I said earlier that I’d report back and let you know what I decided to use for a planner this year. Turns out, it’s a relatively boring setup, so I have no good pictures for you, but I will tell you what I’m using, and where I got some of my forms.
This is the binder I’m once again using. I’ve been using this same binder for several years, and it still works, so I’m still using it.
Inside, I have it divided up into the following sections:
A calendar of the full year, with the dates I have something scheduled highlighted. Then two pages of monthly calendar boxes where I’ve written in the things I have going on. Then a third calendar on one page for 2021 to write new things in for next year as they pop up. HERE (on Etsy) is where I got my downloadable/printable forms. I bought “2020 2021 Yearly calendar, printable planner insert, dated agenda, yearly notes, sunday and monday start, year at a glance, year overview”. I also bought “UNDATED PLANNER SET | Instant Download | yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, perpetual calendar, planner, schedule, habits, notes..” I haven’t used this second one yet — I’m still trying to decide if I can easily incorporate parts of it somehow. I must also add that this calendar setup (from the first set I mentioned) is NOT optimal for me, but I cannot find what I want that works, partly because I’m still not 100% sure exactly what I want. Maybe it will come to me during the year, or at least for next year. I’ll keep you posted. My goal is to be able to see the entire year at once, know what each marked date is for, and be able to refer to it to keep from overbooking or accidentally double-booking myself. And I don’t like digital calendars (on my iPad, for instance) because it takes me too long to fill them out or edit them.
Just what it says . . . a checklist for all the items I need to send to my accountant each month, a checklist for things to go over and pay attention to on Desk Day, a Ranch Manual that My Cowboy wrote for me for when he’s unable to help me, etc. You could include a packing checklist if you travel a lot, chore checklists, anything you need to have a checklist for to keep you from forgetting something. My memory fails me so much more than it used to; I depend on the checklists to keep me from having to store stuff in my head!
Master List of Projects:
This is the big section of my planner. It has lists of all the projects I want to do or have going on. Last year, I made a form to write them on. This year, I simply used lined loose-leaf notebook paper — cheaper and easier. There is a page for each room of my house (since we’re still under major remodel — maybe someday, I can whittle that down to just “upstairs” and “downstairs”, once there aren’t as many projects — I can dream!), plus a page for all the general ranch and outdoor stuff, like “Replace the basement door”.
Then I have pages for Quilting, Business, Computer, Personal, Knitting, my blogs, etc. I go through them every week, check off the things I’ve finished, and see what I can possibly work on over the next week. At the end of every year, I re-write them, taking off irrelevant and finished items, add in all new items, and start over. I’m happy to say that most of my lists were smaller at the beginning of this year than they were last year, so I must be making a bit of headway!
In the back of this section, I have a page where I write down four to eight of the most important projects for each month, and then have an individual page for each of those projects with all the steps broken down with a date for completion of each step, so I can stay on track with each project. I check this section every day to make sure I’m not missing any deadlines.
For this, I use “Backward Planning”. I start at the bottom of the list with the date I need the project finished, then work my way up the list, estimating the time needed for each step and writing in the date each step needs to be completed in order for me to get the project done on time. Then the real trick is to not get behind schedule! Sometimes I’m really bad at estimating how long it will take me to do something.
This is where my trackers are. There’s the new Habit Tracker I just set up this year, the tracker for progress on my Temperature Scarf, one for my Granny Stripe Afghan, one for Block-of-the-Month quilts I have in progress, and a few statistics I like to track month to month, such as my number of UFOs, the number of projects I finished, plus now my 350 Blocks Project trackers, as well.
This section has notes pertaining to my website and blog. For instance, I can never remember what size to make the featured images for each page, so those are listed. I keep instructions for editing pages, a list of ideas for future blog posts, my web people’s contact info for when I have trouble, all that kind of stuff. I tried keeping an “editorial calendar” like so many suggest you “must have”, but that doesn’t work for me, so I ditched that idea. I guess I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogger!
Random stuff I need to keep track of and have no better place for. My Sales Tax ID number that I can never memorize, standard sizes for the Comfort quilts our guild collects, rules for the guild challenges — see? All sorts of random stuff. I also keep copies of all my contracts for speaking/teaching engagements in this section so I know where to find them (after marking the dates on the calendar in the front).
Last section. Has an address book, area code chart, a list of local ZIP codes, birthday/anniversary list, passwords, and a backup written list of the most important contacts from my phone in case it crashes. I CAN be somewhat organized when I try! Haha! (I update these at the end of every year.)
So there it is . . . my planner in a nutshell. I have various other lists elsewhere and a few on the computer, too. But I’m a list maker! They’re everywhere! I have tried to narrow it down to just a few places, and not have stuff scattered everywhere, since the point of the lists is to be able to USE them, right? I’m getting better.
I’m also still using the weekly sheet on a clipboard that I keep at my desk, which you can see HERE. I changed it just a bit for this year, and I like it better now. And in that same post is the list of planners I looked at this year, in case you need to refer to it. I ended up not buying anything but those two sets of downloadable forms, because for the way I work, a daily planner would have been a waste of money. But who knows what next year will bring?
I don’t know if any of this information will help you in your own efforts to stay organized and make a working plan for yourself, but hopefully it provides a couple of ideas on what (or what NOT) to do while trying to keep your brain organized!