Schedules and Calendars and Planners – Oh, My!

My love for a good paper planner is deep and true. I have used them for YEARS when I was a teacher. My personal favorite for a splurge price is Erin Condren’s vertical outline planner. I used that specific one for the last four years and loved it.

But when I started working for ClassMax, my calendar process changed a lot. The biggest change was that I had to start using Google Calendar to share my travel information and important meeting details with our team. When I started working for Better Lesson this past winter, they used Google Calendars, too, and all of my instructional coaching sessions are scheduled via Google invites. Not to mention that our family calendar has always been a shared Google calendar that Chris and I use. I suddenly found myself maintaining three separate calendars AND a paper planner. It just wasn’t efficient. So, I gave up my paper planner last fall.

I function just fine with my digital calendars. I’ve learned how to synch them so that it’s a lot less work and nothing gets lost between accounts. I’ve learned how to maximize the digital format, like actually filling in the locations for meetings so that when I’m in my car, the directions automatically turn on for me. I’ve gotten really organized and I feel much more in control of my schedule, which was something I struggled with when I first started working from home.

But in the past few months, as my coaching and professional development work has evolved, I have struggled to maintain my daily lists of to-do’s. I started listing out things I needed to accomplish each day in a Google Keep list (that’s the app I use for my grocery lists and meal planning), but the problem was that I couldn’t really priorities my to-do’s for future dates because I wasn’t using any kind of calendar to track these tasks.

Recently, I decided to add my paper planner back into my planning and organizing routine and I have really loved it. The way I understand the functionality in my head is that my digital calendars tell me where to be and when, while my paper calendar tells me what to do and when.

In case anyone else finds themselves struggling between a paper or digital calendar, I thought I’d show you how I have been using mine recently.

These are the monthly views in my paper planner. I try to only use this spread for travel and ongoing events that are helpful to remember when I need an at-a-glance view. For my travel, I highlight the days when I am away from home and I indicate whether I have booked my airfare and hotel here, too. I have so many upcoming trips that it’s hard to keep track through Google Docs, so I put it all on this calendar. You can see in the second picture that even dates related to my kids (like camp) aren’t put on this spread. Just a little sticky note reminds me where they are during certain weeks. Otherwise, I would really junk up my calendar if I tracked ALL our family movement in this single two-page spread!

On my daily planner pages, I keep a list of tasks I have to complete that day. These lists are inclusive. Because I work from home and have some freedom in my schedule, I don’t separate personal or professional tasks here. They all have to get done, so they all do on the list.

This was another reason I really liked having a paper planner again. I liked having all of my daily tasks logged somewhere. I was using these one pagers that my mom got me for Christmas and I loved them. The problem was that I would just throw them away at the end of the day. Having a paper planner keeps almost a daily record of my tasks so that I can go back and see what date things were completed on. Helps keep my records straight and covers my ass in pesky situations.

Because I don’t use my daily calendars as long-term planning calendars, when I make an appointment or schedule a meeting, I don’t add it to my paper planner right away. On Mondays, I sit down with my digital calendars and my paper planner and I put in all my meetings and appointments for that week only. This forces me to take a look ahead at my week and plan accordingly and it also keeps me from having to log meetings into so many places every time one is scheduled. And that’s a big thing because most of the teachers and administrators that I coach schedule appointments with me through Calendly, so I don’t even set the meetings. They just appear on my calendar.

The current paper planner that I use is by Ashley G for Blue Sky. I bought it last year at Target for $20. I have used Blue Sky planners before and have always liked them. They are pretty good quality for what you are paying.

This week, I went ahead and bought my planner for July 2019-December 2020 from Michael’s. I’m trying their brand, “The Happy Planner.” I’ve always loved their covers, but I prefer a vertical layout in a planner. I just happened to find them in my last trip to Michael’s and they had the vertical layout option! Plus, they were on sale from $39.99 for 40% off AND I had a 20% off your entire purchase coupon. I paid $15 for this planner! Whoop!

Here is the vertical layout. See how the days are listed in vertical columns that have been sectioned off into blocks? Not everyone likes that format, but it works really well for me. I use each of the blocks for different things. I put my meetings and appointments in the top block. My priority items that must be accomplished that day are in the middle block, and the daily tasks that I have to complete are in the bottom. That was the way I used my Erin Condren planner and I really loved it. I’m excited to go back to that.

I love seeing other people’s organizing and planning systems. (I even watch YouTube videoes on them! Don’t judge me!) What do you use? Tell me everything!

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