Planner Evolution V.?

I try to work on the same basic planning system for as long as it is effective. The Bullet Journal Method worked for several years, but over the past few months I realized that some things were simply falling through the cracks. The Bullet Journal, as a note taking method, is outstanding, but as far as planning out into the future was giving me a few problems. I found myself spending quite a bit of time trying to come up with creative and dynamic ways to implement goals and plan out into the future and discovered that I was likely spending more time making calendars, trackers and daily layouts than actually getting my stuff done.

In March and April I worked out a layout in my Field Notes notebooks that was really helping me keep track of getting stuff done. It was basically a 2 page layout for each day and I had a task list on one page and a record of events on the facing page. I did this for several weeks when I suddenly realized that I was re-creating the layout of Daytimer or Franklin Covey planners and I was filling up those pocket notebooks in about 10 days.

As far as daily planning went, it was a fantastic set-up. But…planning for an entire month or longer was not very effective. So I looked around and realized that I am at a point in my life where using a pre-printed planner makes sense again. I have written earlier in this blog that I started using a pocket Daytimer in 1982 and moved to a desk Daytimer around 1988 or 1989. I kept with that system for 10 or more years and slowly moved away from it as my life and responsibilities changed. I picked up the Bullet Journal concept around 2014 or 2015 and kept at it for 4 or 5 years and was relatively successful.

So, to make long story even longer, I decided in mid-April to move back to a desk sized, ring-bound planner. I looked at both Daytimer and Franklin Covey and chose the Franklin pages for a couple of reasons:

  • Cost – the FC refills are less expensive than Daytimer.
  • Paper Quality – the FC refill paper is more fountain pen friendly than the Daytimer pages
  • Familiarity – I used FC refills for 4 or 5 years and like the simple 2 page per day lay out and the 2 page monthly calendars that come standard with the refills.

Over the years since I stopped using the desk or classic sized planner (which is half letter page size or 5 1/2″ by 8″) I’d gotten rid of a couple of 7 ring binders, so had to start from scratch with a complete set up. So I did and was able to get started back in the desk sized planner during the last week of April. I started back on building the system in March, so I’ve been back to some really focused planning for a couple of months now.

One of my challenges at age 55 is having a nimble memory. I can very easily fall into a trap of “out of sight, out of mind”. So I know that I must have my priorities accessible to me at all times. I’ve set up my planner binder with that in mind. I also know that I must have my system not be so bulky that I avoid having it with me at all times. I purchased my new binder with 1 1/4″ rings so I can’t stuff so much stuff in there.

I’m also trying to keep a balanced life perspective with my system so I have set up specific sections which help me look at all aspects of my life.   The sections I use are:

  • Unifying Principles and Goals – this section helps me keep in focus the most vital priorities of my life as well as keep my eyes on the prize of long-term goal accomplishments
  • Habit Tracker – I have several habits that I need or want to develop and have ingrained in my daily life. This is a simple graphic type check off that helps me check off when I get it done. I’ve read that it takes at least 21 days to make a practice become a habit. I’ll let you know…
  • Projects – this section houses more extensive notes and lists about projects that have more than 1 step to complete or have more people involved to accomplish.
  • Journal – this section is for longer form reflections on what I’ve accomplished or not accomplished during the day
  • Bible Study – I just added this section. I tend to give less attention to my spiritual state than I ought to. This will help me keep myself accountable for this vital priority – I also use the OliveTree Bible app so I can have access to a Bible on my phone
  • Monthly Calendars – Franklin planner calendars have each month on 2 pages. This is where all appointments and scheduled events are written first and almost always in pencil. I coordinate the paper calendar with Google Calendar as many of my events are scheduled by others. I spend time each week reviewing the electronic calendar and adding things to the paper calendar. The calendar pages cover the entire year and have future planning out for 3 years with less space as you move farther from the current month, i.e. 2021 and 2022 are single pages.
  • Daily Pages – the real meat and potatoes of my system. Each day has two pages and provides for a prioritized daily action list, appointments and scheduled events and a diary/record of actions throughout the day. I keep the current month and the next month in my binder. Future and past pages go in a storage binder.

I know that looks like a lot of stuff in the binder, but many of the sections are just a couple of sheets of paper behind a slightly heavier tabbed divider. The entire binder is easy to carry and has loops for a pen and pencil so I always have those at hand.

I’ll give more detail about each section and how I use the system in future posts.  I do realize that I need to turn some focus toward my personal life as work life tends to dominate my planning.  Don’t worry, I’ll use my planner to schedule more regular posts.

4 thoughts on “Planner Evolution V.?

  1. I absolutely love your planner and your way of thinking. I’m taking notes from your article. Thank you! I look forward to more from your progress with the FC planner system. I love FC as well. I have used pocket, compact, and classic size. I really just love the system.

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