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The Practically Perfect Planner: Determining the Right Planner(s) for You

10 Jan


For more years than I care to count, I had the messiest planner on the planet. (That achievement did not earn me a single award, however—unless you count ongoing confusion.) I had arrows and scratch outs, pieces of paper stuffed in every corner, schedules taped in the back and reminder notices clipped to pages. It was no wonder I really couldn’t find anything when I needed it or that I ended up missing appointments and other important deadlines.

Then, suddenly, I realized something. I played many roles in my life: wife, mother and daughter, full-time freelance writer and author, friend, and volunteer. Why in the world did I think that I could keep all of the details that went with each of these in the same planner? I needed separate planners! Since then, I have developed four that I use on a daily basis:

  • Family: This planner has large pages for the month as a whole, plus individual pages for the days of the month. I use separate columns for everyone in my family. I put their names at the top of each column and under them; I keep track of appointments, class and job schedules, and upcoming plans. I keep a schedule of current classes taped in back so I don’t forget which child needs to be in which class on which day and time. Other important papers go in folders as well, such as tickets, invitations, and appointment cards for upcoming dentist or doctor’s visits.
  • Work: My work planner is much different. I use it to keep track of upcoming deadlines on articles, steps involved in writing books, interviews that I am either giving or receiving and more. The days are broken down into individual hours so I can map out each portion of my work day. The back area is used for editors’ contact information,
  • Purse: I keep a small planner in my purse with the bare bones of info in it, such as emergency numbers and major activities coming up. This way, when I run into friends at the local thrift store and they say, “HEY! Let’s have coffee on Friday,” I can quickly check my planner to see if that day is free and if so, what time.
  • Me: I also have a personal ME planner that is designed to be more like a diary or journal than anything else. This is for concerns, questions, worries, reminders—and just thoughts I don’t want to lose.

Along with these planners, I also encourage each of my kids to use an academic planner to help keep track of their own assignments and plans.

Wait a minute. What did I just hear? Oh, that was you. Something muttered under your breath about, “Who has the time … ”  or “Four planners means four times more effort” … (You thought I couldn’t hear you, didn’t you?)

I completely understand your concerns, but what you will find, after a little period of trial and error, is that these planners will actually save you time, rather than take it. By keeping all of your relevant information in a central location, you don’t spent minutes scrambling to find papers, contact information, dates, times or other always-seems-hard-to-put-your-finger-on details. You don’t drive to the wrong place at the wrong time. You don’t miss an appointment and then have to find another open time period to reschedule it. Best of all, you simply won’t FORGET stuff—and that is one of the biggest time wasters of all.

What is the practically perfect planner for you? Consider the fact that it simply may be more than one.  Take a moment to write down what qualities you want in a planner and then start searching for the one that fits that list best. If you’re like me, you may find that multiple planners will keep you more organized than you ever thought possible!

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 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.

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3 Responses to “The Practically Perfect Planner: Determining the Right Planner(s) for You”

  1. josilv January 10, 2012 at 1:19 PM #

    The multi-planner idea sounds great, but . . .
    Suppose that friend does invite you for coffee on Friday and you see that in your purse-planner you are free, but unless you’re also carrying your work planner, for instance, you wouldn’t be aware you have a meeting with an editor scheduled.
    Whatever works for you Tamra, but I prefer everything in one place and use different color inks to differentiate whom I’m commited to for that time.
    I’m partial to the Pentel Rolly C4 with its 4 colors, black, red, blue, and green, and my 20 year old Filofax.
    And that’s what works for me.

    • europeanpaper January 18, 2012 at 3:55 PM #

      Everyone’s different, but sharing what works for you may help someone else. So thanks for commenting!

  2. OSJ January 10, 2012 at 2:09 PM #

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with this problem! :) I just posted yesterday about having a million different planners and needing to narrow them down- once and for all. And just like you, I’ve found that one simply won’t work. So right now I’m using:

    Outlook- I just started implementing it this week. Primarily for time blocking & and to keep me on schedule while writing everyday (I’m really excited that I can sync it to my phone too, so this will save me alot of time)
    A DayRunner- for my client projects, as well as my own
    A journal- I carry this one in my purse for musings, to-do’s, and blog post ideas

    I think this trio just might do the trick for me!

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