When I was in school, using a basic planner from the store worked just fine. However, after moving into a real home and having a child, then another, the planning got more and more complicated. After reading Sink Reflections, I had a "Control Journal." But after a while, even that didn't cut it. So I tried different things out, including making my own planner pages and printing them out each month. And as much as I like paper (especially if it's pretty), I'm pretty tired of it and having to throw it away, not to mention looking at my own handwriting.
My Current System
A couple key things happened that formed my current system. The first was I read about the Tickler file system on this site. Don't ask me about the name, but it is awesome. Instead of Tickler though, I call it “Month to Month”. The second key thing was reading “31Days toGTD for Homemakers.” The author took the book Getting Things Done and applied to to homemakers. Although most of it was review for me, the big thing I took away was the idea that a planner is really just a bunch of lists.
Month to Month
The Month to Month file system is basically having a file for each month. In that month you keep all the papers relevant to that month as well as a To Do list. Since I am trying to get away from paper, I have this in Evernote. (Which is also awesome by the way!) I do have a paper file too because there are some things that just can't be on the computer.
Setting up the Month to Month system was a light bulb for me. I was used to having binders that had a category for each aspect of my life: wife, mother, kitchen, cleaning, homeschool, blogging, etc. It was so disconnected and I hated flipping from section to section. With Month to Month, everything I need for the time I'm in, is in one place. I also had a place to add all the seasonal tasks and ideas that seemed to always get forgotten or lost.
Lists grow and shrink. There is usually a need for a new list for a time, then not for a while. It’s always changing. The reason set planner pages always frustrated me was because if something new came up, there was nowhere to put it.
I keep all my lists in two places. I keep long term lists that I need occasionally in Evernote. I keep every day To Do lists and things in an app on my tablet called MinimaList. It was free and I really like it. The author of the book I mentioned uses “Remember the Milk”.
I also use a calendar for appointments and other date specific information. I was using the calendar on my tablet, but it is unexplainably not working so I'm using a free paper one for now. I was using Google Calendar, which I like. However, since we don't have internet in the home right now, I needed to go the old fashioned way. Really, I just use this as a reference so I'm not too picky about the method right now.
So those are the three components to my system: Month to Month file system, lists in Evernote and MinimaList, and a calendar. Next time, I’ll show you how I use them to plan a month at a time!