I belong to three volunteer organizations, I have recently had frequent doctor appointments, started a yoga class twice a week, plus started a Walking Challenge. To say my schedule gets pretty hectic sometimes is an understatement. The day I was up and dressed, and ready to leave the house a day early for a meeting. I knew then it was time to take a good look at revamping my planner.
This particular morning, I woke up earlier than usual to get ready and have a cup of coffee. Then out the door to pick up a friend, who was going to the meeting with me. Thankfully, I am in the habit of texting her and telling her I am on my way. Equally thankful, she texted me right back to ask where I was going.
Of course, we laughed about it after I explained everything. I had been feeling overwhelmed for a few weeks, so knew something had to change. That very evening, I sat down with my planner and a handful of colored ink pens and made a plan for revamping my planner.
I love pretty planners. I love the looks of color coded planners. All the pretty stickers. All the pretty pens. The cute little stamps. But I don’t want to spend a small fortune on a beautiful planner. I have found free printable planners on-line, but I’m a tightwad when it comes to my printer ink. Then, there are the cute little bags of supplies that get carried along with the planner. Or the darling little desk top planner stations with loads of stickers, stamps and washi tape. I already carry enough stuff with me when I leave the house, so wasn’t interested in anything extra. And our home is so small, that I really don’t have room to set up a neat little desk top planner station.
I have carried a 5″ x 8″ dated planner for several years. I find them every year at Dollar General in several colors for $2 or $3, and the size is perfect for carrying in my purse. I do a minor modification, but otherwise, it is suitable for everything I need to keep my life on track. It includes 2-page monthly views and 2-page weekly views, a Resources section and a Notes/Addresses section.
I added a 5″ x 8″legal pad inside the back cover held in place with a giant paper clip. The pads are great for taking notes at meetings and can be found in different colors sometimes. I had a bunch of white ones at home, so I just used them. When they’re gone, you can bet I will start buying packages of the pretty colors!
I needed to add a couple of pockets for a few envelopes and post-it notes, etc. Previously, I had bought a couple of packages of colored pencils that came in clear vinyl flat pocket-looking pouches that would work. I put the backs of the two pockets together and used clear packing tape to tape the tops and one side together. Then, I slid this over the Resources divider from the side and taped the bottoms together. I now have the two pockets inside my planner, plus an additional thin space behind each one, accessed on the spiral side of the pocket. See that little clear plastic strip on the right side of the planner pages in the picture below? The pockets stick out just enough that I can keep a pencil tucked in there, along with envelopes, stickers, etc..
Another reason I fought the idea of color coding my planner for years, was thinking it was way too much work. With all of the activities I had going on though, I figured it was time to try it. I picked out the colors of ink I wanted to use, them made a reference at the top of the monthly pages; red for ME! (yoga), purple for Homemakers (meetings and get-togethers), green for Master Gardeners (meetings, workshops, seminars), turquoise for the Walking Challenge, dark blue for Other (everything else). I use my mechanical pencil to cross out meetings or activities that I decide not to attend and to make additional notes. Then in case anything changes, I can erase the notes.
This is just the monthly views, but I follow the same color coding on the daily pages. Below is November’s monthly view with my standing appointments and meetings already written in.
I love the brightly colored giant paper clips I found at Dollar General in the school supplies section! I keep one on the current month view, one on the previous month and one on the following month, because I have to reference all three months frequently. The monthly views also make it really easy for me to note my volunteer hours. My running grocery and errand lists are tucked under the paper clip for the current month, so that I always have it handy if I find myself going into a store.
I’ve been doing this for a couple of months now, and I have to admit, it IS working well for me. The planner stays in a handy location at home, but when I leave the house, it goes in my purse.
I don’t carry my colored ink pens with me. If I need to add something when I am away from home, I will write it in pencil, and then re-write in the appropriate color of ink at home. I am also able to carry a bit of washi tape, wrapped around a flat piece of plastic (cut a small rectangle from a milk jug), plus a few pretty little stickers in one of the pockets.
Now, I always know at a glance where I am supposed to be, at what time and on what day! And honestly, I don’t feel so overwhelmed with obligations, even though I am still pretty busy.
Do you color code your planner?