Planner Help:  When You Feel Like You Need a Different Format Everyday!



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Let’s face it.  We all go through times where life is different every single day and our planner format just doesn’t always cut it.  In fact, sometimes we feel like we need a completely different format every day!

You know what I’m talking about.

Day 1:  A rare quiet day at home so you need a nice, long, detailed list so you don’t waste the day.

Day 2:  So much to do that you’re not sure you can get it all done.  That type of day calls for a schedule so you can plot everything out and decide what to do when and what has to be skipped.

Day 3:  So many appointments and errands that you’re not going to have time to do anything on a to-do list anyway.

Day 4:  A “tentative” day.  You need to be prepared for anything.  On this day, your strategy is to list your priorities, mark them in order or importance, and start working down the list.

And so on.

Sometimes planner pages are generic enough that you can use your page in a different way every day and accommodate your changing needs but most aren’t.  At least sometimes, it would be helpful to have a different format for your crazy day.

If that’s the case for you, you have some options.

1.       Use a week-at-a-glance calendar for appointments and day specific to-do’s and insert blank paper for to-do lists when you need them.  You can structure the to-do list any way you want it since it’s on blank paper.

Week-at-a-glance calendar
You have your week where you can write the basics and then write your daily plan on the blank page. The blank page can be in between or in another section entirely.

2.       Have a set of custom pages available in a section of your planner for use when you need something different.  For example:

Planner page
This is when you need something really simple.
Planner page
This is the one I go to when I need to focus on the basics and the priorities.
Planner page
This is the one I go to when I REALLY need to focus on the basics and a few priorities. The typed list on the left is my priorities and the bottom section is for “other” tasks which I won’t have much time for which is why the space is so small.
Planner page
This is the schedule page.  I don’t always get everything done in the exact time slot I planned but it still helps me see how it will all fit – kind of like a to-do list puzzle!
Planner page
This is what I called my “steno pad” list. It’s just like a page from a steno pad which happens to be my favorite pad to use when making a to-do list. I use this list when I have a lot of time and want to get a lot done. I just list everything that pops into my head and work on it in any order I want. It’s kind of a game to see how much I can get done by the end of the day.

3.       Put a large post-it note on your page and make your day specific plan on that.

Planner page
The post-it note can be in any format you want. But it’s not intended to supplement your page but to be a do over.

4.       Put the basics or priorities on your planner page and then use a piece of scratch paper you can throw away when you’re done.  I don’t personally recommend this because then you don’t have a permanent record of what you did.  But if you don’t need to save the list, this could be a good option.

Planner page
The planner page has the list of priorities but the scratch pad is the plan.

5.       Re-work your planner page so it works for your needs that day.  If you’ve read any of my articles about how to use a planner page, you know I’ve modified my pages in all kinds of crazy ways.  Just a couple of days ago I started making my list the way I normally do and realized I needed something different for that day.  So I modified it and here’s what I ended up with:

Planner page
Here’s how I normally do my planner page.
Planner page
I started doing my normal format on this day but quickly realized it wasn’t going to work. Do you see the correction tape? I covered what I had originally written and made new lists in the boxes on the left. The reason I moved them to the left was because I had no idea when I was going to be able to get them done. It was one of those days when I was going to have to do what I could when I had an opportunity.
Planner page
Just for fun, here’s a different way to do a FC two pages per day. I divided the schedule into morning, afternoon and evening and then put random notes in the to-do column. That’s another example of modifying a pre-printed page to meet your needs.

Do you ever feel like you need a different format every day?  How do you handle it when you do?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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16 thoughts on “Planner Help:  When You Feel Like You Need a Different Format Everyday!

  1. I enjoy reading your planner-related posts, always!
    Now I don’t need different format of daily pages because, as I have already written (and you have responded on this), I have made my own Filofax inserts, and they suit me really well. I could write my task or appointment where I want on the page and on any hour slot – I don’t depend on the place where I have written it!
    Previously I tried to use daily pages as you use it-tasks apart from schedule, and I don’t like it because this way I can’t see how much time do I need for doing all what I have planned! My rule is to treat all tasks/ to do’s as an appointment-it is not great to have a huge list of to-do’s without scheduling them on the day’s hour slots, otherwise I would be owerwhelmed by the huge number of them, and, by realization that I haven’t made most of them!

    1. I think that’s a great system, Clara. I’ve actually been doing it, too – in the Fish DIY inserts and it works very well. It helps to see if you have enough time to do what you need or want to do. Do you have a video or post that shows the page you created? I’d love to see it.

    1. Pin – every morning I pin the day’s blog post to Pinterest.

      Index – I have an index on the blog (in the menu bar at the top) with a list of articles in each category (to make it easier to find things). So every morning I add that day’s article to the index.

      Good question.

  2. Patty, This post on the conundrum of planners is perfect for me today. I have been looking at and thinking over my planner needs for a couple of weeks. I will go back through your ideas and recommendations to see if I can’t come up with something that will work well for me. Thank you for all of the time you devote to keeping us all informed and on track.

  3. Busy, busy, busy! Yes, thee are days when it just will not go on the page that I typically use. I have done what you do; use a different format/layout or just blank paper.

    I think what gets forgotten in the midst of “planning” is that everything we do takes time. Quite often the task takes longer than was originally planned and the time needed to complete it must be taken from some other thing that was planned. I really think about the amount of time involved with the tasks before “plotting” them on my pages.

    Banking is a good example. It is going to take a minimum of one hour for me to get to the bank; do what is needed; then return home. In that case, I put all of the things that need to be one while I am in town into that portion of the task list so that I can better estimate the time that will be spent doing it all.

    “Laundry” cannot be a one item “one hour” task because times vary depending on what the laundry consists of: some needing more time; some needing less.

    Meal preparation is another area where the “prep” time could vary widely and that changes the time of day at which I start the “prep”.

    Most of the time, I use a Daily page that has no time references pre-printed on it. I have a “box” where appointments are listed and the times are posted there. Because I do not work outside of my home, I have a master calendar available all the time while I am “plotting and planning”. That is my husband’s term for what I do at night before I go to bed. Just knowing that I captured all of it and put it in the planner helps me sleep better. Less stress means better sleep.

    This is exactly why I always had a number of different types of pages for Weekly and Daily planning. I require sanity. LOL. My planner is part of what I do to keep things from getting crazy.

    1. Great point about including prep. time and alternating the time things take. I do have a schedule on my planner page and when I’m marking out my day, I mark out travel time or prep time. That helps me have a more accurate picture of how much time is left for other things.

  4. Hey, I want to use a compact size that the entire year, 2 pages per day will fit into. It is not available. So frustrating. It is a lot of paper. I thought Staples could spiral bound it for me, no. Too thick for them. I wish FC had told me it would not fit in my compact binder when I ordered it. Smh. I don’t part of the year in it, but all. Frustrated. The larger size is too big.

    1. Pat – I’ve never kept all my daily pages in my planner at one time. The most I’ve ever carried is 3 months and I usually have only two. Why do you want the whole year?

      The planner is designed so that if you need to reference something for the future – a month that isn’t in your planner – you can record it on the back of the monthly spread. That works very well.

      Would love to hear your reasons for wanting the whole year.

  5. Hi, Patty! My youngest daughter thought that she needed the entire year’s pages (Daily) in her planner, too. I showed her the area at the back of the monthly calendar. I call it the “Carry Forward” area. I also explained that keeping the monthly calendars with just two months worth of Daily pages will keep her planner from getting too filled for new things to be placed in it. I never carried more than a month of Daily pages and weekly pages at any time — even when I was working in an office before computers. Planners get bulky and heavy with too much stored in them. I showed her how to utilize a “small format” notebook to hold the rest of her pages until they were needed. Now she sees why my planner seemed so easy to work with at any time. I got the “small format” binders at Staples or Amazon. They have a 2-inch ring, so they can hold the remaining parts of her planner with sticky notes separating them. I have always just don it that way because it was easier for me. I guess I forgot to pass that tip along to my daughter. Silly Mom! LOL

    1. I haven’t seen the “small format” notebooks. I’ll look them up. I usually just use a storage binder from Franklin Covey. When I purchase my inserts, I purchase the storage binder and put all the empty pages in the binder until I need them. I put used pages in and take the next month’s pages out. Hmmmm – sounds like a good post idea.

      I haven’t seen those “small format” notebooks you’re talking about. I’m going to go look them up.

  6. Hi, Patty! I use a “Desk” size Day Timer binder, which is the same size as an Avery (and other brands) with three rings instead of seven, which is what Day Timer and FC have. So forms for these planners do fit in them perfectly. I also use the archive binders from FC or Day Timer, but keeping my frequently-used forms in a small format binder is more accessible. You would have to see my office arrangement to really see what I am talking about. With limited mobility, I keep what I need close by… The small format binders are also a great way to have “special use” planners handy, too. My Holiday Planner is kept in a bright red one on my desk. I have a pink one for Easter. I have a bright blue one for 4th of July. You get the picture! I have one with a plaid cover that I use for planning large parties. I am a planner addict. I use them for everything! LOL

    1. Okay – I know what you’re talking about. I have some of those, too. They are great for storing extra pages and have “special use” planners. I have one with my finances.

      You do sound like a planner addict! 🙂

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