Several years ago there was a huge planner boom, almost like scrapbooking but using planner. In fact, I think several former scrapbookers ended up launching their own planner lines! That has tapered off a lot and I only bit into the craze one time, buying a thick planner and then realizing after using it a few months that it wasn’t how I enjoyed writing my to-do lists and remembering events.
If I go back to my college days I can pinpoint when I started using a planner. I bought one that the university bookstore had every year and it worked out pretty well. I still have some of those and when I come across them I like flipping through to see where I marked off a date for having a test or project due. I know I bought planners after I graduated but I most often leaned into a blank notebook or small journal because I am mostly a list maker. I don’t necessarily like having to write to-do on a certain date because if I don’t do it then I get all frustrated I didn’t manage to get that thing done on that particular day, because let’s face it, most of my to-do’s are self motivated items, not necessarily something outside of my own goal list.
Currently I have a couple of different methods for planning—and they are really just places for me to brain dump a lot of the time.
- Moleskine cahier journal: I usually catch these on sale at Target or I have been finding them at Home Goods or Marshalls and will stock up on them there because they are discounted. Sometimes in packs of multiples. A few years ago I even decorated the pages with washi tape and tried to format it into something that was functional and I think it worked for me at that time. Now, I just make a list for the week of all the things I need to do and then will usually end up making a second or third list for things I need to buy or appointments or places to go. I keep this one at work so I can brain dump when I think of things, considering that’s where I’m spending the majority of my waking hours.
- The planner you see above: This is new this year. I also bought it at Home Goods earlier this year as I was looking for a new planner for work. I keep a separate planner for work to write down my time and projects and other things like that and somehow I had bought an August-July version last year. Then I had trouble finding a replacement mid-year but Home Goods had my back! I bought this one with the work one, to use at home, because I don’t bring the other notebook home and often my lists on weekends are focused on chore related and very immediate things that need to happen. I also liked this one because it had some more goal oriented sections, the places on the calendar to write down appointments, and a reflection area. I’ve not been great about using it every week but hope to make that reflection area more intentional in the New Year.
- Google Docs: I am only a recent convert to Google Docs in the last few years after realizing how it easy it is to open something up in one place and still be able to open it up elsewhere without having to carry around a flash drive. I have MANY different docs for listing and planning based on whatever project, whether it is a general to-do list (again, a brain dump most often!), something pertaining to a writing or podcast goal, or whatever else. It’s very handy to have so I can look back when I get home and add it to the list there.
So that’s the primary ways I plan or keep track of things. I usually keep all of them, including the random Moleskine lists and when I do come across them again later I realize I’m still making lists to run errands to the Dollar General on the way home just like I was in 2012! I think college has to be when any of that really started, I don’t recall doing this in high school. My mom is a notorious list maker and always keeps a steno pad on the edge of her counter in the kitchen. I don’t think she keeps her lists, though!
What about you? How do you organize your life?