I’m so glad L. Williams of Viva Carlos brought up this topic! I use a planner diligently, and have for several years. I started with Lilly Pulitzer’s weekly agendas, but didn’t like the 17-month format. Last year, I used a Plum Paper regular planner, which had a lot of great features, but wasn’t quite right. After reading about several other brands, I settled on a Day Designer for 2016. It’s not cheap, but I’ve been 100% pleased with it so far.
It’s a fairly large planner at 9″ wide x 9.75″ tall and it weighs about 2 pounds. It’s a daily planner format, with weekends coupled together on one page. Each month features a monthly overview with room for a couple of notes. The daily pages are large and well-organized. Each has several components: “Today’s Top Three”, an hourly scheduling section, a general “To-Do” section, space to write notes, and a daily gratitude spot. There’s also a “Four Ds” section, which has space for “due”, “dinner”, “dollars”, and “don’t forget”.
The first few pages of the planner have a lot of space to explore goals, which are divvied up into “help yourself”, “everyone else”, “attitude & academics”, “resources & finance”, and “trade, career, biz”. There’s plenty of space to write notes about goals, and a couple of pages to divide and conquer them by timeline (3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year), as well as an area to write a general overview of your deadlines, resources, obstacles, and first steps. The planner has a lot of guidelines on how to use these pages, which I found very helpful.
So how am I using it day-to-day? For starters, it lives in my tote bag; I am very happy with its sturdiness. The cover is hard, and the coil is durable. Previous planners have started to show signs of wear almost immediately, but the Day Designer looks just as nice as it did when I took it out of its box.
Every evening, I sit down and check off anything I accomplished during the day. Checking boxes makes me feel good, even if they’re for something simple like sending an email. I also outline what the next day is going to look like- am I planning to go ride? What am I cooking for dinner? Do I need to pick up a missing ingredient? Is there a meeting at work that I need to come in early for? I like to flip to the monthly overview, too, and check for upcoming birthdays or events that I might have forgotten.
I tend to mix my personal and work calendars to some extent, although my primary work calendar is a monthly desk calendar. It’s nice to have things like meetings or work travel written in my personal planner, though.
I also keep my horse-related notes and schedule in my planner. A few years ago I made a serious effort to go paperless on horse stuff by using Evernote. It was a good idea (and it’s been very handy to be able to access the digital copies horses’ registration papers and Coggins tests at any time), but ultimately, I didn’t do a great job of keeping up with notes. Part of this is because I killed my old phone and replaced it with a much cheaper phone that doesn’t have enough memory to support more than about 5 apps (and Evernote didn’t make the cut). Part of it is because I’d forget to do it, period.
I schedule my riding in the planner and use the notes section to record details about the ride. I also make note of things like farrier appointments, messages from the barn owner (e.g. “Gina reported slightly off”), vet appointments, and shows. It worked really well last year and is even better with the Day Designer.
I really enjoy using a planner. It has helped me be more organized and more conscious of what’s going on in my day to day life- which is always good!