Stay Organized with an Old School Planner

Planner iphone moleskine

I am a child of the internet age and I love my iPhone, apps, and [of course] Google. If you haven’t figured out yet, I am a librarian so I love learning new technologies and the newest ways of organizing information.

I also have ADHD — see my story here.  Why this is relevant is sometimes if you are different you, have to accept some things work for you and some things just DON’T.  For today’s lesson, I am talking about time management and calendars.  I was a college student for 7 years and finally nailed down how and in what format to get myself organized.  I so want to be one of those people that has online calenders, receives little beeps when they have a meeting to attend, and syncs all my calenders to be connected at all times.  I tried a strict online time management for some time but could not (a) remember to write in the calender on my phone, (b) would ignore the little reminders because they were annoying and (3) could not text as fast as I can write.

For my ADHD, I learned through trial and error I have to handwrite all of my appointments, fleeting thoughts, cleaning lists, and phone calls in one place.  As you can imagine, I require a very large planner! Dork Alert! Who wants to be that old school loser toting around a giant planner? You either look like a crazy fucking coupon lady (no offense to coupon ladies!) or one of those people who micro-manages all their time and all the people in their life. Then the battle was over when I found the best planner in the world, the Moleskine 19-Month Extra Soft Cover Weekly Planner — and it isn’t dorky! At only $23, it is well worth the money to be successful.  That said, any planner could work as long as you learn to keep and manage information in a way that makes sense to you.

I am not joking when I say I write down everything in my planner. This photograph is proof! This is from the heyday of my graduate program. Here, I will share some tips that have worked to keep my successful and organized in school and in life.


A sneak peak into my personal planner.

How I use a paper planner:

  • Use the daily calender area for scheduled appointments such as doctors, advisors, school assignment due dates, sexy dates with actual times and dates. Other tasks you want to save for a different area in the planner.
  • Have a note area in your planner that looks like lined pages to write to do lists, tasks, ideas, and assignments. The Moleskin planner has two of these pages per week (planner heaven)!
  • On that note area, break the different areas of your life up and place those takes in the proper areas: i.e. Homework, Phone Calls, Errands, Home Stuff, Groceries, etc. That way you can always find your thoughts.
  • If you are even more insane, do as I do and highlight those notes on the days they need to be done. I use to use a pink highlighter for tasks I wanted to complete that day, blue for the next day, orange for a few days away.
  • If you are a student, when you get your syllabus from your course write down all the due dates, all the tests, everything that pertains to the course in your planner before the class even starts. This will help you look at the entire life span of the course and prevent you for getting overwhelmed.
  • Bring it with you everywhere! That way when you get an “ah-ha” moment, write it down. For example, just now I thought “Oh! I need to send that fax to the Rabbi who is marrying us.” If I do not write this down right this moment, I will forget by the end of this sentence. Until I complete the task I get strange waves of memory that ensues in panic. These thoughts go as quick as they come.

Do you have any good time management tricks?

love, Sarah


9 thoughts on “Stay Organized with an Old School Planner

  1. Many people make fun of me for carrying around the best technology the 80s and 90s gave us in the form of a Franklin Planner. I just ordered your suggested Moleskine just to shut up the haters…like you, this is the only system that has ever worked for me…

  2. Pingback: When Being Impulsive is not Spontaneous | The DIY Librarian

  3. This post is super interesting Sarah! I am definitely a paper calender/journal type of person. I actually feel very prideful when I start checking off my to-do list. It’s that whole “gold star” effect – I feel like I have achieved something 🙂 “Laundry? Check. Ahh, what can I reward myself with?” Haha. Although at times I will admit, I’ll write something down and never get back to it. I’ll loose my page, start a new page, or even tear the page out because it looks so messy lol. I’m a freak. At the same time, I still use my iPhone for appointments. This works better for me because it’s ALWAYS on me (sadly) and the little “beep” reminder has saved me in the past. So all in all, I guess I am a good mixture of the two. Although, god knows I love me some cute journals 🙂 I have an addiction. I see one and I’ll buy it and NEVER use it. Weird. So heyyy, if you ever need any in the future! Ha. Keep posting XOXO.

    • Lauryn, I have no clue how you manage to keep things in TWO different places! You are the insane one 🙂 I do know how much you love cute journals! I don’t think I ever told you I used every page of the sketch book you gave me in college during my thesis research. I was writing notes all over the place!

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