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The One Thing that Keeps Me Organized

Let’s face it, I’m a planner of a person–especially if you’ve watched me transform from a pantser to a plotter over the last six years of running this blog (and a couple before it). But there’s one thing that keeps me organized for my year–a good planner or agenda book.

I’m in love with scheduling things. Like, it’s bad. It gets to the point where most days I’m scheduled down to the minute–be that scheduling time for meals, or just to give myself space to think, it’s in my schedule.

The last couple years I’ve been using the At-A-Glance calendar books. I liked their layout and their ease of use, but the one thing I wanted it to include was a general spot to list my To-Do’s or my goals for the week or month. So, being the designer I am, I adapted.

And made my own this year.

My very own planner

What I love about the ability to make my own things, is, well, I can be as adaptive as I need to. I got to choose the color scheme, fonts, style, and general layout for the entire calendar year of 2017. I got to decide if I wanted to note when holidays are (I chose not to. If I get the day off, I get the day off. That’s fine. And if I want to make sure I remember an event, I’ll write it in.)

I also love the fact I got to organize the order of the calendar and eliminate those pesky “This calendar belongs to _____” pages or other things I never ended up using, like contact pages or a space for longer notes–who uses that? If you do, sorry. This agenda book may not be for you then.

When you open the book you get a general look at the year, all those little days listed by month. All 365 of them. (Thank God 2017 isn’t another leap year.)

What I love most though is the two-page spread monthly calendar at the beginning of each month. I left plenty of space on the left for you to write your goals for the month or any other notes you need to make, and the days themselves are blank and open.

I’ve been filling them in, though.

Last year I started a habit of writing down one good thing that happened to me each day. This, I found, tended to improve my mood and outlook greatly. So I’ve smashed that habit into my calendar, using that monthly overview spread to fill in each day’s “good thing” as it comes. This way my “good day” list and me general life schedule are all in the same place. But you can use this space for whatever you want–doesn’t have to be “good things” only.

Finally, we reach my favorite part of this planner: the weekly overview.

We start our weekly overview with Monday. Because most people’s official work weeks start on Monday and let’s face it, we all want to just get Monday over with. So it’s first.We file on through Friday with each day broken down hourly from 7 am to 8 pm. Each line breaks the hour into 15-minute increments–another feature I’ve loved about some other agendas that I wanted to include here.

Then to the far right, we have half the page dedicated to your Weekly Goals or To-Do list. This is the section I fill in first when looking at my week. Then I look at each day and examine what I can get done–more on how I organize my calendar below.

And beneath that we have Saturday and Sunday on the last half of the page, because really, who needs a full-length column for the weekend. None of us really want to use that time to hustle and get shit done. At least not that much stuff.

What’s even better is that you can buy my agenda book. I’ve got it up for sale through Blurb for a list price of $25 plus shipping. I’m doing this to provide a solution to some scheduling and planner frustrations. But if you want your own copy, it’s there.

How I organize my calendar

Let’s take a look at the lovely weekly spread below:

When I examine a fresh week, I know my days will start at 6:30 or 7:00 am with a walk for my dog, so I fill those in first and block out our half-hour walk and half an hour for breakfast and a shower using the side margin. I later highlight these in blue.

Next, I fill in my day job’s work week. These are hours I know are locked in, no question, so they get put down as soon as possible.

From there I examine the To Do list for the week, which I’ve copied over from my handy-dandy spreadsheet I shared last week (New Year, New Resolutions).

Then I take the elements on the list and add them in throughout the week. It’s not that hard. But at this point, we have a lot of white space with some black dashes across to mark start time and end time for tasks.

This isn’t fun. Especially when I’m such a color nerd.

So I have highlighters to help me visually differentiate between types of task.

My color codes

Blue – home or friend-oriented events. These are the things I need to get done to survive. (i.e. walking my dog, going to the gym, meals, and get-togethers with friends.

Green – anything that has to do with work of any of my freelance jobs. Green is for money. Easy, see?

Pink – writing or reading that I’m doing for myself. This also includes some artistic endeavors, like learning hand lettering, which has been really fun the last couple weeks.

Yellow – any business-oriented tasks, or future opportunities. I use these for job application time and working on strategizing the business I want to start before the end of 2017.

Purple – this blog. Always. Because I love purple and it matches the blog’s color scheme. 😀

Orange – any reading I’m doing for reviews that will eventually end up on the blog. My 100-book challenge, really.

And this book is really the one thing that keeps me organized, not to mention sane. Since I’m ambitious as fuck, which in turn translates to being busy a lot of the time. So it’s good that I can plan ahead a bit, and know that I’m using a system that works (for me). Plus, it looks so pretty.

Get your own copy of my 2017 Agenda book here.

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