Tag Archives: diary refills

Launching a New Week, Part Two

My last post discussed how I use a “Weekly Launch” routine to prepare for a new week. Most of what I wrote yesterday wasn’t specific to my Filofax. Today, I will share how I sit down to set up my planner for the week.

I have three paper calendars or agendas, in addition to the dry erase weekly calendar I shared yesterday. Each serves a distinct purpose.

  1. Stapled monthly calendar – This calendar holds every event I need to track for our family. It’s thin, so I can carry it with me easily. Since this is the family calendar, the large size of each calendar square works perfectly for me. I use color to distinguish who does what…
  2. My A5 “Week on 2 Pages” layout – The WO2P tracks my personal schedule for each day. It gives me a chronological plan, and I omit activities that don’t impact what I’m doing or where I need to be. For example, if my husband is taking my daughter to swimming, I don’t include it in my personal schedule; it goes on the family calendar, though. I also include time-specific tasks. In between the two-page spread, I use a piece of lined paper for tasks that can be done at any time during the week. For 2014, I’m trying the layout with boxes, rather than the vertical lined days. Fingers crossed!
  3. My A5 “Month on 2 Pages” layout – I use the MO2P calendar to track my writing tasks for each day. I’m basically my own boss when it comes to working on my dissertation proposal, which is good, but I tend to run into trouble staying on track if I haven’t identified a purpose for my writing sessions. On Sunday, I set different goals for each day of the week to ensure I keep forward momentum. I wrote about this in detail in an earlier post.
  4. The weekly dry erase calendar – This calendar is not really for planning. It’s a communication tool. My husband, kids, and sitter refer to it to see what the day looks like for everyone. While my Filofax and calendar are personal, this is for the family. Plus, when I fill it out with my husband, we note scheduling conflicts and resolve them on Sunday by adjusting plans as needed. There are no unfortunate surprises like me having a late meeting and my husband being at the dentist when one of us needs to take our son to soccer, only to realize it the day of…

On Sunday, I manually “sync” them before I coordinate schedules with my husband or meal plan. It’s important to have a sense of the week before meal planning, because some days are more hectic than others. I plan the easiest meals for those days. Also, if we’ll be out for the evening, I know I don’t need to have food prepared that night.

I begin by making a cup of Jasmine Silver Needle white tea and laying out everything I need. This week, I have to mail a birthday card , so I pulled out my greeting card organizer and stamps as well.

Getting settled

My monthly calendar, A5 Malden, card organizer with stamps and Washi tape, laptop, paper supplies, and tea

Once I’ve hunkered down, I refer to my monthly calendar so I can complete my WO2P personal schedule for the week. I pull out events that need to be done each morning and afternoon/evening. Then I generate a list of tasks for the week that can be done at anytime. I also check my e-mail for any follow-up tasks that I should put on my calendar or task list.

Each night, I review my schedule before bed, making any changes as needed…including tasks that pop into my head. That’s my final “brain dump” (or in GTD terms: “mind sweep”) for the day. Establishing this routine helped eliminate my insomnia, because I no longer have a mental list scrolling through my head once I turn the lights out. I can rest easy because I’ve written down what needs to be done, and I can let it go until tomorrow. I put my Malden on my nightstand and refer to it every morning before I’m even out of bed.

I should mention that this week is pretty light for me since the children and my university are still on break. My son, however, has several projects that are due when he returns next Monday, so I added a Post-It to remind myself to nag him a bit 🙂 In the “this week” section, I’ve also added a few personal goals I’d like to keep front and center.

Once I finish with my daily schedule, I move to planning my academic writing on my MO2P. I don’t have a sitter this week, so it won’t be as productive as when my children are in school.

Jan1 writing

My writing schedule…I only plan one week ahead for this calendar. This allows me to be flexible.

Once I’m done scheduling my week, I’m ready to plan meals and coordinate schedules on the weekly white board I described in Pt. 1). If I am very concerned about remembering an appointment, I may add a reminder into my phone.

All told, this process takes me about an hour. I consider it an investment in the week ahead. It’s not just an exercise on paper; I’m mentally rehearsing for the week ahead. The Sunday routine allows me to strategize how to make the most of my time, and I no longer forget appointments or tasks.

What about you? Do you have a Weekly Review or Routine?

Prepping for 2014

Belly full of leftovers from our first gluten-free/dairy-free Christmas…time to think about 2014! To be honest, I haven’t given much thought to the new year or the transition to a new planner refill. My life has be consumed by the quest to find as many delicious and healthy food options as possible. We even managed to have my in-laws over for Christmas dinner without anyone feeling like gluten/dairy free holiday meals are “less than” our traditional meals.

Now that we pulled it off and I have one “pajama day” under my belt, I’m ready to catch up on links from Philofaxy and start strategizing.

Some things will stay the same. I have a new 8×10 inch stapled monthly calendar ready to go. This is where I write all family events, appointments, and due dates — color-coded, of course. This year, I bought one with a plastic cover. It’s not the luxury of a leather-bound planner – nor does it tuck inside my A5 – but I love the size of each day’s square. It works for my handwriting and our family’s life, plus it is very slim! I will also stay with the A5 binder. My final experiment with the personal size reminded me not to mess with what works for me. The month on 2 pages (MO2P) format will continue to serve for my writing schedule in a separate section. This has been a lifesaver for my grad school productivity. Finally, I will continue to place a sheet of paper in the middle of my week on 2 pages (WO2P) calendar; this section holds my personal daily schedule and to-do lists. It sounds like a lot of duplication, but each piece has a different function, and it is easy for me to track when I do my Sunday “weekly launch” routine.

Speaking of my Sunday routine, that particular ritual is something I’m not going to tinker with…it’s the heart of my organization system. I plan to write about it this weekend, since it’s a crucial part of what I do.

There are a few changes I’m considering:

  1. Moving away from the lined WO2P layout. I’m thinking that with the larger, blank blocks for each day, I’ll treat them as if they have two columns: AM and PM. As with my earlier layout, these will only include time-specific tasks/appointments. The lined sheet I’ll insert in between the two halves of the week will be tasks without a specific day/time.
  2. Setting monthly goals that I’ll keep on a sticky note on my Today ruler. Tomorrow, I think I’ll brew some Jasmine Silver Needle tea, find a piece of dark chocolate, and think about what I’d like to accomplish in 2014. I’m sure I’ll find some inspiration for this on-line. My fellow paper-planners have written great posts on this annual ritual in the past.
  3. Revisiting how I use the financial section of my planner. I haven’t ever settled on an effective system for tracking finances in my planner. There are some pieces that work, but other parts are a waste of space.
  4. Revisiting how I track health-related info. I’d like to track exercise, but I’m not thrilled with my system. I think I’ll be using the 2014 Vertical Full Year Planner. Maybe track minutes/type of exercise for each day?

I am also considering if there is something I want to do to “pretty up” my planner. I’m definitely not in a position to spend much time on this, but some personalized dividers and a few pieces of artwork might go a long way. It’s too bad most of the people on Etsy who make dividers only do so for the smaller binders.

Now I’m off to visit blogs with people’s year-end/new year posts. If you have some that you’d recommend — including your own — please post a link in the comments below!