Monday, May 28, 2012

Your Planner is With You - Iterating Organization

The Big Blue Brick

Back when I had just graduated college, I realized I was more or less hopelessly disorganized. I found this out when I compared my organization (none) to a friend who had EVERYTHING in a Franklin planner. I thought I was extremely busy, so I bought the "Monarch" size which is 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper size and I made sure I got a big enough one that I had room to write a page a day. This was great at conferences and meetings because I had huge amounts of room to write.

Unfortunately at some conferences, the right page was usually laying on the lap of the person next to me. I'm glad none of them punched me for having my planner across their lap. As you may guess, I often did not carry my planner. My friend reminded me that "Your planner is with you" or it's not really of any use to you.

I'm not sure ho much this thing weighed, but it felt like carrying a square paper bowling ball around with a blue cover.

Downsizing, slightly

I soon realized my friend had a "Classic" sized planner and seemed quite comfortable carrying it. I decided to switch to the same size. I suddenly felt a burden lifted from my shoulders. Classic size is like Monarch cut in half which was fantastic. It was something I can carry without feeling like my arm was going to be yanked off by my planner.

Enter Circa

I stuck with the Classic size a while, until I read something on the site that changed the world for me. There was a review of the Levenger Circa system, which essentially has plastic discs that hang on to the paper exactly the same distance apart so you can mix and match and swap out any paper into any bigger notebook - everything from business cards all the way up to full notebook page sizes.

Of course, I forgot where I came from and tried the biggest size first thinking at some point I could print out anything I want to carry with me and stick it in there. Once again, I hit the big paper brick problem and immediate swapped down a size to their version of the Classic planner.


Earlier this year (2012) I saw that I only carried my planner to work and back. While I'm out and about doing anything that is not work, I typically don't carry my planner with me. While thinking about that, I noticed Levenger has the "Compact" size calendars on sale for less than $5. The Compact size is slightly taller and not as wide as a 4x6 inch index cards. So I *HAD* to buy one. I used it for a couple weeks, enough to realize that I really like having a calendar that fits nicely in my back pocket. The problem is with the discs and one year's worth of weekly calendar pages, it is way too thick to fit comfortably in my back pocket.

So I went to Staples and grabbed a Day Minder 2012 calendar. It's about 1/2 the thickness of the Compact Levenger Circa calendar, not plastic rings. I tried putting it in my back pocket while driving around and pretty much didn't feel it at all. The only downside to this set up is I can't put in extra pages in my new calendar like I can in the Circa notebooks. However, I have noticed that I typically only have a line or two of writing in each day's calendar and then maybe two to three pages a month of notes.

My work stuff is nearly all electronic and at home, I'm generally blogging, messing with things on the computer, or playing with my kids. So it's nearly all electronic or things I don't really need to do much writing for.

So where does this leave me?

So here's my current set up:

I've got the aforementioned Day Minder 2012 calendar and Fisher Space pen I keep in my pocket. I also have a Levenger Smartphone Wallet in which I keep my iPod Touch. This wallet also has a place for index cards. I keep one index card in the front pocket of the Smartphone Wallet, three extra cards in the pouch, and then 5 or 10 index card Circa PDA notebook. Also in the wallet is a Lamy Agenda mechanical pencil. The plan is anything that needs to go on the calendar goes there, notes will go on the index cards, and any notes that need to be permanent will be entered into my computer.

I'm currently using Notebooks for iPhone and iPad to track all my notes and TaskPaper for my todo list. Notebooks really does allow me to keep track of everything but my todo list in the filesystem and then syncs to my iPod Touch and iPad via DropBox. The only current downside to this app is the todo list is implemented via .plist files which means you can only view or update them via the app.

TaskPaper keeps the todo list in plain text so would be available via anywhere you have it synced via DropBox.

Today I found out Notebooks is coming out with a Mac and Windows desktop version which means I would be able to use it to organize pretty much everything.