The following post is written by Steady Mom's monthly contributor, Cortney.
I keep a day planner, it's just what I do. I began over ten years ago as an overly ambitious high school student, and now my planning has evolved into an essential and meaningful part of my adult life.
Over the years, my planning practices have developed into a system of personal preferences and routine habits. My planners have seen seasons of consistency and of neglect.
I've used a series of different techniques, read books, listened to advice and helpful hints, and have come to find that the best practice is simply to do what I find most effective for me.
Because my life is not the same as anyone else, my practice is not the same either.
However, there are several basic elements to successful planner use that are universal.
We all have twenty four hours in a day, but we definitely don't all use them the same way.
I tend to see my time similarly to the way I see my children--as a gift and a responsibility.
For a long time I used a Franklin Covey planner (the one shown above) and it served me well. Over a period of five years, that ring-bound planner held monthly, weekly, and daily formatted pages.
It was my address book, my mailbox, and my card holder; it was my life-line.
Here are a few things I have learned about scheduling my time that you may find helpful:
Daily appointments (such as classes or nap times) don't always have to be written down. If you expect it and never miss it, chances are writing it on every page of your planner is time-consuming and pointless.
For a daily routine, it may be more helpful to have one place where you reference it when needed.
It is the changes in a daily routine or the infrequent appointments--even the weekly ones--that must be written down. Anything out of the ordinary that you may forget should go into your planner.
* Important Dates
If you prefer a daily layout, don't neglect the weekly or monthly plan.
While it's good to know what you are doing each day, it's also important to have an overview of what is ahead so you can plan for future events.
A great example of this is birthdays. In our family there are months when it feels like the whole world was born at the same time! Without my monthly overview I forget and end up scrambling at the last minute.
There are mommy tasks, household tasks and personal tasks. There are tasks related to outside obligations--church, community, work, family and friends.
Do you make one giant list, or do you break it down and have several? How do you determine what to do first?Well, it's all about priorities and staying organized. Like I said, you do what works for you.
One technique is to use one list and label each item with a letter and a number--the letter designates what area of your life it pertains to, the number assigns a level of priority.
This system, which I learned from a book, taught me how to prioritize. But on a day-to-day basis, it wasn't the most useful for me.So I moved to a different kind of planner, one organized in a way that allowed me to make separate lists for each area of my life. I found this layout was more similar to how I see things in my head, and thus more efficient and easy to use.
In the process of trying new formats, I found it discouraging and unproductive to re-write a to-do list every day.
The fact of the matter is, my lists are always longer than my time.
So now I keep a weekly task list rather than a daily one. I try to give myself more time to accomplish things, resulting in a higher sense of accomplishment and less feelings of failure.
On exceptionally busy, I use a sticky note. Then once it is done, I toss it out.
*A note about sticky notes--they only work for important tasks if they are changed regularly. Once a sticky note has been stuck too long, it loses its ability to catch your attention.
* Making it Meaningful
Rather than throwing out an old planner at the end of the year, I have kept them, and looking back through them is like discovering an old journal.
The activities and tasks each day are not always significant, but I remember what life was like, who I was with, choices I made and experiences I had.
Using a day planner is one skill that allows me to make life more meaningful. And as life changes, I will make the changes I need to continue planning with a purpose.
**What planner system works best for you?**
Cortney is a young mother of two who seeks to bring beauty and love to her family through various creative outlets: photography, writing, sewing, cooking and entertaining to name a few. You can discover more of Cortney's creative ideas at her blog, Praiseworthy.