Monday, 17 June 2013

Lessons Learned About My Time-Management

Sometimes I feel as if I have been round the houses with which diary format/time-management format works best for me. Having been in a bit of 'planner fail' recently, I decided to sit down and reflect on what works and what doesn't work for me and then to try and design a diary that will work for me.

What I have realised is that:
  • If I don't plan, I don't achieve as much as I want to
  • Even if I do plan, if I don't have my list of to-do for the week in front of me with the diary, I probably won't look at it, even if it is only a few pages away in my planner and marked with a labelled today-marker
  • Much as I adore the size of a pocket filofax, I can't quite get it to work when life gets busy as the format is too small for week + notes to view
  • Although a day to page can work well for me, I then lose the overall feel of the week
  • If I am working on day per page, I have a tendency not to look at the week per view, even if it is only a few sheets away in my planner and marked with a today-marker
  • Much as I adore both Red and Indie, I can't carry enough cards in them and get annoyed by that as I don't want to have both a planner and a wallet in my bag
  • My annoyance at lack of cards ultimately outweighs my adoration of the binder and the page size (A6)
  • If I plan/allocate my to-do to specific days I tend to overload myself/plan myself to bits and then abandon all planning because I'm harassed and feel as if I have no free time
I know from past experience that a week on one page plus notes is close to the right format for me, but Filofax don't produce a format that is uncluttered enough for me. They do insist on having umpteen languages filling all the planning space and not having the days lined (except in France) and taking up valuable real-estate with those mini month-calendars somewhere on the page (often filling up all of Sunday). Much like my work diary, I need a few things and nothing else.

What I need:
  • The date at the top of the page
  • The days with lines
  • Space for a to-do/task list
  • Space to note things that are coming up

What I don't need:
  1. More than one language. I'm pretty reasonable at languages so it isn't essential it is English, but just one is needed. I'm planning, not doing a language course that only teaches days and months.
  2. That mini month-calendar thing
  3. Open space with no lines

The French version (see below) is pretty close to what I want, but it's not perfect and the shipping costs make it expensive considering it's not quite what I want.

Image from

Last year, I designed my own, then for a variety of reasons (I was in a Mulberry A6 at the start of the year, then a pocket filofax, then finally a personal filofax but was persevering with the diary that I had) not printed it off and used it. Anyway, after the last month or so of feeling disorganised and out of sorts with all planning, I sat down, thought about what would (and wouldn't) work for me and realised that the diary I had designed myself was still likely to be the perfect format for me, so I printed up enough to take me to the end of July. If it's still working well for me by the end of July, I will print up another month (and so on).

This is it.

It's the same as the one I blogged about before, but the ink/lines are purple instead of brown.

What do people think?

Friday, 14 June 2013

New work diary for 2014 (designed by me!)

[First of all, apologies for no posts for such a long time! Life got busy here and then my DH was involved in an accident (stupid driver on the wrong side of the road...) which demanded my attention more than my blog did (I'm sure you all understand!). He's okay; just very battered and bruised!]

Anyway, I've always struggled to find a diary format for my work diary that really works completely for me. I like an A5 vertical week to view format; as it is a work diary I'm not all that fussed about weekend and evening stuff (just a note to remind me they are there!); and I like a space for weekly notes/to-do. Some of the Quo Vadis range come close but aren't quite right. Oh, and I'm not bothered by the mini calendars you get at the top of a page in a week to view – they just take up valuable real estate!

Last year I designed my own version which worked very well and this year I have just made a couple of minor modifications. I used Word, the source files for the dates from Philofaxy, and the mail-merge function in Word, then I booklet-printed it. I'm just holding off punching the holes in it as I am considering whether to stay in the A5 Mulberry at work or move to an A5 Filofax (and the hole-spacing is different).

So this is it! (click to enlarge)

Homemade work diary

The dates for the week are across the top of the weeks, there's no little monthly calendar, there is a space for “This week” (generally used to note which week of semester it is), then the days run vertically, with a space underneath the day/date for noting things like birthdays. Since it is a work diary, the times just run from 9.00am to 6.00pm with a small space for the evening (to note anything coming up, but not needed for planning). The weekend days are combined into one column and are used just for noting events and on the right-hand-side there is a space for notes/to-do. It's also just printed on standard printer-paper but it's fairly fountain-pen friendly - another bonus!

I realise this isn't a format that will work for everyone. It possibly only works for me, but it does absolutely everything I need it to do and nothing more. I'm really pleased with it!

What do others think?