Note, I’m going to mention a few products in this post. I do NOT receive any form of compensation from any of the producers, distributors, etc. of these products.

One of the first posts that I wrote for this blog was about the custom planner that I use. What I included in my paper planner has evolved since then and I’ve made some significant changes to it recently.

I still use Omnifocus for my project and task lists to keep track of my commitments and daily “to-dos” and I use a digital calendar because I need to for work (so others in my office can see when I’m in meetings, etc.) and to easily share my outside of work schedule / family-related commitments with my wife. In addition to that, I diligently use a paper planner every day, which is what this is about.

I’ve been using Moleskin large size notebooks (I’d call it a medium) for more than a year and a half as my paper planner. It has 240 pages (120 sheets) in it, which has worked well for a three month planner. At the front I have a page with my manifesto, followed by three pages with my monthly goals. At the back I keep a list of my blog post ideas. 

Every week I write weekly goals under the headings:

• Take care of myself

• Love

• Parent

• Family and friends

• Better Me (this site)

• Home

• Spirituality

• Financial

• Community

These have recently changed as I’ve reflected on priorities. Taking care of myself includes health, hobbies, and growth so it gets a lot of space.

I also write about what I’m excited about for the coming week, and at the end of the week I write some notes about “wins / made me happy” and “lessons / challenges” as well as what progress I’ve made on bigger goals.

What’s mostly changed is my daily entries. I use two pages per day. On the first page I write a “Big thing I want to remember” that day. This is a message to myself,  not a to-do item. I then draw a line down the middle of the rest of the page and write my daily schedule on one side of that page based on what’s on my calendar, but also slot in time to go for a walk at lunch time, time to journal, time to meditate, and other things that I want to make the time for that day. On the other half of that page I write:

• Today I feel …

• Why?

• To feel more energized I will …

• I am excited about …

• Feelings I’m striving for …

The first three items are from the planner that Mel Robbins put out. She’s made it very clear that people don’t need to buy her planner to make use of these things so I’m heeding that advice.

On the second page for the day, I took ideas from Rachel Hollis’s Start Today Journal. Like Mel, Rachel says we don’t need to buy her planner to use the same plan, which gives me the opportunity to meld the two plus add my own touch to my planner. From Rachel’s journal I write five things that I’m grateful for that morning, ten dreams I made come true (I’ll get back to this), and “The goal I’m going to make happen first”. Those I write in the morning. At the end of the day I note wins / things that made me happy and lessons / challenges. At the top of the page I have a check box to indicate if I closed the activity rings on my watch that day and one to indicate if I completed all of my dailies.

I do the ten dreams just as Rachel suggests, and as she’s apparently been doing for years. I pick ten big things I want to accomplish or aspects of who I want to be in the next ten years and write it as if I’ve already accomplished this. For example, the first thing on my list is “I’m healthy, fit, and energetic”. This is an area that I’m pretty good in already, but I’m 47 years old and I’d like to do what I have to so that when I’m 57 I’m still “healthy, fit, and energetic.”

Again, this ever evolving, but right now, the above description is really working for me in terms of keeping me focused on what really matters and inspiring me to be the best person that I can be on any given day.

One other change that I am considering is the type of notebook that I use. I’ve also been using a Moleskin, but a pocket size, as my journal for a couple of years, but recently discovered Rhodia journals and, oh my, the paper feels so nice to write on, so I’m switching to that for my journal. I’d like to switch to it for my planner as well, except that while the Moleskin has 240 pages, making it work well for a three month planner, the Rhodia only has 192 pages, which would leave me short and I’d have to replace it every two months. Talk about your first-world problems. 

Featured image courtesy of mpclemens under a CC-BY license.

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