This may sound strange coming from FranklinPlanner, but the truth is, time management is an oxymoron. We have no control over time itself—it moves at the same rate continually, whether we keep up with it or not. That means, of course, that you can’t save time either. It isn’t something we can keep in a box for later use. We must spend every second of our time every day. None of us has more or less time than anyone else—this is all the time we’ll ever have. Yet, most of us can think of things we’d love to do someday—when we have more time.
Since we can’t save or manage time, we must instead manage ourselves, and proactively decide what we’ll do with the time we have. The best way to do this is through planning—not planning our time, but planning our activities within it, and ensuring that those activities are aligned with our values, our hopes, and our dreams. It’s lifelong quest that requires thoughtful effort and self-awareness, yet the tools that have proven best suited for the task are simple—pen and paper.
The act of writing—focusing our thoughts into words and phrases, holding a pen, moving our hands to form the symbols that represent our thoughts, and reading them as we go—is a kinesthetic and repetitive activity that embeds information and ideas more firmly in our minds. That’s why so many people use a planner, and it’s why so many people who have tried other time-management devices for a season, find themselves returning to the tried and true paper and pen.
In order for your planning system to work to its fullest potential, it must be personal, easy to manage, and portable. It’s best if you keep your planner with you at all times, to act as a reminder of the things you are working toward, and to help you plan ahead as situations arise. We recommend you use the same planner for every aspect of your life. Keeping your work-related tasks and appointments beside your home and family activities makes it easy to avoid scheduling conflicts, and provides great perspective as you prioritize your daily tasks.
Some people worry that holding all that varied information in one place will create clutter in their planner, but the beauty of Franklin Planners is their organization. When used as designed, they are always orderly and easy to follow. Still, many of us like to set apart our work-related tasks from other tasks and appointments we have. Doing so makes it easy to see at a glance what areas of our life are getting the most attention and which could benefit from more of our time.
How you distinguish the tasks related to one area of your life from those related to another is up to you. Our friends here in the office use several different methods. Some simply leave a blank line in their Prioritized Daily Task List between their list of work-related tasks and their home and family activities. Others use different colored pens to represent the different roles they plan each day—black for work, green for family activities, blue for hobbies, etc. The same idea will work if you’re keeping track of different people’s schedules—Blue for Nate, Green for Emily, etc. Still others use colored tabs or page flags in their planners to sort their activities.
A more recent trend we’ve adopted here in the office is using colorful washi tape to split the daily tasks section into different segments. We also find it’s a fun way to segment our notes pages to keep track of the different things that come up throughout the day.
However you choose to sort your daily activities, remember that keeping your planning system personal is most important. You want your planner to represent you and what makes you unique. The more you can blend your life and your personality into your planner, the more likely you are to open it and use it. And that is the key to success.