planning or planned?

estimated 7 min read

I doubt this post will really be what I want it to be but we won’t know until I try will we?

I have a lot of projects going on. Maybe too many, maybe not. I’m a huge procrastinator and get easily distracted by another new project. I’m proud of myself for sticking to this writing schedule as well as I have and that I’m still knitting (crochet will always be there for me). I’ve read through most of the self help books and sites out there. I’ve tried to follow them rigidly, loosely, and generally not at all. I have tried electronic organizers and have found that in general I just don’t look at them; the same way I ignore my cell phone for days on end.

Last year I eagerly purchased Moleskine 18mo weekly planner. It was a nice replacement at the time for my bulging filofax. It was quite similar to the slimline cross E had bought me as a gift a few years earlier and I wouldn’t really use because I couldn’t put anything in it (his point actually). This worked great for me except that I had to remember to carry a separate book for notes as the page devoted to each week quickly filled.

With some staff changes at a client’s starting in January I found myself needing to write and carry a bit more each day. The page size of the moleskine was great but it was starting to fall apart (I abuse notebooks) and I was always forgetting the proper notebook … I hadn’t gotten my act together to knit or felt or sew a nice case. I soldered on until the end of March when I just knew I wasn’t happy with the personal size anymore. I wanted to fold pages in half, punch them and not have them sticking out. I LOVE writing on half of papers. I fold index and business cards in half and write on that.

I broke down and bought the cheapest A5 filofax I could buy. Why filo and not another brand? I dunno, my inner Brit begged me or something. What I didn’t realize at the time was that while the personal size shares ring spacing with other brands, it appears the A5 does not. [Note also: here in the states, in NYC at least there were only “hints” of the graphic. My planner is all black and I would LOVE some colour in it, even if it were my favourite colour, grey.] Anyway…

How are things a month or so later?

My planner is using me. I bought some forms at Time/Design but haven’t totally worked them into my flow. My biggest issues (beyond not really knowing what I’m doing anymore) are thus:

  1. The extra bulk of the A5 planner. I live in NYC we walk a lot here so we don’t quite have the same obesity problem the rest of the US has. I’d love my rings to be at least 10mm smaller. Not the microness of the slimline rings, but less. It’s heavy. I took out much of the extra paper and it still weighs in at over 2 lbs! That might not sound like a lot but I try not to carry anything I don’t have to. I’ll do another “what’s in my bag” picture soon and you’ll see why. I want a filo but I can’t justify $100 if I am not going to continue using it. That said, most A5 filos have the same ring size.
  2. the pockets in the front cover. This makes it very difficult to write on the other side of each sheet.
  3. the cost of the #@($*& punch. I put it off for eons but finally broke and bought one last week. i picked up the cheap one as paying an additional $30 I could not justify. i’m not punching a lot and if this breaks I think I can use it as a template to build one.
  4. My work flow during the day is very varied and I don’t always want to or have the filo with me. I’ve come up with an ad-hoc solution to this. See below.
  5. I miss having a monthly calendar but need the space and “view” that a weekly gives me and also a daily.

What do I love?

  1. The dual pen loops. I use Pilot Hi-Tec_C coleto pens. One set filled with brown (work), purple (personal) and the other with green (school or books) and blue (so I have a blue or black pen).
  2. The pocket on the outside back cover.
  3. That I have more space to write.
  4. that I can in theory carry one thing and it does all I need.
  5. That I figured out to put extra sheets of paper in my address book section for book titles/authors I want to read. My list is now somewhat organized and this makes going through it a little less painful.

My temporary ad-hoc solution to hopefully use my planner and not have it use me was to invest in two additional items until I figure things out. I lucked out and got them both for great clearance prices. At the 99c store I picked up a nice hard back wire ring journal. This lets me fold sheets over and write on the other side. I wrote the first draft of this post on the train home this afternoon with it. The second is a 3×5 index card holder I picked up at Staples clearance (i have gotten in trouble with their clearance bins) for $2. It holds up to 5 cards in the writing area and a ton in the full length pocket. There is a little pocket on the back which I haven’t totally divined the use for.
So.. In my planner is:

  1. An undated year which records birthdays and anniversaries.
  2. a weekly view on two pages.
  3. this daily plan which I’m still getting the hang of (what in heck do I put in the statistics field? I love spreadsheets but I just can’t get it working right). I put emails in the “contact” list as well. I do work activity items from the top down, personal stuff from the bottom up. I’m not sure this form is totally working for me, not to mention they were $$. I also have some filo project forms but was using a second sheet of paper each day to record those notes.
  4. I have these project management forms I should be using and I’m not. I think they are good and would help me see the big picture without schlepping redwelds around but I’ve not quite been using them.
  5. I have a set of customer forms but I’m not quite sure what I thought I’d record on them. Probably useful for site visits which I’ve not been doing much of lately.
  6. in the address book section I have 3 sheets of paper per tab. The first is for contact info of those whose name relates to the two letters on the tab. The next two sheets relate to the books I want to read. I also now try to record where I learned of the book as many give me recommendations.
  7. lastly i have $20 squirreled away and a metrocard of $2.

I use this while at my desks and while in meetings. I try to record next actions and projects here. However, since my todo lists can change minute-by-minute based on the needs of my clients I tend to treat my todo lists as very portable and temporary. Thus I have been using the 3×5 cards a lot and I love the holder. At the very least weekly I try to transcribe useful information into my planner for archival purposes. I’ve just recently started to carry the wire ring journal around. I’m not consistent with it and don’t think it will be a permanent addition.

Where am I going with this? I really do need to do some better time management and scheduling. I seem to ignore the fact that I can’t wiggle my nose and ears and have these posts (no matter how crappy) write themselves. At least 15 minutes is spent no matter what. (Today we’re already approaching an hour). I forget about commuting home. I am having to do projects all at once and am not breaking them into steps which would make me more likely to do them. I’m needing to do better about writing down what I have to do and finding the optimal time and place to do it.

So, again, where am I going? I’m not sure. I hope I’m going forward. Any advice is welcome and may be disregarded so please don’t be offended.

Many thanks to Dave and Corrie for recent posts and words of inspiration. Thank you!

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One Reply to “planning or planned?”

  1. Could the “stats” area be a place where you write down what you wore?

    On my blog, Rasmussen mentioned the concept of a satellite device — a smaller portable planner that you can take more easily with you to different places, where you can pull pages out of your main Filo and put it into your smaller one. Does everything in your planner have to all come with you at once? I personally like bringing my whole planner with me to places, but I wonder if with your heavy filo something along those lines would work. Maybe punch index cards for the filo, but carry those around?

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