Currently Without a Planner

If you are currently without a system, you may be at a loss as to exactly where to begin. On the positive side, you are an organisational tabula rasa, a blank slate that won't have anything to unlearn. On the negative side, you are an organisational tabula rasa, a blank slate with no current workable plan for getting and staying organised.

  • It's likely that you have some sort of embryonic system, but you probably just don’t think of it as such. It may be a stack of adhesive-backed notes that is permanently stuck to the inside of your wallet. It may be an ancient address book that usually stays stuffed in a drawer at home, a Rolodex that you reference infrequently, a flip-top notebook that you carry in your shirt pocket. The point is, even though you may have no intentional system, you may have a few default tools lying about which you can modify or otherwise incorporate into your D*I*Y Planner setup.

  • Your first step is to spend a few days paying attention to your usual routine. Determine what is working for you, and what isn’t. Start taking notes throughout the day — the whole idea of a planner is that your mind wasn’t made to remember all these details by itself. You might also sit down and think of all the times that you previously used a planner with some success, and write down elements of that which did and didn’t work for you.

  • Another early step is to hit your local library and start looking at books on personal organisation systems. You may want to pick up David Allen's Getting Things Done, or Stephen Covey's First Things First. Alternately, reading such a book may be what's prompting you to create a planner. If that's the case, great. You’re starting out with a paradigm framework already in mind. Once again, take notes of the particular elements that you think will work best for you personally. The D*I*Y Planner is all about making a personal organisational system that works for you.

  • Gather up whatever constitutes your current non-planner system: an address book, your cell phone (if you sometimes use it as an address book or for alarms), your pile of sticky notes, your notebook or journal, etc. Use these items and your notes to determine which templates you think you will most likely use on a regular basis.

  • Bear some things in mind as you select a format. Left-handers may prefer the Hipster or a top-bound notebook (like a moleskine). If your writing is large, you may find that you need to stick with a larger format or go with a notebook without lines. Initially, you may want to split up your chosen templates into a few different formats to see which one you like better in actual practice.

  • It's best to overestimate your needs at first. It’s difficult to tell if you will use a template when you don’t have easy access to it during the day. After you’ve lived with your planner for a few weeks, it should quickly become apparent which sheets aren’t relevant to you. You can always edit them out later, or add in others as you find you need them.

  • The key for the person who is not currently using a planner is to commit to the process. You are probably not going to devise your perfect planner on the first try. Remember that you are trying to build a new habit of carrying a trusted system with you. In order to trust the system, you have to trust that you will use the system. Remember to keep it with you and keep it current. Your consistency in using it is more important in the beginning. Once you’ve built the habit of always having your planner with you, you can always tweak and modify it for the best personal effect.

(contributed by Katina French)

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