Monday, August 23, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Personal planner/organizer

With work, outside commitments, and a social life (at a minimum), it's easy to loose track of what your daily activities are. I keep a Google calendar, which syncs to my phone (and which I never check except to add stuff every once in a while), and an Outlook calendar on my work computer (for work mtgs and vacations only). I also have a wall calendar in my cubicle for big dates to remember, and a whiteboard calendar at home.  It is a lot to keep track of, and a lot of times things end up on one calendar, but not another, or I end up having to write things down 12 times (it feels like that, at least). And don't even get me started on the number of to-do lists I keep at any given time.

What I wish I had was a reasonably portable personal planner/organizer to jot notes, to-dos, and keep a master calendar. I've always had a penchant for planning and organization, ever since I was a kid with no appointments or to-dos (except for practice piano and ride my bike).

Growing up, I stared longingly and in awe at my dad's Franklin Covey organizer. It was a beautiful mahogany leather, zipped up all around, and had notes on each page...appointments, to-dos, and meeting notes, all in his neat handwriting.  I loved that he kept photos of me, my brother, and my mom in the front of his binder, and he carried it around with him everywhere.  He had the system down (the actual Franklin Covey personal productivity system, with its check marks, bullets, and arrows).

I was a sophomore in college when I finally got my first Franklin Covey organizer.  A good friend, who had listened to me wax on and on and on at length about the merits of the Franklin Covey, gave me a gift card to the store for Christmas, and I remember picking out my was black leather, compact in size, and zipped all the way around, just like my dad's. I chose the generic Franklin Covey daily filler pack for my first year, to get my feel for the system. It was glorious. I put pictures of my family and friends in the front, and set to work filling the pages with colorful notes and appointments. I marked the day that my now-husband asked me out, the day of our first date, the day he asked me to be his girlfriend, and the day we had our first kiss (in that order...I made him wait).

I stopped using it when I went to graduate school (my calendar consisted solely of school, internship, and homework), but I still have the pages from those first three years, kept neatly in Franklin Covey's archiving binders. Here's the proof:

After graduate school, I graduated up to a classic-size Franklin Covey, and my dad gave me one of his old binders to use (::swoon::). It was filled with wedding-planning activities and social gatherings with friends, but it was so large it was quickly relegated to my desk at home, where I rarely spent time, and it sat largely unused.  These past few years, I've tried those purse-friendly, plastic encased monthly planners you can get anywhere (my mom's method), but a month is such a wide view that I didn't find it useful.

After years of this trial and error, I think I've settled on a good medium and now wish for a weekly organizer.  It allows just enough detail, and my to-do lists often encompass one week. Plus, it is more likely than a daily calendar to fit in my purse and keep with me all the time.  I found some nice options on the to pick just one!

I love how compact this one is (only 2.5" x 4.5") and how the blank spaces give more freedom than lines for notetaking, but like many traditional weekly planners, there's not much space for a weekly to-do list.

The Franklin Covey perspective calendar has a little less space for the daily appointments and more space for to-dos, which is perfect for me.

I've always loved Bob's Your Uncle's Eight Days a Week planner, and I like this mini version, too! It keeps things nice and loose with it's a.m., p.m., and evening designations (instead of set hours), and the Someday... section is perfect for a weekly to-do list.

Moleskine is a classic that I read about often...who knew they had this cool weekly planner - notebook hybrid? Um...perfection?

Since many of these notebooks go by calendar year, I have until January to decide, but so far the Moleskine is the definite Frontrunner.

How do you keep your appointments and to-dos organized? Do you keep a planner or do it digitally?


  1. Love that Moleskin! I currently use Staples generic weekly and monthly view, I love it. It is on a September to September rotation, very school based, which I would love to get out of. I may buy the Mole skin for January, and then get a monthly for september through December.

  2. Oh my gosh, I used to be fanatical about buying DayPlanners every year. I LOVED them. I used to write down the names of movies I wanted to see so that if we didn't see them in theatres, I'd have a list of movies we could rent at any given time. Otherwise I'd forget. Because I forget EVERYTHING.

    Now I do what you said with the Google calendar syncing to my phone. I also have my husband's calendar sync to my phone, and then we have a joint family one for things that we have planned together. I do everything digitally now.

  3. I used to have a planner but I would forget to write things down and just remember them anyway LOL! I'm always on the computer and never without my phone so emails to myself for immediate "to do's" and google and blackberry calendars work for me.

  4. I have a moleskin planner too, although mine looks more like the one pictured first. I love it, for the most part: I wish there were monthly calendar spreads between each month. Other than that, it works quite well for me as I have daily to-do lists... but the one you're currently lusting after actually looks quite useful. I'll consider this when buying a new one (which apparently needs to happen soon because I'm already booking doctor's appointments and such for 2011. Nuts!)


  5. I have a small weekly planner by Blue Sky that easily slips into my purse and contains personal life stuff and a few big work things that might affect my personal life. I've used the same format of the planner for the past 3 years, and it works well for me.

    I have a printed-from-publisher monthly calendar at work that I write all my work stuff on. The scheduled meetings and such are on my Outlook calendar so a reminder pops up.

    For my to-do lists, I keep a small spriral notebook in my purse and keep a running list, plus always have an extra piece of paper to write something down on. This way, I don't have to re-write things from week to week. So in my bag at all times is my mini weekly planner and my mini notebook.

    I love that Moleskine one...I want it for January!

  6. I, like you, have had so many different ways of keeping track. In high school and college for the first 3 years I kept soley a mid-sized weekly planner that I could fit in my oversized bag. Then I discovered gmail and the google calendar and i used only that for the second half of my senior year (when I go back and look at it I have a near heartattack at how you can barely seen any blank space on that jam packed thing). Since starting work I have used the outlook calendar on my work computer for my master calander for all work events and meetings and scheduling vacation, but I keep a physical calendar that goes EVERYWHERE with me... it's a DayMinder calendar ( which is identical to the one my mother has kept on the counter in the kitchen for as long as I can possibly remember. Its perfect for me it has space to right in all my appointments and a little extra space for notes at the top. I use a binder clip to hold back the weeks that have already passed and when I used to clip my weeks to-do list under it, but now I have a separate thin little notebook that I write my to-do lists in.

    I love planners... its one of those school supply things that I just can't get enough of. I used to get so excited every school year to pick out a new planner. And now when I open the box on Christmas that inevitably has the refill for my weekly planner, i get just as excited!

  7. I think the best part of my iPhone is the calendar. It has my work calendar on there and i sync it to the phone. I just put all my personal stuff on there too and mark it as private. It is literally the best thing to be able to have it electronically.

    But for to do lists, that's another story. I have changed over the years. My favorite was the mini notebook that I just made one really long to do list and each time I turned the page I would start the number at whatever it was that I left. Like when I got to page 2 if I did 12 of 20 things on the previous page, I would start the numbering here at 13. but sometimes when I got to page 20, this was difficult because there were many things from earlier pages that I didn't get to. I may rewrite the thing if there was only 1 thing left on the page. Now I use random post-its that I don't remember to look at for weeks and I email myself via my phone or any computer with the subject (To-do) but sometimes if I'm half busy at home, I even don't click to read it for a few days.

  8. I want that moleskin planner!!!

  9. I was glad to see you had discovered the Moleskine because I was going to recommend it! I LOVE mine, it's the one you've got up there with the week on one side and empty space on the other, which is the perfect size to put all of your to do lists and such. It's really lightweight and durable, also. I've been using them for about 2-3 years now.

  10. I need to get organized better. I usually just open up a Word document and make a list of what I need to do for the week hahaha. Not the best arrangement!

  11. I have a medium sized planner I toss into my work bag because we have so many cases to work on every day. I picked my up at staples. I love the huge monthly spread so I can spot things that are upcoming and use a color pen/highlighting system to let me know what's high priority. A little OCD? I think so.

  12. I keep a physical, paper planner as my master calendar, largely because my work computer is super-firewalled and used for work purposes only so I can't keep a master calendar on a computer & I have a crappy (non-smart) phone. But mine is a Franklin Covey!

  13. @ alicia - Hmm...I forgot to check Staples!

    @ melissa - my husband and I share our g-cals, too, as do all my best friends (you know, so we know what's going on in each others lives). the problem is it's such a hassle to check!

    @ curls and pearls - do you check it regularly or set up updates? I don't think I am using my smartphone to its full potential.

    @ cubiclechic - oo yeah, I wish that (or wonder if) the moleskine has any monthly pages in between. My old Franklin Coveys had daily pages (2 pgs per day) and monthly ones, with tabs. Loved the wider view.

    @ elizabethashley - that sounds like quite a system! I often keep scraps of paper for to-do lists in my purse, too...a notebook sounds a lot more handy.

    @ jenni - that looks awesome! Do you carry that around with you? I, too, looooove planners. I think that's why I keep so many calendars everywhere...i just love looking and seeing what's coming up.

    @ colleen - your system sounds similar to what I do at work...i keep a notebook and use one page per week, putting only the things i need to do that week on there (the long-term projects are on a whiteboard so i can add them on later). Things that don't get done inevitably get pushed to the next page. It's a great way to wrap-up a Friday at work, setting my to-do list for the next week.

    @ aj - me too!!

    @ sara - that's awesome to hear that it works as well in reality as it does in my imagination :) I'm glad it's light, because my purse is heavy enough as it is (wallet, camera, phone, jump drive, quarters for meters, etc.).

    @ bachman's sparrow - hey, it's a start! do you print it out or do you refer back to the document?

    @ ann-knee - hellloooo I totally share your love for color-coding. It's my trademark at work. Everything has a color.

    @ jeanna - I like physical planners better than digital calendars in general because I think they're a better record and are easier to access (I mean, the Internet isn't quite everywhere yet, and not always consistent). I still loooove Franklin Covey.

  14. I've been using the Moleskine Weekly + Notebook Planner for 2 years now. Absolutely love it. It's perfect for me. You should visit People post pictures of their organizers and everything is so pretty.


  15. @Angeline - Yeah I do carry it everywhere with me. I only wish it zipped up, that's its only downside.

  16. @ leigh - cool, I'll have to check it out!

    @ jenni - oh well...I just ordered the has an elastic band around it and an inside pocket, so hopefully it will all stay together in my purse.

  17. I use Google calendars (yes, plural). I have one for my personal life, one for work, and one for my students' parents to keep them updated on what's going on at school. Plus, Hubs and I share our respective calendars with each other and they're all on my handy dandy iPhone. It's good stuff, but I do have to say that I was obsessed with my At A Glance planners throughout high school, college, and grad school.

  18. @ bridget - I love that Google lets you keep multiple calendars...I have one for personal, one for work, and one for the blog (to plan posts). I try to stay off my phone (K made me promise not to become one of "those people" who are on their phones all the time), so a physical planner works better for me, I think.

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