It’s another Deep Dive episode!
This one was inspired by an Instagram-submitted question: “Could you create an episode about planning for those who don’t currently plan or use a planner, but are interested in doing so? How would you build a system from scratch?”
Thank you for the inspiration, listener! I really enjoyed thinking about (and talking about) the elements of a planning system that I believe are essential. In the episode, I attempted to build a framework without prescribing specifics. I hope it helps some!
1- You need a trusted calendar. Can be electronic, can be paper. But you have to have one calendar that you truly trust and contains everything of importance to help you plan your day. I prefer paper as I find it easier, better for annotation, and easy to add from various electronic sources. BUT paper is not the only way, and I know others who are google calendar, outlook, cozi, or apple calendar diehards.
If you want to go paper, your calendar system doesn’t have to be a big behemoth with daily pages. You could go very minimal and still capture all of the time-specific plans and events you need to. The B6 Jibun Techo is tiny but could hold SO much info if you needed it to (review coming in future ep!)!
2- You need a list/goals management system.
You need places to put:
- incoming tasks, ideally with a way to sort so they are not in one giant intimidating (and off-putting) list
- incoming ideas
- records of the past (only if you want to!)
- goals lists for each time frame: yearly, quarter, weekly, and even daily.
This can be built into your planner or you may need a separate system, either digital OR paper. I don’t necessarily believe all tasks need to go into one system. For example, my clinical work contains plenty of tasks that never leave the electronic medical record system. Having separate systems to capture different kinds of tasks is fine as long as you build rituals to regularly check/manage each system.
My personal combo is:
- A folder in my work email for projects that I am waiting on / following up (I go through it at minimum weekly to decide what should go on my weekly lists and to cull things that no longer are relevant)
- Apple Notes lists as kind of catchall for work and nonwork goals/ideas
- Paper lists for yearly goals / monthly goals / weekly goals / etc
- DAILY pages which contain goals & plan for day, built right into my planner (hence, hobonichi)
- Other ad hoc lists of things that are important to me (some in bullet journal . . some in Apple Notes. Example – show notes & ideas much easier to do digitally so I do – but if I want to brainstorm a bunch of new ideas I’ll typically do it on paper
I also use my bullet journal to track a number of things.
You might want to track books read. Books TO read! Events you want to plan in future. Habits. Workouts. Trips to take. TV shows to watch. Your kids’ growth.
Or, nothing. This is all about what makes you happy.
For task collection and management, I do not think there is any one right way to do this. I DO however think it needs to be intentional and you need to be aware of all of your processing “buckets”, per se. And then the key pairing with your list/goals system is the next step!!
3- You need routines that support your mission to stay organized and intentional.
When do you process inputs? To me, process means integrate inputs from calendar + various lists to create time-frame specific goals.
This is where the magic happens (in theory, anyway!). You are going to use your carefully curated inputs to design your day in an intentional way.
Maybe you “triage” at a certain time but really “process/clean up” at other times. There is no right time to do this . . . but it is important that you do it, and that you do it regularly. Otherwise the rest of your efforts are not going to really be all that helpful.
I process in some form each morning, at the end of a work day, at the end of the work week, on Sundays/Monday mornings, sometime at ends of months, quarters, and definitely at the end of each year!
As you are designing your processing routines, think about:
How do you capture those little things that come up on the go? Do you have a system to review each of these capture points?
When do you want to create/review daily plans, weekly plans, monthly plans, quarterly/quintile plans, beyond?
When do you (or do you need to) coordinate plans with others you are close to?
4- When it comes to functional planning, ALL OF THE AESTHETICS ARE OPTIONAL. I only recommend getting fancy if it makes it more fun for you to use your system (and therefore makes it more likely you will continue to do so). You do need pens that feel good and don’t smudge too much 🙂 Perhaps some colors for making pages clear or coding goals by priority. But really all of the stickers / washi / fancy layouts are optional.
5- If I were building a very basic planning KIT, what would I use?
Well – you all know I love my Hobonich products, but FOR YOU I cannot recommend any one brand! There are just so many and it really depends on how much ‘calendaring’ you want on paper vs how much space for lists. The most versatile options are a weekly planner & bullet journal (examples: a Plum Paper or Jibun Techo or Hobonichi Weeks or Simplified Weekly plus a plain notebook/dotted journal) or a binder option with inserts (blanks, etc), or yep – a Hobonichi Techo Cousin as long as you are comfortable with either using an accessory system (digital or paper) for some lists & tracking AND want a daily page.
I would add to my “kit” some great black pens (tastes vary but I’m currently using a Pentel Energel and a fine point Pilot G-2; I use a Uni Jetstream / Sakura Pigma Micron / Uni Pin on Hobonichi paper). And Mildliners. Every planner needs Mildliners!
Plus, optional: maybe a couple of washi tapes & versatile stickers to make it fun
LOVE OF THE WEEK
Amanda Rach Lee washi tape & dotted journal! Yep, I ordered them (for research purposes of course . . . ) so a full review will come later 🙂
NEXT WEEK – guest ep coming your way! Stay tuned. And if you have an extra few seconds today, please leave a review!