Paper Planner

With anxiety sky-rocketing over this past year, I’ve been looking to “complete” more of those invisible tasks I mentioned in my last post by writing them down or scheduling them in my calendar and whatever necessary office requires an appointment as soon as they come to me. Once I’ve written an item down as a future task in my planner or called the office to make the appointment, I can release that task until it’s due.

For this reason, I highly recommend a paper planner. I’ve been using a paper planner for several years and finally have my system down to an art. This year, I’m using the Blue Sky Day Designer Daily/Monthly 8×5 planner. I’ve been on the Day Designer wagon for a while but this is my first time using such a small version. I was worried that it wouldn’t be big enough to accomodate all of my notes but I use the paper planner for quick reminders and abbreviated schedules and keep the details in my online calendars. I used to think I could walk away from the online calendars once I got my paper calendar up and running but alas. Those insane bloggers with the multiple calendar transfers at scheduled intervals? Yeah, that’s me now.

At the start of the year, I go through all of my calendars and get all of the important, known dates transferred into my paper calendar monthly views. Before the start of each new month, I go through my online calendars and transfer dates that I’ve scheduled on my phone into my month view as well. Before each week, I transfer dates from the monthly calendar view into the specific days along with work meetings scheduled on my work calendar. It sounds horrible and redundant and inefficient but it keeps me sane. Different strokes, am I right?

Anyway, I color code the thing too. Pink for my daughter. Blue for my son (I know, I know. The gender sterotyping is appaling). Green for my husband. Gray for work. Red for personal to-do items. Purple for fun items. Yellow for info-only.

Once I started doing the calendar transfer thing, I figured I’d be one of those people who gets into the stickers or uses a stencil to make perfect shapes to color or maybe writes in different colors but in practice I’ve found the more complex it gets, the less likely I am to stick with it (and I couldn’t stand the colored writing).

I use “◯” is as an event indicator. I freehand it. I make a tiny circle in the middle of the hour line if I have an event on the half hour and if it’s an odd appointment time I follow the “◯” with the time (example: “◯:45 doctor”). The planner I use comes with square boxes for tasks so those get color coded as well. Checkmark = complete. Strikethrough = didn’t do it and not moving it forward. Right arrow means I moved it forward to a future date (and here’s the key: you actually have to write it down on a future date; it might not be tomorrow but it has to be scheduled). I put the anniversaries at the top right corner in the quotation box. Highlighters can be purchased here.

I’ve even started to put basic reminders about how to be a good person in my calendar like “call your best friend” or “Jane’s big presentation.” I used to think that if you were a good person / friend, you’d just remember those things. And maybe I still do. But I also believe that I’ve got what I’ve got with regards to mental capacity and what I got currently includes a lot of unecessary clutter and anxiety choking out the important things. So I’ve started writing them down when I hear them and replacing “absent minded” with “intentional” in my running narrative.

If your axiety has you feeling absent minded lately, I hope you’ll consider my strategy. More importantly, I hope you’ll share yours!

What tricks do you use to keep ahead of your anxious thoughts? How do you stay on task?

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