The calendar section is the section you will use the most. If you learn how to make good use of it you will have order to your day and time to play. You will make strides to be the person you have described in your values, and you will progress toward your goals. Whether you have an outside-the-home job or are a stay-at-home worker it will be indespensible to you.
I have already explained about the calendar tabs briefly. You need a monthly calendar, and a set of dated daily pages. Weekly pages work for some, but I like much more detail. I also like having a record of everything in one place. My pages hold my journal, expenses, and of course daily plans and appointments. You will soon discover how much you like having everything in one place, too.
Below is a copy of my current daily page. This was made with Appleworks and I do 2 to a sheet. I go copy them front and back on a page. Make two copies of a checkbook calendar and print out a sheet with the current year and all the months listed twice each. These get cut apart so when you copy the sheets you can paste a single month and the year in the two large boxes at the top right-hand corner of each page (2 pages per 8.5 X 11 sheet). Then all that's left to do is fill in the days of the month in the box on each one. Below is a sheet I've filled in. It's a little messy. Usually, I copy one set then use white-out to clean up the shadows before doing the entire month. Here is a link for a plain copy for you to use, but it's really easy to do them with a drawing program. (You can use your mouse to click on the image. Choose "save image as" if you have a Mac, or "download image to disk" or "save this image" if you have a PC. Once it is saved you can open it in a drawing program or in Adobe. Make any changes you want to make and then duplicate the whole thing. Place them side by side so they fill up a 8.5" by 11" sheet and print it out. Take them to a copier and copy them front and back on a sheet. It is cheaper to copy them on a copier than use printer ink, but you can do that if you wish.)
The first thing you need to do is transfer all your standing appointments to your Monthly Calendar Page. Do a repeat entry on the corresponding Daily Page under the "Appointments" section. You might even make a note of the time you need to start getting ready. Think backwards from leaving time then figure in time for every step you need to take (I am still thinking backwards - something I get accused of often! LOL) and allow 15 more minutes "just in case". This is called "backwards planning" and is how I plan very large jobs as well as being somewhere on time. It requires quite a bit of thought and some brainstorming for bigger jobs, but once you have backwards planned you can plunge full steam ahead (in forward motion, of course). Now, get rid of all the floaters - post it notes, napkins, kleenex, bank money-holders, or whatever - these reminders were on. Here is another rule:
"USE ONLY ONE CALENDAR!"
Keep all appointments in the one calendar and supplemental pages in your notebook (I keep some papers in my briefcase, but it is considered an extenuation of my planner.) It is ok to use a "family" calendar on your fridge or somewhere as long as everyone writes there appointments on it and you have a DAILY task called "check family calendar and transfer appointments to my planner", which you could abbreviate to "check family calendar". This means no matter where you are you will know what's going on and who's supposed to be where.
Once you get your appointments in place you can begin planning your day's work. First, put your plastic page marker where it will mark today's date. Begin by writing everything you want to accomplish today (or tomorrow if you do this the evening before - which is a good idea if you are not an early riser) in the "Prioritized Task List" section. I use consolidated items for my housekeeping tasks list like "daily essentials" and "kitchen upkeep" or "bathroom upkeep". I do the same with "weeklies" and "station work". (The lesson on Section 6 will explain what these are.) Anyway, keep thinking of everything you want to accomplish - shower, dress, make-up, make beds, dailies, weeklies, station work, phone calls, appointments, payroll job, other work, fun, goals...whatever, and list them all. This is where you take some time to review your values and goals. Ask yourself what daily tasks you can do today to get you further toward your goals. Filter these in to EVERY day somewhere. You will find out what you truly value when you do this. Don't forget - The closer your thoughts and actions agree, the closer you get to inner peace and self-esteem.
Once you are done listing everything that needs to get done, you need to prioritize. Prioritizing is nothing more than assigning a value to each activity. You are deciding which thing is more important than another. Your list of Governing Values will help you with this. Governing Values should make an impact on which activity is highest in priority. If "God" is #1 on your values list; then activities that meet that value should also be first in importance. Scan your list, and put a 1 by the first thing that needs to be done; then put a 2 by the second thing, a 3 by the third, etc. until everything has a number. No cheating. Think about what is important to you and think about what needs to be done. Try to work in some things that are personal and fun - not just housework or your job.
Now work your plan. Start with item #1 and don't stop until it is finished. This is the secret to success. When you work at one thing until it is done, you will get an incredible amount accomplished. Use whatever tools it takes to keep you firmly planted at any task. Keep at this for good blocks of time. I like to set a time limit and try to reach my goals. Daily housework should only take about a half an hour to an hour at the most, weeklies shouldn't take much more. Then allow yourself an hour or two of station and decluttering work. This amounts to only 3 or 4 hours in a day. I know I used to spend much more time than that because I was easily sidetracked and never stuck to one thing. I was always running here and there and had half-done things scattered about. When you focus on the task at hand, you accomplish more and you have time to do some of the extra things you never seem to fit in now. Every time you complete a tack, give yourself a check mark in the column to the left of the number; then move on to the next task. Check marks feel great, don't they!
Forwarding a Task
Here is a little something you can do with those things you don't get to and don't get a check mark. Put an arrow next to the item to show it has been forwarded. Before you can put an arrow in the square you HAVE TO RESCHEDULE IT. You can reschedule it for the next day, next week or the next month, just make sure you reschedule before you place your arrow so you don't forget to do it.
Sometimes arrows go on forever. A task may get forwarded and forwarded over and over. If you trace an arrow back you may see a trail of arrows that just go on and on. You may have to realize you are never going to do the task. In this case, there is one other mark you can put down - an "X". "X" means you have deleted the task and aren't going to do it...ever. However, you can't use X's for tasks you HAVE to do but just don't want to, but for optional tasks. Some things just can't be crossed off the list. Be careful with X's. Don't let laziness or defeat be the reason you cross a task off the list.
I like to use the expenses section for my own personal spending money. You want to know where all the money is going? Start keeping a record. Write down every coke and every candy bar. It's also a great place to note business expenses in cases where you need a record. Just make sure to keep a corresponding receipt. You may want to keep a business receipt envelope in your briefcase or you could slip them in a specific pocket in your planner. Your checkbook register should keep track of all the checks you write. The expense section is not to be used as a checkbook register. It's more like the "petty cash" record.
The journal is for recording your daily thoughts and ideas. Also, keep a record of phone calls and conversations in this space. Whenever I have a new topic in my journal I write a heading and underline it. I make a corresponding note on the Monthly Calendar Page (or Monthly Index if your pages come with one). You'll have a log of all your calls and notes about what people told you. When you talk to the guy for a quote on your car, write it down in your journal space. If you need more space, just add a blank sheet. I cut off the top third so I can fip it over and still see the date on the next page.
You may find you have to post some information in a future day. Let's say today is 1/2/01 and you have just talked to a repairman about your car. He has asked you to call back so you need to make a follow up call. Go forward to the day you need to make the call and put a note that says "Call about car "1/2/01". This tells you where to find the notes on the original conversation - Jan. 2, 2001. This might be March when you need to call so you will have to go back to your stored pages, but they are always near you when you are doing your planning session.
Main entries with an underline can also point you to a file in your file cabinet, or to a project section in your planner. Instead of writing all the notes in several different places in your daily pages, write them in one spot in a set-aside section in your planner. You can still make notes there with specific dates, times and contents of conversations, but instead of hunting through page after page, it's all gathered to one spot. The same would be true for a larger file, but you would store the file in your briefcase in you want it with you, or file cabinet for storage.
You're probably wondering how you will find notes you need on the specific page you need when you are wanting to find it several months from now. As I already stated, whenever I make a note of some kind in my daily pages, I make another note of the conversation and where to find it in my monthly calendar. It might say "car quote" with an underline on the 2nd of the month so you will know to look on the 2nd to find all the details. You can glance through the days of the month easily in just a few minutes and find a reference to what you are looking for. Your Monthly Calendar (or Index Page) becomes your "Table of Contents" for a month.
One Last Note
Only keep 3 months worth of daily pages in your notebook - the last month, current month, and next month. There is too much bulk of you try to keep more, and you really don't need them. As you come to the first of a new month, put the oldest month, along with its monthly page, in a storage box or spare binder. Once the binder is full with the 12 months of the year, label it and put it away. These will be valuable records especially if you keep up on your journal. If you find you need to go more than one month into the future with your planning, just pull out your extra pages, make the note, then put them back.
Coming up next, how a typical day looks when using the planner.
I have been so fortunate to find such a great group of graphics. Thank you, Amreta, for the use of this adorable set. Please visit her well-done website for some beautiful artwork. Just click on the graphic link below.