Day planners for the inexperienced
February 17, 2016 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I, a terrible procrastinator and perpetually disorganized, would like to start using a day planner to sort out the mess I am letting my life become. HALP.

After admiring Kelly Sue DeConnick's amazing love for her day planner as well as checking out this link previously referred to on the Green, I am like, "Wait a minute, this might work for me. I like a cute fun way to whip my butt into shape!"

I am someone who is easily distracted, but also riddled with self-doubt about actually being able to become someone who Gets Stuff Done (I do have that book, btw).

Things I need a day planner for:

*school work scheduling
* planning/marketing for Shepherd and I's weekly radio show
* podcast stuff: scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, editing audio, marketing
* photography hobby stuff
* exercise classes

Basically if I can schedule my life, I want to do it. So I ask you, planner nerds of MeFi, impart to me your wisdom about being consistent, making it fun, and getting it started? (F'rex, do you carry your planners around with you all the time?)

I am also curious about how to gussy up your planners. I already have a sort of nice one I bought after New Year's--it has daily boxes as well as a largish monthly grid. Also, any and all potential purchases would be great to do here in Canada as the exchange rate is shit right now.
posted by Kitteh to Grab Bag (34 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Have you accepted Google into your heart as your lord and savior?

I tried for years (yeaarrrsss) to get my shit together with various iterations of planners and calendars and pretty colored pens and it just didn't work for me. I also tried setting reminders on my phone and having calendars and sending myself emails and all sorts of things that didn't work for me, either.

And then I made good friends with my android phone and completely sold my soul over to google and I can't tell you how much better things are now.

FEEL FREE TO DISREGARD THIS IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A 100% PAPER SOLUTION, but seriously I thought a paper solution was going to be my thing (it had worked so well for me in high school!) but it was not. YMMV etc etc.

So now I let a combo of google Keep, Calendar, and Inbox tell me what to do. (I also really like the non-google Trello, which I'll get to in a sec.)

I have a few different classes of stuff in my life, and each one of them gets a different color. I can remind myself to do things or store ideas for stuff in Keep and assign each note a different color. I have several different calendars (each color coordinated) that I can turn on and off to see each schedule separately or all of them together, and because it all syncs with Inbox, and google yells at me three different ways in three different places to do stuff, I'm much less likely to swipe a notification away and forget about it entirely.

For your podcast and radio stuff, you might like Trello. It's a digital scrum board/project planner and you can move ideas around, comment on things, attach stuff, sync it with your calendar, and collaborate with other people in browser or app. I've started using it to plan things with my Girl Scouts and so far I've been extremely happy with it.

The color coordination and ability to attach pictures to everything easily has been enough to keep things sufficiently gussied for me to stay interested.
posted by phunniemee at 12:45 PM on February 17, 2016 [16 favorites]

Google Keep. I am a devotee.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2016

I have a Passion Planner.

Things that help:
-writing things down immediately
-rewriting: I list all my weekly stuff into one section, then divide it up among the day's of the week, then, on the day of, take an index card and write everything I have to do that day, but broken down into the tiniest of details. I carry that around with me and ceremoniously cross each item off when I am done. It becomes a game for me.
-investing in colorful, good pens, and using certain colors for certain tasks/parts of the day/urgency level, or whatever I feel like.
-highlighter or stickers. Playing with them first thing in the morning is what draws me in to planning my day.
-limiting colors keeps it from looking overwhelming and messy.
-using a pomodoro/timer for tasks.
-keeping it open all the time on my desk and putting all my notes in it, rather than scattering them all over.

With the Passion Planner, the parts I use are 'what to focus on for the day', 'what good things happened this week', 'week/month in review', and a weekly 'roadmap'.
posted by Vaike at 12:53 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

Also, I so wanted to have everything on my devices and didn't expect to like the paper planners. What I found was that it really helped me sit down quietly and assess and meditate over my week and really think about how I wanted the week to look like. Quietly. Over tea or coffee. That was the biggest seller for me.
posted by Vaike at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

You may like Bullet Journals. There's an active subreddit and heaps of tutorials etc on Youtube.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:58 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

First things first! Did you see this amazing FPP? (It actually inspired me to do exactly this, and I have been thinking of posting a MeTa to see if anyone else got sucked into that black hole along with me.)

I'm not a particularly organized person by nature, but I've been able to remain fairly enthusiastic and consistent about it thus far just by thinking of it as a creative hobby and enticing myself with tons of cute stickers and washi tape. (I bought most of it on etsy, and I think all the shops I bought from are in the U.S., so no specific advice there, unfortunately.) I follow a few planner community people on Instagram for inspiration (this is my current favorite).

I'm still working out my system through trial and error, but here's what I do at the moment: I use the Erin Condren Life Planner and divide the daily boxes into work/play/etc (this last is usually for random errands/meal planning). I also have my weekly to-do list on the side of the page, and check boxes on the lines at the bottom of each day to track daily habits (currently: sketch something every day and read before bed). Upcoming things go on the monthly spreads (for stuff like holidays, appointments, paydays, and meetings that are unlikely to be moved) or on Post-its on the weekly spreads (for less fixed things, like a meetup I'm thinking of attending), and then every Sunday I sit down and transfer everything from the calendar/Post-its onto the coming week's spread (this is when I get to play with all my stickers and washi tape and fancy pens). I also transfer over any to-do list items that didn't get done - having to do this every week has sort of (though not completely) stopped things from just dying on the vine since I have to decide every week whether to write it down again or just drop it. I agree with Vaike, I like getting to sit down at the start of every week and look at the upcoming week. My original idea was to also review my planner every morning while I have my morning coffee, but so far I haven't really felt the need to do that (read: wanted to read Metafilter instead).

Have fun!
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Good Lord. Divabat did an FPP about planner decorating and I got swept into the craze and got an Erin Condren life planner. It's nuts. I have a smaller planner that was $1 at target that I jot in and transfer info from into my EC planner. I ended up using glitter tape on that lol. And I got stickers of photographs of me and my friends and other fun stickers, washi tape, colored markers.

Sigh. It's probably the stickers and washi tape, but I don't know---I think of it as something I'll leave for my niece who I never speak to because my sister's a witch and I plan to not talk to her again, so I decorate it up and plan stuff. And I like stickers. It's pretty fun. I don't end up ignoring it like other planners. I mean, it was expensive and I wanted to do it, so....

I went to Michaels and got stuff from the clearance bin on the cheap. I bought stickers. I draw in there. I put empowering and motivating quotes in. I plan meals.

I recommend looking for Divabat's FPP on planner decorating.
posted by discopolo at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2016

Oh, I should add: I've kept a paper planner for years, usually a mini Moleskine, and random notes/to-dos/etc all went in the daily boxes. What seems to be making the difference this year is 1. cuteness (yes, I admit it), 2. keeping the running to-do list instead of scattered notes, and 3. having a dedicated time once a week to planning the coming week. I've still let some things slip, but I've been doing much better so far in terms of things like making doctor's appointments, remembering to buy shit at the store, and following through on things like sending cards and making plans with friends.
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

My wife and I use two main apps to keep in sync:
  • Google Calendar. We each have main calendars that we share with each other. We also have another Google account for our dog-related activities (we breed and show) and we both also have access to this. Besides the shared calendars, we also have private calendars for things that only apply to one of us. I also sync my work calendar to my Google Calendar so it shows up on my phone.
  • Wunderlist. This looks like just a simple to-do list app, and we use it for grocery lists and the like, but it's so much more. Each item can have subitems and you can assign due dates and reminders, and attach files. We just use one account and log into it on multiple devices. You can also share stuff between multiple accounts and that lets you assign tasks to various people, but there are limits to doing that unless you upgrade to a paid account. We just do the assignments by adding one of our names to the task!
Both of these are free and you can use them on phones/tablets or on computers.

I have also looked at Trello but so far I haven't found anything we're working on that needs the extra functionality. Even when we were planning to sell our house and move, Wunderlist was sufficient for making sure everything got done in a timely fashion. We also used it to organize our first trip abroad, and it worked fine for that, too.
posted by kindall at 1:13 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm devoted to my paper planner and do carry it around most times. Or at least to work and back and it generally lives on my desk.

I love that planner porn but seriously just note everything down on the day it needs to happen. It's not pretty. I've got one right now that has a week on one page and a blank page opposite, so I can use the blank page for extended notes, shopping lists, whatever. I leave it on my desk and it's basically my notepad. So confirmation codes from customer support calls, tracking numbers for postage, whatever, all go on that page. I can stick notes and receipts and whatever in the pages. When I schedule something I write it in the day it's happening. This also helps because I can remember things better when I write them down.

I think definitely get a planner that appeals to you but unless you get really into the decoration maybe start slow and just write down what you need to until it becomes a habit and then organize and prettify from there, instead of trying to do it all at once. I've been reliant on planners for like more than 10 years now and just kind of developed a system that works for me. I do like to stick ticket stubs and things like that in there so it acts as kind of a diary if I need to look back at something.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I assemble my own with an M by Staples disc planner and pages I design myself (I use Lucid Press, free account, but there are other methods and you may own design software already) that best fit my work and personal workflows.

I use paper for planning and tracking and electronics for reminders and shared lists (like shopping lists, shared with my spouse, in Wunderlist). Evernote is where I capture/file documentation, sometimes including photos/scans of stuff from my planner. But the planner has a place where it lives on my desk during the workday and that has really improved a lot of my life.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:24 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have the Levenger Circa planner discs and print my own stuff from here:
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:28 PM on February 17, 2016

I keep a planner due to having a terrible memory for scheduled events and anxiety about Missing Stuff. So, I write it down. I can't use an electronic schedule keeper - my brain just doesn't work that way.

What do you want the planner to do for you? I want my planner to help me connect better with people who are important to me and I never want to miss a band coming through my city, so that's the focus of what I use it for. I put in movie and show ticket stubs and I make little notes about important Life Events that happened that day, and important stuff I want to remember, like birthdays and anniversaries and friends' food allergies. I carry it with me at all times and I write everything in it or on a sticky note and put that in it. I don't have a lot of advice RE: making it fun with designs and things like that. For the last few years, I've done a little private ceremony on New Year's day - I drink a few mimosas and review the year day by day, then I put away the old planner and pull out the new one for a fresh start.

I use a small Moleskine "Weekly Notebook" because the top down week and note page is the perfect format for me. When I had a lot of deadlines in college, I liked using a monthly planner to see the big picture, but now they're too big for me to comfortably stick in my small purse.

I would just pick a format you think will work for you and start noting down everything you think will be important. If it's not working, scrap it for something else. If it is, cool.
posted by pumpkinlatte at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2016

The fact that you think you are really disorganized but are jazzed about the visually appealing planners suggests you be a visual spatial thinker. might help you better understand the kinds of things that will be most useful for you and why.

I have a son like this and he seemed hopeless when he was little. Understanding how go organize his life in a way that worked for his brain was life changing. Things like color coding and transparency and three dimensionality are likely to help you out, assuming my inference is correct.
posted by Michele in California at 1:41 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I love planners. For a few years in college I used a Moleskine, the type with daily boxes for the week on the left side and a simple lined page on the right side. But senior year I switched to Google Calendar, and I haven't looked back since.

My workflow: I have LOTS of custom calendars on my Google Calendar, all color-coded. Currently I have:
- medical/financial appointments (stuff I might need to reference a year later)
- scheduled one-off activities/meetings
- recurring social activities I might or might not want to attend
- birthdays (Google Contacts will import this for you but I prefer to keep birthdays I actually care about on a personal calendar)
- To Do's, usually scheduled as all-day events that I can just drag-and-drop to a different day if I want to defer the task

When I was in school, I had even more calendars: scheduled class time, important semester-long deadlines/exam dates, and a daily homework calendar.

Once you've set up the calendar categories that make sense for you, it's super easy to assign each event to a specific calendar as you create it. Then you can turn calendars on and off, and switch among daily/weekly/monthly/agenda views, to see subsets of your planning as they become relevant. In pretty, customizable colors! All free, of course.

For less urgent todos/notes, I also jot stuff down in Notes on my phone which syncs to my computer. But that functionality is easily replaced by a paper notebook, whereas having switched to Google Calendar's evolving views on the same data, I find it hard to go back to paper planning.
posted by serelliya at 1:51 PM on February 17, 2016

(In case I wasn't clear, I don't carry the EC Lifeplanner around. I just "work on it" at other times, to relax, etc. ha.)
posted by discopolo at 1:59 PM on February 17, 2016

I use a Paper Source custom planner (which is just adding your name to the front, but I like the layout) plus outlook tasks to stay organized. Outlook only because we use it at work - I just use it to keep a giant to do list. Every day I look at the list and decide what my priorities for the day are. Then I transfer the relevant tasks to my planner. It helps to keep things looking manageable. When I complete a task I get to cross it out in both places. The other advantage is that outlook never forget about tasks, so I can put it in there and know it'll get done at some point, even if not now. I don't do much decoration but do use event stickers in the monthly view. I love the ones that came with the planner but also bought some filofax ones that are not nearly as nice. Most sticker sets seem to assume you're a suburban mother. Anyway this works for me, and it's taken a while to get this working for me.
posted by peacheater at 2:38 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I got a Spark Planner from Kickstarter and am really liking it so far. According to the creator's website, she's sold out for this year, but there appear to be some on eBay.
posted by jet_pack_in_a_can at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Forgive me if I missed this, but are you open to a digital solution rather than pen-and-paper? If so, I really liked Any.Do (before it became a subscription service - now it's the same annual price as more expensive planners). What I loved about it was the "Any.Do Moment" feature. In the morning (or whenever you specify), it runs down your to-do list and calendar appointments so you can pause and think about what you have going in your day. It sounds self-evident, but how many of us actually pause and think about what we have going in our day? I always used to just rush out the door, but that moment really did do wonders. It has a really clean interface, it syncs with your calendar automatically, and even links to your email so you can make emails a "To-Do" item in the app. Really clean, easy, effortless.

Then they changed to a paid annual service rather than just a one-time fee, and now I use Wunderlist. I like it well enough, it does the job, but I really liked Any.Do better.

Slightly off-topic, but are you an early riser? I always feel ten times more organized and on-top-of-things if I go to the gym in the morning, or simply get up early and have time to myself. Helps with the procrastination thing, if I take the anxiety of the morning mad dash completely off the table.
posted by onecircleaday at 2:47 PM on February 17, 2016

I also got swept up into the planner porn thanks to that FPP. It's more of a fun note-taking/reminder thing than a complete color-coded system of whipping my life's ass into shape. It does help me, but I'm not exactly Erin Condren Junior or anything.

The most important thing to remember is that it's okay not to go whole hog on the decorating and color-coded flags and everything. You don't want to get to the point where decorating your planner is another item on your to-do list. Have fun with it, but don't worry if the washi tape is uneven and has a cat hair stuck under it. I like decorating a week or two in advance, when I've got some free time.

I carry my planner in my bag, but mostly so I can doodle in it during downtime or make notes to catch up, not so I can consult it the moment I get an invitation somewhere.

My planner has a little section in each day for exercise, and that's immensely helpful for me; I write out my planned workout schedule at the beginning of the week, and fill it in with my actual workouts as I go. If you have anything recurring that you want to keep track of, like exercise or bedtime or how much money you've spent, blocking off a corner of each day specifically for that purpose is really useful.

Anyway, don't let the pressure to have a Pinterest-worthy planner or an instantly, perfectly organized life get to you. Ease into it and allow for some trial and error as you get into a groove.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:49 PM on February 17, 2016

Here's the thing. You can make the bestest most wonderful completely personalised paper planner. You can set up databases or Word documents with to do lists (mine is 50 pages long, because it includes passwords and maybe-someday-creative-ideas and how-to-do-that-tricky-thing) but for a chronically disorganised person, less is more. So I put absolute must happens in my google calendar (and I can do it from my phone). These are appointments, and bills to pay. I do not put to do lists, because I end up overwhelmed. Just the absolute must happen by this date stuff.

Then the other stuff gets a variety of treatments. It might end up in my to do list. It might end up on some paper. It might end up in an email to myself. It might go on a whiteboard. Doesn't matter. I may or may not lose it (irritating, but doesn't matter). Just put the crucial stuff in your calendar and wing the rest.
posted by b33j at 2:54 PM on February 17, 2016

I'm pretty beholden to the year long Moleskine weekly planner. It has few frills, which is perfect. There are full year at-a-glance calendar pages, followed by one page for each week faced by one page of lined note space. My routine is to jot my weekly to-do list on the lined page, and write in meetings and appointments on the days-of-the-week side. It's very handy and, yes, I take it with me wherever I go (I've never found smartphone calendars as simple to use and edit as a paper version). Moleskine has templates you can use to customize these things, but I've never used them. Less is best.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

do you carry your planners around with you all the time?

Having used a paper planner in the past, it's much easier to have it on my phone and not have an extra thing to carry. I'm not sure how it would work to not carry it around, you wouldn't be able to add things to the planner if you didn't have it along, or if someone wanted to know if you were available on a certain day you wouldn't be able to tell them.

It's also a very good thing to always have an electronic backup of your planner. I have driven 80 miles to retrieve a left behind paper planner, and I had a partner loose their planner on the same day they found out they would need to be hospitalized. You will never loose your planner at an convenient place or time.

being consistent, making it fun

Fun? What is this fun you speak of?

Consistent, you just have to make it a habit and do it. Things that get planned get written down, and if someone wants to know if I'm available I check the schedule, and that's that. I once had a guy I had a crush on ask me out for a certain day, and I said I'd check my schedule and reached for me planner -- and he had the gall to tell me "don't check your schedule, just tell me if you want to go or not", so I told him I was pretty sure I wouldn't be available ever. It's a lifestyle choice to use a planner and clearly we weren't compatible.

It sounds like you want to plan things that will involve another person. If you need to see their schedule, a paper planner will be hell for you both, because you won't know what's on the other person's calendar. This is what google calendar is really good at.
posted by yohko at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2016

Response by poster: Popping back in --

I am not unopposed to digital solutions, but my husband and I already share a Google Calendar for stuff; he's amazing about updating/adding/canceling/editing stuff in it but I just never remember or use it. Example: "Hey, So-and-So's coming to Kingston! We should see them play!" My husband: "Did you put it in the Google Calendar?" If I don't, I will forget, my husband will forget too, and then I am sad when band/author/etc date has already passed by. I just find it hard to get into the habit of using Google Calendar for that; we also already share a Wunderlist too but I only ever use for grocery lists.

I want a solution that will work for me for my personal needs. So yeah, not ruling digital but since I like keeping journals and writing with pens & pencils, maybe the simplest solution for me might be a planner.
posted by Kitteh at 4:22 PM on February 17, 2016

From GTD, you know that scheduling and to-do lists are two different things, right? Remember that what you use for these are separate decisions, I feel like that's getting lost in the discussion. (I strongly recommend having both synced online somehow, though, because losing your planner is balls - you could even just photograph the calendar/list with your phone once in a while)

I personally like Trello for to-dos, with a physical daily to do list so that it's staring at me on my desk all the time. I have a Trello board with a bunch of lists for different projects, each with their to-dos in them, and a "waiting on" list. I review the projects regularly to see what needs to move next, and make my daily to do list accordingly. My daily to do book is just blank pages and picks up notes and doodles throughout the day.

Trello is meant to be used kanban style, but I have enough projects going that dragging stuff back and forth across all the lists is crummy. Google keep is okay, but you can't move things between lists, which means no "waiting on" list.
posted by momus_window at 4:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a Delfonics Practical Diary - it has week-to-two-pages with the days arranged left->right and marked out in one-hour slots. I like this because I'm a scheduler - I like to put tasks in at specific times because otherwise they don't get done. The planner also has a space at the bottom of each day for notes - this is where I put the tiny tasks that are too small to be scheduled. I use the monthly page to scribble down things that need to happen the following month.

I have a post-it note with daily tasks on it that just migrates from week to week, and another with weekly/fortnightly tasks. I have a third with monthly tasks that is parked on the monthly page for the next month.

I try to schedule in things so that there's a balance of fun stuff and boring stuff across the seven days. I look at it every morning over coffee, and again at the end of the work day which is when I reschedule things. I plan out the coming week on sunday evening in the time I would otherwise spend being gloomy about the weekend being over - this is where I might entertain myself with coloured pens and stickers and such. I don't have any system round these - I tried and that was just too much work.

The things that made using a planner a habit for me was finding a regular timeslot that was perfect to check it or fill it out. And yeah, I take it almost everywhere with me, though I wouldn't open it up that often. The act of having written things downs seems to fix them in my mind.
posted by girlgenius at 6:11 PM on February 17, 2016

I keep paper and digital planners. Phone comes with me, paper usually stays home. Phone gets transferred into paper during organizing time each day. By the way, a number of phone planner apps connect to Google Calendar quite easily. I know mine does (Fantastical ) and I'm sure most of the other popular ones do, too.

Something I started doing on a whim that has turned out to be incredibly useful: My paper planner has a blank page next to each week. I use part of that page to list the things I've completed that week. It makes an excellent record of when stuff actually got done, and there's a feel-good element that to-do lists don't have sometimes.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:43 PM on February 17, 2016

I have lusted over those gorgeous pinteresty planners for years, with the washi tape and stickers and cute doodles and perfect writing. After spending a fuck ton of cash and feeling disappointed in myself I've come to the realization that I'm never going to keep up with it. I need something small that will fit in my purse, or else it will sit at home and I'll text message appointments to myself thus negating the purpose. I also need something that is decidedly not minimalistic, because when I add my chicken scratch to that it ends up looking sad.

My solution is a small slingshot organizer. The illustrations are awesome, its cool and messy in it's own right and all I have to do is write shit down. Highly recommend!
posted by pintapicasso at 9:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am a huge fan of the Moleskine weekly notebook, as noted above. I long lusted over planners and debated which would help me keep my head on straight (do I want a highlighted yellow action items section? The check boxes and to-do lists will surely motivate me to be organized...) but found that the Moleskine's simplicity was just the ticket for my organization. The left side is a weekly calendar for appointments and work scheduling, and the right side is a simple ruled page for customizing my weekly plans, for errands, to-do, thank you note lists, etc. The simplicity of the design makes me feel calm about all of my tasks, and I think it looks professional. I also love that it doesn't have a wire binding that gets bent out of shape or caught in my scarf. Plus, the smooth paper is nice if you're a writing and ink fan. I've been using this model for a few years now and I'm quite happy with it!

I do carry mine with me everywhere I go, as I like being able to jot down forgotten to-do items, schedule appointments, and have my work schedule with me whenever I need it. It also has a nifty pocket in the back for storing more important receipts (like post office insurance or something I'll need to be reimbursed for later).
posted by stillmoving at 1:02 AM on February 18, 2016

Oh, and a plug for a close runner-up: Little Otsu Planners. They are the fill in your own boxes sort of planner, but I really like the weekly list area. I used these for several years but switched to a pre-printed model. I also had the problem of getting the wire binding caught in things and the planner starting to get smushed toward the end of its life, so I switched to the Moleskine for longevity purposes. Being a smaller company, I don't know whether it would be expensive to import one to Canada, though...
posted by stillmoving at 1:06 AM on February 18, 2016

I also have the Paper Source planner this year. It's hefty, but smaller than the Erin Condren so I carry it around with me.

For each month, it has a full-month spread across 2 pages, and then it's followed by weekly ones. At the start of each month, I fill it in with the appointments/meetings that I already know I have coming (we use Outlook at work, but I write those down in my planner too). As more things crop up, I put them on the monthly spread. And then on Sundays, I transfer items from the month into the weekly spread. There may be a few stickers and washi tape details tossed in. I try to keep that part light because I bring my planner to work meetings sometimes.

I use it to keep track of appointments, meetings, dinner planning, exercising, and monthly goals. The stickers/such are fun, but the real benefit is having one centralized place for all of the things that used to warrant their own lists and sticky notes. Even though my handwriting is crap, my planner is my own little tiny work of art.

(And for fun, I watch Plan With Me videos on Youtube.)
posted by kimberussell at 7:48 AM on February 18, 2016

I've used google calendar forever and it was fine, but this last year I was much busier and much more sleep deprived than I had been previously, and I started forgetting to put stuff in, and I started missing stuff even when I had remembered to put it in.

I got a boring basic Moleskine planner -- inspired, like everyone else, by the planner post -- and I haven't missed or screwed up or been surprised by anything since Jan. 1. I have no idea why this works better for me than google calendar, but it does. Hopefully it will be the case for you as well.

(Oh, and I carry it with me everywhere -- but I carry a giant diaper bag everywhere I go, so that's not a big deal for me. And I don't decorate it or do anything cool and artistic with it. I just write things down.)
posted by gerstle at 11:08 AM on February 18, 2016

The planner post inspired me to move from the Moleskine weekly to the daily and to have more than one planner.

I have a Midori pouch that I also use as a wallet, so it is always with me. That's where I keep some to-do lists and shopping lists and where I track my spending. The pages are like the Moleskine weekly, but smaller. I use the Moleskine for planning and creating to-do lists for different projects and personal stuff like social activities and tracking exercise. I use a system a little like a bullet journal, things get transferred from the daily to the small weekly.

Google calendars is there for reminders - it beeps at me when I have an appointment.

(I've thought about posting some of my planner stuff online because it might help other people with time management issues related to ADHD, but all of the pages have too much personal stuff on them.)
posted by betweenthebars at 11:56 AM on February 18, 2016

I have to say that as someone with ADHD and the corresponding tendency toward disorganization, this stuff about fancy paper day planners sounds a lot like the kind of aspirational BS I used to waste time on, which I think was really more of an excuse to avoid actually addressing the issues (compounded by the fact that electronic organization tools used to suck a lot more).

For me, I depend on Google calendar for all the reasons people have said -- it's there and accessible on my phone as well as on any computer anywhere I happen to be, it's easy to use and update, it's fast, it reminds me about appointments automagically, etc. If your disorganization makes it hard to enter things into Google calendar, it'll make it hard to enter things into your paper planner too, except it'll be compounded by the fact that the paper planner is probably farther away and I suspect you're approaching it with the same agonizing, counterproductive perfectionism I have indulged in.

I may well just be projecting my own issues onto you but I think for a lot of people who have difficulties with organization, the appealing, fun stuff just doesn't really work as well as things that are just low-friction. I suspect that a lot of the people who do well with those systems are folks for whom organization comes more naturally and isn't as much of a struggle.
posted by mister pointy at 7:26 PM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

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