Making Your Planner Work For You

It’s been a while since we’ve had a serious discussion about planners. With the year coming to a close and another starting fresh, now is the perfect time for a refresher. You’ll soon be setting goals for a new year, and using a planner will make reaching those goals a little easier. Here are a few thoughts to help you plan from some of the most organized people we know.

Our CEO, Sarah Merz Devoll:

Sarah Merz DevollI am a devoted paper planner user and have been for decades.  Over the years, I’ve developed several special planning approaches that help me make sense of my commitments, goals, and progress toward those goals.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Spatially sort your task list – I list my work tasks from the top down, and my personal tasks from the bottom up. That way, I can easily keep track of progress on both aspects of my life. I try to keep a balance by not letting the bottom list creep up the page faster than the top list creeps down the page, and vice versa.
  • Create a highlighted day code to track important things – On days when I get a good workout in, I highlight the date with a pink highlighter on the monthly tab. A month full of pink dots is a health month. A month with no dots is embarrassing.
  • Add pages for big days – About once a month, I have an event that has lots of moving parts. It could be a dinner party, a board meeting, or a project with my husband. I add a blank page in my planner next to that date and keep all my running lists on that page. I always know where my notes are because the date is top-of-mind and when the day arrives, my thoughts are all collected in front of me.

I look forward to learning planning tips from others as well, so I can continue to adapt and make my planner even more helpful.

Steve Shumway, Vice-President, Product Development

Steven ShumwayI started using a day planner years ago when they were a “must have” for any businessman.  I continued to follow the trends and graduated to a PDA and eventually to a smartphone, which I now use in conjunction with my iPad.  Still, there is one enduring concept I appreciate now more than ever despite all the advances in technology and the changing trends over the years- I need something to write on!

I use the FranklinCovey Leadership 1-page-per-day planner that fits nicely into a beautiful leather cover.  It allows me to capture meeting notes by date along with recording assignments, projects, things I need to remember, and notes to myself.  This planner keeps them neatly organized and makes it easy to transfer some of this information to my electronic devices.

I used to be very concerned about fashions and trends.  I now concern myself more with practicality.  I want to do what works and I find my planner is what works for me.  I love my electronic devices but they are only part of the total organizational equation.  Still, with a business case, a planner cover, and an iPad cover that are all coordinating, I satisfy my need for style.

I am confident technology will continue to emerge and the next big thing is just around the corner.  I am also confident, despite these advancements, my FranklinCovey planner will continue to be the cornerstone of my personal organization.

And from Product Manager, Jennifer Andrews:

Jen AndrewsI’ve been using planners for many years, and as technology and my life have changed, so have my planners. In high school (way before cell phones and tablets) I used it for everything. I kept all my phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, calendars, tasks, notes, pictures, and journaling in my planner. It went with me everywhere. As I entered college, my planner became my lifeline to keep on top of homework, project and work schedules. I found it kept me from losing my mind as I had so much going on.

As I entered the working world, my planner came with me, but it changed. As I began to use technology more and more, I found I no longer needed my planner for my calendars and birthdays, as my computer reminded me of them. And my contacts were also now being stored electronically. I tried a few times to keep everything on a smartphone or my computer, but found myself frequently frustrated as I tried to keep track of notes and tasks in meetings and throughout my day. I needed my planner.

I’ve finally settled on a weekly planner format. I love being able to keep my entire week in front of me at a glance. If I see that I already have a lot of tasks stacked up for Tuesday, but Wednesday’s open, I can schedule my own time better. It keeps me from being stressed out when I can see it all laid out in front of me. I also love that I can put a task in the future; even a few months down the road, and know that it will be there. I don’t have to worry that a glitch in my computer erased it, or it didn’t sync to my iPhone due to a bug in the last update. I wrote it in ink, it’s still there.

If I wake up at night unable to sleep thinking about something I need to do the next day, I grab my planner, write it down and know that task will hit me when it needs to. It keeps me on top of the many hats I wear. My planner is a dear old friend, she keeps me organized, she keeps me sane.

Is your planner a dear friend that keeps you organized and sane? If not, take a closer look at the way you plan. Your planner is waiting to help you make more of your time.

For more help using your planner take a look at this helpful video.



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