Monday, March 10, 2008

Behind Every Great Woman is a Planner

Good Monday morning! I flipped my calendar open this morning and staring at me was the re-order form for my next year’s calendar. It was only a matter of time before I delved into the importance of planners and organizers and so I will use this as a sign that today should be the day. After all, many of us wake up on Monday morning’s thinking about what the week ahead will entail. Additionally, much of what I suggest over the course of the year will require some kind of planning on your part and so discussion of a calendar was inevitable.

I have had calendar of sorts for as long as I could remember. I’ve tried everything from the fancy Stephen Covey systems to going exclusively electronic. But, I always return to what I consider to be the ultimate, tried and true organizer… The Planner Pad. I should work on commission for this company, because since 1991, I personally have converted upwards of 50 – 60 students, friends, and colleagues to this simple paper and pen method of organizing.

What makes this calendar terrific is it is organized into four sections. It begins with the most general and works its way to the most specific tasks you hope to accomplish in a week. The very top of the calendar provides a space for you to write your Major Goal of the Week. Next it provides space for you to brainstorm Weekly Lists of Activities by Categories. I love this section the most. Regardless of whether we are stay at home moms or VPs of major corporations, our lives are divided into buckets of responsibility. The buckets could be classroom mom, household chores, staff meeting preparation, friends, family, fitness goals, etc…. This section of the calendar allows us to ‘brain dump” all the things we need/want to accomplish in those buckets for the week. Sections three and four get even more specific, requiring you to schedule your weekly lists of activities (buckets) into particular days of the week and finally hours of those specific days. It is, if you could imagine, an inverted pyramid beginning with the most general goal of the week and ultimately moves toward the specificity of the day and time will you make that happen. I left my professional position one year ago and still each morning I open my calendar (centrally located in my kitchen) and use it as a tool for planning and organizing the life of my family.

If you aren’t wed to a calendar, you might consider checking out a Planner Pad at I swear by mine.

Now for a quick planning tip I learned years ago and still use to this day – actually especially use now that I am running a household and all the paper that goes along with it. Last week we received an invitation to an event hosted by my husband’s alma mater. The event is not until the last week of March, but included a campus map we will need to find the function. Two weeks ago my son received an invitation to a birthday party next weekend. The party will be at Pump It Up, a local indoor recreation facility with inflatables. There is a consent form that must accompany him on the day of the party. Yesterday I made a reservation for a flight to Chicago. I printed off the itinerary, but won’t need it until mid-April. This is the kind of paper clutter that could easily create mini stacks of paper all over your home and on counter space if you are not careful. Instead, I use the power of the ‘H”.” The letter “H” stands for Hold. I have a manilla folder filed in our home office and inside the “H” folder goes any piece of paper I must hold onto for an upcoming event or commitment. I simply store the paper in the folder and then note an “H” in my calendar on the date I will need the map, consent form, flight itinerary, or whatever the item may be. This keeps papers from getting lost and, at the same time, doesn’t have them sitting out or stuck to the refrigerator for weeks on end.

Tomorrow we’ll start planning for St. Patrick’s Day, so grab (or order) your calendar and meet me back here.

Signing off for now…

No comments: