How to Use a Planner Book

I first started using a planner book as a time management tool in 1990.

It was just a small pocket calendar that only showed the months. In other words, when you opened it, you would see a month. It included all 12 months and a few blank pages in the back.

I bought this calendar for a few bucks when I started my first full-time job when I left graduate school at Marquette University in Milwaukee. I got a job at the City of Milwaukee in the Engineering Department.

It's strange that the use of some type of concise planning tool was not taught or reinforced in high school or college.  Especially since I went to an engineering college where being organized is critical to your productivity.

How I Started Using a Planner Book

I started out by writing any appointments I had for my job. Since I was just starting the only appointments had to do with human resource issues, such as insurance meetings, forms I needed to fill out and other stuff like that. I didn't have to worry about time management that much at that stage of my career. My job was mostly show up on time and work for 8 hours on what my supervisors told me to do.

I quickly started using the calendar for my personal life. My job did not need tracking but my personal life did. I kept track of the days I worked out either with weights, biking or walking. I really liked it for keeping track of my social calendar. I used it to plan my weekend outings with the guys and any after work parties, dinners and things like that.

It was rewarding to be able to stay on top of everything and just as rewarding to have a written remembrance of the past happenings and events. I still have those calendars from those days as a reminder or a keepsake for reminiscing. It was fun to be involved with time management for my social life and for keeping track of my workouts.

Looking at those old calendars makes me wish that I had kept calendars during high school and college. There are so many things I did that I wish I could remember the year and who with.

You will find that keeping your calendars adds a lot of value to your life. You will look back at those calendars and enjoy your memories.

I really wish I had a calendar from the days when I went on vacation with my family. I cannot even remember all the years that we went to Glacier National Park.

Going on those trips with my family were some of the best times of my life growing up and I wish I had a well worn, beaten up calendar to mark the days and the year and some of the highlights of the trip.

I am never going to make that mistake again. Anything even a little bit fun I write down on my calendar and in other places too. Keeping track of your fun ought to be part of the fun.

I don’t like to write excessively in my calendars, but a few words on a monthly calendar go a long way to helping my memory.

Type of Planner Book I Use Now

You can see how big it is and that is a beautiful, black simulated leather

Now I use a Classic Original Classic Size Ring-bound Daily Planner from Franklin. 

If you want to see exactly what I use

  1. Click on the Planner Heading first.
  2. Then click on Weekly Planners.
  3. Click the Classic Size.
  4. Then click on the Leadership Ring Bound Weekly Planner.

I started with the daily pages but went to the weekly style a number of years ago.  It works for me.

You will need the ringed book

  1. Click on the the Binders Heading first.
  2. Then binders.
  3. Then click on Classic Size.
  4. I have the simulated leather open binder.

Then you need to determine what type of cover you want. I use the Open style now . I did have a zippered cover at one time. This would be good if you are worried about stuff falling out. I prefer the open style. It is lighter, smaller and looks better. I treat this book well and take care of it. I do not throw it around so it has lasted for years. It is so important to me.

I have used the classic size from when I started using it in 1996. I don’t use the planner as the Franklin people say exactly. I am not interested in tracking everything to the degree that they suggest. Certainly, you can if you want. It is a great time management tool because it is customizable and includes the normal areas you need to be organized.

I like it because I can use it for business and personal time management. I carry it every day to work and bring it home. I also use it for various projects. The leather holder has pockets and is a convenient way to carry around papers you are working on. It has your calendar so you can make any appointments right away.

I keep it on my desk at work right between my phone and my computer.

Planner Book close to my right hand, between my computer and phone

At home I keep it on a table to the right of my recliner in my living room where I spend the majority of my time at home.

I take it with me to restaurants, coffee shops and libraries when I am planning, writing, thinking and goal setting.

The point is, I keep it handy.

Here is how I generally use it

I carry around a small notebook in the front vertical pocket

I keep the current month in the book. I do not like to keep the previous month or the next month in the book because then it is too big and bulky and heavier. During the first week of the current month I will go back through the previous month’s entries to check if there is anything I should be doing or if there is some information I should rewrite.

Then I take out the previous months daily entries and file them but leave the month calendar in my book. I keep the entire years worth of months in my book, the same as if it were just a monthly calendar. I still keep track of my appointments, my workouts and social events. I use it for all my time management needs.

When I was single I kept track of parties, vacations, outings, dinners, who I was with and the people I met.

When I was married I kept track of my wife’s appointments as well as my own.

Once I had children, I kept track of their appointments also.

Now that I am single again, I keep track of everything, especially, my kid’s events and my social calendar.

You could also use your planner to keep track of your goals. Writing down the events gives me a sense of accomplishment. I can look back over the months and get a feeling for the busyness of certain times of the year.

It helps with the time management and planning for the year ahead. I can look back and see that there was quite a bit of fun and good times. It also helps for discussion with others who don’t have a planner and can’t remember what month or year we last got together.

Since I have started keeping a planner book I can’t imagine not having one. I think I would be lost without it. I don't know how anyone would be able to do any time management without one.

I haven’t got to the point where I would keep my planner book on my computer or palm pilot or phone. Maybe someday I will give it a try. It just seems more satisfying to write things down and keep it in a book.

I use the computer a lot and my smart phone a bit. But certain things just seem to be better handwritten on paper.  Plus I am a little older, not growing up with computers and smart phones.

Again, do it how you want, if you love the electronic version of planner book or your phone, go ahead and try it.

I just am not sure how to always have your computer handy.   Dealing continuously with a phone just seems so maddening.  The paper planner book works well anytime, anywhere. I think even if you have a laptop computer or palm pilot you will still need a paper planner also.

This is How I Organize My Planner Book

Opened up to the full month for long range planning
  • Heavy page turner.
  • Last years monthly calendar. I like to have all of the last year’s months to refer to.
  • As many weekly calendars as fit comfortably.  I will keep the past few months and the next 3 to 4 months so I can both refer back, note my upcoming meetings/appointments and do my planning of what I need, and want, to get done..
  • The rest of this years monthly calendars. This is the main time management area.
  • Future year’s calendars. This is a condensed calendar.
  • Ready reference. This section is where I keep my list of what I am working on.
  • Address Section. I only keep a few pages of my most used addresses and phone numbers here.
  • Key Information. To do List. This is just a long list of things to do in no particular order. I just list things as I think of them. I want these things on paper rather than trying to remember them. This has information like driving distances, my medical information, a Special Days page (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), Personal Information page and Medical Record page.
  • Family Section. I keep stuff related to my kids, like what we have done together, school grades, possible things to do, notes about the kids and stuff
  • Interest Section. This is where I put lists my vacations taken, books I want to read, movies to see, websites and any other things I want to check into.
  • Section for business. Anything related to my business interests.
  • Section for tips on exercising and other self-improvement ideas.
  • Section for organized living ideas.
  • Section where I write down the name of the websites that I am a member of, the user name and password for these sites. This section is quickly becoming one of my most important sections. Their is no way for you to remember all the passwords and user names you use. Retrieving a new password takes a lot of time. Just this tip alone will save you huge amounts of hours.
  • Clear plastic holder for pictures of my kids.
  • Blank sheets of paper for future use.
  • Heavy page turner.
Opened up to the full week to make sure I get what I need to done

I don’t want this book to be bulky and heavy so I don’t go overboard with lists and tracking. I just keep what is important for my time management needs and have backup information elsewhere.

I can always make adjustments to the book based on my current needs. I have a Franklin hole punch so that I can put any paper into the planner book.

I also do some reducing of the material so that what I keep in the planner book is condensed because again, I carry this book a lot and want it to be as light as possible but have all the information I need at the time.

Since I have it with me I can refer to it often and add and subtract from it constantly.

The front cover of the planner book has a vertical pocket and a business card size pocket. I put a 3 inch by 5 inch notebook in the front vertical pocket along with some index cards.

The notebook is for writing my goals. I like a separate notebook so that my goals are even more portable. I can put this notebook in my pants pocket or my shirt pocket to be even more portable.

I have index cards for making short lists and for making notes at any time. There are many times that I don’t want to carry my planner book around, it is just too big, but carrying an index card or two is not too difficult.

The small notebook and index cards are like miniature time management tools.

The rear cover of the planner book has one horizontal pocket. I put any papers I want to review or refer to in the near future in this pocket. I would put mail to mail in this pocket. I would put current mail here. I use this pocket as my work pocket. Sometimes I have a lot of papers here because I don’t know what to do about them.

Since my planner book is 5 – ½ inches by 8 inches the pockets are not big enough to hold a full size sheet of paper. I just fold a full size sheet of paper in half and it fits perfectly in the pocket. Normal letters fit great in this pocket also.

I do not want to switch to a full size paper planner. That would be just too much to carry around. I also do not want to switch to the smaller size either. There would just not be enough room to have the detail that I want for my time management needs.

So if you want to get organized and improve your time management skills, get some type of Planner Book.

› Planner Book

The only way I could become the happier man I am today was by leaving my wife.  You might be in the same situation I was in.  I suggest you take a look at my book - Leave Your Wife & Become a Happier Man with the 3 Step System.

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