Best Laid Plans

Ep #98: Email Etc!

June 13, 2022

Planner Peace

Today’s PP submission comes from another Sarah in Australia!

I’m also a sub specialist paediatrician with a mix of clinical and research roles. My husband is also a physician, also with a mix of roles across multiple departments/hospitals and tons of on call. We have 2 kids, aged 12 and 7. 

I previously used to BuJo, but this year I’m using a Hobonichi Techo A6 for home. I use the task list at the beginning of each month, and usually do a weekly meal plan on one of the weekend pages. I also use Todoist. I have a list of recurring home/household maintenance tasks. This includes weekly tasks like ordering a fruit/veg box; annual tasks like car registration, parking permit, kids’ dental appointments and less frequent tasks like painting the house (5 yearly). Each month I check this and add any relevant tasks to the monthly list in my Hobonichi. I also have a running grocery list in Todoist – this is linked to our Alexa. I have a to-do list on ToDoist that works similarly, for things I remember on the fly. 

For work I also use a mixture of digital and analog. I’ve worked from home a day or so a week since 2020, and had to tweak my system to keep track of tasks while working from home some of the time. My work uses Teams, and I have a master to-do list on Teams, which includes short and longer term items. I use a Hobonichi A5 Dayfree for work, which I switched to in mid 2021. Some days I’m in back to back meetings and clinic and don’t use it at all. Other days I have no clinical work, and rely on this to get through as many tasks as possible. The Dayfree has flexibility to use as much or as little space as I want. I roughly follow BuJo principles with this. 

My 12 yr old started high school this year, and suddenly has lots of assignments and homework (after no homework for 2 years due to COVID!). It’s been a massive transition. He lost his school issued homework diary, so is using a Hobonichi weeks. 

My 7 yr old has an A5 Day Free Hobonichi (with an Animal Crossing cover), which she uses for drawing, writing poems, and all sorts of random things. 

Sarah from AUS

Love this, and I love that you included the kids’ systems too, Sarah! Thank you so much for the submission!

Two Product Notes:

1- The Washi Tape Shop – my sister got me a gift card to this wonderful shop – so many gorgeous washi tapes I hadn’t seen before. I got the green oasis and the academia. Love.

2- Pilot Frixion – I finally took the plunge! More on these later but they are a great option for those who are anti-smudge AND anti-crossing-things out. I tried the fine point clicker erasable but apparently there may be even better options.


I went into this topic a bit in this post, and also referenced Cal Newport’s A World Without Email in this segment.

I am quite far from Inbox Zero at this particular moment (thanks to travel and other stressors) but hopefully will get back there again soon!


I’m already starting to plan later summer + fall episodes, and I would love your ideas for topics + guests! Please keep them coming (via the comments or email)!

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  • Reply Elisabeth June 13, 2022 at 8:55 am

    I’m addicted to Frixion pens! I almost exclusively use green pens and have many different brands/styles, but often use the Frixion as my go-to, especially for underlining in non-fiction reads. I also use the fine point clicker erasable, but you’ll have to let us know if you try and love another style (I’ve only used this one).

  • Reply Liz S June 13, 2022 at 10:25 am

    For fall planning, I’d love to get your input on how to plan for a sustainable holiday season! It starts for me with Halloween as my son LOVES the holiday, and his birthday is immediately after Halloween. Then Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, followed by my birthday in early January.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns June 13, 2022 at 1:27 pm

    I think the different way people manage email is really fascinating. In my industry (financial services/asset management), having office hours for email/not always checking would not be acceptable… but we get rush/urgent questions and if the financial markets are open, we better answer quickly! Right or wrong, the speed with which you answer questions kind of determines your worth/value to my colleagues in sales. And my role exists to support sales/help them sell our products so the more they utilize me, the better because it justifies the need for my role. But I can see how it’s possible to have office hours for email in a different industry.

    And I personally LOVE email and don’t find it super problematic. It is nice to be able to search for questions that I know have been answered over email because my brain just can’t hold everything like I’d like it to! Like you, I am not on social media. So if I spend a bit more time on email/text/whatsapp, I figure it’s fine since I’m not scrolling social media like I used to. I try my best not to check work email on the weekends and rarely do on the evenings unless something

  • Reply Cheryll June 13, 2022 at 1:49 pm

    For a guest, I really like Rad and Happy’s teacher planner and she seems like she had a lot of good information for more creative types.

  • Reply CBS June 13, 2022 at 3:02 pm

    I need to go back to email hours… nothing I do is urgent and a morning check in, a lunch check in, and a 4pm response to everything would be more than sufficient on 90% of my workdays. Students email at weird times, and I’ll check and reply, which gives them a false sense that I am always available.

  • Reply Allee June 13, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    I think a great guest would be Dani Brufoldt from Thyme is Honey! She has a new planning course, created the Daily Page Planner, and just in general thinks about planning. Plus she is currently living in Denmark!

  • Reply Sarah S. June 13, 2022 at 8:40 pm

    I would also love an episode on planning a sustainable holiday season. We have the common gauntlet of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years plus a kid birthday thrown in as well. I cannot figure out how to manage the logistics and family emotions without completely sacrificing my person enjoyment of the season.

    In the nearer term, I would enjoy an episode on deliberate planning for the school year. This may be mostly aimed at people with kids and academic professionals, but maybe there are transitions from summer to fall in other professions too? The new school year feels like a “clean slate” that I should take advantage of and deliberately plan, but I have a really hard time figuring out how to plan among the many simultaneous changes that seem to come each year with young kids in particular.

  • Reply Samme June 13, 2022 at 11:08 pm

    Future episode ideas?!
    – guest interview with your husband – how does he plan? what does he think of your planning? 🙂
    – guest interview with your nanny! (maybe better for BOBW – as a non-nanny but rather daycare family, I am fascinated to learn more about the relationship you have with your nanny!)
    – how to plan for a balanced variety of kids activities (so many choices, so many kids, so little time & $$$!)
    – long term digital planning (eg, do you use Google Drive, where are your photos, what is left in paper & why? any long term strategies to manage personal documents)

  • Reply Alison Rodriguez June 14, 2022 at 12:09 am

    I really need to find better email management – it is a constant overwhelm for me. 🙁

    For future episodes, a few ideas:
    – listener compilation episodes around specific topics (holiday season planning/management, back to school tips/tricks, etc.) where listeners send in their voice recorded top planning tip/advice for that seasonal topic (plus yours too).
    -back to school planning – especially for multiple kids.
    -holiday season planning
    -mental health planning – tools, practices, strategies, etc.
    -guests: Danny McKay (instagram: @dannyplansit) – a teacher and planner
    -guests: Julie Garza (I think is her last name; instagram: julies_plans)
    -guests: Lauren (
    -guests: anyone who may use Artful Agenda or perhaps the creator
    -planning events, birthday parties, etc. – tips, strategies, advice

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 14, 2022 at 9:15 am

      YES to Danny, Julie, and Laur- would love to have all of those on!

  • Reply Brooke June 14, 2022 at 1:14 am

    Fyi – The Frixion pens are heat sensitive so be careful leaving your planner and pens in the car in the Florida summer heat as it can make the ink invisible.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 14, 2022 at 9:14 am

      Omg very good to know!!!!

  • Reply Elisabeth June 14, 2022 at 9:21 am

    I don’t know if you’ve ever explored Rocketbooks, but if you like the Frixion pens maybe you’d be interested. There are quite a few styles now, including index cards. I just got one myself, so I can’t yet share any thoughts.

  • Reply Amanda June 14, 2022 at 11:45 am

    Guest idea — someone who does scheduling for a living, like an airline scheduler, or who works in logistics and/or supply chain management. I don’t know anyone, but I find the concept fascinating. Those careers are both planning and planning-adjacent.

    • Reply Jessica June 14, 2022 at 10:58 pm

      I kinda do that! I do project management and I’ve also done manufacturing planning and workforce planning (like staff/workload forecasting and creating scheduling algorithms). I don’t think I would come on a podcast for it, but I’d be happy to answer questions in the comments 🙂 I love this career! Some of it is very technical analysis, but some of it (especially the project management side) is just being good at keeping track of a lot of things. Also a surprising amount of really successful companies do a lot of this type of planning in Excel spreadsheets. But there are lots of algorithms/methods for different scheduling and optimization problems, and I agree it’s really fascinating!

  • Reply Brooke June 16, 2022 at 2:53 pm

    The internet at my comment so I’ll keep it short – Sierra Friend from Makeselife, Chelsea/Reanne from Amplify, or Laura Casey from Cultivate What Matters.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 16, 2022 at 2:57 pm

      YESSSSS good call. Need more Planner CEOs up here!

  • Reply Molly June 16, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Future episode idea – I would love to know more about what you *don’t* do, because I think it’s super helpful to understand that we can’t do everything, and we have to choose! You are so amazingly effective at carving out time for the things that matter to you – working out, reading, podcasting, planning. I’m wondering if there are ‘typical’ mom responsibilities that you do less of/outsource somehow? My kids are similar ages to yours and sometimes it feels like managing our household logistics and admin take forever. E.g., kid A has to do this special project for school; kid B needs new shoes and shorts; kid C has a birthday coming up with a birthday party. I feel like I’m constantly researching/buying new clothes, activities, camp, teacher’s gifts, part-time childcare (for a school day off), etc. etc. and wondering how and when you manage to get that done!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 16, 2022 at 7:01 pm

      I barely do any cooking or laundry 🙂 I rarely make lunches or weeknight dinners (though the latter I’d be up for doing a little more of). I often am not there for homework (but trying to change that). I never pick up from school. I will think about what else – there’s plenty more!

  • Reply Taya June 20, 2022 at 8:33 am

    I think you’ve already done some stuff on digital planning (sorry, new here!) but I’ve started to play with that more – would love to hear ideas, thoughts, recommendations on people to follow, etc for that! Especially with making it more functional that all of the stickers and stuff

  • Reply Jami August 31, 2022 at 1:51 pm

    Based on this episode, I tried the Pilot Frixion pens and highlighters. I definitely like the pens as an alternative to the flairs. However, I love the highlighters. They don’t bleed as much as regular highlighters so and there just seems to be a cleaner look to them.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 31, 2022 at 2:28 pm

      ooh!! Great to know!!

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