I get asked a lot to share how I do my planning, so today I’m sharing my homemade, hodgepodge system.
I really struggled with organization until I realized I was a visual type. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. (It took me decades to figure this out: I was confused by the fact that what I wanted to see was words, not pictures. I finally realized the “seeing” was the important part with the help of the best organizing book you’ve never heard of.)
Because I’m a visual type, binders and traditional planners just don’t work for me. Instead, I cobbled together my own bulletin board and hung it over my desk.
(I use this system for writing/blogging and for the rest of my life. The lines between the two are blurry, but I’m focusing more on the blogging here.)
Here’s what it includes:
1. A 3 month calendar. I want to be able to see where I’ve been and where I’m going, at a glance. I couldn’t find a suitable printed calendar, so I printed blank monthly calendars off the internet and cut and pasted them.
2. My goals for the year. Seeing them all the time–in the context of my planning–helps me focus and prioritize.
3. Lists of things I need to keep track of. I use index cards to maintain lists of things I need to remember, organized by category. I like this system–which was heavily inspired by Carol Barnier‘s love of post-it notes–because it’s simple, flexible, and manageable. (My cards aren’t color coded: they’re orange right now because that’s what we had lying around.)
I use these cards to track things like post ideas, guest posts, projects, and crazy ideas. I don’t have firm categories: I just make up what I need when I need it. It’s quick and simple and changeable, which prevents my perfectionist tendencies from paralyzing me.
4. Short-term goals for the week. I’ve recently started keeping an ever-changing list of weekly goals here, even though this board started as a long-term planning system. I’ve found I’m better at actually getting things done when the reminders are always in front of me.
5. Notes from my kids, etc. Just because.
6. The unseen corollary. I love my portable planner pad for keeping track of my days and weeks. It’s categories function much the same way that my index cards do on the board. I don’t use it to it’s full potential (because I forgot what’s on the pages I can’t always see), but I do love the weekly spread.
I would love to hear your tips on how you stay organized, what works for you (and what doesn’t), and what clever tricks you’ve invented or stolen to make your life run a little smoother.