The Crazy Suburban Mom: Planner Nirvana

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Planner Nirvana

I've tried to organize my life with planners before and it never worked until I got an A5 Filofax.  After giving it a lot of thought I know why.  It's the set-up,  blank to-do sheets interleaved between dated sheets and the rings.  They allow me to add sheets if needed and move them around.

A planner with designated spaces for specific categories doesn't work as well as a simple blank page  because they allow me all the space I need and the rings make the whole thing totally flexible.

To-do sheets are my brain dump, anything and everything goes on them.  Whatever I have to do, buy, or remember gets written down.  If I need more paper I just turn the page and start fresh.  If a day wasn't  busy and not much was written I start the next day right below, on the same sheet.  There is no wasted space.

A lot of planning solutions have too much going on, too many categories,  too much space devoted to things I don't do, too many lines devoted to nonsense  but not enough blank space for to-dos, grocery lists, reminders,  and general planning rambles.  

Blank space leaves room for planning.  For example, I spent a lot of blank pages trying to figure out what I wanted clean, and when.  What I should tackle on each day and why that would work for me.

I now have a list of the (bare minimum) household chores I want  to accomplish every day.  I put them on my Dodo Inserts at the beginning of each work.  If there is a day where I have appointments I make changes.

cleaning list

Here's the breakdown...

cleaning list

Monday is the entry hall, downstairs powder room,  and to clear off all horizontal surfaces.  I picked Monday for these things because they are all a hot mess after the week end.  

Everyone's home, my kid's friends have usually been here and no one is in cleaning mode so nothing gets back to it's home.   Especially pens and pencils, I'm forever picking them up and depositing them in the pencil cup.  Last Monday I found a pencil hanging off a lamp.

Why, I have no idea but my son's friends were over and someone must have thought it was screamingly funny to hang a pencil off a lamp.

Tuesday I do some laundry and vacuum downstairs.  I thought of putting vacuuming on Monday but I'm usually shell-shocked on Monday Morning so I was being kind to myself.

cleaning list

I put vacuum downstairs on Wednesday too.  I'm going to try both and see what day I end up doing it and stick with that day.

cleaning list

Thursday is more laundry.

And Friday is about the things I want to get done before the week-end.  I clean my car out because everyone uses' my car on the week-ends, wash and change the linens, and clean the master bath.

Friday is the day that's most set in stone, Monday is the second most set day.   Deciding what I want to for sure accomplish before and after the week-end has really worked out well.  The two day laundry plan has as well.  

This isn't a complete list, it's a start. There's more to do, certainly, but I didn't want to overwhelm myself with too many goals and fail.  

Planning and schedules are unique to each person. I admit - I get weak-kneed over new found planners.  An exquisite leather cover sends me and lots of regimented sections look so appealing.  And oh! How I want it but I (try and) restrain myself. It's not going to work, I tell myself.

 I take a few deep,cleansing breaths, try to remember they have never worked in the past, rub my Filofax's belly for good luck and  go to my planner happy place.  

Which because I have rings and can add whatever I want,  with no more then a hole punch, my happy place is a section I can paint on.  

Ultimate planner nirvana would be  better leather ( I'm still not convinced Mr. Malden wasn't born in a chemical lab) and bigger rings but all in all it's the set up not the pretty wrapping that matters.  


Yu 5/20/12, 7:21 AM  

This blog entry got me thinking. I've been experiencing massive planner fail (sizes and whatnot) for the past year or so. Maybe your solution might fit me as well. I feel kind of restricted with the normal Filofax inserts (but maybe that's just the designer in me). Hm.., I think I will give this a go. :)

Tracy Reinhardt 5/20/12, 7:23 AM  

Yu, definitely give it a try! As dated weekly sheets I'm using Dodo inserts now but I've also used week on two pages. Both worked well.


Josh 5/20/12, 7:08 PM  

I love your setup. I would use something similar if my work days weren't so crazy! I used a day to a page for a while, I just wrote the day and date at the top and just wrote all over it, but then sometimes it got so congested that I couldn't see things like appointments or to do notes. My new DT inserts have note pages with 40 numbered lines which are broken into columns with light lines so you can write subject/context, decisions, and time (by the 1/10 hour, or 6 minutes). I ignore all of this and use it for notes and also, at the end of the day, use the space to summarize my day. I could see the structure being really useful if you work somewhere where you need to bill your time, as you could note that you drafted a letter and it toook 2/10 hour (12 minutes) or were in a meeting for client x and it took 2 hours, etc etc. I don't know what I'm rambling about anymore, but I also like to have a big space for free writing in my binder!

Steph 5/26/12, 12:54 AM  

Hi! I love your filofax. I find the colours and bits and bobs you use inspiring. I have tried to 'liven up' my own filofax, but it doesn't look near as nice as yours.

And I just wanted to apologize if I made you uncomfortable at all when I offered to send you some 'industrial art' through one of your youtube videos. (my youtube name is myonceuponthemoon)

Tracy Reinhardt 5/26/12, 2:04 PM  

Josh, I know that won't work for everyone. Its so unstructured! It definitely would be hard in a lot of circumstances!

Steph No apologies necessary! I'm fine with your offer, it was so sweet. It got me thinking (again) I need a PO box, just not sure where yet. Post office or mailbox place. I hope I didnt make you feel bad. I tried to find an email for you but I can't - email me and I'll email you back


Angel Jem 5/27/12, 6:26 AM  

Personal for life A5 for work.... but you make me wonder if I couldn't try A5 for personal? I had an A5 domino for a while until I got my crimson baby in personal... but I had a birthday last week and red chameleons are half price and I really need to be cheered up after an interview rejection so.... Oh! What should I do?

Danielle C H 6/13/12, 5:58 PM  

I like what you said about having too many unused spaces and categories for stuff you don't do! I have that same problem. I have a lovely personal sized Siena in butterscotch and I just started using the week on a page with blank notes on the opposite page. This is working well for me so far. I must ditch all the other unused inserts and buy myself a hole punch.

I LOL'd at the pencil. I have kids who do random stuff like that too!

Tracy Reinhardt 6/13/12, 7:51 PM  

Angel Jem, It's so hard to know what to do A5-wise... It is bigger but that's also the thing that makes it good! Problems, problems! LOL

Danielle, Definitely, definitely buy a hole punch! The possibilities are limitless!

Songbird68 8/10/12, 12:55 AM  

I loved this post. I absolutely relate to several issues brought up in the post and comments: "planner fail", problems with inserts that are too structured & include too many categories, loving ring-bound planners for their flexibility to move things around. I also recently discovered that I love graph paper for to-do's, after watching your videos (and a few others' Filo videos). And I also love that "no wasted space" aspect of using plain or graph paper for notes & to-do's. I've been doing that in my workout journal for some time.

I also really like your use of color without "color coding" per se - just using it for visual interest & separating out ideas. I may try that. My color coding has gotten a little too complicated.

Tracy Reinhardt 8/10/12, 4:48 AM  

Songbird, Thank you so much for the wonderful comment! Color coding is always appealing to me but like you said it gets complicated - and the few times I tried I could never find the color I needed!


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