Why I use a 2 page per day planner

I originally started out using a 2 page per day (2ppd) pocket Daytimer back in 1983.  I would guess that I’ve used a 2 ppd set-up for at least 25 of the past 36 years.  Some folks might wonder why I’ve returned to this set up that admittedly has quite a bit of white space that goes unused many days.  Let me see if I can explain the why and how of my usage.

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My current planner is the Franklin Covey “Classic” size.  The paper is essentially half of a standard US Letter size or 8 1/2″ by 11″.  The resulting half size is 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ and has 7 holes punched in it to fit into the standard binder – Franklin and Daytimer have identical ring set-ups.

The page layout is very useful for me.  The left hand side has the important “prioritized daily task list”, an “appointments & scheduled events” area spanning essential 7 a.m until 9 p.m.  It also has the odd little tracker box that I’ve rarely used.  It also has a small full month calendar and even smaller past and future months as well.  The right hand page is for notes taken throughout the day.  It also has a daily quote and then information about day and week for reference that some might find useful.

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For me, the prioritized daily task list and the scheduled events section are really important for my effectiveness.   I take 15-30 minutes every morning to review my goals and values and to identify daily tasks which will get me to my goals.   I also evaluate the amount of time I think I will have available and then I can prioritize my list based on how much I think I can get done.

I use an A,B,C,D system.  A is vital, B is some importance, C is limited importance and D is waste of time.   Typically, when we write down our task lists, we tend to write down the first things that come to mind, which often is those things that are urgent.  In a previous post I shared the 7 questions I use to identify the high priority items I ought to be working on and rank them A,B,C, or D and then the 5 questions I use to prioritize those items within that framework in order of hoped for accomplishment.  This approach allows me to deliberately procrastinate those things that may seem urgent but are of limited or no value.

I also use the “next actions” or spontaneous goal to identify those things that come up during the day that just need to get done.  These types of items arise as a result of interactions, emails, phone calls, meetings, etc., throughout the day.  20190523_1509222237389603129826363.jpg

The check marks next to items above were quick ‘next actions’ to move the project I was working on along.  There was no need to copy those over to the task list and then prioritize.  I accomplished those 4 invites with 1 email in just a minute or so and earned myself 4 nice checkmarks.  The little asterisky X marks were used to indicate that I needed to give some attention to it or take an immediate action.   That is one of my little adaptations of Time Power, Hyrum Smith and GTD to fit my needs.

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I also have just a few sections to separate active working topics that don’t necessarily fit in the daily calendar pages.  Things in these sections need perhaps a bit more space or have multiple parts that I don’t want to lose in the daily notes, so they live over here for as long as needed.  Once I’m done with the pages, I move them out of the planner binder and put them into the storage binder.  The total amount of paper I have in my planner, including tabs and calendars is less than 1″ thick, so I don’t find it to be overly bulky to carry.

If I had a recommendation about carrying a planner is that you need to have it with you most of the time, if not all of the time, and you should use the smallest size that will allow you to have your projects and goals immediately accessible to you.  For me, this is the classic size.  It is large enough that I have room to work through my projects and days and to selectively capture information I may need for follow up, but not for long for journal writing, etc.

I try to capture the key points and not write down every word of a conversation or meeting.  I rarely need to add sheets into the daily record to capture overflow daily notes, but it does happen once or twice a month.

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As far as the writing instruments I use, I carry a .5mm mechanical pencil and a fountain pen.  That’s it.   No markers, no highlighters.  The color of ink I use is up to the whim I had when I filled up the pen.   I tend to use dark blues, blue-blacks, blacks and dark greens most days in my fountain pens.   A fine or extra fine nib and a decent ink are all I need.  Currently I have a Lamy 2000 with an extra fine nib in my planner.  The paper in the Franklin refills for the monthly calendar and daily pages seems to be very fountain pen friendly with little to no feathering and no bleed through.

That’s my system.   I can say that if Daytimer were less expensive and their paper were more fountain pen friendly I would likely use them, but my last FC refill was about half the cost of the similar Daytimer layout, so it was really a no brainer.

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