. We go to Mass, then dinner with friends or a playdate in the park is allowed. A trip to Home Depot for new tile is NOT.

2. I keep my to do list short. If I can do something during the week instead, I move that to a weekday.


Today, that means I make a grocery list for tomorrow, do my daily stuff, and clean my filthy yoga mat before class tomorrow. That's all I'm doing that is not fun. (And, let's be honest, I kind of enjoy making a grocery list.)

3. I find some alone time. It's tempting, with work and errands and school all week for my family, to want to spend all day Sunday together. But I find we all do better if we mix extrovert and introvert type activities. That might mean reading instead of playing a board game, and that is just fine with me!

How do you handle Sundays?

Etcetera.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What's Your Number: A Task List Challenge

How many items should go on today's task list?

One (so you are sure you get it done)? Three (maybe possible)? Ten (so you can see everything that needs doing)?


Take a deep breath. We are about to do some math. (Don't worry. It's simple.)

While there are certainly really busy days when you can barely get anything unscheduled done, knowing on average how many tasks you realistically get done in a day would be very valuable information for your planning, right?

I'm presenting the TASK LIST CHALLENGE so that you can figure out your number - how many tasks do you get done on an average day.

TIP: Once you know your task number, you can assign a number of tasks on most days that is realistic. For example, on a busy schedule day, of course, assign fewer tasks. On an empty schedule day, assign more. If you are trying to be less busy, skip a couple. If you are trying to be more productive, work to up your average by one task a day.

The Challenge

1. Decide what will be included as "tasks."

I only include the stuff in the center of my daily spread.



The scheduled stuff, like carpool, work, and yoga class, are happening unless I have a sick day or emergency. The daily, routine stuff doesn't always happen, but it gets tracked elsewhere.

TIP: You are not trying to win with the highest score. You are simply counting your tasks. So if you do something daily without putting it on your task list, don't count it.

2. Use a sticky note to track the actual number of completed daily tasks for a week to three weeks.


3. Calculate your average.

Add up your completed daily tasks and divide by the number of days.

88 tasks divided by 21 days = 4.19

TIP: Only include weekdays if those are busier. You can always calculate a separate weekend number.

Weekday calculation: 69/15 = 4.6

Weekend calculation: 18/6 = 3

4. Round up or down to the nearest number.

I'm rounding down to 4 overall because I want a realistically achievable task list. 


However, I think my weekday/weekend calculation is more accurate for what I can achieve because I do the bulk of my tasks on weekdays. So I'm going with 5 & 3 as my weekday and weekend numbers!

What's your number? Let me know in the comments or come discuss it at Giftie Etcetera on Facebook.

Etcetera.

Tired of Being the Planner

Just to clarify, I'm not tired of my planner. But being The Planner is exhausting.

I remember which day the boys must wear dress uniforms, bring a bag lunch, or turn in their projects. I have the complete family schedule of karate practices, social events, and obligations.


Because I actually know what we are obligated to do this weekend, I am the one who has to schedule (or at least be consulted to schedule) any additional stuff.

Husband wants to go to a movie? He doesn't know what's on the agenda, so he has to call me with movie times. Also, if he wants to invite the kids' friends, he has to call me for the parents' contact information. Then I have to call the friends' parents, because I'm the one who volunteers at school and knows them.

Child wants to play Chopped with family dinner? I have to plan the ingredients, find a night that works for cooking, and come up with the recipes.

Work is having a Thanksgiving potluck? I'm the only one in the house who maintains the recipes and grocery list, knows what the inventory of serving dishes in the kitchen is, and knows what is going on right before the potluck that might mean the dish must be cooked in advance.

All of this is almost okay. (Seriously, though, I would kill for my husband to use a pocket-sized planner, just to write down things like "lunch with friends on Saturday" and "remember to change the ice maker filter." He could slip it in his pocket. And, then, he could STOP ASKING ME to remind him.) (Alright, I'm bitter about being the family secretary. BITTER.) (VERY BITTER. Sigh. I don't like being cranky pants!)

But when others cannot make decisions that affect my planner and cause me to keep checking it, I lose it. Cranky Giftie is not fun to watch, let me tell you.

For example, I want to know when house guests will arrive and leave. To get this information, even if it is my husband's house guest, I have to call myself, because my husband doesn't get how making the decision of days when they are visiting affects my planning. He doesn't see it as important.

From my perspective, an extra day that I didn't plan means that I need: more food in the house than I expected, to get more work done in advance or schedule it after the house guest leaves so I can be a good host, that more towels need to be clean or the soap needs to be refilled, that I need an extra library book to read while the house guest watches tv that is not my thing, refuse girl's nights out because we'll have guests...

I could seriously make this list for three days. (Okay, maybe that is a tiny exaggeration. But don't mess with me. Cranky Giftie, remember?!? Grrr...)

A recent example in our home of me being the sole planner causing issues was when we were choosing the dish for a potluck. I suggested cranberry sauce (around Thanksgiving). I was vetoed. Husband suggested meatballs. Still easy to make ahead of time (important, as potluck is on a Friday evening), easy-to-make, and we have a decent serving container. Cool.

I wrote the date of the potluck in my planner. I wrote the ingredients of the meatballs (large bag meatballs, large jar pineapple in its own juice, and a Sweet Baby Ray's large bottle of barbeque sauce) on this week's grocery list. I looked up a coupon for the fruit and for the barbeque sauce and added it to my e-coupons. I made a note to cook the meatballs on the Thursday before (and decided we would have meatballs for supper that night). I made sure we had hot dog buns in the freezer for Thursday, because my youngest likes a hot dog meatball sandwich.

Then, and this is the most important thing, I quit worrying about it. A plan was in place.

Um, he messed up. Someone was already bringing meatballs. I erased everything. 


He suggested several other things, but he is not aware of prices, serving dish inventory, or the ease/timing of cooking, so lots were discarded as possibilities. No ham - too expensive. No caramel apples - tricky and needs to be made the same night. No dirt cake - the mixer is broken and it's hard to find one of the ingredients. I can't drive around looking for the ingredient because I have a big work project and am getting ready for a Thanksgiving house guest and Thanksgiving.

So I told him he needed to either be okay with cranberry sauce or a duplicate serving of meatballs (at a potluck with almost 100 people and almost definitely a completely different recipe) or take care of it himself, but without taking away from our almost-nonexistent family time.

He found my response threatening (which is strange, because I thought I was totally repressing my urge to harm him - TOTALLY) and freaked out.

If he had to plan the meals, maintain the budget, deal with scheduling, do the shopping, and work and volunteer, he couldn't possibly do it. But when I pointed that out, well, it was not pretty.

"What do you want me to do?" he asked.

"E
ither be okay with cranberry sauce or a duplicate serving of meatballs (at a potluck with almost 100 people and almost definitely a completely different recipe) or take care of it yourself, but without taking away from our almost-nonexistent family time," I replied. 

Hey, I'm consistent! I gave options. I did NOT threaten to harm any husbands in the making of this blog post. I SHOULD earn a freakin' crown for that, don't you think?

I've tried solutions. A family calendar on the fridge. Explaining the importance of big obligations or scheduling being done as far in advance as possible. Asking me what I want BEFORE signing up for/scheduling something. Giving me the final say on things (like cooking) that are going to be my ultimate responsibility.

None of these work if the other person is not on the same page, and without knowing all the things that go into running a family's calendar, the other person will struggle with that understanding.

May I suggest that you ask them to read Giftie's blog? I can go all Giftie Smash on them, too!

Etcetera. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Planner Balance: Schedules and Tasks

Newsflash: plannerds tend to over plan. 

Sure, there are folks who under plan, barely getting important stuff written down, missing appointments, and stressing at the last minute without a to do list to help with memory and decision making. But those folks don't make up the majority of my Loyal Readers. (Some of you are out there, reading anyway, and I do appreciate the love!)

Over planning is much more common among my readers. It makes sense. Once you realize that writing things down helps you remember things and make better decisions about how to spend your time, the urge is to write everything down.

I don't have a problem with that. My philosophy is to write as much or as little as works for you.

But my philosophy for actual planning of your day is different. The goal is balance between your actual schedule and your task list.

For example, today was really busy, schedule wise, so I keep the task list short. 


(Schedule is at the very top on Quo Vadis Textagenda planners. Task list is below the first thick blue line.)


Tomorrow is a much more flexible day, with a pretty empty schedule, so you'll see things like working 5 hours or other time-consuming tasks on my much longer task list.


Humans can only do so much in a given day. Remember that when you make your daily plan.

TIP: Each item should only go on your task list OR your schedule - not both -so that you can realistically judge the volume of items on your list.

Etcetera.

Monday, November 10, 2014

'Tis The Season For A Planner Purge

There are two times per year when I work my planner to death - the beginning of the school year and the holiday season. Early November has become a traditional time to thin out my planner, since it is fat from school and I add so many pages into it for Thanksgiving and Christmas.


If your planner is getting fat, put it on a diet!

*Delete any projects that are no longer active.

*Remove all months except November and December.


*Purge notes/files.


TIP: When you remove a file, cross out and highlight the file name. That way, only the active files will jump out at you.


I decided which files to purge by looking at the information. If I hadn't touched the file in a year or so or if the information was outdated, I threw it out. A couple of files had information that I need to store, but not in a movable, remotely-accessible format.

Real Life Details: Deleted or removed files included locations, notes from a car wreck over a year ago, notes on how to use You Tube (as I am now an expert), diet (since replaced by a log in projects), addresses (all on Facebook now), old Thanksgiving plans (except last year's, which went in projects), allowance tracker (we now reward chores with electronics time), inventory (blank and I have no idea what it was), and borrowed (I now use a sticky note on my weeklies).

Give your planner a quick purge before the holiday season is upon us.

Etcetera.

All The Info, All In One Place

I have the great honor of helping my baby sister with her new baby this morning. I just put BOTH of them down for a nap, got the laundry going, and now it's time for me to get some work done.


I noticed that the first item on my sister's shopping list (ready for sending her husband to the store the moment he arrives home) is a notebook.

Pre-baby, she didn't really need one. Work was always regular hours, she had Outlook at the office, and her cell phone for any other reminders. Plenty of free time at home meant that she had time to check the pantry and fridge to make grocery lists lists, no need to arrange childcare for workouts, and a spotlessly clean house.

Now, with a half week old baby, notes have become a necessity.


And keeping track of those notes is where the notebook comes in. I use a planner, but it is the same theory.

There is a place to note feedings and changings and when the baby last got a bath. (That all seems simple, until you add in the complete lack of sleep, recovery from delivery, and rotating caregivers helping out who don't know what has already been done.) There is a place to note doctor's appointments and medications and schedules of who is helping out when. There's a place to list immediate shopping needs, like more picture frames or foods that can be eaten without requiring cooking or dirty dishes. (Picture frames don't seem important until pictures are cluttering up all your surfaces and getting spilled on.)

Of course, it's not only moms of newborns who need a place for information and planning. My school aged kids have karate, playdates, school holidays, and other activities. I'm also a writer, substitute teacher, and an attorney. We are busy.

I could do lists all over the house. But they get lost and scattered.

Having one place for everything (planner, notebook, Evernote - whatever works for you) is a lifesaver.

Etcetera.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Power Of A Plan

I have a big work project that I WILL finish before the week of Thanksgiving, company coming for Thanksgiving, a novel to write by November 30 (Nanowrimo rocks!), and a new nephew to spoil!

My life is a bit crazy right now.

So I made this...



...into this.



The simple act of making a plan lifted the stress off of my shoulders.

Plan components include:

*schedule

*list of items that must leave the house

*task list

*menu

*reminder to do daily tasks

Take a second and make a plan for tomorrow. It's worth the time and effort.


What are the components of your daily plan? 

Blog about it and link back to me! Or visit the Giftie Etcetera Facebook group to discuss it. Happy planning.

Etcetera.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Double Duty

Time management gurus often suggest that people do two things at once. Sometimes, that is a horrible idea. Some things just require total concentration. 

But I do two things at once a lot...and wanted to share some double duties that make sense.

*Wipe down the tub while the bath is draining.
*Do a sweep of things out of place in the house or spray and wipe the counters and stove while talking on the phone.
*Write your blog while watching The Voice.

*Paint your nails, update your planner, or process receipts while sitting in the carpool line.
*Give yourself a pedicure while watching a Gilmore Girls marathon.
*Chop veggies and prep fruits for the week while watching Chopped. (It works. Seriously.)
*Do "speedy" housework while you workout.
*Cut planner pages while watching tv or chatting with your spouse.
*Do dishes while cooking supper.

What are your favorite double duties?


Etcetera.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Responsibility Problem

The problem with carrying a planner is that you get a reputation for getting things done in a timely manner. You start to be considered "the responsible one" - and it's all downhill from there.


Think about it.

Your friend who is late for everything? You don't expect her to show up on time, you quit calling her for time sensitive activities, and you don't ask her for a ride to work.

Your friend who is scattered and forgets things? You likely don't call her to bring brownies to the class party.

Your friend who never finishes a project? You don't ask him to help fix the roof.

I am the one who always knows my schedule, so I know immediately if I can help or not. I buckle the kids in the car seat every time and always have healthy snacks in the pantry, so I get to babysit. I honor my commitments, so people are constantly asking me to volunteer. And I am a good listener and problem solver, so it is not unusual for me to get five to ten communications a day from people, needing advice or help.

It can get overwhelming. There are times (several times a week, in fact) when I am simultaneously getting phone calls, emails, texts, Facebook messages, and in person requests for my time and talents. (Funny, no one ever offers to pay, even for stuff like legal advice. Of course, my student loan officers expect me to pay for the privilege of knowing the law.) I practice saying no, but when I get five or more legit (in the sense that the person is truly a friend or family member and someone I want to help if I can) requests, just saying "no" five times can take up too much of my day. And sometimes, it is quicker to say "yes."

Sometimes, I'm jealous of people who don't care. I look at people who procrastinate, ignore deadlines and communications, and turn off their phones for hours a day, and I just want to be that.

But I can't. It's not in my nature.

Etcetera.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Highlight Hack For Planner Goals

Loyal Readers know that I use the Reverse Highlight for making still-to-dos pop out at me.

But I use the same technique for reaching goals. For example, for National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo), I am highlighting each word count goal as I get to it.


For those participating in Nanowrimo, the next two columns are my actual word count and my revised daily goal, based on how many words that I have left to write divided by the number of days left to write.

I do the same thing for my weight loss goal. I list smaller goals (with dates) and highlight as I move towards my big (or should I say little) goal.


Try this with anything that you want to accomplish which can be quantified. The highlight makes you visually track your success, and encourages you to keep going.

Etcetera.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Special Planner Tabs For Frequent Access

As Loyal Readers know, I use Avery tabs for my sections and post-it flags for my projects.

But I needed something else. There are certain parts of my planner that I access daily, mostly logs or information resources. I needed a tab more sturdy than a post-it flag but less permanent than an Avery divider.

I am using these:


The things that I access all the time include grocery list, calorie log, exercise log, weight log, the YMCA schedule, Nanowrimo goal log, and my chore log.

What do you do about things that you use daily, but aren't worth their own section tab?


Etcetera.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Repeating Planner Series: Yearly Dates

I've always maintained future pages, so when Laurie at Plannerisms suggested a separate future page (she does her's in blue) for each month for items that repeat every single year, I had to adopt the idea. 

(Go read her blog. It is amazing. Also, my adaptation is a very casual take on her idea. You want to read her perspective on this.)


I put it right before each month.

Note that this page is only for things that happen every year, like a birthday, anniversary, or annual check-up. My cousin's wedding in January is a one-time event and just goes on my regular future pages.


Etcetera.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Repeating Planner Entry Series: Weekly Schedule

There is a continuing tension in my planner between detailed scheduling (with too much writing and "busyness" on the page) and more broad scheduling (where accidental conflicts sometimes occur).

NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION

For example, I know on Mondays to do carpool, work for 5 hours, do yoga, and check Edline (a school website) for the kids' homework. 


So maybe I don't include the repeating planner entries that are routine to cut down on clutter on my monthlies:

9:10 am Doctor's Appointment
10 - 3 pm Work

But this almost always causes me to double-book something, because even though I KNOW that I have carpool daily and yoga at 8 a.m. on Mondays, when I call the doctor on a Friday to schedule Monday's appointment, I'm not thinking about yoga.

TOO MUCH CLUTTER

Instead, I need this:

6:45 am Carpool
8 am Yoga

9:10 am Doctor
10 - 3 pm Work
3 - 4 pm Blog/Paperwork
4 pm Boys Arrive Home


That way, when I friend calls to walk this afternoon, I know to cancel yoga, move work up to 8 am, and add in cleaning the house from 3 - 4 pm. I have the information that I need at hand to make the decision.

As you can imagine, 6 events in a day really clutters up my calendar.

THE SOLUTION: ROUTINE SCHEDULE AND DEVIATIONS

So, instead, I did this:


Basically, I cut a memo sheet to a skinny size, hole-punched list and added the routine daily appointments. I placed the routine schedule in the middle of the current month, so that when I need to schedule, both the day's events and repeating entries are right in my sight.

Of course, if a day gets complicated, I make a daily plan with a detailed schedule.

Finally, I note deviations from the routine schedule on my monthlies. So when the kids are off for Thanksgiving, I write that there is no school/carpool.

PLANNERD TO LIST DO

1. Make a skinny page with your routine schedule. (Skinny page is necessary to not block your monthlies.)

2. Write any deviations from the routine on the monthlies.

3. Check both when you schedule anything.

Etcetera.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Repeating Planner Entry Series: Chores

My friend M does chores daily and weekly, without a list. Her house is always neat and tidy. I love it. But it is not going to happen that way for me. I struggle with chores.

First and foremost, I struggle with actually doing them.


Silence.

Silence filled with self-recrimination.


It's clear that I need some motivation from my planner to do chores. I need to schedule them. But I struggle with that, too.

Chores don't work on the main pages because they just aren't important enough for that space. And they don't work anywhere else in my planner because I forget about them. Plus, recopying chores everyday just does not make sense. If something important comes up (like take out night or good tv), I need to be able to skip chores. But I cannot skip too often, or Saturdays suck.

So I thought about what works for me.

I workout very regularly and track my calories. I do that well with a combination of a simply reminder (circled, so I know to recopy to tomorrow when it's done or canceled) on my task list in my weeklies and a log. The log is really motivating.

So I did a list of chores and a log on graph paper.


There is a reminder to do chores (and prep for the next day) on my weekly spread each day.



The chores are divided by what I need to do almost daily (like dishes, laundry, a 15 minute quick clean wherever it is most needed, and a sweep around the house putting things in their homes) and monthly goals (one for each room in the house). 
I added codes that I could use on the chart.


So far, it's working okay. I am missing some days (the dash instead of a filled in box), but I was sick this week, so I think I did okay.


Etcetera.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Repeating Planner Entries Series: Unscheduled Tasks

Since the 1980s, people have been categorizing tasks. 

Actually, Benjamin Franklin created his own planners, back in the early American days, and surely farmers and homesteaders and even hunters and gatherers probably thought of tasks in categories. But the 80s was really the heyday of plannerds.

For Franklin Covey folks, this means labeling tasks as "urgent and important," "urgent but not important," "important but not urgent," or "not urgent or important." For devoted Getting Things Done fans, tasks are all about "next actions" and "deadlines." (If you aren't familiar with either topic, Google it and enjoy the time suck.)

TASK MANAGEMENT SYSTEM


My personal system for dealing with tasks is a hybrid of the famous systems that I have read about.

*MASTER TASK LIST - This list includes all tasks that are neither urgent nor important, but that I want to separate from the meat of my planner. I just keep this as a stand alone section between my project pages and calendar pages.

*CHORES - Unless a chore is date specific (e.g., make a travel packing list the day before my weekend road trip) or a one-time item (e.g., call a repairman), it is separate from my tasks and goes within my recurring chore system (taught later in this series, so sign up for my email list to find out when I post it).

*SCHEDULED TASKS - Tasks that must be done on/by a certain date (e.g., delivering my brother-in-law's gift before his birthday) generally get scheduled on my weekly spread, on the last day when they could reasonably happen.

*UNSCHEDULED TASKS - Well, this post is about how I deal with those tasks that are important to me, but not on a truly set schedule or upcoming deadline. So let's examine that.

UNSCHEDULED TASKS


Some things are not worth rewriting every time I don't get to them, but they are worth doing. Either they are too important to just dump on a master task list even though they are not on any deadline or they are on a longer term deadline but need to be done now. They need to stay on my radar (and therefore must be recopied sometimes as a reminder), but they don't need to clutter up my weekly plans, which MUST be done or formally rescheduled.

Some examples of these unscheduled tasks include:

*doing tasks for a committee that has a deadline next spring,

*making a donation to a local charity while I can still find the web link,


*editing an email template so that the next time someone calls for a substitute, I don't have to edit the email on the fly, and

*typing up my handwritten pages for Nanowrimo before it actually starts (but it's no biggie if I do it the first day of Nano).

So I did this:



The yellow sticky note list travels from week to week on my This Week page marker. When it gets full, I recopy it to a new one, keeping the items on my radar. And I don't hesitate to recopy a task or two to my daily plan, if it's a good day to do the task. For example, if I am working at my computer all day, I might add the computer tasks to my daily plan.

TIP: Keep this list short and sweet by making it no longer than the length of the sticky note. If you go beyond 10 to 15 items, some should be scheduled and some should move to your master task list.

TIP: Include context codes (E = errand, C = computer, W = work, etc.) next to each task.

Tune in this week for more tips about dealing with Repeating Planner Entries, including chores, weekly recurring tasks, and yearly recurring tasks.

Etcetera.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Repeating Planner Entries: Worthy of A Series

One of the reasons that I am a huge fan of a paper planner is because I have to either do a task, rewrite the task, or delete/delegate the task. The same rule applies to repeating events. I write them down, and they happen - again and again - or I am forced to reschedule.


Unlike a computer, which allows the task to roll over or repeat automatically, paper planning requires a conscious choice about how to handle an incomplete task. I put pen to paper and the combination of the active decision making, the physical sensation, and the visual engage my brain synapses and help me to remember.

Still, the struggle about what to do about repeating planner entries is real.

For example, I need to remember carpool, but, really, am I going to forget to bring my kids to school? On a school day, it's not like I am likely to forget. The kids are home, getting dressed in uniforms, trying to sneak in cartoons. Let's just say there are clues.

However, when a friend calls to see if I can babysit at 8:30, if I forget about carpool next Wednesday, I might double book.

So, over the next few days, I'll share some planner tweaks that deal with often rescheduled tasks that are neither urgent nor important, but should really be done, as well as household chores and recurring weekly and yearly tasks and events.

(I really only have one recurring monthly task - paying the mortgage. Imagine my surprise! I guess it's because my husband pays the bills. My weekly trick would work with monthly tasks, though, if that's what you need.)

So check back in all this week. And if you never share Giftie Etcetera on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, or other social media, now is the time! Just click one of the buttons below to share, show your support, and welcome your friends on our planning journey.

Etcetera.

Pain-free Closet Purge

If you are new to organizing obsession, you'll probably find the following tip on day one of your quest:

"Turn all of your hangers around in your closet. When you use an outfit, turn only that hanger the right way. In 6 months, purge all unturned clothes."

It's a good tip.

It doesn't quite work for me, though, for a few reasons. I sometimes wear clothes that aren't that flattering and am uncomfortable in them all day. But then they are used and get turned around and never purged. I also have favorites that I wear after they are worn out, mostly when I won't see anyone. But they are annoying, because they are pilled or shrunken or otherwise BAD.

Most of all, though, I can't stand having half my hangers backwards!

So I tweaked the tip to fit my needs.

When you wear a piece of clothing, move it to the front of that category of clothes if it worked or, if it didn't work, put it directly in the Goodwill can (a lined garbage can in my laundry closet). At the end of nine months (because Louisiana summers are long and I might not even touch perfectly nice winter clothes in six months), purge the clothes at the BACK of each category.

TIP: Organize your closet by category.

I have pants, long skirts, short skirts, and dresses on one bar of the closet. On the second, I have short sleeved shirts and suits. On the third, I keep long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and coats.

TIP: Put a reminder in your planner every six months to do a Goodwill errand.

TIP: Put a reminder in your planner every nine months to purge your closet.

Using this rule, I purged 21 items today. Most were t-shirts and long-sleeved t-shirts that shrunk to too short, but there were also clothes that no longer fit my life, like many, many blouses that only look good with suits. I no longer wear suits daily (though I kept three - one for interviews, one for funerals, and my favorite), so I just kept my most treasured, best fitting blouses. The ones I tossed were harsh colors, had dated collars (ruffles were really in when I last worked in an office), and were never quite fitted right (but that didn't matter under a suit jacket).


The point of this post, like most of my posts, is NOT that you do this my way. It's that you take all organizing tips with a grain of salt, adopting them for YOUR needs. And if you NEED hangers all in the same direction all the time, that's cool.

Etcetera.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Responsible Kids Through Simple Solutions

My kid, age 8, keeps forgetting to wear his belt to school. Each time he forgets, he receives a demerit. (How very Catholic school does that sound? It makes me giggle every time.) Five demerits means a detention. (Back in my school days, I would have gotten detention for carrying my school supplies with these blue nails! That makes me giggle, too.)



As a mom, I support the detention. In fact, I kind of hope that he earns one because then he'll learn a good lesson about remembering his stuff.

But, honestly, as a person, I am going to be so annoyed if he gets a detention, as we live out of town from the school and detention occurs at some ridiculously early hour. I don't want to get up early! It's not like I was the naughty one! Not enough coffee in the world...

I had the option, of course, of adding "belt" to my daily checklist of things to carry with me in the morning, right under water bottles and snacks.

But then I would be remembering the belt and he would learn nothing!

Instead, he has a new rule. When he takes off his shoes (the prompt), he also takes off his belt (the action) and stores it in the shoes (the physical reminder) so that he cannot miss it in the morning. If he forgets to put the belt in the shoes, I can punish him early - before he gets a demerit and before I get a date with the evil sunrise. So far, so good.

This could work for you, too. Take something you already do (the prompt), relate it to an action, and leave a physical reminder.

In the morning, when I make coffee, I also look over my planner. I keep the planner, overnight, in the spot where I always sip coffee.

At night, when I plug in my phone, I take my meds, stored right by the plug.

And have your kids do the same. Maybe it's taking meds when brushing teeth or setting the alarm clock when they pick up their book to read at night.

Prompt. Action. Physical reminder.

It works.

Etcetera.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Too Much Order

I am in a lot of organizing groups, read daily blogs about planning and housekeeping, and check Pinterest for ideas for storing my crap in an orderly fashion. So you'd think that I would love color-coded, alphabetized rows of canned food (or CDs or apples or, based on the pictures that I get tagged in on Facebook, virtually any item).

I don't. In fact, I'm here to rant about people who organize that way.

For me, being organized is about aesthetics in the sense that I don't want to be overwhelmed with clutter. But I am not a decorator and never plan to be one. Being organized is about finding my stuff, quickly and efficiently. If that means alphabetizing, cool. But if not, no need to alphabetize.



I do like my closets divided by type of clothes and season, because if I am looking for a sweater, I don't want to dig through t-shirts.

I also put newly cleaned clothes in the front of the closet, so that things that I truly never wear naturally move to the back of the closet for donations later.

I put all gifts in the same big, decorative box in the corner of my bedroom (or a note in the box saying where the big gifts are hidden), so that I don't have to search all over for gifts when the birthday party rolls around.

But I read about moms simply having to organize Legos, and I get ragey. First, Legos are really about shapes. If you must organize by color, organize your gift bags or craft paper or something, anything, where color ACTUALLY matters to you. Second, Legos are your kids' toys. Let them organize it - or not. Third, who wants to play with a building toy if putting it away takes hours? Throw those suckers in a plastic, covered box and be done with it.

I read about putting spices in ABC order and it makes no sense to me (unless you are a chef with WAY TOO MANY spices...I actually understand in those cases). 90% of my cooking involves salt, pepper, Louisiana seasoning, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Those things go on a decorative tray on the kitchen counter. The tray allows me to keep them close when I cook and move them easily to wipe the counter under them. Everything else is just put neatly on the shelf, maybe vaguely divided into sweet (like cinnamon and nutmeg) and spicy (like mustard seed and cumin).

My shoes are not carefully lined up (except boots or very dressy shoes that need to maintain shape), but thrown in pairs in three decorative buckets on the floor of my closet. (I use the buckets for two purposes: to move the shoes for vacuuming and to limit the number of pairs naturally due to limited space.)

I would never fill my whole pantry with baskets labeled with pretty sticker labels. I just put cans with cans and cereal with cereal. But I do label the over-the-door sorter, as I cannot see what is in there and it contains smaller stuff, like condiments and jams.

The point is that you don't have to organize your kids' school projects (how will they learn?!?), your nail polishes, or your books. You can, and you should, if it makes you happy. But if you are running around the internet, begging someone to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help you figure out how to store Legos so the colors stay together, you don't need the colors together. You need a solution that will work easily and simply and save you time and angst, because if you just needed them "sorted by color," you would have already done it!

Come visit my Facebook group, Giftie Etcetera, where we talk and rational solutions to your organizing problems that won't stress you out, but will listen and respond to YOUR individual organizing and planning needs. It won't be pretty, necessarily, but it will work for you.

Etcetera.

A Hot Beverage For Planning

On Saturday mornings, I usually sit in my living room with my laptop (for Philofaxy web finds), my coffee, and my planner.


I notice that a lot of others use their planners with hot tea or coffee for sipping, too. Maybe it's because of our consumer culture. Maybe it's because we are addicted to caffeine. (Yes. Yes I am.)

But I think it's about something else.

Sipping a hot beverage with my planner open in front of me might just be about slowing down and relaxing.

Yes, grabbing a Starbucks coffee is about speed. Stay awake. Work faster. Get it done. But I rarely grab Starbucks and run.

Instead, I brew a cafe' au lait and sip it at home. I order a mocha at a local coffee shop and relax, watching people in the public place go about their days, eavesdropping on conversations and wondering what each person's story might be. If I do enter a Starbucks, it's never through the drive-through and it always involves taking a seat.

Essentially, I slow down. I sip my hot beverage, carefully and thoughtfully, while I decide on my plan for the day. The heat of the coffee, combined with the dash of caffeine, slows me and makes me thoughtful about what I want to accomplish.

Today, it means cleaning my kitchen (it's a disaster), finishing preparing gifts for some birthdays, and finishing my Nanowrimo outline. All of this should be overwhelming, but it's not, just because I slowed down and thought about it. I want to do more, but can assess the feasibility in the quiet of my routine and rationalize the amount that I can reasonably accomplish without burn out.

So, sip a hot beverage while you plan. Or listen to soft music. Or do whatever slows you down.

Your plan will be better and your planner will work better for you.

Etcetera.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Basic Planner Recipe

The components of a planner that work for virtually anyone are actually simpler than you think.


The ingredients include a calendar, task list, paper/idea capture, and a file for information. That's it.

I like my planner on paper, but a computer or smartphone will do, if that is your style. Maybe you have a planning area in your kitchen. Maybe you have a spiral planner or a ring binder. It doesn't matter.

If you have these parts to your system, you can consider yourself a plannerd and can tackle anything.

*Times and Dates

Have a calendar to note dates and times. And then, well, note dates and times.

It's funny how many people fail at this step. They believe that they will remember when the dentist appointment will happen. Or they search all over for that little card, only to discover that the appointment was yesterday and they owe a $50 skipped appointment charge.

Write it down when you schedule or find out about it.

*Task and To Do Lists

Have a place where you write down anything that needs to be done, unless you a) do it anyway regularly or b) are doing it now.

Of course you can be complicated about this. Or you can just designate a legal pad and keep a running list. What matters is that you don't keep it all in your brain. Your brain does NOT have that much room.

*Place for Planning

Have some paper for planning - projects for work, holidays, errand days. Whatever you need to plan, it's easier to think it out on paper (or screen).

*Information on the Go

(You didn't think I was alliterating on purpose, did you?)

Okay, I need a lot of space for things like my medical history (convenient at the doctor's office), exercise class schedule, and blog ideas. But you get the picture. Have a portable place to put that information.

It is important that all of the ingredients are put together in a place that you can easily access and that you love to use. Think of it like using a soup bowl for soup. If you don't have a soup bowl, you'll probably never make soup. I have a beautiful, light blue leather compact planner, but decide what speaks to you. If it's your iPhone, that is alright, as long as you don't mind the input or the layout. Make it fit you and your life.

This is the overview picture of a very simple planner notebook as an example.


But I like something fancier and with more writing space...something more gourmet.

Join the Giftie Etcetera Facebook Group to talk about how you make the recipe work for you.

Etcetera.

Goals: Planning Versus Doing

Some of us over plan.

Some people (not me, of course...{cough}) spend more time planning than doing.

If you see yourself in that statement, step back and consider your goals. Are you planning so that...

*you arrive at events and appointments on time?
*you honor commitments?
*you have the right tools to do the job?
*you make more money or find more success?
*you are a better parent/spouse/person?
*you exercise enough?
*you eat better?

I'm not a huge fan of goal-making, actually. I know that scientists have evidence that a clear, measurable goal predicts likely success. I don't disagree with that research. But I cannot always reach my goal and the constant struggle to do so is exhausting.

Still, you need to KNOW your goals in using your planner in order to use it to get things done.

For me, my goals include:

*exercising most weekdays
*working 15 hours a week
*eat less than 2,000 calories and at least 6 fruits/veggies
*be available for my kids and my spouse
*keep my house comfortably livable

My daily plan reflects those goals.


I scheduled work and a workout. I planned my meals and housework (minimally). I made the list of tasks manageable, by starting with the must dos and adding a restrained and appropriate number of want to/should dos.

Therefore, today will be spent working toward those goals.

But that's not all today will be. Because I was careful not to focus so much on planning that there is still time to play, I'll be reading a novel, watching tv, and relaxing some.

That is life. And life is not defined by a plan. It is defined by what you actually do - your choices each day.

Etcetera.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When To Use Alarms

As much as I love my planner, I use my cell phone alarm and other alarms constantly.

Alarms don't take the place of a planner. Times are still, first and foremost, written in my planner. But alarms do free my mind to work, undistracted by the clock, until I need to stop.

Useful ways to use alarms include:

*Wake Ups

I set my alarm for 6:15 a.m. M - F, not at all on Saturday, and for 7:15 a.m. for Mass on Sunday.

TIP: Use a cell phone alarm for the features, like different settings for different days, progressive alarms that get louder each time they ring (especially useful in the morning), and different types of sounds for different purposes.

*Unusual Appointments

If I need to do something unusual, like go to the dentist at 1:45 p.m., I set an alarm, in case I am not looking directly at my planner when it's time to leave for the appointment.

TIP: Set the alarm enough in advance to allow you adequate time to get to your appointment. 


This is where your planner is useful, as it will tell you where you will be when the alarm goes off. Obviously, if you are going to be in school, court, or church, a vibrating alarm might be better.

*Important Unusual Tasks

If I suddenly need to take an antibiotics every morning with breakfast, in addition to writing it on my planner and logging each dose directly on the pill container, I set an alarm. Taking the med is not part of my routine, but is important, and timing is important, so an alarm makes sense.

TIP: Don't use alarms for everything, including unimportant stuff, or you might start to ignore them.

*Developing Habits

When I first start doing something new, I might set a daily alarm until I get into the habit.

*Transitioning From Engrossing Task

I tend to get engrossed in work (I know, weird, right?), so I set an alarm for my end time (or fifteen minutes before end time, to warn me to finish up whatever I am doing). 


Now, while most alarms are on my cell phone, I generally work in the library, in an office, or in a coffee shop, with earbuds from my laptop to my ears. Therefore, instead of a phone alarm, I use Google alarms.

TIP: To set a Google alarm, type "timer 60 minutes" (or whatever length of time applies) in the Google search bar. Then just leave that window open. The timer will begin by itself. Do make sure your volume is turned on.

Here's what happened when I typed "timer 2 hours":


*Motivating Children

I use alarms all the time with my kids. They get to play "beat the alarm" and can earn extra minutes of using electronics with whatever minutes are leftover. For example, I might give them an hour to clean their rooms, but if they are done to my satisfaction in 23 minutes, they get 37 minutes of free electronics time.

Alarms are an important tool in the modern era and should not be overlooked. Teachers have been using them for decades to know when to change classes. They work!

So decide when you will set alarms and start doing so. You won't regret it.

Etcetera.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Living Peacefully With The Unplanned

This could be a snapshot of most days in my marriage, but it actually comes from a conversation that happened this morning.

"See you at 9:40 for the parent-teacher conference."

"9:45."

"9:40."

"9:45"

"9:40"

"9:45"

"I can get out my planner. The meeting is at 9:40."


"Oh. See you at 9:35."

(No husbands were harmed in the making of this blog.)

(Okay, no husbands were permanently harmed in the making of this blog.)

It's frustrating when you write down times so that you can show up without making others wait on you, and those around you don't take that step. You can, of course, try to convert them to the Way of the Planner, but the truth is that some people aren't plannerds at heart. So what can you do?

*Send meeting times or reminders via e-mail or text message.

That way, when your beloved argues about a time, you have evidence that will not just prove you correct, but also save the relationship from the strain of an argument. No need to be snotty about it. Just be matter-of-fact. Show them the message.

*Give them sticky note only access to your planner.

Sticky note only access simply means that they can look at your planner to remember dates, and add them to your planner, but only with a sticky note. You write the time in your own planner, and keep the sticky note to prove their communication later. This lets you keep your own planner organized, but also teaches them how great of a tool a planner can be.

Obviously, only do this with people that you trust. But my eight year old does it all the time and it works.

*Make a note in your planner when you convey appointment or task information.

In the note section of my weekly spread, I write down the date and time that I asked my husband to change the windshield wipers. That way, when I bring my car to the shop and pay someone way too much to change them for me months later, he cannot complain about the cost. He slacked, and I have proof.

I still prefer e-mail proof, but sometimes a jotted note has to do.

*Keep a list of what you are waiting on in your planner.

TIP: Keep a "waiting on" sticky note at all times, with a list of things that you are waiting on from others.

I label mine @, which is my code for pending. I move it from week to week, at the bottom of my weekly spread. Right now, it lists some paperwork that I am waiting on, some small amounts of money owed to me (by my sisters, who always pay, but are a bit unplanned and appreciate that I keep track for them), and a movie that I lent to a friend. That @ spot is another great place to post WHEN you assigned something out.


TIP: If you are constantly waiting on things from people - your spouse, your employee, your boss - then consider a Project called "Waiting On" and make a separate list for each person.

@Spouse
@Employee
@Boss
@Others

*Remember that you have your own quirks, and try to accept theirs as nothing personal.

This last tip is the hardest. It does feel personal when I take the time to plan, communicate, and be on time, and someone else does not show me that courtesy.

But, honestly, my husband of almost 20 years is not likely to change anytime soon. So I have to accept it and work around it, just as he accepts my coffee habit, my moodiness, and my need to socialize in big groups.

Etcetera.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Messy Planner

Today's planning spread looks completely normal for me.


But look closer.


Today is Sunday the 19th, and the planner really hasn't been updated since Friday. It's messy and crazy and scattered.

But it has not been neglected.

I had a long weekend, bringing my kids to a sitter, traveling all day Saturday to a meeting, and going to church this morning. I certainly used my calendar and my task list, but I didn't have time to stop and think or make a daily list. I made notes at the meeting and follow up lists for Monday morning. I kept track of my calories. I added to my grocery list (especially after The Great Coffee Panic of 2014...no worries, the coffee was in the freezer). I did the must dos.

My planner may look disordered and abandoned this weekend, but it's not. That is what a work horse planner looks like!

Some fun aspects of this week's planner spread:

*Things that still need to be taken care of (done, deleted, delegated, or delayed) are unhighlighted and therefore easy to see.

Unhighlighted stuff starts on Friday's daily page (to the left) and on Saturday and Sunday's weekly squares.

*Undone chores are noted for making a Sunday cleaning plan (on the green sticky on the left).

Lots of chores were undone this week, just because we were out of town yesterday.

TIP: A friend at the Giftie Etcetera Facebook Group suggested putting my chore sticker on a sticky note so I can move it from daily page to daily page. Brilliant!

*Things borrowed are listed on the weekly spread (on the green sticky to the right).

That means that when my sister paid me back for a gift that I bought on her behalf, I could just scratch through it.

*Because Saturday was left blank on purpose, due to an all day meeting, I used that space to jot last minute notes.

I am not advocating a messy planner like I have right at this moment. But, I am suggesting that you forgive yourself and accept your planner, however messy or disordered or crazy it happens to be, because it is a living, ever-changing tool, and that's okay.

Now, time to complete these Sunday tasks and get my life ready for Monday.

Etcetera.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Planner Supplies: What To Carry

I use a pretty small planner (a little bigger than 4 x 6) with moderately sized rings (about an inch). So, despite everything I pack in my planner, there is little room to waste.

I basically have two rules for what I carry: 1) if I use it more than once a month, I carry it and 2)
 unless it takes up too much space.

The only supplies that I have, other than a pen and a highlighter, fit in a small zipper pouch.


I keep a few paperclips, some small magnetic page markers, and a reader arrow bookmark. Honestly, I rarely use these things in my planner. Instead, I use them when I am substitute teaching or processing receipts, to mark the lesson plan or divide up receipts into categories.

I have weekly chore stickers, though I am about to get rid of those in favor of weekly, custom-made post-it notes (which are easier to move around).

I have post-it tabs, perfect for labeling projects or notes.

There are also sticky notes. I use these occasionally in my planner.

Finally, I have stamps.

In the very back, serving as a decoration, a spiritual uplift, and an as needed bookmark, a custom bookmark made by my award-winning quilter friend.

That's all I bring with me. I have lots of other stuff at home, but it would be silly to carry it all around.

What do you carry? Too much? Too little?

Come talk about it at the G
iftie Etcetera Facebook Group.

Etcetera.