I admit that I’m a planner.
But more important than admitting that I plan everything is that I really like to plan. I believe it’s because I invest in planning tools.
Tools to help you plan do not have to be expensive. They do need to work. For you. Someone else’s planning tools may or may not be the best for you. In addition, while it would be awesome to have one planning tool that does everything, I haven’t found that to be the case. At least for me. Different tools do different things. Here are five planning tools I use on a regular basis and why I use them.
- Fantastical 2– I use an iMac as my desktop and Microsoft Surface Book as my latptop. On my laptop, Outlook is my calendar but, on my desktop, I use Fantastical 2. It syncs with Outlook so I’m not entering events twice. But I do like the Fantastical interface. One of the things I do on my calendar is color code entries. It helps me to visually understand how much time I’m spending on a particular activity or project. It also tells me if I’ve allocated enough “me” time. If I don’t see enough purple (which is my color for fun or me time), then I plan to do something about it.
- Erin Condren Life Planner– There are other planners out there that I like very much like Plum Paper and Passion Planner. The past couple of years I’ve been using an Erin Condren Life Planner. I like that I can customize the look to my personal style and note taking preferences. It’s a great place to take notes during conference calls (and not lose them!) Or to jot down important information like a case number when I call the utility company or maybe a cancellation number. I also like to put sticky notes on dates, so I don’t accidentally double book myself.
- Color Block Memo Notepad from Rifle Paper Company – I’ve mentioned before my love of paper. This company has beautiful papers. They also have great iPhone covers. But I digress. One of my favorite items from Rifle Paper is a notepad with the days of the week on it. Need to remember to call the bank on Thursday? I just got it on this notepad. It’s also great when I travel. I can carry one piece of paper with reminders for the week. I don’t have to be glued to my electronic calendar. And I don’t have to carry a bulky planner.
- Noodle Notes from Free Period Press – I’ve been a fan of Free Period Press since they sent me my first adult coloring book. Since then, they’ve expanded their products to include a mantra coloring book and post cards. Their latest is called “Noodle Notes” and it’s simply a small notebook with places to color. I like it because it’s lightweight and I can use it for conference notes. Many times, I like to have a dedicated notebook for a conference, but I don’t need 100 pages. Noodle notes allow me to have the perfect size small notebook. It’s ideal to toss in my travel bag.
- Jan-Dec and 1-31 Accordion Files– I don’t like to work in clutter. I try to keep as few things on my desk as possible. But there are things I want to keep for future reference. Years ago, a colleague shared her system and I still use it to this day. If I get a conference brochure that I want to look at in November, then I put it in the Nov tab in my accordion file. At the beginning of November, I take everything out of the tab and assign it a date in the 1-31 accordion file. Maybe I want to look at the conference brochure on November 15. It not only keeps the clutter off my desk, but it gives me peace of mind that the brochure will be there when I need it.
Planning is a very personal thing and what works for one person might not work for someone else. But it is necessary to plan. Maybe you don’t have to be an off-the-charts planner like me, but you still need to plan. And if you hate planning, maybe it’s worth checking out a few new things that will help you to actually like planning. Because if you like planning, you’ll do it. And if you do it, you’ll see results.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, NV13