Using a Planner Productively by Meggin McIntosh, PhD
- Get used to the idea that any woman (any age, any marital status, any kid status, any work situation, get it? Any woman!) needs to have–and know how to use–a planner (either paper or electronic). It really isn’t optional anymore.
- Buy a planner that you love (the size, the shape, the paper, the format) so that you take pleasure each time you use it. If you buy one and it’s not right, then get a different one (and give away the one you have). If you have one and it doesn’t suit you, then you are unlikely to use it and that defeats the purpose of even having one.
- Put everything into your planner (names, dates, notes, appointments). Consider it “information central.” I think about it as ‘one-stop shopping’ for my life and what I need to do and where I need to be and who I need/want to be in contact with.
- Take your planner with you everywhere. Have a place for your open planner in your workspace. Have a place where you put it the minute you walk in the door at your house. The same holds true if you use an electronic planner. Have a place where your iPhone (or other smartphone) sits so you can find it as needed.
- Maintain one–and only one–calendar. The minute you have more than one calendar, the planner system stops working because you start fearing that there is something else on the other calendar that you should be doing. Although you may have a family calendar, set up a system where everyone knows that “it ain’t real ’til it’s in the woman of the house’s calendar.”
- Consider the month-at-a-glance portion of your planner to be the “storyboard” of your month. You’ll get the “big picture” this way.
- ‘What gets scheduled gets done.’ This can be your new mantra – and a continuing one. If it is important enough for you to put it on your ‘to-do’ list then actually make time, i.e., schedule time, for it on your calendar. One more time…all together now: “What gets scheduled gets done.”
- Keep a schedule of appointments in your planner, including appointments with yourself to get your work done. (See the last tip if you need a reminder about why this is a good idea).
- Designate one area of your planner for your master task list, i.e., items that don’t have a specific due date, but that you don’t want to forget about. There is no need to be carrying these ideas around in your head. Get them recorded in your paper or electronic planner.
- Create a “task list” for each day. Rethink your list based on your other commitments. Be realistic in what you ‘plan’ for. Generally, you can expect to accomplish much less than what is on your list, so be sure to start with the more important and more urgent/important items first.
If you don’t currently have a planner, then get out there and get one. If you already have a planner, go ahead and put at least one of these ideas that you aren’t currently using into practice this week. Don’t delay. No excuses.
And if you liked these tips feel free to check out the webinar Creating Grace, Space, & Pace with Your Own ‘Just Whelmed’ Calendar. This friendly and focused 90-minute webinar is for those who are ready to gain a sense of control over their schedules and to-do lists.