Planner Tips for 2016

plannertipsfor2016

My best planner tips are here. Wait till you see what I have come up with!

Planners have changed. Gone are the days of monochrome color schemes, and uneditable pages. Franklin Covey is no longer the only planner of note.

So if planners have changed, it goes to reason that we have changed with them. I’m a big fat failure when it comes to being able to adequately use a single planner. I have many.  Thank you ADD/ADHD. But I am using the ones I have with more consistency than ever before. I kept plugging away until I figured out what works for me. Continue reading “Planner Tips for 2016”

Planner Addict… Not Looking to Reform

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I am a planner addict. I  love planners. If they are done right everything has a spot, and you can empty your brain into it – and breathe. But if the planner doesn’t fit me I am left feeling like I have failed at life. I have a nice little pity party just me and a Twix bar, mourning the loss of all my productivity dreams.

In the past 6 years I have designed no less than 400 custom planner pages.

I did tell you guys that I was a graphic designer for a while right?

Continue reading “Planner Addict… Not Looking to Reform”

ADHD Planner Setup

This is probably going to be the strangest planner setup article you’ve ever read.  But maybe the most interesting, too?  Well, it’ll definitely be an experience.  I just hope that when you’re done you don’t think I’m a nut case.

Many of you know that I used a Franklin Covey Compact two pages per day for 20 years.

Franklin Covey Compact Planner

The first 15 years I didn’t realize there were other options so I stuck pretty faithfully with my FC (fewer options is better when you have ADHD).  My recollection is that I used it faithfully.  But my archives and my best friend say different.  My archives show gaps in use.  My best friend says I’ve always struggled with my planner.

Until about 5 years ago, I made it work.  It served me well enough that I was able to keep my ducks in a row, for the most part.  But 5 years ago life started getting crazy.  I won’t bore you with all the details but let’s just say I went from a well-ordered life (at least that’s what I remember) to a crazy one.  Life became very unpredictable and difficult to plan.  And my FC compact started driving me crazy.  I tried anything and everything to get it to work but I just couldn’t.

I started exploring other options – like upgrading to a FC classic size (5-1/2 x 8-1/2).  I liked all the space but I didn’t like carrying that giant planner and looking like a nerd.  I tried Filofax.  I bought a personal Malden and day on two pages inserts.  But it was too small. Are you seeing a pattern here?  I sounded like Goldilocks and the Three Bears – this one’s too small; this one’s too big.  It seemed like the compact was just the right size.  Only it wasn’t.  And I was tired of it.  20 years is a long time.

So I struggled.  I can’t tell you how many nights I sat on the couch with three planners on my lap.  I asked my husband’s advice so many times he can practically recite the speech while asleep:  “Just pick one. What is so hard about a planner setup? Any of them will work.”  And the rest of my family just rolled their eyes when I mentioned my planner struggle.

At the end of every year I started panicking about which planner I’d use starting January 1st.  I desperately wanted to pick one and stick with it.  But then January rolled around and I was no closer to choosing!  I just felt more pressured.  By the time February arrived I was completely depressed because I wanted this to be the year I decided.   Oh, wait.  I did decide. But then I changed my mind.  Sometimes multiple times in the same day.

And here we are again.  I have to decide because I’m driving myself (and my family) crazy and my ducks are NOT in a row!!!

So I analyzed my schedule and my needs and realized that most of what I do every day is the same.  And between my household routine and my blogging routine, I don’t have much time left.  So I created a custom page for my Filofax that included routine tasks with a few lines for extra tasks.  Those few lines were to remind me that I don’t have much extra time so I shouldn’t write much.  I also included things to do sheet on the left side for all the other stuff I think of that needs done sometime.  That sheet travels with the daily page.  Notes about my day go on the back of the page.  I also borrowed an idea from Raine of limetreefruits and added a “De-Brief” page at the end of the week where I can write a summary of my week and a few thoughts about how I can do better the next week.

Filofax personal custom pages

Filofax personal custom pages

Filofax personal custom pages

Filofax personal custom pages
De-Brief is an important part of my planner setup.

I used these pages for a couple of weeks and was very excited about them.  But then I noticed a problem (of course).  Using this planner setup I wasn’t getting the extra things done and some of them were important.  Also, I had several days that fell apart and by the time I had a chance to catch my breath, I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea what to do next (thank you, ADHD).

And that’s when I realized that as much as I love the personal Malden Filofax with my custom pages, they will not work for me.  I need a different planner setup in order to function effectively with a chaotic schedule, ADHD issues and all my responsibilities.

Drum roll please.  And the answer is . . .

Franklin Covey Classic with Two Pages Per Day

Are you disappointed?  Were you expecting something . . . well, different?!  I know.  I was disappointed, too.  But after much analysis, this is what the doctor ordered.

Here’s how I’ve been using it:

Franklin Covey Classic

I divided the to-do section into three parts.

TOP:  Must Do

MIDDLE:  Blog

BOTTOM:  House Dailies

Then when I have one of those days when I go from Plan A to Plan M and I don’t have a clue what to do next, I just look at the Must Do category and pick one.  It doesn’t even matter which one.  If I happen to get all those done, I can choose out of the other sections or not choose.  It doesn’t matter that much since the Must Do’s will be done.

The best part of having the page divided this way is that it’s easier for my ADHD mind to compartmentalize.  That’s the problem I was having with the custom pages in the Filofax – because of the small pages, all the tasks ran together and when I needed to see what to do next, I couldn’t.  That’s not necessarily going to be the case for everyone – that’s just me!

I’m also marking the schedule page so I can see at a glance when I have time to work on my Must Do’s or other tasks.  On this particular day, I was free for a little while in the morning but then I left to pick up the grandkids.  From 11:00 to 1:30 I was either traveling to get them and bring them home or feeding them lunch.  The time from 4:00 to 8:30 was when they would be up and expecting my undivided attention. With my schedule marked this way, I’m able to see exactly when I have time to work on tasks.  In this case, a little time in the morning, a few hours in the afternoon, and after 8:30 when they go to bed.

I might end up using the very bottom section for my menu but for right now I have it up at the very top. Once again this is the planner setup that works for me. It might not work for everyone.

I’ve divided the Notes page into two sections.  The section on the left is for notes – anything and everything that comes up during the day.  The right side is my food journal.  I’ve increased my activity lately and now it’s time to clean up my diet.  The most effective way to keep a food journal for me is to have it right on my planner page where I can see it every time I look at my planner.  If it’s in a section at the back, it’s easy to ignore.  But right there . . . I can’t miss it!

I’m also using the Progress Task List made by Franklin Covey.  It allows me to write all the other tasks I think of directly on the page finder and that also is in clear view so I don’t forget there are other things to do besides the ones on my list.  But they’re in a designated location so they don’t overwhelm me.

Here’s another sample:

Franklin Covey Classic Planner Setup

So this is my planner set-up for 2014.  I hope.  Wish me luck and I’ll keep you posted – unless I’m too embarrassed to admit I changed again.  And if I do change again, it’ll probably be right back to my FC Compact . . . which is actually looking pretty good right now . . . you know, just the right size.  Just kidding.  Mostly.

How about you?  Do you struggle choosing a planner setup and/or format?


 More time management/planner articles are available
in the Time Management Index.


How to Decide What Planner Works for You

Planner feature Image

If you have ADD you know the frustration of spending money on a planner you just know is going to work. Only 2 months later it has become best friends with the dust bunnies in your home.

Planners are even harder to deal with because subconsciously we have higher expectations of them. After all their purpose – their entire reason for being – is to help you stop forgetting things. To get you places on time, well prepared, and with matching shoes on.

If I find one that looks like it will work and spend around 20.00 on it I have not only made a financial investment but also a mental one. The mental investment is the hardest one for me  to overcome, because the outcome isn’t what I  wanted to see.
Continue reading “How to Decide What Planner Works for You”

Agendio Customizable Planners

Agendio Planners

I am a huge geek over planners. I have made hundreds of page templates over the years. I even bought a Cinch from We R Memory Keepers to do my own spiral bound planners. I finally found a Classic Cherry Filofax Compact knock off that I fell in love with and I have used it more consistently than any other size I have tried. This little bright cheerful planner put my spiral bound planners on the shelf. Continue reading “Agendio Customizable Planners”

How A Planner Helps My ADHD!

Franklin Covey Planner

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My husband, David, and I are very different in the way we go about our day-to-day activities.  He’s a remodeling contractor.  He has a planner I set up for him and he sort of uses it.  He mainly uses the blank paper to write notes or to-do lists.  He frequently writes lists on random scraps of paper and throws them away when they’re done.  He doesn’t write his daily plans on paper.  He doesn’t have printed routines or schedules or to-do lists.  When he’s working on the house, he just does the next thing and he intuitively knows what that is.  He cleans as he goes, picks up after himself and doesn’t forget (usually) important tasks.  Did I mention that he’s a born organized?  He just knows what to do and he does it.

I’m a full-time homemaker.  I blog, spent lots of time with my grandkids and take care of the house.  I cook, clean, pay bills, grocery shop, etc.  And I can’t live without a planner.  I write anything and everything down.  I am NOT a born organized and I don’t intuitively know what needs done next.  I have ADHD and it’s a real pain in the butt when it comes to managing my home and my time.

However, I can accomplish almost as much as David does but I need a little help doing it.  My brain doesn’t work as efficiently as his does so I have to compensate a little – okay, maybe a lot.  The compensation comes in the form of my planner.

  • He has a lot going on his brain but somehow he’s able to process it and put it in its rightful place inside his brain.  I have a lot going on, too, but I can’t process it.  It overwhelms me.  I have to get it out of my brain and on paper.  Then and only then can I put it in its rightful place.
  • He makes a list, does it and then throws it away (he doesn’t always make a written list – often he keeps it in his head). My response is much more complicated.  I make a list.  Then I rebel against the list.  Then I decide maybe I’ll do a few things on the list or maybe something else.  Eventually I get some of the stuff done on the list. But I never throw it away because there are unfinished things on the list and I need a record in case I have to look back to see if I did something and when.  But I still do better than if I didn’t have a list.
  • He intuitively knows what to do next.  I don’t have a clue.  Because of my ADHD, everything seems equally important.  And there’s so much I think I need to do that I don’t know what to do next.  Since I don’t have that intuition that he has, I have to make a list – actually, a daily plan.  A list doesn’t always cut it for me.  I need to plan out the day and figure out what I need to do and when I might be able to do it.  If I simply wing it, I won’t get anything done or I’ll get the wrong things done.  And getting the wrong things done is almost as bad as doing nothing at all.  So he can plan his day in his head but I have to do it on paper.
  • He has a routine and follows it.  I have to thoughtfully create a routine, write it down and then remind myself to follow it. I have a page in my planner that includes my routines.  It may seem silly, but it’s the only way I will consistently do them.  I know that sort of contradicts the idea of a routine (something you do automatically) but trust me, I have to do it this way.
  • He’s motivated.  He knows what needs done and he does it.  Period.  That’s it.  I, on the other hand, lack motivation and have to find ways to create it.  I use games, strategies, rewards, stickers – whatever it takes.  Sometimes it’s as simple as writing things down and marking them off.  He doesn’t need the satisfaction of marking something off.  I do.
  • He cleans as he goes.  He sees something that needs done and he does it.  I see something that needs done and I add it to my list.  I’ve gotten better at cleaning as I go – by following his example – but I’m still not great at it.  But I have learned that when I see something that needs done, to write it on my list.  We both get it done – it just takes me longer.

ADD/ADHD makes time management much harder, but having the right tool, in my case a planner, can make the difference between success and failure.  Without my planner, I flounder.  With my planner, I can defeat (or at least cripple) my ADHD and accomplish great things.  David might be superman all on his own, but with the help of my planner, I can be super, too.

A Planner Experiment: I Need Your Help!

A Planner Experiment: I Need Your Help!

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My daughter-in-law, Ashley, can make any planner work.  Seriously.  Her only problem is that she gets bored. She uses one format for a while and then likes to try something new.  But she usually sticks to one planner size so it’s no big deal to use a different format every week if she wants to.

I’m not like Ashley.  Not even a little bit.  I find fault with every single planner I try.  And every size.  So while she’s experimenting within the same planner size and thus maintaining continuity, I’m experimenting with different formats AND different sizes.  It doesn’t actually work very well – not very well at all – because my information is all over the place.

So I decided to see if I could be like Ashley.  But I need your help.  I want to do an experiment but I need some assistance and some accountability.

My goal is to show that

any planner can work

Here’s where you come in.  I want YOU to choose my planner/format and I’ll use it for one month.  Here are the guidelines:

  1. Please stick to ring bound if possible. I’ve tried bound books and traveler’s notebooks and ring binders really work better for me.  However, if you really, really, really think I should try one, go ahead and suggest it.
  2. Any size is okay but keep in mind that I already have binders in classic size (5.5×8.5), personal (3.75×6.75) and compact (4.25×6.75).
  3. Probably not weeklies. I’ve used two pages per day for years because I write a LOT.  However, as I said before, if you really think I need to give weeklies a shot, go ahead and suggest it.
  4. The planner you recommend can be one you’ve made and sell in your Etsy shop; a planner system you give away on your blog; a planner you made for yourself to use; a mainstream pre-printed system; or simply a system that doesn’t necessarily have inserts (like GTD); or something else I haven’t thought of.
  5. Cast your vote in the comments below or email me at homemakersdaily (at) yahoo (dot) com. Whichever way you contact me, be sure to include a link or photo of the planner you want me to try.
  6. I’d rather not spend more than $25 if possible.

I’ll assign each suggestion a number and then choose the winner using random.org.

Here’s the fun part.  I’ll post weekly updates showing how the planner is working for me and how I’m adapting it to meet my needs.

So cast your vote as soon as possible because I’m closing this “contest” on Sunday afternoon, September 13th at 1:00 p.m. central standard time.  I’ll choose the winner Sunday afternoon and then get to work setting up the planner for the week.

THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!  This will be fun.

P.S.  You don’t have to choose a system based on my lifestyle or needs, but if you want to know what my life is like, here’s a brief summary.  I’m 54 years old. I stay home full-time but I do work several hours a day on this blog.  I watch my grandchildren every chance I get.  I have ADHD so I struggle with time management.  My days are very unpredictable which makes planning a challenge.  If I don’t write things down, I don’t do them, so I write a lot!  I like checking things off.  I usually include my routine tasks on my to-do list or else I’m likely to forget them.  And if you have any questions that might help you with your vote, please feel free to ask.